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2016 Student Spotlights

Conor O'Sullivan with Friend

Conor O'Sullivan

Hey everyone! My name is Conor O'Sullivan and I’m a freshman in ERE. I’m from a suburb in Massachusetts called North Andover, which is about 45 minutes north of Boston. I’ve lived there my entire life and have made some close friends there. I was fairly active in my high school clubs. I was part of the marching band for 3 years, the soccer team for 4 years and wrestling for 4 years. I was also part of the environmental club for 2 years and the marching band for 3 years. I graduated high school in 2015 and entered ESF this year as a freshman.

When the time came around to apply to colleges, I wasn’t feeling excited to about going off to school. Instead of going straight to college from high school my friend and I decided to take a year off before going to college. With some through planning and budgeting we managed to convince our parents to let us go off in the big scary world that was the United States.

We ended up visiting all the National Parks in the contiguous 48 states. It was a surreal experience being in some of the most beautiful places in the whole world and getting to do what we loved every day. While every park had something unique that made it stand apart from the other a few stood out in particular. I loved Sequoia National Park and Grand Tetons National Park. The trees were beyond belief in Sequoia and the Grand Tetons seemed to be a landscape someone could only dream.

We volunteered along the way and met some amazing people doing incredibly interesting things. We were part of a program called WWOOF which allowed us to volunteer at organic farms across the country. We also got to volunteer at a wolf sanctuary in Colorado which was like a dream come true for me. We experienced firsthand the kindness that people are capable of in the world. It was incredibly inspiring.

I am really enjoying my time at ESF so far! I’ve met lots of really down to earth people that are passionate about environmental issues that are really important to the future of the planet. I’m a part of lots of cool clubs like the Outing club at Syracuse. I chose ERE so that I could help improve the planet the best I could and I think ESF will help me along my journey and achieve that goal.

Kimberly Badger

Kimberly Badger

Hey fellow Stumpies! I'm Kimberly Badger, a freshman majoring in Conservation Biology. I'm from Ossining, New York, which is in Westchester County, less than an hour north of NYC. I come from a family of four, but that doesn't include the huge number of pets I've had throughout my life-including cats, birds, guinea pigs, snakes, a rabbit, turtles, and a bearded dragon. My mother exposed me to the natural environment at a young age. The more I was exposed to the natural world, the more captivated I was by all it had to offer, and thus my mother's love for nature became my passion as well. From then on I have felt strongly about conserving the environment and protecting wildlife. I was sure that I wanted to work with the natural environment, but not until recently did I know that I want to conduct research.

My idea of science changed when I attended the Teatown Environmental Science Academy (TESA) upon entering my sophomore year, where I received hands-on experience with the theories, tools, and methods that scientists use to study environmental conservation. My eyes were opened to the world of field research, where I could fulfill my need to be outside and my love of science. Within the program, I began preliminary research that focused on the pileated woodpecker, a keystone species whose conservation is essential to the function of its ecosystem. This experience introduced me to the world of research, where I could actively help protect the natural environment. Through completing my preliminary research and my more expansive research, I learned that I favor the structured independence that comes with doing field work. Together these experiences revealed a more complete image of what science is, and through my work I am more confident that I can make a contribution to science.

I continued studying woodpecker species after TESA, but I expanded upon my previous project. My high school is well known nationwide for its science research program, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it. One of the teachers of this program is actually how I found out about ESF, as she is an alumnus. My research investigated the impacts of urbanization on woodpeckers and habitat makeup along an urban-rural gradient in the lower Hudson Valley of New York State, near the largest urban center in the nation, NYC. I conducted a series of bird surveys to analyze the abundance and species richness of woodpeckers, and I completed forest inventories to reveal changes in forest structure. Data analysis took a multi-tier approach utilizing standard statistical approaches, GIS analysis of land use data, and mathematical modeling to predict woodpecker detection and occupancy.

I am hoping to continue studying birds throughout the rest of my scientific career. Research is my ultimate passion and I hope to one day get a PhD. My passion for birds goes beyond the realm of science. I've been a birder for as long as I can remember, so you can always find me around campus and in Oakwood Cemetery doing bird calls. You'll notice I almost always have my camera with me. Photography is another one of my passions, which I hope to incorporate into my career. That led to me becoming a photographer and co-editor of ESF's yearbook, Empire Forester. I also create a lot of art, including paintings and drawings. And besides physical art, I am also a singer and member of ESF's only A capella group, the Ecotones! Throughout my life I've been in a bunch of choruses and choirs. If you can't find me in any of those fields, then check the softball field. This is my first year not playing softball, but I've played for ten years-pitching and playing first and third base.

