When Stacy Marrow walked into the Admissions Office at Binghamton University six years after she had stopped out as a student, an Admissions Counselor reviewed her file and took a minute to compose himself.
“You were twelve credits away from finishing your degree. Didn’t anyone tell you that?” he asked.
“I didn’t know who I was supposed to ask,” she admitted.
That defining moment fueled Marrow to not only finish her bachelor’s degree at Binghamton University, but to earn a master’s degree as well. Between completing those degrees, she came to SUNY Broome, as an adult learner, to retool for a new career. She earned an associates degree in Business Information Management, specializing in web design.
The experience of withdrawing from college so close to the finish line was not just a critical moment for Marrow academically, but professionally as well. Marrow, now the Director of Career and Professional Services for the College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University, uses her personal experiences as a college student everyday as she guides and supports her CCPA students toward successfully completing their degrees.
Marrow, originally from Queens, NY, first came to the Southern Tier in 1985, when she entered Binghamton University as a freshman English major. Though Marrow excelled in school and was in the top 10% of her graduating high school class, as a first generation college student, she was simply unprepared.
Marrow was a general admission student and did not enter the college through a program designed to guide first generation or underrepresented students. “As a result, I never developed the skills that the TRiO students got, because I was not part of a program that provided the much needed extra support,” she explained.
As if the adjustment to college life was not challenging enough, Marrow had an additional level of culture shock to overcome.
“Even though I had always gone to predominantly white schools in Queens, NY as part of desegregation in the 1970’s, I always went back to my neighborhood. Not only did I not know how to be a college student, but I didn’t know how to be a college student on a predominantly white campus. Down to basic things like, “”Where can I find a hairdresser?’” It was very difficult for me,” she said.
With the encouragement of her family, Stacy returned to Binghamton University in 1993 to quickly complete her remaining twelve credits and finish her degree. After working for several years in jobs that were not as satisfying as she had hoped, she decided to come to SUNY Broome to add a new skill-set to her resume – web design.
Marrow acknowledges that becoming proficient in web design and coding HTML via her courses at SUNY Broome were key factors in changing the trajectory of her career.
“I was first hired by Binghamton University in the Department of Public Administration, and what got me the job was my ability to work on websites. For the past sixteen years, I have been working my way through. I started as an Administrative Assistant and am now a Director in the College of Community and Public Affairs. SUNY Broome brought me to where I am today. I don’t think that I would have been hired for my first position at Binghamton University if I didn’t have the piece of website design and coding experience,” she explained.
Marrow enjoys that she still has the ability to maintain her department’s website thanks to her BIM degree from SUNY Broome.
Though Stacy Marrow is currently working on her EdD through Northcentral University, she does not envision herself on Dean-track. Instead, her desire is to remain alongside her students and to solve problems of practice within higher education.
“I could be bitter about my personal college experience, but I choose not to be. It was really, really rough, but I am grateful that it worked out the way that it did. I feel that these things happened to me to get me ready to take care of my students the way that I do. My care goes beyond 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. because I don’t want anyone to end up like me. I know what my students need and I know the emotion that’s attached to it,” she reflected.
Recently, Marrow has been asked to develop a program to provide holistic support for underserved students within the College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University. Her new “Guided Pathways” program will provide graduate students with the opportunity to create social capital through interactive workshops from faculty and staff of all disciplines. Guided Pathways students will also have exposure to specialized writing courses and professional development presentations.
When asked for advice to share with the students of Binghamton University and SUNY Broome, she didn’t hesitate to answer.
“Swallow your fear and please, please, please ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask other students. Don’t be afraid to ask your professors. If you are walking past someone’s office and they seem friendly, poke your head in there and ask a question. More often there are more helpful people on campus, than not,” she said.