Where are they now?
By Rachel Fisher
Binghamton alumni do amazing things — and we love to tell their stories. But, as time goes by, we often wonder, "What happened to some of those people who have been in our magazines, websites and social media posts?" We went back and talked to a few of them so we could answer that one big question: “Where are they now?”
Mike Zella '15 and Ashley Haugstatter '14
Then: In 2012, Mike and Ashley built their 345-square-foot home in Endicott. When they began building, Mike was a student in the School of Management. But his involvement in the construction inspired him to switch his major to mechanical engineering, and he hoped to start his own construction company. Ashley was a sophomore majoring in psychology, a member/captain of the Kickline Team and an undergraduate admissions tour guide.
Now: Michael is a mechanical engineer at UTC Carrier. Ashley is a pediatric intensive care unit nurse at Upstate Medical University and a member of the Syracuse Silver Knights Dance Team. During their final year at school, they built a truck-mounted camper from the bottom up and traveled across the country in it after graduation. The camper was even smaller than their house! They spent an entire month visiting 27 states and nine national parks!
Quotable: "Good things never come from comfort zones — so step out of yours and do something new and exciting!" -- Ashley Haugstatter
Aaron Cohn '11, MS '12
Then: Aaron graduated from the School of Management in 2011 with bachelor's degrees in consulting and leadership, and accounting. He also completed his master’s in accounting at Binghamton. As a student, he was the vice president of programming for the Student Association, a co-founder and president of the SnoCats Ski and Snowboard Club, president of College-in-the-Woods, president of Cayuga Hall and part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Scholars Program executive board. Aaron also created the first library rave!
Now: After graduation, Aaron co-founded LaundryPuppy and served as CEO of the company. In 2014, LaundryPuppy was acquired by FlyCleaners and Aaron is now director of customer experience and growth for FlyCleaners. He is also the co-founder of LIU, the largest Ultimate Frisbee community on Long Island. His goal is to create experiences that people love and to make an impact on the world.
Quotable: "I love a phrase that my old roommate, Andrew Silverman, used to use: ‘Be a [expletive]-ing person.’ In other words, stop being such a business robot in the office. Make friends with people, offer help, don't expect anything in return. Stop with the elevator pitches … become interested in other people and have genuine conversations. Generally, be nice. And don't stress so hard — things don't work out all the time. You'll be OK."
Erik Andrus '94
Then: Erik graduated in 1994 with degrees in Arabic and anthropology. As a rice farmer and baker in Vermont, he is a champion of community-supported agriculture. He built a sailing barge named Ceres, loaded it with local produce and goods, and sailed it 300 miles from the shores of Lake Champlain to New York City in 2013 and 2014. The Vermont Sail Project, as it is known, was an enormous project for which many people volunteered their time and talent. But the effort was not sustainable, and Ceres did not sail in 2015.
Now: Andrus writes on his blog, The Vermont Sail Freight Project, that it wasn’t the economics of the travel or the price of what was being sold that scuttled the project. It was finding the right partners because, with a farm and a young family, Andrus could not do it all himself. “Ideally, the operator of the boat would be an equity partner in the company. I couldn't find anyone to take this on.”
Quotable: “I haven’t lost my love for this work … but currently our mission is on hold, with no plans to revive. It’s also for sale, as is.”
Then: In 2013, tenor Hana Ryu, then a master’s student at Binghamton, traveled to Los Angeles to become part of the singing group Forte, “a classical crossover operatic pop trio,” which appeared on the television reality show America’s Got Talent. Their performance drew a standing ovation from the audience and judges. Forte was on its way to the finals when Ryu had to drop out of the competition because he was not a U.S. citizen.
Now: Ryu has put school on hiatus and rejoined Forte, which has performed at a number of high-profile charity events. The group has also recorded its second album, The Future Classics, which includes its take on music composed for Game of Thrones. The CD, which Ryu says is not the usual crossover repertoire, but a new genre, is expected to be out this year. Follow Forte on Facebook for updates and hear their Game of Thrones song on YouTube.
Quotable: “What I enjoy about being a crossover musician is diversity. I sing classical music, Broadway musical theater stuff and modern pop songs, even electronic dance-style music. So people can approach, very easily, our music. I think it's more relaxed and comfortable. I would love to do [a tour of Asia] so we can show our music to Asian people, too. That is one of my goals.”
Jenna Wolfe '96
Then: Jenna graduated with bachelor's degrees in English and French in 1996. As a student, she interned at WICZ FOX 40 in Binghamton. After graduation, she was the news and sports reporter for WICZ.
Now: Between 2007 and 2014, Jenna worked for NBC News as a TODAY news correspondent and then, for the past year, as the lifestyle and fitness correspondent. She recently left the show and is currently pursuing her own endeavors, including freelancing as a correspondent for The Dr. Oz Show, filming an episode of Law and Order: SVU, training clients and launching her website, jennawolfe.com.
Quotable: “Say yes to things you never would have. Say yes to experiences you normally would shy away from. Say yes to mistakes, blunders and bloopers. Don't worry about scraping your knees. Re-engage and say yes."
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