Meet the BAWAFAS
Brockport Alumni Who Are Faculty And Staff (BAWAFAS) share why they feel their alma mater is a great place at which to learn and to work.
More than 260 employees at SUNY Brockport can call themselves "BAWAFAS."
The acronym, which stands for "Brockport Alumni Who Are Faculty And Staff," originated more than 15 years ago while Vice President for Advancement Mike Andriatch '85/'17 — part of BAWAFAS himself — was serving as the College's alumni director.
The Port asked BAWAFAS to share why they chose to pursue careers at their alma mater after graduating. Here's what a sampling had to say:
Joe Chesebro '94
Associate Professor and Graduate Director, Department of Communication
Bachelor of Science in Communication
Now a professor at the College, Chesebro teaches courses in interpersonal communication, professional communication, and training and development. He and his wife Jennifer met as students and graduated the same year. She now teaches at the College, as well, in the Department of Nursing. Chesebro considers the College to be a great place to work because of the students. He enjoys helping them "see the potential they often don't see in themselves."
"After I graduated, got away from Brockport, and saw how it differed from the schools where I got my graduate degree, I thought it compared very well, in terms of the quality of teachers and the overall atmosphere."
Barbara-Ann "Barbi" Clifton '15
Adjunct Lecturer, Department of English
Master of Arts in English
After Clifton spent a couple of years as a graduate student at the College, she "didn't want to leave" and was hired to teach in fall 2015 in the same program from which she had graduated that May. Because of her educational background, she feels she has a stronger understanding of the Brockport student experience and the nature of the campus community. She finds it "surreal" to now call her mentors and inspirations her colleagues and friends. It's the student body, which she feels grows to a higher caliber each year, that makes her look forward to coming to work each day.
"It was so rewarding to go from being a student to a professor in the same classrooms in which I had learned my craft. Brockport students are some of my favorite people in the world, and having been one myself, it's gratifying to have the opportunity, in even the smallest of ways, to help them become the best versions of themselves. I'm grateful to Brockport for helping me do the same, as both a student and a faculty member."
Daniel Fletcher '97
Enrollment and Scholarship Officer, Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)
Bachelor of Science in History
Fletcher is responsible for recruiting students and community members into the College's Army ROTC program, educating campus and the surrounding community about ROTC opportunities. What makes him proud to work here? The people. He relates the student experience to a pinball machine. A nudge from a mentor in a certain direction could change the course and scheme of a student's life.
"The College community has always been very warm, supportive, and welcoming of my efforts. It is great to have the opportunity to guide and mold young minds and open their eyes to new opportunities."
Kate Hochbrueckner '17
Admissions Assistant, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art
"I absolutely love working here. I fell in love with Brockport as a student, and now I get to share my experiences on a daily basis to help high school students find their fit and become part of the Golden Eagle family!"
Cathy Houston-Wilson '88
Professor and Chair, Department of Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education
Master of Science in Education (Adapted Physical Education)
Houston-Wilson was part of a group of graduate assistants who received federal funding for a professional preparation grant in 1985. She left Brockport feeling "fully prepared" to teach adapted physical education, and she taught for several years in Sullivan and Westchester Counties before earning her doctorate from Oregon State University. Upon graduating in 1993, she "was thrilled to be offered a position for a tenure-track faculty member in APE at Brockport."
"I am finishing my 25th year at Brockport and can truly say it is a great place to work and learn. I have been afforded many opportunities to collaborate on research with my colleagues, teach courses that I love to teach, contribute to many service activities, and maintain a balance in my personal life."
Irene Ketonen '05
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology
Ketonen enjoys teaching at a "student-focused college." That student focus is the same reason she chose Brockport for her undergraduate education. In 2011, Ketonen returned to the College as an adjunct instructor while working on her PhD at the University at Buffalo. After earning her degree, she became a full-time faculty member.
"This role has provided me many opportunities to mentor students and engage in professional service."
Cathy Legacy '99
Director of Dining, Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation (BASC)
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Legacy's experience working in the catering department as a Brockport student made her not want to leave. In 19 years working for BASC, Legacy has progressed from supervisor to director of dining. Coming from a small town, she has always felt welcomed by the Brockport atmosphere and chose to stay in the area after graduating. She calls herself proud to work at the institution that provided her the tools to be successful in her career.
"I had studied psychology at Brockport because I enjoy working with and helping people, and my position with BASC allows me to do that every day. I am honored to be a member of BASC leadership and support student success by serving great food, providing outstanding service, and giving our students a great place to work — just like I had when I was studying at Brockport."