I am so excited to continue being so active at ESF and keep following my passions. The opportunities are endless!

Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes

Hello all, my name is Jose Reyes. I am a returnee to the lovely world of ESF. I grew up in the Bronx, NY in a four bedroom apartment in the projects with nine other individuals, eight boys and one girl. My mother, my sister and younger brother all had their own rooms, leaving one room for six people which, needless to say, was a tight squeeze. Growing up in the poorest area in the Bronx really opened my eyes to what I did not want to become when I grew older. Going to school I encountered many people who wanted to gang up on me and my brothers when we were alone. We had to fight or flight for our lives constantly. To ensure I was able to take care of myself and my brothers I took martial arts, boxing and capoeira until I mastered all three. I went about high school as one of the top students academically while playing two sports; physical fitness and football. When it came time to decide which college to go to, I made a choice based on my high school sweetheart. I chose not to go to one of the top schools in the country so I would not lose her. A year passed and I lost her and transferred to ESF after hearing about its wildlife program.

My dream has always been to help those who could not help themselves. I realized this was my dream one day after seeing a cat victim of a hit and run. Before this incident I built my own animal first aid kit and when I saw this cat in the middle of the road injured I went to its rescue. I stopped the profuse bleeding the best I could, just in time to get her to a vet. The cat survived thanks to the vet for stitching her up. After seeing her marvelous recovery I knew helping animals is what I wanted to do, but at a much larger scale and with more diversified animals.

Wildlife animals are being killed and hurt in all kinds of ways and by all kinds of people.  Animals are being lost at a high rate and someone needs to help stop that. I am working to be that somebody, the next Steve Iriwn. During my first year at ESF I enlisted in the United Stated Navy Reserves and was deployed at the end of the spring semester to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There I dealt with some of the world's most dangerous people and I learned a lot about what I am capable of. I kept my studies up online while deployed. In between my 18 hour shifts and my 4 hours of sleep a night I managed to get my associates degree.

Upon my return I enrolled full time back into ESF and am continuing my degree while raising two kids. While in school I am working on getting my license to raise endangered animals in hopes to raise population numbers for animals who desperately need it. I am enjoying my time back in ESF and I look forward to graduating and joining the world of zoologist.

Andrew Noble

Andrew Noble

Hey ESF, I'm Andrew, a freshman majoring in ERE. I was born in a remote village in Alaska named Bethel, but since then, I've moved to Eagle River, a town outside of Anchorage. To make things even more crazy, I am a lifelong dog musher, and my family runs a kennel of 22 dogs back up north. Now you may be wondering how I could have possibly found ESF from so far away, but I've actually spent a month or two each year in a camp that my grandfather built up in the Adirondacks, so New York was a natural starting point for my college search. My father is from California's bay area, so I've spent a bit of time there as well.

The unique upbringing I've had is a defining feature of my life, and I have my parents to thank for it. From getting me my first dog to sending me on trips to New Zealand and Europe, my parents have been incredible in every way. These experiences as well as the ones I've had growing up in Alaska and the 'dacks have shaped me into an avid outdoorsman. At any given time, I'd rather be outside. This summer has been particularly awesome, with backpacking in New Zealand, Yosemite, and Denali multiple times. I've also hiked a dozen or so of the Adirondack high peaks, including Marcy a few years back. I've been a musher for longer than I've been anything else, starting with a one-dog team back when I was four or five, all the way up to seven dogs in my last year of junior mushing two years ago. Can't forget to mention my amazing sister, who's completed the Jr. Iditarod, goes to college north of Syracuse at St. Lawrence University, and is a frequent companion on outdoor adventures.

I always preferred math and science over humanities in school, which is the main reason I'm majoring in ERE here. While I originally wanted to go into mechanical engineering, I hope that I can specialize more in that when I attend graduate school. I've always been really fascinated by futuristic technology of all kinds, so I'm hoping ERE can catapult me into a career dealing with that sort of thing.

Some of the other things I enjoy are soccer (I'm on the men's team here at ESF), downhill skiing, speaking German and also playing the saxophone. I also swam for four years in high school. I like to go on runs as well, but I've never done it competitively.

