Millennial College Grad Spotlight

By on July 8, 2019

As the youngest of the Millennial generation graduates from college this spring we will take a look at some of our local Millennial college grads to learn about their journey to college graduation and a sneak peek at what their future holds. 

Kathy RubenackerKathy Rubenacker

Kathy Rubenacker was born and raised in Brockport. She graduated from Brockport High School in 2015. Kathy was interested in music and drama during high school, participating in several musicals and plays, serving as the vice president in her choir and, in her senior year, president of Brockport’s Drama Club. 

Kathy began dancing when she was three and continued throughout high school. She trained at Brockport School of Dance and Performing Arts, devoting 10 to 15 hours per week to dance. Lindsay Rozzi and Leah Brady, Kathy’s dance instructors, were two major influences in her life. 

Throughout her high school years, Kathy’s love and passion for the arts made it very clear to her that she wanted a career involving dance and theatre. She started down this path at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City where she studied acting. “The city was our whole life and we were immersed in that culture which led me to really great opportunities. I grew a lot in my independence,” Kathy said. But after being in the city, despite her love for it, she realized it was not right for her at that time in her life. The time she spent in New York City helped her to realize that although she loved acting, her true passion is for dance.

This realization led Kathy to a college that felt more like home. She transferred to SUNY Potsdam for her sophomore year and changed her major to dance. At Potsdam, she was able to take master classes and gained a lot of hands-on dance experience. As Kathy began exploring her options with dance and the arts, she soon realized she wanted to teach and her love for education was just as strong as her love for the arts. She began her path into Liberal Arts Education. Reflecting on her switch from Marymount Manhattan College to SUNY Potsdam, Kathy has no regrets with her decision. 

Kathy graduated on May 18 with a bachelor of arts degree. She was among the top 10 percent of her class and a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society to which she was inducted during her junior year. In April, Kathy was also featured as a dancer in a TED Talk based on creativity and technology. 

Kathy is now a teacher at her childhood dance school, Brockport School of Dance and Performing Arts. She is choreographing shows and teaching summer classes until her full-time position starts in the fall. Kathy wants all juniors and seniors to know that it is okay to make a change in your career path to better yourself. “Don’t be afraid to take control and take action to pursue what you really want.” 

Alex HarleyAlex Harley

Alex Harley, also born and raised in Brockport, graduated from Brockport High School in 2015. He was a multi-sport athlete, participating in golf, hockey, basketball, and soccer. Despite his love for sports, Alex found himself intrigued by his science classes and fell in love with science throughout high school. He got involved with Project Lead the Way tech program and other tech projects at Brockport. His family, which includes members who are engineers, was a big influence in his direction and helped him decide on science for his career path.

Alex chose to major in Chemical Engineering at Clarkson University. He was accepted into Clarkson’s prestigious honors program for which he had to submit a separate application and interview at the college for consideration. Alex says he was always a very motivated student, which helped him get to where he is today. 

Alex began research in his field as a sophomore in college, which then led him to an internship at Momentive Performance Materials working as a production engineer. After graduating in May, Alex moved to Albany for a full-time production engineer position at the company for which he had interned. 

Alex believes that students should not force a degree if they are not fully confident in their choice. “If you don’t like the major you chose don’t be afraid to change it,” Alex said as he explained that “you need to be comfortable and happy with your decision because it will become your career.” 

Francesca ViscaFrancesca Visca

Francesca Visca, a 2015 Aquinas graduate, grew up in Spencerport with her parents, three sisters and two brothers. Her mother has spent most of her career as a labor and delivery nurse at Unity Hospital, which planted in Francesca the seed of interest in nursing at a very young age. Francesca recalls that by the age of 12 she really wanted to be a nurse and help take care of people. 

In high school Francesca was active in sports. She played soccer, cheered and boxed on the Aquinas boxing team. Her favorite subjects were English, history and science. 

After she graduated from Aquinas she chose to pursue a nursing degree at Roberts Wesleyan College. She liked Roberts because the nursing program was small and allowed her a lot of one-on-one attention She also preferred a religious institution for college as it helped her avoid getting sidetracked by college partying. 

Francesca was accepted into the nursing program in her sophomore year. She also worked as a Patient Care Tech at Unity Labor and Delivery Unit. Her clinicals were at the local hospitals, nursing homes and BOCES.

Francesca continued playing soccer through all four years at Roberts. Balancing her studies with work, sports and finding time to be social and involved in the community was one of her biggest challenges through her college years. “Aquinas definitely helped prepare me for college by instilling good work ethic and self-discipline,” she said. 

During Francesca’s junior year she began questioning if she was cut out for nursing. “Sometimes I feel too much, and I started to question if I would be a good nurse.”  Francesca’s mother was a huge influence on her direction. “She always reminded me of the big picture.” Francesca also received emotional support from her boyfriend Andrew, and her good friends Catherine and Madison. She overcame her self-doubts and ultimately developed a strong interest in the neurology field. 

Francesca graduated with her nursing degree in May and is busy studying for her Boards, which she will take on July 8. She accepted a position at Strong Memorial Hospital as an RN in the Neurosurgery department. Francesca looks forward to starting her career in August and plans to continue her education to become a Nurse Practitioner. 

Francesca’s advice to high school students who are considering college is, “Find something you are truly passionate about regardless of the pay of the job. If you are unsure of what major to pursue, choose a school you like based on the area, the faith component, sports or the ability to stay home and save money. But whatever you do, follow where your heart leads you and utilize your talents and make them stronger.”

Provided photos