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Faces of Success

Meet eight graduates who found their pride and purpose at Hofstra University. From a public health educator to the first African-American, female vascular surgeon certified by the American Board of Surgery, these alumni have applied what they learned at Hofstra to achieve success in their fields.

Ezron D. Bryson

Ezron D. Bryson
B.S. Athletic Training, 2009

Catherine Hunter

Catherine Hunter
B.A. Video/Television Production, 2000

Delaney

Michael Delaney
B.E. Aerospace Engineering, 1985

Mendes

Donna Mendes
B.A. Biology, 1973

Gloria Jackson-McLean

Gloria Jackson-McLean
B.S. Community Health, 2005

Steve Kullback

Steve Kullback
BA, Communication Arts, 1987

George Calvo

George Calvo
B.S. Computer Science and Mathematics, 2015

Lance Leighton

Lance Leighton
BBA, Business Management, 2008

Ezron D. Bryson

B.S. Athletic Training, 2009

Ezron D. Bryson

Ezron Bryson came to Hofstra without any knowledge of athletic training. Now, he's just started his fourth season with the New York Jets as an assistant athletic trainer. A certified corrective exercise specialist and strength and conditioning specialist, Bryson provides professional athletes with preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

"Each individual athlete has their own program that is specifically crafted by me and the rest of the staff so that they can recover appropriately, get healthier faster, and return to the field safely."

Bryson's time at Hofstra solidified his interest in sports medicine and ultimately prepared him for a very successful career. His best advice for Hofstra students? "Take advantage of your individual network and tap into others. Speak to as many staff and faculty members about your dreams or projected future because you never know what piece of advice you can get or how that person may be able to help you."

Bryson made connections at Hofstra that helped him both personally and professionally. "With such an intimate program and having the same professors for many classes, who also happen to be your advisors, a strong lifetime bond can develop. One professor/advisor/mentor who had an impact on me from the first time I met her is Dr. Jayne Kitsos Ellinger. She always held me accountable and never allowed me to slack off. Hofstra is blessed to have someone like her and people like her working at the University."

George Calvo

B.S. Computer Science and Mathematics, 2015

George Calvo

George Calvo received an email from one of his professors during his sophomore year at Hofstra. The email was to inform him about a data engineering internship in New York City. The hiring manager happened to be a Hofstra alum, and Calvo says the connection was instant. Needless to say, he secured this opportunity, where he learned key data and business intelligence skills that helped to get him where he is now - with Major League Baseball (MLB).

Calvo is a data and business intelligence engineer for the MLB, where he is responsible for standardizing and visualizing large data sets, and generating reports and dashboards that help bring analytics and insights to data. He is driven by the opportunity to grow the game of baseball through technology - an interest he did not always have.

"My love for computer science ignited in a first-year seminar class. Within days of the class beginning, I began to feel a passion and love for computer science and math. My professor, Dr. Ostheimer, recognized this growing passion and helped steer me down a path that led to the success I have had early on in my career."

Calvo credits his experiences at Hofstra with helping to mold him into the person he is today. "From club sports to leadership roles to countless hours in the computer lab, I often reflect on those experiences when facing difficult situations in my career. Always having similar experiences to fall back on and learn from is key to making smart decisions."

Donna Mendes

B.A. Biology, 1973

Donna Mendes

A senior vascular surgeon at St. Luke's-Roosevelt (SR) Hospital Center, Donna Mendes holds the distinction of being the first African-American, female vascular surgeon certified by the American Board of Surgery.

Being a pioneer was not something she recognized immediately. "I was busy just doing my best in my work, so it didn't hit me right away. I came to realize I was different because there were not many female vascular surgeons in general. I would go to large conferences and conventions, and the vast majority of the people there were white men."

Donna has been at St. Luke's since completing her vascular fellowship at Englewood Hospital in 1984. She has been chief of vascular services at SR, and at North General Hospital, one of SR's affiliated hospitals. Currently, she is site director of vascular surgery at St. Luke's, and assistant clinical professor of surgery at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

While at Hofstra, Donna aced her science classes for her declared major in speech pathology, and soon switched over to premed. "My adviser, Beatrice Nivens, was very encouraging, and she is still a friend to this day," she noted.

Today, Donna tries to mentor other young women interested in her field. "Clearly there are still challenges in the health care profession for minorities," she explained. "Some of the same people that I went through school and training with received a lot more mentoring and guidance along the way than I did. In many ways I'm considered a role model, so it's up to me to be a mentor to other women - both white and minority - interested in vascular surgery."

Catherine Hunter

B.A. Video/Television Production, 2000

Catherine Hunter

"For as long as I can remember, being in television is what I wanted to do," Catherine Hunter said. "When I began searching for a college, Hofstra just seemed to have it all. The facilities were fabulous, and I knew that as a freshman I could be working with the equipment in the studios. At other places, you had to wait until your junior year. I thought that was absurd."

As a junior, Catherine was among students taking turns producing and directing FYI, a then new weekly magazine show, and as a senior she directed a live music show, Live From Studio A, starring the group Kerosene Hye. She was especially enthused about being so near New York City, "one of the meccas for the television world, and I could take a train and be there in 25 minutes." That close proximity enabled her, in senior year, to intern two days a week at Maury Povich’s syndicated show.

