Chris Gardner
Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner loved to swim in high school, but in other ways he was adrift.

His college hopes centered on recruitment to a swim team, but his grades proved to be the buoy that held him back. The Vestal graduate didn’t want to attend his local community college, but his mother convinced him to check out an open house.

Walking around the tables, he stopped at a display for Business Administration and chatted with the professor. Focus more on your schoolwork and you could go far, the professor counseled – even to Cornell University.

It’s a lesson that Chris took to heart – and remembered two years later, after he sent off his application to Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

“Just submitting the application makes me feel really accomplished,” said the Business Administration major, who was also accepted into Binghamton University’s School of Management. “I never would have thought of that two years ago.”

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That initial conversation sparked his interest in the business field and made him determined to excel in the classroom. He also shares that success with his peers, tutoring them one-on-one in statistics, financial accounting, and micro- and macro-economics.

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While he’s sharp with numbers, he’s “more interested in the people aspect of business” and is aiming for a career in Human Resources.

“As I finish my time here, I realize I’m interested in the ways people become motivated,” he reflected. “I’ve been studying my own motivational factors, and what I’m doing in the tutoring lab.”

What makes the difference for Chris Gardner: The support of people around him, believing that he can accomplish great things. He has made good friends among his fellow Hornets, which gives him the confidence he needs to excel in the classroom and share his knowledge as a tutor.

He also has found support and encouragement from his professors, including Dr. Tracy Curtis in biology, Jasse Katen in the English Department, and Stephen Ohl and Dr. Lee Heron in business.

“They’re very understanding. They go the extra mile to see their students succeed,” he said. “They’re very good at motivating the class.”

Chris does his best to provide that motivation to the students he tutors, sharing his own story of success. Be willing to ask questions, he counsels; a willingness to engage not only helps you learn, but enables you to form positive relationships with your professors and peers.

“You really can go anywhere from SUNY Broome. Hard work, anywhere, will always pay off in the end, even if you don’t reach your immediate goals,” he said.