I'm excited for my years at ESF, and I hope I can make some great friends and lasting memories along the way. GO ESF!

David Loewen

David Loewen

Hello ESF. My name is David Loewen and I just transferred here. I was born in Wisconsin, lived in Russia for three years as a young child. I've actually been to a ton of countries, a few being Egypt, Austria, Jamaica. I moved to Binghamton in 2001 when my dad got a job at Binghamton University.

I started college at SUNY University at Buffalo, as a mechanical engineering major. I didn't really want to go to college at first, but I really didn't want to stay home either. After drifting through most of the year, and making some choices I shouldn't have, UB and I ended up parting ways at the end of my freshman semester.

I had never heard of ESF before last summer. One night I was playing pick up basketball with one of my high school coaches. I noticed his shirt said ESF on it, and I asked him if it was a school. He told me his son went there after transferring from Oswego and really liked it. Later I looked it up and it seemed to be a great fit for my interests it fit with a lot of the things I valued. I visited in September, liked what I saw, and decided to apply.

Concurrently, I had the next year off from school and had to decide what to do for that time. I made the choice to leave the country October 1st, 2015 and go to New Zealand. In New Zealand, I went to Capernwray ABS (Adventure Bible School), where I went kayaking, tramping, and caving all over New Zealand, just to name a few things. I also volunteered at Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary, helping New Zealand's DOC monitor the endemic Kiwi bird, monitor seed fall, and also cutting tracks, giving tours of the forest, and building cool things like pizza ovens and plumbing systems. The coolest thing I probably did there was hold a 14 day old kiwi chick while helping a DOC ranger tag it. I also spent three weeks touring Fiji with a local guide named Lani, through the organization Green Lion, which was amazing as well. I have way too many stories from that time to write about.

While I was in New Zealand it was hard to keep up with college applications due to limited cell service and electricity most of the time, but I got my application. I truly didn't think I'd be accepted to ESF, but I had a ton of help from Karaline Rothwell my admissions counselor (she is really amazing), and obviously I ended up getting in.

Now, here I am in my third week at ESF as an Environmental Resources Engineer. I'm playing on the basketball team, I've joined some clubs, and have met some interesting people here so far. Some how life led me here, and I'm thankful for the second chance. I know I'm going to make the most out of all the opportunities here. Go oaks!

Ben Russ IV

Ben Russ IV

Hi, my name is Ben Russ IV and I was born and raised in Geneva, New York up until I was about 12 years old. When I was twelve I moved to Rochester, NY. The High school I attended was called Northeast College Prepatory High School up until I graduated in June.

In high school I had to persevere through many different struggles and obstacles in order to maintain my success. But thanks to a great teaching staff who inspired me through their love of helping others, they pushed me to become the person I am today. I was very involved in high school. I participated in three sports, football, basketball and baseball. I was even awarded athlete of the year this past fall. I’m much more than an athlete. I partook in Science Olympiad, Envirothon, the morning announcements, and I was even elected class president in 2015. At the end I was ranked 7th in my class. I’m not saying I am perfect but I sure do work hard.

My major at SUNY ESF is Bioprocess Engineering. I’ve always had a passion for many different sciences and am very interested by the challenges of mathematics. Hopefully one day I can become a world renown Environmental Engineer and make a true difference in the world.

Standing at 6 feet 6 inches tall and am also a part of the mighty oaks basketball team. Being led by an amazing coach such as Coach Blair, hopefully I can make as much of a difference on the court as off of it. Who knows, maybe I’ll be the first the first NBA player to win a Nobel Prize. The only boundaries in life are the ones you limit yourself to.

Jessica Kuntz

Jessica Kuntz

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Kuntz. I am from Ithaca, New York which is about an hour away from Syracuse. I am planning on majoring in Biotechnology and also receiving a concentration in Spanish at Syracuse University. I’ve always been very passionate about learning languages and experiencing different cultures. I have been to Spain three different times through Spanish immersion programs. It was there that I fell in love with the Spanish language, culture and of course food. My goal is to become completely fluent in Spanish, in order to combine Spanish and medicine in a future career. I’ve always been fascinated in medicine, due to it being a career that allows me to help people. As a doctor, I would love to be a part of Doctors Without Borders, traveling to different parts of the world that are in need of medical help. I am hoping that Biotechnology will open many doors for me, such as going to medical school or other career paths.

