We collected a few stories from Russell Sage College students and graduates, about faculty members who made a difference in their lives.

Their experiences are great examples of the kinds of mentoring and encouragement you’ll find at Sage.

Leah Barna

In just three years, Graphic + Media Design graduate Leah Barna has already worked for one of Albany’s major design firms and gone on to create her own graphic design business. She said the role models she had at Sage — like Professors Matt McElligott, Sean Hovendick and Leah Rico — had a lot to do with this fast track she’s on. 

Ayanna Dunn

At Professor Bobbi Gabrenya’s urging, Ayanna Dunn secured an internship at the New York State Assembly as a Law & Society student. The internship turned into a full-time position she holds to this day. She’s flourished in this role, and had the chance to experience first-hand the very real impacts the law has on people and society. 

Deena Mannetti

Eileen Brownell, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of Sage’s undergraduate business programs, has made a particularly strong impression on returning adult student Deena Mannetti. “She’s put me on a higher path,” Deena says. 

Karl Schmitt

Karl Schmitt, a behavior technician with an M.S. in Applied Behavioral Analysis & Autism from  Sage, is grateful to Cheryl Davis, the ABA program’s practicum coordinator. “When it was time for me to apply for jobs, she helped me every step along the way,” he said. “And then there was Sarah Russell,” he adds. “She was so on top of the licensure process. And Lori Finn was always ready to answer my questions.” 

Danish Sharpe

Sociology and MBA graduate Danish Sharpe was in Professor Sybillyn Jenning’s office when she showed him her doctoral robe and asked him if he wanted to put it on. “She told me,” Danish remembers, “if you work hard, you can achieve this.” The first member of his family to go to college, this seemed to Danish like an unreachable dream. “But she told me, I can see your potential. Now you have to see it.” 

Rachelle Valenzuala Rodriguez

When Rachelle Valenzuala Rodriguez arrived at Sage, she thought she might want to be a physical therapist, but that she might also want to be a medical doctor. Professor Karen Balter constructed an academic plan that kept both options open. “She saved me a lot of headaches, “ Rachelle says, “which I really didn’t understand until much later.” Today, Rachelle is a second year medical student. 

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