Fisher graduate Dan Agan decided to roll right into his graduate education to pursue an MBA immediately after earning his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Fisher. Fisher’s beautiful campus, small class sizes, and great reputation are what first appealed to Dan. Given these factors, he says it “made perfect sense” to continue with his studies here.
Dan was able to balance school with studying for the CPA exam (which he says is like a full-time job), thanks to his late afternoon and evening classes. Today he works as a senior auditor of internal audit and advisory services for Constellation Brands in Rochester.
His professors had opened their office doors to students, making them feel welcome at any time, which Dan says made the tough course load much easier to handle. He also says many of the professors went out of their way to help him and his classmates during the rigorous recruiting process.
Kellie Burns ’15
Kellie Burns ’15 pursued her MBA while working full-time at Paychex as a project and product integrity manager.
“Thoroughly impressed” by her undergraduate experience at Fisher, she knew that the supportive faculty and staff at the College would be what she would need to get through graduate work—especially while balancing school with family and a full-time job.
While she had a little less sleep and fewer lunches with colleagues during the program, she says the experience “comes with no regrets.”
Kellie also says her time at Fisher was much less about the actual grade she achieved and more about the experience of learning. The professors, guest speakers, staff, and fellow students created an “incredible life experience” for her.
Originally from New York City, Kamilla Claiborne first came to Buffalo to pursue her undergraduate degree in criminal justice, then enrolled in Fisher’s childhood/special education master’s program. While working toward her graduate degree, she worked as a paralegal at the Monroe County Public Defender's office.
An atmosphere of diversity on the Fisher campus, as well as experienced faculty, brought Kamilla here.
She says her time at Fisher was a great learning experience. While it was difficult to juggle work and school at first, she was able to overcome those obstacles.
Her advice to anyone looking to continue their education is to prioritize, set goals, be willing to work hard, and stay focused. She says that her peers at Fisher helped her to do just that.
Josh Harris first graduated from Fisher in 2005 with a degree in Spanish and a minor in education. Today, he is a Spanish teacher at Wayne Central Middle School, and decided to turn his attention back to Fisher to pursue his master’s degree in special education.
The small class sizes and personal attention from professors were two things he knew he’d find after having been an undergraduate student at the College. He says the School of Education at Fisher is a “cut above the rest,” and he credits them for daily compliments he receives about the skills he brings to his classroom.
Josh says the College provides students with a supportive, practical, and professional environment for learning, and also gives them a meaningful education along with a skill set that they can use globally.
Dr. Kishon Hickman
Dr. Kishon Hickman graduated from Fisher’s Ed.D. in Executive Leadership at the Iona College extension site. The former high school math teacher went on to pursue a career in law enforcement, serving in various roles within the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Dr. Hickman currently serves in what he describes as his “dream job” as the special projects lieutenant in the Community Affairs Bureau of the NYPD.
While he describes the program as demanding, he emphasizes the fact that he felt welcomed and valued, and considers members of the Class of 2018 as some of his closest friends. He praises his peers in the program, citing their pride, passion, and fortitude as equally important to his success as the enthusiastic and supportive faculty.
He encourages current students to explore to find their passion, and once they identify their professional plan, to be relentless in the pursuit of their goals. He urges them to learn all they can while at Fisher, and to “explore the things you don't have answers to, while you lay the groundwork for your passion.”
He plans to apply the skills and the confidence he gained from his Fisher degree to continue working to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement officers in New York City.
MBA graduate George Jegadesh was attracted to Fisher because of the small class size and the dedicated and passionate professors
While he sacrificed some sleep, he was able to balance his work and school lifestyles well.
He says his favorite thing about Fisher was the faculty, whom he calls "experienced, dedicated, accessible, and passionate."
Jennifer Costello '20
Library Media Specialist, Laurelton-Pardee Intermediate School
Jennifer Costello '20 was drawn to Fisher's Online Library Media program because of its flexibility. A full-time teacher, she wanted a program that allowed her to work on her own schedule around her family and work responsibilities. She found the program challenging, but manageable despite her busy life. She shares, "At first it is very overwhelming – it is a ton of rigorous work in a really short period of time. But it is doable and worth it. The year will fly by and at the end, you'll have your graduate degree and be ready to start a new journey."
The program faculty helped her to grow as a professional and provided her with the skills she needed to gain employment in her field while still completing her degree. My first four spring and summer courses really prepared me for my interview, and I was able to speak about my goals and philosophy as a library media specialist," she observed. Costello describes the faculty as both understanding and flexible and praised their support, advice, and encouragement.
She is grateful for the supportive connections she was able to make in the program and advises future program participants to reach out to their cohort colleagues. "Set up a group chat or meet in person – you are all going through it together and it's nice to have others to talk to. Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for help!"
As a full-time library media specialist in a middle school setting, Costello looks forward to growing in her role and learning from colleagues. She credits the program for equipping her with the skills she needs to be successful in the long-term. "I really love the flexibility of the program and the fact that it still felt personal from behind a desk. I found the program to be affordable, flexible to my schedule, and meaningful."
Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres has always been driven by a commitment to social justice. As commissioner of the Department of Recreation and Youth Services for the City of Rochester, she is able to pursue her dream job and make a difference in the community. Her day typically features meetings with city and community stakeholders, as well as partners in strategic initiatives, in addition to overseeing 3,600 acres of parks and playgrounds.
She credits the executive leadership program at Fisher with helping her identify business and leadership concepts she can apply directly to her career. Dr. Lyman-Torres describes the faculty at Fisher as vital to her success, providing both guidance and support during the academically challenging program. She shares that “St. John Fisher College has a reputation for excellence which is carried out in every program and through every faculty member.”
Dr. Lyman-Torres encourages Fisher students to strategically fill their time with activities to keep them unique and relevant, in addition to networking with Fisher peers and alumni. To potential students, she says Fisher “offers programs that can help you change the community and challenge yourself like never before. You will leave Fisher knowing that the return on investment will be substantial both personally, and for your community.”
Literacy coach Allison Rioux spent her days at French Road Elementary School in Brighton and her nights in the literacy education master’s program not too long ago.
As an undergraduate at Fisher, she loved the professors and felt that they really pushed her to become a great teacher. So, it seemed natural to continue her education with those same individuals.
She felt that she had a good balance of theory and practice in the program, thanks to the faculty, and she was able to bring back what she was learning to her classroom and apply it to her teaching right away.
She always felt comfortable seeking professional advice from her teachers, who all felt as passionate as she does about literacy. Completing the degree helped her to realize that literacy teaching and learning was her true calling in life.
Cassie Ripley '19
A third-year teacher at Rush-Henrietta High School, Cassie Ripley completed her undergraduate degree at Fisher in inclusive childhood education before embarking on a master's degree in literacy education. She credits Fisher for providing opportunities to develop as a student, a teacher, and a person.
For Cassie, the most valuable element of her graduate program has been the sheer volume of knowledge imparted by the faculty at Fisher, which she says helped her become a well-rounded educator with a solid foundation in culturally responsive pedagogy. She describes the faculty as “incredible” and shares that her coursework at Fisher continues to impact her curriculum design and lesson planning in the classroom. Unsurprisingly, Cassie’s favorite place on campus is Lavery Library, which she frequented for both individual and group work, as well as for the resources available to education majors. Her advice to new or current Fisher students is to be open-minded, take risks, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.