Science and the environment have also been a passion of mine, so therefore SUNY- ESF seemed like the perfect choice for me. I also wanted to go to a school that would allow me to have smaller class sizes. SUNY-ESF is unique in the fact that it had small class sizes yet a large social scene through Syracuse University. Therefore, it was just what I was looking for!
A little more about me, I tend to be pretty outgoing and love going on hikes, adventures and so forth! I love to travel and will definitely be traveling abroad sometime in college career. I’m a snowboard instructor at Greek Peak but I also ski. I love all outdoor sports and just being outside. I can’t wait to meet everyone and am looking forward to an amazing freshman year.

Isabella Veeramani

Isabella Veeramani

I’m Isabella Veeramani, I live in Malden, Massachusetts, and I will be majoring in Environmental Science as well as planning to minor in Environmental Health. I went to Essex Agricultural and Technical High School, which was later changed to Essex Technical High School. There I majored in Environmental Technology.

I’ve always been the shy and quiet one, especially in high school. I am #1 at relaxing; I enjoy reading, playing video games, listening to music, watching TV and movies, as well as sleeping. Contrary to this, I work hard and always finish assignments. I strive to be the best and I’m the friendly competitive when it comes to academics. I love to make friends and helping others, but I’m really bad at talking to people. I enjoy trying new things that challenge me to think and find learning extremely fun.

More stuff about me is that I’ve traveled a bunch. I’ve been to England, France, and Italy for a school trip, and Indonesia and Singapore. Additionally, I have been to my mother’s home country, Brazil and my father’s home country, Malaysia. I play the violin, badminton, and archery. Recently I learned how to swim.

All my life I’ve wanted to be in the science field no matter. It ranged from zoology to astronomy to marine biology. What got me truly decided on a set career was my friends and experiencing what it would be like to work in the environmental field. A lot of my decisions were affected by my friends. Deciding on ESF was just one of them and I’m entirely grateful for it. Looking into the school made it obvious that this is where I need to be to meet my goals. I hope to receive a Ph.D. in something (not entirely sure in what yet) and become an environmental consultant for the United Nations.

Andrew Liang

Andrew Liang

Andrew Liang upholds a simple philosophy to his daily life—don’t let your dream stay as a dream. At the age of 14, he decided to move to United States to continue his education. As much as Andrew loves to challenge himself, the new culture and the new environment have presented unique obstacles for him. “ If I dedicate consistent time and effort towards to what I love to do, I will eventually overcome barriers and make things possible.” he says.

When Andrew first started school in America, he can clearly remember the first few weeks of school were rough, having many butterflies in his stomach, while figuring out a comfortable way to communicate with other people and adapt to the new environment immediately. Before passing the standardized test by improving the language, there’s a time he can never forget that he has to sitting in the ESL classroom learning basic English literature for two periods a day and he couldn't wait to advance to the regular English class.

After all of the experiences and the struggles he has with learning English. He strongly feels “it is important to work hard no matter if you are naturally talented or not.” A new journey began when Andrew started to develop a passion for theatre performance, after he saw his friends acting under the spotlight. He kept on telling himself that it doesn’t matter how much work it required for him to stand on the stage, he is willing to sacrifice all of his spare time for this dream. After all the practices and failing many auditions, the dedication has given him the opportunity to be able to perform for the last three years.

Andrew confidently put down ESF, the dream school, for early decision when it comes to
the time for college application, knowing this is where he will belong to without even visiting the
school. He will pursue in landscape architecture for his major at ESF for the next 5 years, as an
new adventure and task for him. “I want to be a part of the ESF Ecotones,” he says. “Devoting
myself to my passion is what motivates me everyday.”

Katya Hartzell

Katya Hartzell

I'm Katya and I'm from Buffalo, NY majoring in Forest Resources Management. During high school I played an array of instruments from alto saxophone to xylophone. I was in groups such as Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Indoor Percussion. I also played Volleyball and ran cross country. I chose ESF not only because of my passion for the environment, but for the extreme friendliness of the student body. Everyone is so welcoming, accepting, and happy. I knew it was a place that I had to be. I'm most excited to join some clubs like Primitive Pursuits and Bob Marshall and learn skills that I wouldn't have the opportunity to anywhere else. I hope to work for the national park service being a part ranger after I graduate from ESF

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