Alumni Relations is publishing an oral history project to celebrate 150 years.
By Kris Dreessen
Learn more about the Oral History Project and submit your own Geneseo story.
An hour-long tour that made the campus feel like home. A visit with an admissions counselor who offered new possibilities to attend college. Friends made in the first days on campus who are like family 40 years later.
Alumni remember their college experience as special for many reasons and carry its impact and connections through life. This year, alumni and friends of Geneseo are invited to share those reasons through an oral history project, Geneseo Storytellers: A Celebration of 150 Years.
The Office of Alumni Relations wants grads and friends of all eras to submit stories about what matters most to them about their Geneseo experience. The invitation is wide open — from stories of students who met their future spouse on campus to memories of participating in historic events, from experiencing aha! moments in class to encountering academic mentors or kindred spirits — and everything in between. All submissions will be published in a digital keepsake book. There will also be a printed version, available for purchase by contributors and the public.
“Collecting and publishing these stories creates a valuable historical record and ensures that future generations will know the impact Geneseo had on decades of alumni, faculty, staff and emeriti,” says Tracy Young Gagnier ’93, assistant director of alumni relations. “We could think of no better way to honor the 150th anniversary than by collecting stories that celebrate cherished traditions, lifelong friendships, a legacy of service to others, and the success of our proud alumni.”
Elaine Andrew Eller ’91 knew Geneseo would be her home from day one. Her sorority sisters are her family, and she never misses a reunion — for the College or her residence hall.
“Geneseo is a magical place. Those who went here know,” she says. “It will be so fun to hear others’ stories and see how Geneseo has evolved.”
As the Oral History Project launches, Eller and Miguel Baique ’14 share their Geneseo stories:
ELAINE ANDREW ELLER ’91
Executive diabetes sales representative and region sales trainer at AstraZeneca
“As I reflect on my college years, I am so thankful that I chose Geneseo!
When I was searching for colleges, Geneseo wasn’t even on my radar. Both my aunts had graduated from Geneseo, so my mother suggested we stop by for a quick visit on our way back from visiting colleges in Buffalo. She knew her sisters loved their time there. I immediately fell in love with the beautiful campus and the surrounding area. It was the perfect size for me, and it just felt like ‘home.’
I have so many fond memories of late nights in the biology lab, studying in the stacks in Milne, pulling all-nighters before finals, dorm gatherings, sunbathing and picnics behind Wyoming Hall, sunsets at the gazebo, painting the Seuss tree and being in the ice storm of 1991.
Of course, some of the very best times were had at the Hub, GJ’s, The Vital Spot, the Palace and most certainly the I.B. We couldn’t call it a night without visiting Mama Mia’s, The Donut Shop or Aunt Cookies!
I am most thankful for the lifelong friendships that I made. I was lucky enough to pledge the AOPi sorority with some amazing women. We make it a priority to see each other several times a year. We have been there for each other, for all of life’s joys and challenges, for more than 30 years. We have also created annual traditions, such as camping at Letchworth State Park with our families each Memorial Day weekend, hosting a March Madness sisters weekend, holding a Veterans Day weekend trip (this year is Nashville) and attending Reunion in Geneseo each June. We also have a Wyoming Hall 1987-1991 reunion every two years in Geneseo.
We are so fortunate to have been able to celebrate all our career successes, see each other’s children grow up and reminisce about our time at Geneseo.
Geneseo is a very special place, and I will be forever grateful that it helped shape who I am today. I am looking forward to Reunion 2022 and our annual picture in front of the bear fountain!”
Miguel Baique ’14
assistant dean of academic diversity and inclusive excellence and chief diversity officer at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at SUNY Binghamton
“Raised in New York City in a low-income home, it was never my intention to attend a post-secondary institution. Faculty and peers attempted to instill the vision of college in my me, but my focus was on making money to help at home. Not to mention, how would I afford college? Then came Geneseo admission counselor Georgenson (George) Anselme. George visited my high school and our conversation changed my life.
George provided me with information about Geneseo, the Access Opportunity Programs (AOP) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) that would assist me personally, academically and financially throughout my time at Geneseo. He understood that as a first-generation student, I might need the support. I started imagining myself in college — what an exciting vision.
I started Geneseo in the 2011 AOP Summer Program. After completing the program, I knew SUNY Geneseo would be home away from home. I immersed myself into campus life — joining clubs and organizations (FACEAIDS, MILES and more). I became a peer mentor for the AOP, worked in the athletic training room, was an intern in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and so much more. I also enjoyed the rigorous coursework and graduated with degrees in both sociology and communication, in 3.5 years!
I gained long-lasting relationships, including the love of my life, Lisa Martinez-Baique ’12. I had great mentors who continue to be to this day, and made the best friends one can ask for.
Geneseo provided me the opportunity to gain a great support network and receive an amazing education (in and out of the classroom). So much so that I am now Miguel Baique, EdD., M.PA. My Geneseo experience also grounded me in diversity, equity and inclusion work that I turned into my career. One hundred and fifty years, Geneseo! Keep advancing and diversifying. Let’s see what the next 150 has in store!