It started with an opportunity. Eduard Gusak sat down with his family and friend as they presented the life altering news to him. Months had passed since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and Gusak was unsure of what his future held, but he knew he had to move forward.
“They told me I had an opportunity to study in the United States,” Gusak says.
With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Gusak dreamed of continuing his education at Syracuse University. He wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to attend, but the U.S. government pathway program “Uniting for Ukraine” gave him the chance to see his future clearly.
On April 19th, the College of Professional Studies is hosting a reception for alumni, current online and executive education students, and friends of Syracuse University in Los Angeles, CA. The reception will be followed by a program at 7:30 p.m. featuring American actor, Jay Harrington ’93.
Harrington is an actor known for his role as the title character in the ABC sitcom “Better Off Ted” in 2009-2010 and has just finished filming his 6th season as Sgt. David “Deacon” Kay in “S.W.A.T.”, where he also directed his first episode in the series. Previous credits include starring alongside Eliza Coupe in the USA Network’s “Benched.” Harrington is a 1993 graduate of the theater program at Syracuse University.
The reception will be held at Craft on Constellation Boulevard, from 6-8:30 pm. There is no cost to attend the event.
NYSFAAA is volunteer association that was formed in 1968 to serve the financial aid community. Today, it serves over 1,200 practicing financial aid professionals working in student financial aid offices throughout the state of New York. The Association consists of eight regions across the state. As chair of Region III, Lafata will oversee representatives from 12 counties surrounding the Central New York region.
The association and its members advocate for and promote equal access to post-secondary education for all students by providing outreach activities to assist students and families as they work to understand the student financial aid process.
“We hold monthly meetings to discuss important topics on financial aid, inclusive of staying abreast of legislative updates,” Lafata says. “As a community, we participate in trainings, webinars, and events with financial aid subject matter experts. Additionally, we volunteer at high school FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) filing events, participate in yearly Student Aid Advocacy Day in Albany, liaise with Regional and National Associations and attend financial aid conferences.”
As a financial aid advisor, Lafata assists students seeking support in financing their education at Syracuse, specifically post-traditional students who come to the University while likely handling many responsibilities in life, like full-time or part-time work and/or raising a family. These circumstances often make it difficult for post-traditional students to find the resources to dedicate towards their academic goals.
The College of Professional Studies financial aid department proactively identifies scholarship or grant opportunities for current and incoming students. Eligible students are either selected and notified or invited to apply each year for awards available the following fall/spring. By having an intimate understanding of and frequent communication with students, the financial aid department can help students focus on their academic pursuits by helping to find financial solutions.
“Being a part of NYSFAAA has been a great experience. I look forward to the future, serving as Chair, to continue the work we have done, hope to do, and put into practice all that we learn to effectively serve our students and provide them with the best financial aid opportunities to help them achieve their educational goals,” Lafata says.
When Liz Green began her career in higher education, she didn’t expect joining the military to be a part of her journey.
In February 2022, Green found herself spending a significant amount of time at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base advising members of the 174th Attack Wing. Nearly weekly, the executive director of Online Student Success could be found speaking with prospective military students interested in online programs at Syracuse University’s College of Professional Studies. The more that Green connected with students of various backgrounds and career fields, the more she found herself drawn to the mission and community that surrounded the Air National Guard.
“Can a civilian just join the military?” Green asked herself.
Although it was a simple question, it felt loaded with opportunity. Just like higher education, a career in the military was all about service. Both required commitment, leadership, and a passion to transform lives. While joining the military was an extension of an existing career built on service, this new career path would cultivate a deeper understanding of what it means to be military-connected in higher education.
But Green didn’t just join on a whim.
“When I had the thought, I laughed it off in my head,” Green said. “But it’s like what we tell our [College of Professional Studies] applicants: don’t self-select out. At least ask the question because you never know what you might learn in the process.”
As a full-time employee, PhD student, and a mom, could Green squeeze in another commitment? A two-hour conversation with a recruiter answered her question, which made her realize it was an oddly perfect fit. Green imagined a Venn diagram of her life and how this opportunity would blend into her other roles.
“It dawned on me that our presence on base was having an impact,” Green said. “I was an accessible person to talk to about degrees and there was a lot of enthusiasm. I want to keep doing what I can for this group of people and also serve the mission that they serve.”
Green began the five-month preparation of paperwork, exams, and medical clearances it would take to officially commission. On Nov. 4, Green was sworn into the New York Air National Guard, three weeks shy of her 40th birthday. Upon completion of officer training school, Green will be a second lieutenant and will be formally assigned to the public affairs career field.
“I didn’t even know this opportunity existed,” Green said. “But I’m so glad it evolved the way it did.”
About the College of Professional Studies
The College of Professional Studies is a global, inclusive and future-facing college, providing access to diverse students and learners seeking a Syracuse University degree, credential, certificate, or education experience.
For more than 60 years, Syracuse University has been giving high school students the opportunity to learn about potential careers and college majors through its nationally recognized pre-college program, Summer College.
Syracuse University continues its commitment to welcoming and celebrating a diverse student body by providing financial incentives to students from a variety of communities for its upcoming 2023 Summer College program.
The Office of Pre-College Programs has announced generous discounts for high school dependents of employees (20%), alumni (20%) and veterans or active service members (50%), as well as local CNY (20%) and Native American and Indigenous (50%) high school students.