Capital District Educational Opportunity Center (EOC)
a division of Hudson Valley Community College
Success Stories - Business Programs

Linda Farrell Comstock

Graduated: 1975

Linda Farrell Comstock was twenty-four years old with two small children when she realized that she had to get out of an abusive marriage. Linda left her husband and went on public assistance. Her DSS social worker suggested she attend the Capital District EOC. Linda enrolled in the GED Program and, for the first time in her life, realized that she had potential. When Linda received her GED diploma in the mail, Linda remembers jumping up and down on her couch exclaiming, "My husband was wrong! I am not stupid!"

In order to improve her job skills, Linda enrolled in the EOC's Business program. Through on-the-job training, Linda served as an intern with the Rensselaer County Department of Social Services. This led to a full-time position and a series of promotions. In 1978, Linda moved to a higher position with the New York State Department of Health. In 1980, she joined the Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center as assistant to the Executive Director. In 1986, Linda accepted a position with The Troy Saving Bank as assistant to the President and continued working there for twenty years. When the president retired in 2004, Linda decided she wanted to give back to the community by working for a not-for-profit. She currently is the Director of Major Gifts and Special projects for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

Linda continues to promote the EOC and the education it provided her. "When anyone says you can't do much with a GED diploma, I tell them to look at where it’s brought me – full circle!"

EOC Program(s):

Christine Lovelace

Graduated: 2010

While Christine Lovelace was growing up in South Troy, her mother relied on public assistance to help provide for her and her siblings. Christine seemed destined to follow the same track: She dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen, soon had three children of her own, and initially relied on public assistance to provide for her family. She decided she wanted to set a different example for her own children. She went back to school to get her GED and then entered the Business Program at the EOC. By July 2009, she completed Business Employment Skills for Today. Seizing the opportunity to add to the skills she could offer to a future employer, she enrolled in the Microsoft 2007 Summer Institute program being offered through the EOC’s ATTAIN Lab. Gaining increased confidence, she helped fellow students in the class. When the results of the Word Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) exam came back, Christine had scored 870 out of 1000 points, the highest score in the class, an accomplishment that won her a brand new laptop computer. She also obtained her Excel MCAS certification. In Fall, she completed the Information Processing for Today Program while maintaining an internship at the EOC as a clerk for the Bridge Program. Upon her graduation in February 2010, she was hired full time, a position she still holds. Christine feels a deep sense of pride for her efforts, but even more importantly, she is proud of the example that she is setting for her children.
EOC Program(s):

Cindy Mattison

Graduated: 2002

When she graduated high school, Cindy Mattison had planned to enroll in the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center’s cosmetology program. She became pregnant, however, and decided to get married and stay home to raise her family.

No matter how bad things got, Cindy refused to go on public assistance. "You do what you have to do," Cindy said. When she and her husband needed extra money, Cindy did odd jobs to supplement the family income, including cleaning homes, babysitting for family members, bookkeeping, and baking cakes from her home.

In 2001, Cindy's children were teenagers, and she decided to go back to work full-time. The Rensselaer County One Stop recommended that she attend classes at the Capital District EOC. As she had developed some office skills since high school, Cindy enrolled in the EOC’s business program in January 2002.

While attending the EOC, Cindy obtained a secretarial position with the Rensselaer County Bureau of Research and Information Services. She-arranged her schedule so that she could balance full-time employment and her EOC classes. In May 2002, she received two certificates with high honors in the Keyboard Processing and Information Processing Specialist programs and continued employment with the county.

In 2002, Cindy was offered the position of Director of Constituent Relations in the Rensselaer County Legislature, where she worked as the office manager for the thirteen Majority Office Legislators, supervising four other individuals. Cindy’s job included payroll, accounts payable, inventory and ordering supplies, managing assigned projects with staff, preparing and sending correspondence for the Legislators and assisting constituents with their needs. On January 1, 2009, Cindy was promoted to Deputy County Auditor for Rensselaer County.

Cindy regards herself as a role model for other women who are looking for employment. She said that she has helped individuals get an interview, but that the rest was up to them. "When people tell me I am lucky, I tell them it wasn't luck. I paid my dues and worked hard to get where I am! They should do the same."

EOC Program(s):

Dale Walsh

Graduated: 1976

EOC a Wonderful Starting Point
"The EOC is a wonderful starting point for an individual looking to move ahead in his or her career." Dale Walsh

Dale Walsh was a newly divorced mother of two young children surviving on $95 a week when she decided she needed to advance her career. She entered the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center's evening clerk typist program while working full-time days in the food service industry.

