Meet Michael G.

Business Administration β€˜23

β€œIt was just good to know that other people here cared about my success, and that definitely helped.”

When a Hudson Valley Community College graduate gets accepted for transfer at an Ivy League university, it’s cause for celebration; a reinforcement of the often-stated fact that you can start here and go anywhere.

But for Business Administration graduate Michael Galvin ’23, who will begin his studies in Financial Economics at New York City’s Columbia University this spring, it’s also a vindication and a chance to show the world that addiction, and all the struggles associated with it, can be overcome.

At 23, Michael has dealt with substance abuse since his teenage years. A promising student and athlete, by 17, he was a high school drop-out and on a downward trajectory that eventually led to time in county jail and the state prison system.

Michael said his path started to turn around during a stay in a holding cell awaiting the start of a boot camp style shock incarceration program.

“I was in a prison holding unit cell for three and a half months and they’d only let you out for one hour a day. Twenty-three hours a day in a tiny cell gives you a lot of time to think, and I had an awakening,” he said. “I thought about my situation and what got me here. I was thinking about where I was four years earlier – doing well in school, thinking about maybe going to a good college and what had happened since then. I did a lot of reading and a lot of writing in those three and a half months. When I came home, I just had a completely different mentality about my life. Now, I’m two and a half years sober, and my goals are clearer – finish HVCC, go to the gym, stay sober.”

Since finding a new path, he’s been on a roll, and Michael said his experience at Hudson Valley has been a big part of his new-found purpose. He credits several of his instructors for helping him reach his goals and encouraging him to “think big” about his transfer possibilities. With their support and belief in his potential, he applied to several top colleges in the Northeast, and Columbia University, one of the eight Ivy League schools, will be welcoming him for the spring semester.

“I have to mention my English professor Jessica Brouker. I took both English Comp I and English Comp II with her. She always helped me when I needed it, and I stay in touch with her to this day. Economics Professor Joseph Stenard helped me out with alumni networks and he encouraged me to get more involved on campus in clubs and activities. John Mulcare has been great, my Business Law professor. We’ve talked a lot about his life experience and his work as a lawyer; and Sean Kerwin in Accounting. Honestly, the availability of the professors and their willingness to help was really the best. It was just good to know that other people here cared about my success, and that definitely helped.”

“[Columbia] took a chance on me, and they saw that I’ve been able to overcome the challenges I’ve had and give me an opportunity to show that I can excel,” he said.

Michael said he hopes his story can be valuable for other people who are out there and might be going through what he went through. He admits to being a little anxious about his upcoming coursework at Columbia but he’s already accomplished so much in turning his life around.

“This experience has made me what I am,” he said. “I’m not going to take anything for granted.”