Pathways Speakers Program

When it comes to academics and today's global job market, there are many pathways that students can explore. To help navigate this process, our Pathways Speakers Program at FLCC offers expert knowledge from professionals in a variety of fields. Through this program, FLCC faculty, staff, and retirees will share their expertise with students in our service area, and they will discuss the steps they took to establish their careers.

Topics and Speakers

Our Pathways Speakers Program is dedicated to encouraging youth at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to enroll in and complete a college degree or certificate. We offer a variety of guest speaker presentations at local schools. Our knowledgeable speakers will bring relevance to their professional field, and they will help students understand the important role education plays in creating a successful career path.


Patty Thompson, Instructor, Environmental Conservation & Horticulture

As a scientist by training, Patty Thompson has been keeping bees for approximately 10 years as a hobby. In her presentation, Patty will explain how a hive works, and she will utilize equipment to show how a hive operates through interactive instruction and captivating photos.

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Current and Future Opportunities in Criminal Justice

James Sconfietti, Associate Professor, Social Science

In his topic of discussion, James Sconfietti will share with the audience his academic background and career path in law enforcement. James will also talk about the current job market in criminal justice, and he will discuss the preparation process students go through in order to become successfully employed in this field.

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Day in the Life: An Introvert Gets Involved

Jennie Erdle, Director of Student Life

Sam Maniscola, Current FLCC Student

Both speakers for this presentation come from the Student Life side of FLCC. They will discuss how becoming a student leader and getting involved at college helped in finding balance in all aspects of transitioning as a student.

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Developing Skills for Success through Athletics

Robert Lowden, Director of Athletics

Robert Lowden will discuss his background in athletics, and he will share with the audience what he has learned in this field and how it has helped him excel in education and in his career. Robert will also explore the types of skills students can acquire in athletics that may not be obtainable in the classroom.

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Expanding your Pathway and Mindset with International Travel

Michael VanEtten, Assistant Professor, Humanities Department

Travel, language, and cultural studies can be used to strengthen any career path. Enhancing yourself in these areas can set you apart from other students in academic programs, transfer schools, and employment. Michael VanEtten will share his field experience and study abroad excursions in his topic presentation, and he will share how adding travel, language, and cultural studies to any program can increase your marketability in the workplace.

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Food Processing: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Izy Grooms, Assistant Professor, Science/Technology

Izy Grooms will cover how food processing has changed since the 1970's and relate it to common concerns around disease risk, obesity, and whole foods versus processed foods. She will also chat about the excessive amounts of fat, sodium, and sugar that are added to our foods and the effects this all has on our health.

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How Academic Writing & Thinking Might Matter in the Non-Academic World

Derrick Gentry, Instructor, Humanities Department

Derrick Gentry will discuss how the standards and conventions of academic discourse might offer a model for how to conduct civil and productive communication in the public sphere (in political deliberation, in the non-academic workplace, etc.). He will convey to students that you don't have to be an aspiring scholar in order to value this mode of thought and communication.

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If you are doing it wrong, you are doing it right!

Lori Vail, Instructor, Humanities Department

Lori Vail will talk with students about the "real-life" and academic importance of asking lots of questions, making lots of mistakes, and gathering and using information effectively. Included in this presentation will be the story of her success at failing out of college and what the ensuing years taught her about pursuing education. Lori will emphasize how important it is to be wrong (a lot!).

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Letting Go While Holding On. A Quick Guide For Families.

Sarah Whiffen, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs

Sarah Whiffen will focus her presentation on how to prepare students and families for the shift they will endure when transitioning to a college environment. She will help families understand the basic enrollment processes of a college, introduce them to some of the common "lingo" that is used, and provide an overview of how to maximize the services on a college campus to help the student succeed.

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Managing Risk and the Importance of Education

Dawn Hess, Director of Enterprise Risk Management and Environmental, Health and Safety

Currently working toward completing her doctorate in education, Dawn Hess is a student, life-long learner, and scholar practitioner. In her presentation, Dawn will discuss how education can transform lives, and she will also emphasize the importance of allowing your career to develop and be transformed by opportunities.

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Mechanical Technology – What is it and what do they do?

Jack Riley, Instructor, Science/Technology

This presentation covers the different career paths that a person with a two-year vocational degree might be employed in. As a first generation college student, I studied and received a certificate in drafting from Hudson Valley Community College. While working at a local company, I was encouraged to start attending college in the evening to obtain my engineering degree.

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Not Just Stories - Why We Identify with Hobbits and Harry Potter

Trista Merrill, Professor, Humanities Department

This talk is an exploration of these popular characters and why they linger with us long after we've finished the book or the movie. There is a reason why we connect with these characters and the reasons are buried deep in our classic mythology, our hero stories, and in our psyches.

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Overcoming Adversity Through Curiosity and Self-Empowerment

Trista Merrill, Professor, Humanities Department

Everyone faces trauma and adversity; sometimes the results and impact of such things are outside our control. Trista Merrill's talk focuses on how people can use their own passions to control what they CAN control to find happiness and satisfaction in a post-trauma and post-adversity life.

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Paid Co-ops Leading to Careers in Regional High-Tech Ecosystem

Sam Samanta, Professor, Science/Technology

This presentation covers high-tech careers in the local high-tech ecosystem (through a listing of over 50 high-tech businesses). Attendees will be shown how to approach mathematics, and they will be introduced to Microsoft Excel and other visual software. An overview of FLCC's Instrumentation and Control Technologies degree program will be provided, along with scheduling options for completing this program. Attendees can also expect to learn about transfer degree options in this field.

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The Best Audio Engineers are Musicians

Jonathan Belec, Assistant Professor, Music/Music Recording

A career in music recording involves education, experience, ambition, and excellent communication skills. Even if it is your goal to focus on gaming or sound design, a basic knowledge of music theory is essential. Jon Belec will focus his presentation on the various options that exist in audio, and how understanding the language of music plays an important role.

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The Engineering Profession

Selim Araci, Professor, Science/Technology

In this brief talk, Selim Araci will provide an overview of the engineering profession and its different disciplines using examples from personal and real life stories. He will also discuss the details of an engineering education and the wide range of career opportunities it provides.

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Today in a Vineyard

Paul Brock, Associate Professor, Environmental Conservation and Horticulture

Grape growing in the Finger Lakes dates back to the early 1800s. This presentation will be tailored to the audience and time of year to discuss what is going on in the vineyards around the Finger Lakes region today (in this season). Topics covered will include vine training, phenology, and disease and nutrient management. A vines need for sun and water will be discussed as they relate to soil and weather.

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Viticulture and Wine Technology within the Finger Lakes

Gina Lee, Technical Specialist–Viticulture/Wine Technology

Throughout her topic of discussion, Gina Lee will explore FLCC's Viticulture and Wine Technology degree program and how it relates to and provides skilled labor to the Finger Lakes region and beyond.

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What is a Population Ecologist?

Clinton Krager, Associate Professor, Science/Technology

In his topic of discussion, Clinton Krager will describe what a population ecologist is, what they do, and why they are important. He will also provide several examples of various organisms that he has worked with.

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Presentation Guidelines

In a series of 30 to 45-minute presentations, our guest speakers will provide insight into their occupations and discuss the important lessons they have learned. 

Get the Details

Interested in Becoming a Speaker?

Are you a current or former FLCC employee and would like to share your career path with students? If so, you can become a pathways speaker and help inspire students to explore different career and educational opportunities.

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Contact Us

Carol S. Urbaitis
Vice President of Enrollment Management

Room: 1282
Phone: (585)785-1635
Fax: (585)393-1445