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Celebrating 2021 Graduates

Class of 2021 Graduating Senior Profiles

The English Department is very proud of this year's graduating seniors all of whom have completed their work at SUNY Cortland with grace and fortitude under very trying circumstances.  We hope to celebrate in person soon, but in the meantime, we are sharing profiles of some of our graduating seniors.  Congratulations all!

Lacey Bartlett


Name: Lacey Bartlett, BA Adolescence Education in English

Hometown: I’m from a small, kind of boring town called Middleburgh, NY.

Future plans:  My plan right now is to become a full-time sub in NY for a little while to save up some money, then move somewhere warmer and get a full-time teaching job!

Favorite classes/professors: Every professor I’ve encountered made me a better English major or teacher candidate, so I’m thankful. Special shout out to Dan Radus, Cori McKenzie, Karla Alwes and Dr. Bender. Any class with them is amazing and highly recommended!

Best experience: Becoming close friends with a lot of my peers in the AEN cohort and having all of their support while becoming the person I want to be is something I will always cherish. Also, starting an English Club with a few friends and meeting even more people that I grew close with was pretty cool too!

Story: I want to thank my amazing family for always supporting me. My parents always have my back no matter what. Thank you for everything, Mom and Dad. My twin brother, Lane, is literally my other half and I wouldn’t be who I am without him in my life. My grandfather who isn’t that into showing emotion always lets me know somehow that he is proud of me. Finally, my grandma. I can only hope that my grandma is smiling down on me with love and pride. I love you all! Thank you!

Aliza T. Brylinsky


Name: Aliza T. Brylinsky, BA Professional Writing

Hometown: Originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania, now reside in Ithaca, NY

Future plans: To pursue a degree that allows me to hone my writing and editing skills while also fostering creativity

Favorite classes/professors: ENG 374 with Cori Mackenzie (spawns terrific discussions about current day issues), any class with Tyler Bradway, highly recommend David Franke’s classes as well

Best experience: Best experience? Coming to Cortland in the first place! It’s a community that has allowed me to grow and flourish, as well as gain new knowledge on modern-day issues. 

Story: No stories, but I want to thank the various people in my life- my family, my professors, and my friends- for bringing me this far. Without their constant encouragement, I wouldn’t have become the author that I am today, who has pride in my various accomplishments. 

Thomas King Burner III


Name: Tommy Burner, BA English

Hometown: North Babylon, Long Island 

Future plans: To be a police officer and teach English in the academy when I retire.

Favorite classes/professors: I loved all of my classes and professors! Big thank you to Karla Alwes, Dan Radus, and Tyler Bradway. They helped me fall in love with the major. 

Best experience: Getting to make a bunch of new friends throughout the major! 

Story: I wanted to use this space to thank my mother, Charisse. Thank you for being the greatest parent that I could ever ask for. You are my inspiration. I love you Ma!

Diavian Collier


Name: Diavian Collier, BA English

Future plans:  To pursue an MA in Library Science

Favorite classes/professors: Dr. Alwes, Dr. Lessig, and Dr. Savonick.  Favorite classes were Multicultural Literature, and the British Literature Surveys.

Best experience: Attending 'Wizarding Weekend' in Ithaca with the SUNY Cortland English club back in Fall 2019.

Kayla Conti


Name: Kayla Conti, BA Adolescence Education in English

Hometown: Seaford, Long Island

Future plans: Master Degree in Education

Favorite classes/professors: Adolescent Literature and Teaching Writing with Cori McKenzie, AED429 with Doctor Bender, Shakespeare with Doctor Harbin, American Lit Dan Radus and Matthew Lessig

Best experience: Becoming so close with my AEN Cohort and making lasting memories 

Story: To my AEN 2021 cohort and professors: Thank you for getting me through the last four years. To supplying me with class notes to peer editing my essays, to being patient with me, and answering every question. I wouldn’t be here without you all.

Hallie Garropy

Name: Hallie Garropy, BA English

Hometown: Auburn, NY

Future plans: Masters Degree in Education 

Favorite classes/professors: Favorite Classes/Professor: All the classes I took with Karla Alwes

Best experience: I came to SUNY Cortland as a transfer student and had the most amazing three years here. I met so many new people and had a lot of different experiences that shaped me to be the person I am today. 