Graduating in 1977, Dale obtained employment in the business field and made a career move in 1978 to take a position as a clerk typist/receptionist at St. Peter’s Hospital. Within 18 months, she was promoted to a human resources personnel interviewer and later to a human resources generalist.

While working full-time days, Dale went to college at night, graduating with an associate’s degree in business from Maria College with a 4.0 GPA in 1995. She then completed a bachelor's degree in business administration from the College of Saint Rose in 2003. In 2004, she obtained her present position as recruiter. Dale has promoted the EOC through presentations she has given for Catholic Charities and has hired EOC Nursing Assistant and Business program graduates.

“The EOC is a wonderful starting point for an individual looking to move ahead in his or her career,” says Dale. "I wouldn’t be where I am today without the EOC."


EOC Program(s):

Anna and Catherine Ryan

Graduated: 1967, 2005

Mother and Daughter Team Up for EOC Success
"Each of us can find a road to opportunity. For my mother and me, the EOC has been that road." Catherine Ryan

In 1966, Anna Ryan was raising six children and working part-time as a keypunch operator for Manpower Temporary Services. Recognizing that improving her skills would improve her job opportunities, Anna decided to enroll in the newly opened Capital District Educational Opportunity Center, then known as the Urban Center, to develop her typing and keypunch skills.

In the spring of 1967, she was part of the first graduating class of the EOC. Armed with more confidence and stronger clerical skills, Anna moved into a full-time position with D & H Railroad. She was well liked and respected by her co-workers as an individual who took responsibility and changed her life.

She retired in 1982, proud of her accomplishments and pleased with the pension she had earned as the result of her many years at D & H. “The experience I had at the EOC gave me the confidence to tackle a more demanding job,” said Anna, now 92 years old. She still has a copy of the 1967 EOC graduation program as well as pictures of herself with her classmates and her instructor, Joanne McClure.

Fast forward to 2004. Anna’s daughter Catherine had worked at McDonald’s for 10 years with little chance of advancement. While deciding her next career move, Catherine took a job at Wal-Mart but soon found herself laid off and on unemployment. Catherine recognized that the positions in which she was interested required computer and clerical skills that she did not possess.

With encouragement from her mother, Catherine enrolled in the EOC’s Business Program in September 2004. “If my mother could go back to school in her 50s, so could I,” said Catherine. Returning to school after 30 years was initially difficult and frustrating. However, Catherine's instructors assured her that she would learn the business skills necessary to obtain a good job through the individualized instruction offered at the Center. “I soon hit my stride," said Catherine, "and things began to fall into place.”

Upon her graduation from the Office Skills and Information Processing Technology programs in May 2005, Catherine obtained employment as a unit clerk at Teresian House in Albany. Both Anna and Catherine are grateful to the EOC. “Each of us can find a road to opportunity,” said Catherine. “For my mother and me, the EOC has been that road.”


EOC Program(s):

Rose Stinney

Graduated: 1968

EOC Student to EOC Counselor
Within a few months, however, EOC Director Abe Bogatz had another vision for Stinney.

When her husband walked out on her when she was pregnant with her fifth child, Rose Stinney's future looked bleak. On welfare, she came to the CDEOC in 1968 and enrolled in the Center's Business Program. After her graduation, she was immediately hired as secretary at the Center.

EOC Director Abe Bolgatz, however, had another vision for Rose. Because of her ties to the community, Rose was promoted to the position of counselor. While working full time and raising her children, she earned a degree in human services at Hudson Valley Community College.

Rose was not alone in her pursuit of higher education. "After mom went to school, everyone went to school," says Rose. Her two daughters and she were awarded degrees the same year. Rose worked as a counselor at the EOC for more than 27 years, retiring in 1995.


EOC Program(s):

Ann Griswold

Graduated: 1970

EOC Grad Becomes Secretary To EOC Director
"I knew I wanted to go to work but I needed skills." Ann Griswold

Prior to raising her family, Ann Griswold had worked as a secretary. At the age of 35, however, she found herself as a single mother with four children to support and in desperate need of upgrading her skills. Ann was at the lowest point in her life when she heard through her Department of Social Services caseworker about the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center, then known as the Urban Center. "I knew I wanted to go to work," says Ann, "but I needed training.”