Gary Metz '75
Associate Professor, Department of Healthcare Studies
Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Recreation and Leisure Studies
Metz is coordinator of the alcohol and substance abuse studies program. He works with colleagues from a variety of disciplines to develop addiction counseling education programs regionally, nationally, and internationally.
"I have always thought the College provided an exceptional opportunity for their alumni to design, develop, and deliver creative and innovative programs for future students. The real gift is working with some of the most exceptional students in the SUNY system."
Eliza Pionessa '17
Development Associate, Division of Advancement
Bachelor of Science in Health Science
Pionessa recently joined the Division of Advancement, where she plans events for alumni and community members. She started out in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a recruiter for the Buffalo area. As a student, she felt her goals were supported by supervisors in her on-campus positions, and she hopes to provide the same enriching experience to current students, especially the Green & Gold Ambassadors with whom she works. Pionessa is working toward her Master of Public Administration at the College.
"I really wanted a chance to share my Brockport story. I love knowing that Brockport is impacting lives all over and continues to help incoming students find their passion."
Brittany Profit-Rheinwald '13
Office Assistant, School of Education, Health and Human Services
Bachelor of Science in Art
Profit-Rheinwald considers her choice to both study and pursue a career at the College the "best decision she ever made." She currently works in both the School of Education, Health and Human Services dean's office and the United University Professions (UUP) office, as an advisor to both the sorority Phi Sigma Sigma and the College Panhellenic Council, on the student conduct board, and as a mentor for the Leadership Development Program.
"Having a career on campus is more than having great co-workers and friends or even getting to work with amazingly talented students; it's the community that we have built, the family we have become — it's home. My favorite part of working for the College is watching the students create a home here on campus; it's an honor to be a small piece of that."
Kevin Rice '98
Director of Physical Plant, Facilities and Planning
Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
As a Brockport graduate, Rice expected the College would be progressive in its maintenance programs, his area of professional interest, as he had experienced in his academic program. He "quickly seized" the opportunity to return to Brockport last summer — this time part of the staff.
"The College has been very forward-looking in its master plans and the area of sustainability initiatives."
Carla Vazquez '98
Advanced Certified Business Advisor, New York State Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Master of Arts in Communication and Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management
Vazquez enjoys using her communication background to help existing business owners, potential business owners, and students start or improve a business through the SBDC, hosted by the College. She provides one-on-one guidance, insight, and resources regarding business ownership as well as develops and delivers business ownership seminars for the community.
"I have the opportunity to give back to the community that helped me to complete my own education. SUNY Brockport is a great place to work because of the resources and benefits that it provides for employees to be successful in every area of their lives."
Angela Wesley '14
Admissions Advisor, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure Studies
Wesley chose to stay working at the College with her "second family," who she met when she was a student employee in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
"Our campus is a special place to grow, because there is always a friendly and familiar face around every corner, and nothing can beat that sense of comfort in the classroom and the workplace."
JoLynne Weitzel '97/'04
Assistant Director of Campus Recreation
Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies
Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Recreation and Leisure Studies
Weitzel facilitates development opportunities and conducts trainings and workshops for student employees in the Office of Campus Recreation. She also works as a Title IX investigator and teaches one class per semester as an adjunct lecturer in her former undergraduate program. She chose to stay at Brockport so she would be able to give back to the college and community that shaped her. As a student, she admired the passion for Brockport she noticed in faculty and staff, and as a staff member, she enjoys now sharing that same passion with future alumni she hopes will feel it, too.
"With so many alumni working on this campus, you feel the pride when you are at campus events. There is nothing more rewarding than serving students in the manner in which my mentors served me."
Patricia "Tish" Williams '96/'98
Director of Grant Development, Grants Development Office
Bachelor of Science in Communication and Master of Science in Educational Administration
Williams started working as a secretary at the College before enrolling as a student. While in that role, she earned two degrees and worked her way into a professional position. After an 11-year stretch at Monroe Community College, Williams chose to return to Brockport three years ago. She expects to finish her career here at the place she considers "home."
"The College welcomes and appreciates all contributions faculty and staff make toward reaching the goals of the institution. In times when we need to be a voice of one, we are. I am proud to say I am not only an alum of Brockport, but I am part of the continuing mission of excellence."
All BAWAFAS are encouraged to save the date for a group luncheon on Thursday, September 13, during Homecoming & Family Weekend. More details about the luncheon and the weekend's schedule will be available soon at brockport.edu/life/homecoming.