Gabrielle Hill

Name: Gabrielle Hill, BA English

Hometown: Born and raised in Syracuse, NY

Future plans: Becoming a full time substitute in my hometown, and working towards obtaining a Master’s Degree through SUNY Cortland as well. 

Favorite classes/professors:  Some of my favorite professors would have to be Dr. Cori McKenzie, Dan Radus, Dr. Leffel, and of course Dr.Bender. Any classes I was able to take with any of them would easily be my favorite. 

Best experience: The best experiences I have with Cortland each can boil down to the amazing people I have been able to surround myself with. From freshman year all the way to now my college experience has been filled with extraordinary friends; each of whom has helped me change and grow in ways I can’t put into words. 

Story: I would like to take this final space to first and foremost thank my Gramma Judy and my Mama for all they continue to do for me. But, I would also like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Bender, my advisor. Without his guidance over these four years, I don’t know who I would be as an educator. He has instilled confidence within me that knows this is what I am meant to be doing, and that is a confidence I’m not sure I would have found without him. Thank you <3

Skylar Locke


Name: Skylar Locke, BA English

Hometown: Middletown, NY

Future plans: I am attending SUNY Cortland’s MA English program in the Fall. After completing my Master’s, I plan to pursue a PhD in English and become a professor. I have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and I’d love to one day teach classes on psychology in literature. 

Favorite classes/professors: I’ve enjoyed every English class I have taken, especially every class with Danica Savonick. A huge thank you to her for helping me realize that I want to teach one day. I also want to give a big thank you to Dan Radus, my advisor, for guiding me throughout my college years here at Cortland.

Best experience: My best experience has been becoming so close with the English department and my professors. I truly feel at home when I am among this department. 

Story: Congratulations to all graduates! I wish every one of you the best of luck!

Joanna LoGerfo

Joanna LoGerfo

Name: Joanna LoGerfo, BA Adolescence Education in English

Hometown: Newark Valley, New York

Future plans: Attend SUNY Cortland’s Graduate Program

Favorite classes/professors: Kinship Narrative w/ Tyler Bradway; Literature for Adolescence w/ Cori McKenzie; anything w/ Dr. Bender.

Best experience: Getting to connect with my AEN cohort and making friends with so many of my peers. 

Story: I once had an extra ticket to see BTS in concert, and asked a random girl in my American Lit class that had J-Hope stickers on her laptop to come with me. We had a wonderful time, and now she’s one of my best friends (<3 u, Kay).

Brianna MacGregor


Name: Brianna MacGregor, BA Adolescence Education in English

Hometown: West Babylon, NY

Future plans: Move to the Midwest and begin job hunting. Eventually I would like to get my masters. 

Favorite professors: Cori McKenzie, Geoffrey Bender, Dan Radus, Karla Alwes

Favorite classes: ENG 374 and AED 408 w. Cori McKenzie, ENG 529 w. Dr. Leffel, Any class w. Dr. Bender.

Best experience: Connecting with my AEN cohort and making so many friends through the program. Also, being able to be apart of creating English Club was pretty sweet.

Story: I don’t have any stories in particular but I would love to thank the English Department for providing me with such amazing professors, classes, and memories to hold onto forever. I would not be where I am today without the support and encouragement from everyone. :)

Jax Mello

Name: Jax Mello, MA English

Hometown: Cortland, New York

Future plans: Pursue a PhD in English and become a professor

Favorite classes/professors: Everything with Tyler Bradway, Dan Radus, and Andrea Harbin has been my favorite

Best experience: Being able to work at The Writing Center and The Learning Center. It’s really helped me learn what I want to do, which is to work with students closely and encourage their work. 

Savannah Pearson


Name: Savannah Pearson, BA English

Hometown: Staten Island, NYC

Future plans: Currently, I have an internship set up for summer 2021 and I intend on working directly after. I want to get my masters, but would prefer in-class meetings rather than a Zoom call.

Favorite classes/professors: Favorite courses: ENG 430 Audre Lorde with Savonick, ENG 477, Kinship Narratives with Bradway, ENG 356 British Lit. with Alwes

Best experience: One of the best decisions I have ever made was switching my major from PSY to ENG. I flourished and explored in this major where I had previously felt stifled.