After completing the Business Program in only six weeks, she was recommended to the position of secretary for the Troy EOC manager Ronald Anderson. In 1972, she was promoted to the position of secretary to the newly appointed EOC Director James Sharp. “She was a smart woman,” said Mr. Sharp. “She loved to type, take dictation, and keep busy!”

Ann worked as secretary to the EOC director for more than 24 years until her retirement in 1996. Her proudest accomplishment was that all four of her children, who she felt grew up at the EOC, went on to post-secondary training and have been very successful. She passed away in October 2010.



Paul Culpepper

Graduated: 2000

President of Hudson Valley Student Senate EOC Grad
Recognizing the negative impact his life was having on both himself and his family, Culpepper decided to follow his mother's advice and return to school.

Paul Culpepper, the 2002-2003 president of Hudson Valley Community College's Student Senate, began his quest for higher education in the EOC Business Program.

Culpepper was initially educated in the school of hard knocks. Growing up around individuals who were drug dealers, pimps, or criminals, he craved "fast cars, hip-hop women, and easy money." Recognizing the negative impact his life was having on both himself and his family, Culpepper decided to follow his mother's advice and return to school.

His first objective was to get some basic training skills that could be used to get a job. Culpepper began this journey by enrolling in the Business Program at the EOC. Verna Hodges, his counselor, took him under her wing and was "inspirational" in giving Culpepper some guidance and direction. After four months in the program, upon Hodges' recommendation, he enrolled in Hudson Valley for the Fall 2000 semester. A President's List student and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Culpepper is the recipient of numerous scholarships that have almost paid his way through school. He returned to EOC as a student intern for the Center's computer support specialist and continues to do work-study in the computer center at the college. Culpepper also has given back to his community, volunteering his time to speak to troubled adolescents and adults at the Boy's Club, the YMCA, and Berkshire Farms.

In May 2002, Culpepper was elected as president of the college's Student Senate. "Going to college to get my degree was one of the most important decisions I ever made in my life," said Culpepper. "The EOC gave me both the academic and emotional support I needed to reach my dreams."


EOC Program(s):

Dana Masters

Graduated: 2005

Graduate Learns New Skills To Obtain Better Employment
For having the world in the palm of her hand, Dana Master was recognized with the 2005 Vice President’s Award.

After being laid off from her position in a small company in Schaghticoke, Dana Masters recognized the need for further training to improve her opportunities for career development and advancement. Dana was referred to the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center through Project Hire, a division of the Rensselaer Country Unemployment Office, and was assigned to an internship in the EOC Employment Services Office during summer 2004.

In September 2004, Dana entered the Business Program, where she was thrilled to learn the skills that previous employment had not offered her. While enrolled, Dana worked closely with the staff of Employment Services to update her resume to reflect her newly learned talents and participate in mock interviews. She graduated from Office Skills in December 2004, and soon afterwards was offered a position as an administrative assistant at the College of Saint Rose.

Dana loves her new job and the many benefits, including the opportunity to further her education by taking business courses. Her tenure at the EOC and her subsequent employment has also given her newfound confidence and self-esteem to tackle additional responsibilities and aspire to further dreams. Her philosophy can be found in a message Dana gave to her former classmates as one of the student speakers at the May 2005 graduation ceremony: “You can do. You will do. You will have the world in the palm of your hands when you have done it.”


EOC Program(s):

Sandra Chandler

Graduated: 2005

Internet and Computing Core Certification Leads to Employment
"The IC3 Certification is the most valuable tool I gained at the EOC." Sandra Chandler

When her 8-year-old son was seriously injured in a car accident, Sandra Chandler, a single mother of four, was forced to quit her job to help with her son’s long recovery. Once he returned to school, Sandra decided to pursue additional education to improve her job skills prior to returning to the work force. Through the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center’s Web site, Sandra learned about the eligibility requirements that would qualify her for the Center’s tuition-free programming.

Once enrolled, Sandra immediately was impressed by the personal attention offered by excellent instructors and the strong support given by the Employment Services staff. Sandra built on her existing skills by improving her keyboarding and document processing knowledge. Seeing her potential, Jodi Mather, her Business instructor, recommended that Sandra study for the Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) a program training opportunity that was initially funded through Hudson Valley Community College’s President Innovation Fund.

In May 2005, Sandra became the EOC’s first student to receive IC3 Certification. “The IC3 Certification is just one of the many valuable tools I gained at the EOC,” stated Sandra. Her skills and IC3 certification helped her obtain employment as an administrative assistant at AETNA US Health Care in Albany.


