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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

’07 alumni reflect on Binghamton experience

By : Max Lakin

In the new Holtsville offices of Motorola, Darran Handshaw has a desk. He commutes from his home in Miller Place, about half an hour away, and keeps the typical 9-5 schedule. Sometimes longer.


Handshaw, who graduated from Binghamton last May, has slipped into the routine of a professional several years out of college.


He followed his mechanical engineering major all the way to a lead position at the technology manufacturer, and spends his days working on a mix of projects, ranging from low-cost handheld laser scanners to RFID products.


For now, he’s content with the job, which he secured before graduation. “They actually called me while I was still up there,” he said. “When they sent me the offer, I just took it.”
Some of this year’s graduates know the feeling. There are, of course, others wrestling with different emotions. There is the pride that swells in throwing caps mixed with the uncertainty about what lies on the other side of Commencement.


What many 2007 graduates said they discovered is that their four years at Binghamton were a general education requirement for life, and that their post-college days are as exciting as freshman orientat


SHIFFMAN
ion.


Michael Schiffman can attest to that, though he had to do it from Boston, where he’s attending the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.


Schiffman majored in finance, and was torn between dental school and a career on Wall Street. Now 22, he’s content with his choice.


“It seems like a more certain future,” he said. “You can make a lot of money in business very quickly, which is great, but unstable. People are always going to have to get their teeth pulled.”


Sean Maloney is also a year into graduate school; he’s pursuing a master’s of social work at Syracuse University. With a year left to his program, Maloney, who majored in human development at Binghamton, is running for the State Board of Directors for the National Association of Social Workers. 


Maloney plans to seek a doctorate after a couple of years of post-master’s work experience. He’s looking into working abroad to continue to develop a broader understanding of cultural difference and diversity.


“I have always known that I wanted to help people,” Maloney said. “And I have known that I thrive in situations wh


MALONEY
ere I can be involved in civic engagement and be a leader at the same time. … I think what matters most to me is that the work that I do is meaningful.”


Some might say Maria Varella is living the dream. Or at least living in Manhattan with two other Binghamton graduates.


Varella graduated last year as well, with a bachelor’s in English on top of minors in French and international studies. Now she’s at Columbia University working toward an MFA in poetry, though she remains in contact with her Binghamton life.


“My college friends are pretty much family, and we keep in touch a lot,” she said. “Even if one of us is in another country, we work hard on it and keep in touch. I also keep in touch with my mentors.”


Varella said her time at Binghamton prepared her for life after graduation.


“I grew leaps [in college],” she said. “From living on my own for the first time, studying abroad, having the independence to choose my course of study. … Even the personal challenges that may have arisen stemmed from the Binghamton experience and allowed me to grow up.”


Maloney agreed and shared a story


VARELLA
that brought home for him the value of his degree:
“Ever since I was searching for a college to attend, I knew that the Binghamton name carried a lot of weight,” he said. “When I was studying in London, I was sitting in a pub being social with the elderly gentleman next to me. He asked where in the States I was from and when I told him Binghamton, he asked if I went to Binghamton University. He was so excited because he, a Londoner, had heard about the quality of that school and was proud of me for going there.”


Handshaw, too, has seen a positive response to his alma mater.


“We have three to four new hires from Binghamton,” he said of Motorola. “It’s a fresh name. People see ‘Binghamton’ and they see good engineers come out of there.”
Maloney, who relished his time at Binghamton, still has some regrets. “I would have studied more, and never settled,” he said. “I accomplished so much while I was there, but sometimes I wonder what more I could have accomplished.”


Varella makes no qualifications. “It was the best four years of my life,” she said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08