Story: I appreciate all of the staff within the ENG department who influenced the person I am today. (Special shout out to Karla Alwes)

Madison Scheuneman

Name: Madison Scheuneman, BA Professional Writing

Hometown: I’m from Buffalo, NY

Future plans:  I’m currently looking for a career in the publishing field or work as a freelance editor.

Favorite classes/professors: LGTBQ+ Literature with Tyler Bradway, Adolescent Literature with Cori McKenzie, Advanced Creative Writing & Intro. to the Publishing Industry with Heather Bartlett, Creative Nonfiction with Lisa Neville, and Sci Fi/Fantasy with Andrea Harbin were some of my favorites classes.

Best experience: Being a PWR major was the best decision I ever made not only because writing is the thing I’m most passionate about, but because of the department. The professors and classes are wonderful, and I enjoyed every second of my time with the English department.

Kyle Schwager


Name: Kyle Schwager, BA, Adolescence Education in English

Hometown: Lindenhurst, NY

Future plans: This fall, I will be returning to SUNY Cortland to start my master’s degree in English. I hope to use the degree to refine my own understanding of literature, so I can better develop my future students’ understanding of the subject.

Favorite classes/professors: My time as an AEN major was only benefited by the great faculty of the department. Thank you to all the professors who have positively impacted my experience at SUNY Cortland, it will always be greatly appreciated! I want to specifically thank Dr. Geoffrey Bender, my advisor/professor, for helping develop who I want to be as both a learner and future educator.

Best experience: My best experience at SUNY Cortland was my involvement with the SUNY Cortland’s Men’s Ultimate team. The bonds that I created through Team Rocket are bonds that I will always cherish, and I will never forget how lucky I was to find my own home-away-from-home with this team. (C-What? C-STATE!)

Caitlyn Shanley


Name: Caitlyn Shanley, BA English

Hometown: From Mastic Beach, NY and now living in Syracuse

Future plans: Future plans: Cortland’s English Masters Program

Transferred to Cortland in Fall 2019 from Suffolk County Community College

Favorite classes/professors: Favorite classes/professors: any class I’ve taken with Karla Alwes, Tyler Bradway, and Dan Radus

Best experience: I came here not expecting to make many friends but then I started talking to one girl who spilled hot chocolate on herself the first day and now my friends couldn’t get rid of me if they tried.

Emily Siegel

Emily Siegel

Name: Emily Siegel, BA Adolescence Education in English

Hometown: Kings Park, NY (Long Island)

Future plans: My future goals are to obtain a Master’s degree and start working in the education field to teach and inspire.

Favorite classes/professors: I’ve learned so much from all of the courses I’ve taken at SUNY Cortland. Thank you Dr. Bender, Dr. McKenzie, Dr. Harbin, Dr. Leffel, and Dr. Alwes. You’ve all helped me establish a strong foundation for a career in educating.

Best experience: I transferred to Cortland in the fall of 2018, and I’m so glad I did! Our AEN cohort is particularly strong; I’ve always felt completely supported by all of my professors and peers. I’m confident that all members of our cohort will move on to do amazing things. Congratulations to all graduates!

Payton Vogt


Name: Payton Vogt, BA Adolescence Education in English

Hometown: Ronkonkoma, New York (Long Island)

Future plans: I plan to obtain my Master’s degree through either Cortland’s online MA Literacy Program or Stony Brook’s in-person MA Literacy Program in the fall.

Favorite classes/professors: Some of my favorite classes/professors were Cori McKenzie, Dr. Bender, Dr. Harbin, Dan Radus, and (Women in Literature with) Denise Knight. Thank you all for imparting your knowledge to me and helping me hone my skills! You have each positively impacted my experience at SUNY Cortland so much.

Best experience: I transferred to Cortland in the fall of 2018 after getting my Associate’s from SCCC on Long Island. I wanted to get the experience of being away from home and meeting new people, and it was the best decision for me!

Story: Over the years at Cortland, I’ve made amazing memories, created long-lasting friendships, and I’ve acquired knowledge that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my teaching career. Congratulations to all my fellow graduates—I wish the best of luck to everyone!