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After two years of pursuing degrees during a pandemic, recent grads are ready to shine.

It wasn’t a typical college experience for members of the Class of 2022, who had to work to stay focused on their studies during the COVID-19 pandemic. But nothing could dim their light.

We celebrated nearly 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students at the MVP Arena on May 14, with a keynote address from commencement speaker Sanjay Shrestha ’97, chief strategy officer and general manager of energy solutions at Plug Power, a Capital Region-based company focused on building a global green hydrogen economy. (You can read more about him in this magazine, too.)

Now, meet just a small sample of our newest alumni.

EMILY PAOLICELLI '22, G'22

EMILY PAOLICELLI ’22, G’22

BA/MSED in English Adolescence Education/Special Education

Hometown: York Town, New York


What inspired you to pursue your major?

Both my parents were educators. My mom has taught high school and middle school. She’s a foreign language teacher, and my dad is an adjunct professor at a local community college, so I grew up around it. I’ve always been a people person. I’ve always been a performer. I feel like a big part of education that people don’t talk about is that you’re up there, you’re performing, you’re in front of the classroom, you’re addressing the group, so it just really was a mix of all of my passions. I love learning. I love reading. It’s just a perfect amalgamation of everything I wanted to do in life.

What did you discover about yourself while at Saint Rose?

I came here with one idea of what I was, and what I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do. In the five years I’ve been here, I have completely flip-flopped. I do not recognize myself as the person that I was. I think the biggest change is my goals in life.

When I came here, I was a straight-A student – still am, not to brag. That was my priority, I was very, “I need to go to school. This needs to be my focus. I need to be successful at every single thing that I do.” I threw myself into theater. I threw myself into The Chronicle (student newspaper) because I needed to be good at something. Then I realized I already accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish, so I can take a step back, and COVID helped a lot of that, too. When I lost my job, it was the summer and I had nothing to do, so I took that time to slow down, and I was like, “This is better. I can breathe.”

So now my goal is to take it day by day. When I have a goal, I work towards it, I achieve it and move on. I don’t need to plan five years into the future. I don’t need to plan for anything. I just need to be good at what I’m doing now and take things as they come. So that’s the most growing that I’ve done as a person at Saint Rose. My mindset has shifted a lot thanks to the professors here and the circumstances I went to school under.


SARAH SHARKEY ’22

SARAH SHARKEY ’22

BS in Marketing

Hometown: Cairo, New York


What inspired you to pursue the major that you did?

In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to pursue business because my brother attended The College of Saint Rose and was a business major, so I really focused on the majors and minors within business. I remember talking to Dr. John Dion and Professor Mark Michalisin. I knew Saint Rose was where I wanted to be and business was what I wanted to study. The professors made it feel so at home and welcoming.

What did you discover about yourself or about your goals in your time at Saint Rose?

I’ve gained a sense of self-confidence and independence that can be reflected in my studies. I have also gained experiences, connections, and confidence, confirming that I have the tools to become a successful woman in the business world.


ISABEL JAYASINGHE '22

ISABEL JAYASINGHE ’22

BS in Biochemistry

Hometown: Southern California


What have been your favorite memories at Saint Rose?

Honestly, my favorite memories have been outside of the classroom. I was on the women’s soccer team for four years, and the friendships I created with my teammates, as well as my roommates, are ones that cannot be broken. My best memories are creating lifelong friendships and the experiences we went through. We all worked hard both inside and outside of the classroom, putting in long hours, the mental grit, the busy schedules, all of which helped me grow as a person.

What are your future plans?

I am currently interning at Stem Cultures, and I love the in-depth learning process and discovering more about cells, as well as larger aspects within laboratories. Based on this, I certainly want to complete my degree and attend medical school, but before this, I want to work in a lab for a few years to gain more experience before I am ready to dive in to extensive learning. Overall, I want to understand the deeper meaning of what I am doing before I take on a certain aspect for the rest of my life.


BRIAN HUPE '08, G'22

BRIAN HUPE ’08, G’22

MBA, also a 2008 graduate of Saint Rose with a BS in Geology

Hometown: Slingerlands, New York


What drew you to the Flex MBA program at Saint Rose?

I was enrolled and planning to attend UAlbany back in 2019 and saw a billboard for the Flex program offered at Saint Rose driving home from work. After talking through the program with Dr. [John] Dion, I was drawn to the flexibility to attend virtually, synchronously or asynchronously, or attend in person. Who doesn’t love options?

Having a young family and a demanding job, having options to complete academics that support your weekly or daily needs was critical for me and my family. I’ve utilized all options of attendance while completing my studies, and I am thankful to all the professors who support this platform.

How has the program helped you in your career?

I currently work for a 24/7 chemical manufacturing facility located just outside of Albany. My primary role is environmental compliance manager. Knowing that our regulatory and sustainability work positively impacts the environment, our employees, and surrounding communities is what keeps me motivated.

I apply what I have learned throughout the MBA in my job daily. The coursework and learnings I’ve taken away make it easier to engage in meaningful discussions across the business functions, and it has helped me to more effectively manage and lead. Having the knowledge base and understanding of multiple disciplines within business have helped me to connect information more readily and share impactful and meaningful messages with key internal and external stakeholders quickly.


TREVOR KITCHEN '22

TREVOR KITCHEN ’22

BS in Inclusive Early Childhood Education

Hometown: Guilderland, New York


What inspired you to pursue the field of education?

Alongside my love for teaching, I’d like to fill the need for educators. There is not only a need for educators, but there is also a huge need for male educators, especially at the early childhood level. While doing a lot of observation hours, fieldwork, and student teaching at so many different schools in the Capital Region, I haven’t seen any male educators, and my classmates say the same thing. I also would like to be a role model for anyone with a learning disability, since I have one, and show that there is no need to separate general education and special education students.

What are your plans after graduation?

Right now, I am weighing out my options as a teacher. I have taught general ed, and now I am teaching special education and seeing what fits best for me. I am going to go out and apply and fill the huge need for educators.


JEHLANI COMMANDER '22

JEHLANI COMMANDER ’22

BA in Communications

Hometown: East Orange, New Jersey


What inspired you to pursue communications?

When I first came to college, I came in with the intention that I always wanted to pursue a creative field. Since I have entrepreneurial experience, I wanted to expand upon my creative skill set to assist that experience.

What have been your favorite memories at Saint Rose?

Getting accepted into the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network program is my favorite memory at Saint Rose. I have been given a lot of networking, professional, and career-development opportunities through this program. It has allowed me to meet and network with a lot of people in my field.

By COURTLAND DAVERNE ’22, KASEEM GOMEZ ’22, and PETER GALICA ’22

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