EOC Program(s):

Rose-Mary Gotham

Graduated: 2002

Displaced Worker Finds New Career
Since her graduation, Gotham not only has a successful career but she also has helped other EOC students achieve success by providing them with internship and employment opportunities.

When the Grand Union closed its Troy area stores forever, Rose-Mary Gotham lost her job in the meat department after 20 years of employment. Having skills that were limited to the grocery business, Rose-Mary enrolled in the Business Program at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center. Upon her graduation from the Medical Information Processing Specialist Program in May 2002, she obtained employment in the Pulmonary Department at Albany Medical Center as a medical records clerk.

Her strong skills, motivation, and positive work ethic were soon recognized by her supervisors, and she was chosen to participate in a leadership-training program. Rose-Mary is now in a manager's position in the Pulmonary Department. Since her graduation, Rose-Mary not only has had a successful career at the hospital but also has helped other EOC students achieve success by providing them with internship and employment opportunities. Grand Union may have closed its doors, but in so doing new doors were opened, allowing Rose-Mary to develop new skills and obtain employment. Now she opens doors for those who follow in her footsteps.


EOC Program(s):

Lori Picarillo

Graduated: 2001

EOC Provides Career and Employment Skills
Picarillo is living an ideal life, a life that was created in part by her attending the EOC.

Out of business. Out of work. For Lori Picarillo, reality hit hard at the age of 42 when Grand Union, the company for which she had worked since she was in her teens, closed its doors. “I never knew anything different,” said Lori. “But I knew I wanted a skill that I could use anywhere in the country.”

After hearing about the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center through an EOC recruiter, Lori enrolled in September 2001. Despite the fact she had no computer or keyboarding skills, she immediately set her goal to complete the demanding Medical Information Processing Specialist Program before her unemployment benefits ran out.

Lori found the EOC to be a great learning environment that gave her both the office skills she sought as well as the critical job search skills she needed to succeed. "Lori not only had the innate ability to learn but also had the determination and drive to take full advantage of the programs and services we offer," said her instructor Johanna Mather, associate professor of business. "She was an outstanding student and a shining example and mentor to her classmates."

Upon her graduation in March 2002, Lori relocated to Miami, Florida, to join her future husband. She was offered three different jobs and chose a position with the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center. She soon was promoted to office manager and was recently promoted to scheduling coordinator, where she is responsible for coordinating more than 100 schedules for eight medical units and six satellites. With the job she loves, a home blocks from the beach, and a supportive family, Lori is living an ideal life, a life that was created in part by her attending the EOC.


EOC Program(s):
Business: Medical Information Processing Specialist

Mary Beth Bizaro

Graduated: 1994

Business Student Continues at Hudson Valley
"The experience I achieved at the EOC brought me to where I am today." Mary Beth Bizaro

Mary Beth Bizaro graduated from the EOC's College Preparation and Medical Office Clerical Assistant programs. As part of her studies, she completed an unpaid internship at East Hudson Community Care Physicians which led to a full-time position as a medical billing specialist. Along with her job, Mary Beth completed course work at Hudson Valley Community College and graduated in May 2002 with an associate's degree in business – medical office assistant. "The experience I achieved at the EOC brought me to where I am today," says Mary Beth.


EOC Program(s):
College Preparation, Medical Office Clerical Assistant, Bridge

Debbie Hansen

Graduated: 2000

Business Student Excels
“An internship provides you with the real world experience that you cannot gain in a classroom setting alone.” Debbie Hanson

Taking small steps forward is the key to success. One student’s efforts have given her the opportunity to become a successful member of the workforce, be financially independent, and even go to Cancun, Mexico for a dream vacation.

Prior to enrolling at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center in 1999, Debbie Hansen had no prior business skills or office experience. Debbie thought “I’m no good at business, I’m no good at typing.” She was receiving Public Assistance and reporting to a job site that wasn’t giving her new skills. She felt she needed to do something to update her qualifications and to find fulfilling employment.

Despite personal obstacles, she convinced her Rensselaer County Department of Social Services Project Hire Worker to allow her to take classes at EOC. “You have to work hard for everything you get in life, and I had to work extra hard because of my personal life,” Debbie said. During her time at EOC, she had transportation problems, a broken arm, a sick child, and several other reasons to quit. Despite these obstacles, she kept putting one foot in front of the other until she reached her goal of a solid career with terrific pay and benefits.

