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Alumni of the Month

Alumni of the Month - January 2011

Jennifer Santorello
Bret Strauss

Jennifer Santorello - Q&A

What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Professor Bruce Torff was an amazing professor who really opened my eyes to the idea that it didn’t matter what subject you were teaching; but rather how you handled the class and how you treated your students. 

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
After graduating, I was able to obtain a position just one month later, which is very rare for teachers.  I am currently at Plainview-Old Bethpage High School, where I started right after graduation, and I love it!  The students are amazing.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Currently I am a business teacher, DECA adviser, Business Honor Society adviser and extracurricular auditor.  Having past business experience really helped me become a business teacher and branch out within the school.  I decided to start teaching after I had a few rough years in the business world.  I had a love for teaching from the time I was younger, and I taught horseback riding lessons at the barn at which I worked. 

What (or Who) at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Marsha Iverson.  She is such an amazing networker and really knows everyone in the field.  She was an amazing help with placements and recommendations.  I do not think I would have gotten so far if it had not been for her guidance and assistance. 

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Work as hard as you can.  Don’t do what other people tell you to do. Pursue your dreams.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Enlightening.

What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Taking 55 students to the International Career Competition for DECA.  It was the greatest number of students Plainview-Old Bethpage has ever taken.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Jennifer Santorello ’09

Jennifer Santorello ’09 recently was selected as the Julian A. Milkes Outstanding New Business Educator for 2010 by the Business Teachers Association of New York State.

Jennifer grew up in Northport, New York.  After graduating from Fairfield University in 2006 with a degree in international business, she worked for a while in the business world until she decided to make a career switch and pursue a Master of Science in Education at Hofstra.  She used her business background to lay the groundwork as a future high school business teacher…

While at Hofstra, Jennifer was active in Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education.  Upon graduation, she was quickly hired as a business teacher at Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School in Plainview, New York.  During her first year, Jennifer taught Marketing I, Marketing II, Law I, Law II, and Accounting. She also held the position of assistant DECA chapter adviser, which included more than 200 members, 56 of whom advanced to the International DECA Competition. The DECA Chapter’s success was a result of the hard work and preparation that Jennifer promoted. Some DECA events included: Stand Up for a Cause Comedy Show, Fashion Fights Back Fashion Show, Jordan Abromowitz Kickball Tournament, Sandy Vanderpool Kickball Tournament, and Jordan’s Footsteps Basketball Tournament

This school year, Jennifer is teaching Marketing II, Marketing III, Career and Finance, and College Business Administration.  Additionally, she has become the adviser of the Business Honor Society and the extracurricular activities auditor.  In her free time, Jennifer enjoys riding and caring for her two horses.  She also participates in many community activities, including fundraisers for the Little Shelter, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Dress for Success Foundation. 

Bret Strauss - Q&A

What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My favorite experience at Hofstra was student teaching. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to use all the tools and resources I gathered from the courses in the program. It truly felt like the culmination of all my hard work.  During that time, I developed my teaching style and cemented my belief that teaching was what I was meant to do.

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I was hired to teach business for the Valley Stream Central High School District as well as advise the school store and Future Business Leaders of America. In my seventh year at Valley Stream, I was selected to serve as the department head for career and technical education, and currently I serve as dean of students.  Throughout my years at Valley Stream, I have seen the great impact educators can have on the lives of students, and I know how important it is to make sure that impact is positive.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I am a certified business educator for kindergarten through grade12. Before entering Hofstra’s business education master’s degree program in 2000, I owned and operated a tuxedo store in Little Neck for seven years.

What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
A passion for education and a strong work ethic.

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Work hard and take advantage of any opportunities available to you.  Immerse yourself in the subject matter and develop professional relationships with your professors and other contacts in the industry.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Opportunity.

What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
I was named the Julian Milkes Outstanding New Business Educator in 2004 by the Business Teachers Association of NYS and hired by Hofstra in 2008 as an adjunct professor in the Department of Teaching, Literacy, and Leadership (formerly the Department of Curriculum and Teaching).

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” – G.W. Hegel

Bret Strauss ’02

When Bret Strauss ’02 graduated from high school on Long Island, he never imagined he would return to education as a career…

After graduating with an undergraduate degree in business administration, he continued in the family business as owner and operator of a tuxedo store for six years. Due in large part to the encouragement and support of his wife, Elaine, he enrolled in Hofstra University’s Master of Science in Education program and never looked back.

Bret graduated from Hofstra with an M.S.Ed. in business education, and was subsequently hired as a business educator by the Valley Stream Central High School District.  In 2004 Bret received the Outstanding New Business Educator Award by the Business Teachers Association of New York State. He was promoted to department head of career and technical education in 2008 and currently serves as the full-time dean of students.  Bret oversees the school store and serves as the adviser for Future Business Leaders of America, which has won numerous state and national awards. He is also treasurer of the Long Island Business Teachers Association.

Throughout his teaching career, Bret has returned to Hofstra to speak during student teacher orientation and has served as a cooperating teacher for the University. In addition, he is an adjunct professor in Hofstra’s Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership, teaching a course on incorporating technology into the business education classroom. Bret is extremely grateful and proud to return to Hofstra in this capacity.