Catherine, the associate director on ESPN's signature show SportsCenter since 2004, noted, "I have two Emmys for SportsCenter, I'm proud to say."

She tries to return periodically to Hofstra "to speak to a class about working in television and to observe some of my old classes." Professors like Randy Hillebrand and Peter Gershon "helped mold me into what I am today," she pointed out.

Michael Delaney

B.E. Aerospace Engineering, 1985

Michael Delaney

"For as long as I can remember, being in television is what I wanted to do," Catherine Hunter said. "When I began searching for a college, Hofstra just seemed to have it all. The facilities were fabulous, and I knew that as a freshman I could be working with the equipment in the studios. At other places, you had to wait until your junior year. I thought that was absurd."

As a junior, Catherine was among students taking turns producing and directing FYI, a then new weekly magazine show, and as a senior she directed a live music show, Live From Studio A, starring the group Kerosene Hye. She was especially enthused about being so near New York City, "one of the meccas for the television world, and I could take a train and be there in 25 minutes." That close proximity enabled her, in senior year, to intern two days a week at Maury Povich’s syndicated show.

Catherine, the associate director on ESPN's signature show SportsCenter since 2004, noted, "I have two Emmys for SportsCenter, I'm proud to say."

She tries to return periodically to Hofstra "to speak to a class about working in television and to observe some of my old classes." Professors like Randy Hillebrand and Peter Gershon "helped mold me into what I am today," she pointed out.

Gloria Jackson-McLean

B.S. Community Health, 2005

Gloria Jackson-McLean

"Shortly after graduating from Hofstra's School of Education and Allied Human Services (SOEAHS), Gloria Jackson-McLean became a public educator at Winthrop University Hospital's Long Island Regional Poison and Drug Information Center. In this capacity, she developed comprehensive education programs on poison prevention, and then presented these programs to communities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties via lectures, workshops and seminars. She also collaborated with other educators in New York state and the American Association of Poison Control Centers to create a systematic and statewide approach to public education.

"I have always wanted to be a public health educator," Gloria said. "My goal after graduation was to obtain a position as a health educator with an organization that focuses on health education, health promotion and disease prevention. Thanks to Hofstra's SOEAHS, my goal has been achieved and the framework is set for me to advance higher on this career path."

In October 2006 Gloria relocated to Georgia. She is a family independence case manager in the Division of Family and Children Services for the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

In addition to "the sense of belonging" that she felt, Gloria fondly recalls the professors at SOEAHS. "They were always willing to listen, advise and assist, especially in the Department of Health Professions and Family Studies."

When asked what advice she would give those considering positions in her field, Gloria suggested that "pursuing a B.S. in community health at Hofstra's SOEAHS would be their first and wisest decision. This degree provides a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences," she explained, "and can lead to a variety of career options in health - including health education, public health, epidemiology, health administration, nursing, social work, health counseling and medicine."

Lance Leighton

BBA, Business Management, 2008

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Lance Leighton describes his time at Hofstra as "unforgettable" and credits the University with helping to get him where he is today as senior managing director/commercial real estate advisor for Savills.

"The majority of my courses were very interesting and applicable to what I do career-wise," said Leighton. "With a major in business management, my course work included accounting, marketing, finance, international business, and human resources - all of which have contributed to my successful career."

In his current role, Leighton mostly represents office space users - primarily financial services firms - in commercial office space leasing transactions. He and his team have represented over 200 hedge funds and asset management tenants.

Leighton's advice for Hofstra students: "Pursue a career in something they love. I would also tell them to be long-term thinkers in terms of career advancement. Though some employers might offer more money than others upon graduation, it is important to consider intangibles such as potential job growth, autonomy, quality of life and enjoying what you do!"

Steve Kullback

BA, Communication Arts, 1987

kullback

Game of Thrones? What's that? That's what Steve Kullback asked himself when he was called to step in for the second season of GOT as the visual effects producer at the time was stepping down.

"I was a bit unsure of this new startup," said Kullback. "But happened to be between jobs and thought, let's give it a sniff. Glad I did!"

Kullback is a seven-time Emmy and VES award-winning visual effects producer. He has produced more than 10,000 visual effects shots since joining Game of Thrones in Season 2. But before that, he was a Hofstra student.

"When I was looking at schools, it was important to me that a program be as relevant to current methods and technology as possible, as well as close to the NY media market," said Kullback, who took full advantage of the University's proximity to Manhattan.

"I was hanging around the newsroom of Worldwide Television News in New York City with a producer I did PA work for and got the proverbial, 'Hey kid, can you step into master control and roll on these feeds? We're short-handed.' That became a vacation relief gig and then a longstanding freelance job as a master control technician and editor for this wholesale news arm of ABC."

Kullback's advice for students looking into break into a field like special effects is "to get the broadest exposure you can to the field you are after. Then, once you find an area of interest, chase everyone you admire who does what you want to do and become his or her right hand. A good way to make contact is to ask for advice. Then it's network, network, network!"