One of the things that made a difference was having a connection at school. Debbie said that Gail Shaw, a teacher at EOC, was instrumental in keeping her in class and motivated. It was the individualized attention that made a difference. Gail took time out during her lunch breaks to talk with Debbie, which helped to keep her motivated. In January of 2000, Debbie said that she thought she was “confident enough to go into a work environment.”

While interviewing for an internship, Debbie’s future mentor, Joyce Micare, gave the analogy of building a house or a skyscraper, based on the desire and perseverance a student has. Joyce said that Debbie had enough of both to build the Empire State Building. While interning, Debbie was actively checking the EOC job board and working with Employment Services to obtain job leads. Debbie used her internship to gain hands-on experience and to get her foot in the door.

Debbie left her internship to take a temporary position as an administrative assistant at the SUNY Institute of Gerontology. The experience earned there led her to another position within the SUNY School of Social Welfare. Perseverance paid off when Debbie was offered a position as a procurement specialist clerk at the State University of New York's University Center for Academic and Workforce Development.

Good references and practical work experiences, combined with the skills she learned at the EOC, lead Debbie to a new life for herself and her daughter. Debbie now takes pride in being able to pay her own bills, because, as she said, “You don’t have a life when you’re on Social Services.” During the summer she took her daughter to Great Escape and to Maryland. Next fall, Debbie plans to go to Cancun, Mexico, a trip she never could have imagined a few short months ago.

Debbie advises students to "Just keep going. You’re not going to get anywhere by giving up." She also urges students to take advantage of the internship program. “An internship provides you with the real world experience that you cannot gain in a classroom setting alone,” Debbie said.


EOC Program(s):
Information Processing Specialist

Elizabeth Depp

Graduated: 2001

Wings to Fly
"The EOC's knowledgeable teachers gave me the marketable skills I needed to achieve my career goals while the counselors showed me my wings, and taught me to fly." Elizabeth Depp

At the age of 21, unemployed and unable to provide properly for her 2-year-old daughter's financial needs, Elizabeth Depp was referred to the Bridge Program at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center by her Department of Social Services caseworker. After completing the Job Readiness Training Program, she enrolled in the center's Business Program, focusing her attention on medical information processing specialist training. While in the program she became determined to attain her General Equivalency Diploma, signed up for the exam with no classroom preparation, and passed the exam.

Elizabeth was achieving success at school, but living in a domestic violence situation at home. Her personal life began to hinder her abilities as a parent, and it was becoming difficult to hide her personal issues from the EOC staff. With the emotional support of the EOC counselors and faculty, she was able to find the strength to break free from more than four years of oppression and fear. Given the message not to limit herself, Elizabeth began to dream for the first time in her life.

Upon her graduation from the Business Program in May 2002, the EOC Employment Services staff placed Elizabeth in an internship with Unity House as a domestic violence advocate. There she was able to gain a better knowledge of the legal aspects of domestic violence crimes, as well as the social and psychological impact felt by the victim and by the community as a whole. She found the work meaningful and the experience invaluable.

As her confidence grew, Elizabeth decided to expand her goals. She enrolled in the Human Services Program at Hudson Valley Community College in September 2002. A Dean’s List and President’s List student and a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, she graduated in August 2004 with a 4.0 GPA. She is now working as a vocational case manager at Career Links, helping people much like herself who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. She plans on continue her education at the University at Albany in the Department of Social Welfare.

“The EOC was far more than a training program for me,” said Elizabeth. “Its knowledgeable teachers gave me the marketable skills I needed to achieve my career goals while supportive counselors showed me my wings and taught me to fly. I know that my ambitions will take me far, but my heart will always be with the Educational Opportunity Center."


EOC Program(s):
Job Readiness Training, Business

Kathleen Satalino

Graduated: 2002

Albany Medical Center Employee

Kathleen Satalino, married with three children, had to give up her job as a waitress/manager in a local restaurant after a work-related accident forced her to change careers. She sought retraining at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center, graduating in May 2002 from the Keyboard Specialist Program.

While enrolled, Kathleen was a superior student who was a driving force behind the Albany facility's involvement in a word processing project suggested by the CDEOC's director. Positive and approachable, Kathleen never tired of helping others, volunteering for both small and large jobs. In May 2002, she received the EOC Alliance Award. Kathleen is now working as a secretary in the Credentialing Department of Albany Medical Center.


EOC Program(s):
Keyboard Specialist