2 October 2019

Returning to college to fulfill a dream

Two returning adult students share their stories

Student James De La Fuente in SUNY Schenectady jacket sitting at desk

James De La Fuente, Liberal Arts: Communication concentration major

James’s passion for broadcast journalism led to him to start taking classes in the Communication concentration at the College during summer 2018. Through Associate Professor RaeEllen Doyle of the Liberal Arts Division, he learned about an internship at local NBC affiliate WNYT, and landed it this summer. The station was impressed and James was hired part time, helping to gather news and run the assignment desk.

“This is exactly where I want to be,” James said. “This college has offered things to me that I never expected to happen and things are moving super-fast. I’m ahead of schedule in terms of career goals.”

After working in health care for several years, James decided that he wanted to change careers and follow what has always been a lifelong dream.

“I didn’t choose the field that I really wanted when I started my career,” he said. “Now I have the ability to choose for me and what I would like to do.”

More about James:

· Vice President of Student Government Association

· Organized the College’s Media Central Club

· Recipient of the Robert F. Case Memorial Scholarship


Student Toni Conklin standing near TRIO art mural

Tohneesha “Toni” Conklin, Criminal Justice and Paralegal dual major

Toni began her studies at the College in Fall 2000 and decided that she needed to take time off to raise her three children. The timing was right for her to return to campus last fall, and since then she has shared her motivation and determination with other students at the College. 

“When you start something, you need to finish it,” she said. “I’m walking across that stage at graduation and letting other students know that there are different paths and different journeys. It’s not always a straight line from where you start to where you finish. I want to show other people that they can do it too.”

Toni decided to pursue the criminal justice field to help others. “I want to be able to stand up for injustices in the world and I knew that I had to start somewhere,” she explained. “I thought criminal justice would be a great place to begin.”

She recently took an examination to become a Corrections Officer.

More about Toni:

· Recipient of the Schenectady County Legal Aid Society/Max and Betty Hershkowitz Scholarship

· Member of the Capital District Paralegal Association and has attended Continuing Legal Education classes with Professor Sheila Foglietta of the Division of Business, Criminal Justice and Law.

· Ambassador for the College’s TRIO program.

· Foster parent, Office of Children and Family Services



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