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Alumni Profiles

My Future after SUNY Plattsburgh

Portrait of Liam Ward at an art exhibitLiam Ward, Class of 2013

“I left Plattsburgh with the technical and conceptual skills to become an independent and confident person in the art world.”
  • M.F.A. in Studio Art, University of Alabama
  • B.F.A. in Studio Art, SUNY Plattsburgh
  • Graduate Student Instructor, University of Alabama
  • Graduate School Ambassador, University of Alabama
  • Coordinating Director at Cropping Out Hunger

“My time spent at SUNY Plattsburgh changed my life forever. I came into school as a political science major, with an interest in art. My first semester, I took a drawing class and a photography class. Those two classes made me realize that my real passion was art, and my professors gave me the belief that this could be a very fulfilling life path. Sue Lezon became my main mentor and has since become one of the most influential people in my life. Her passion for photography and her genuine care for her students helped ignite the same passions within me. My time spent at SUNY Plattsburgh not only gave me the skills to become a successful artist, but to become a fully realized person. 

“I will always remember critiques, classes, and even random meetings in professor’s offices. That one-on-one guidance is what separates SUNY Plattsburgh from other programs. I owe every ounce of my success to the program and its great professors.”

Liam Ward’s Portfolio Website
Learn more about Copping Out Hunger


Dane Winkler, Class of 2012

  • M.F.A., University of Maryland, College Park
  • B.F.A. in Sculpture, SUNY Plattsburgh

“The first section of Advanced Sculpture was a true eye opener. It taught me about making sculpture from a technical and conceptual perspective. The professor, Drew Goerlitz, was the first to expose me to sculpture beyond “statues,” which was all I knew of prior. I really enjoyed the Friday classes too when we would all meet with an example of a contemporary sculpture to share and talk about it as a group.

“SUNY Plattsburgh gave me independence and access to numerous kind of workshops, studio spaces, and resources. The college made me the dedicated, hard worker I am today.”


Katie Booth, Class of 2013

  • B.F.A. in Studio Art
  • Photo editor, Women in the World in association with The New York Times

“I started at SUNY Plattsburgh planning to concentrate in graphic design, but I didn’t anticipate I’d become so absorbed in photography. Since that first semester I spent in the darkroom, I haven’t stopped making photos. My professors encouraged and pushed me technically and intellectually at every step. They got to know me and my work on a personal level, so that when I changed my concentration to photography, I wasn’t starting from scratch, I was adding to my foundation as an artist. Sue Lezon became an incredible mentor. She has become one of the most influential voices in my life. She exudes a passion for all things photography in everything she does, and she helped me to recognize that same passion within myself.

“I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with the tools to work independently and competitively in the art world. Through internships that led to jobs, I’ve begun to build a career as a photographer and photo editor in New York City. I am constantly referring back to the many unforgettable critiques, conversations, and lessons I learned from my professors and fellow students. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I realized how truly unique and invaluable the community in the art department at SUNY Plattsburgh is.”

Kathleen O’Connell, Class of 2002

  • B.A. in Studio Art
  • Assistant Professor, Middle Tennessee State University

“My favorite class at SUNY Plattsburgh was Introduction to Printmaking. When I began to study printmaking I didn’t know anything about it. I fell in love with the process and the outcome. The feeling of scratching into a zinc plate, wiping the plate with ink and being able to produce multiple printed copies seemed too good to be true! I remember watching a lithography student process and print off of a flat stone and I thought it was the most bizarre and magical thing ever seen. In that class I learned the process, but I also discovered a passion that still drives much of what I do today, creatively and as an instructor. I have continued to make prints, non-stop, since that class.

“As with any experience, this program is what you make of it. I chose to challenge myself, and my professors encouraged me raising their expectations accordingly. My frequent interactions with all of my art professors provided me with necessary feedback, encouragement and the right amount of challenge.  As a professional currently working in a public university I can attest that the SUNY system is well-known and widely recognized. The Art Department remains strong. In practical terms, I appreciate that I did not leave school with a huge debt.”

Portrait of Nicolas GaudreauNicolas Gaudreau, Class of 2004

  • Professional Fundraiser
  • M.A. in Museum Studies, Syracuse University
  • B.A. in Art History, SUNY Plattsburgh

Nicolas Gaudreau excelled as an art history major specializing in 19th-century French prints and feminist art history. While completing his studies, Mr. Gaudreau interned at the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, where he attracted the support of numerous donors that enabled him to acquire 16 works for the permanent collection, including prints by Cassatt and Picasso among others. He also curated a large exhibition of those works in Feinberg Library’s Kent Gallery. Nick had raised over $30,000 for the Museum before he graduated. During his student years, he was Vice President for the Arts in the SUNY Plattsburgh Student Association, served as a teaching assistant, and worked with studio art majors to assist them with best professional practices.

Mr. Gaudreau went on to earn his master’s degree in museum studies at Syracuse University, concentrating in museum development and administration. He has now been a professional fundraiser for cultural organizations for over a decade. Using his love for the business of art that began at SUNY Plattsburgh, he has represented the financial needs of cultural organizations to philanthropists ranging from Presidents to the Imperial Court of Japan and he has raised millions of dollars in support of crucial community programs, including free summer camps for inner-city youth and an ambassadorial tour for cultural exchange through the U.S. State Department. Nick has worked with a children’s museum, an art school, a Native American decorative arts museum, a contemporary glass museum, and a Japanese garden. He is currently the Associate Director of Individual Giving with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.

Mr. Gaudreau credits his education as an art history major at SUNY Plattsburgh for the trajectory of his career, saying, “It wasn’t just the course work that gave me what I needed to succeed. It was a great group of professors that pushed me to take every opportunity available.”

Portrait of Danny ChangDanny (Shyang-Min) Chang, Class of 2007

  • Major: Art Studio, Graphic Design
  • Occupation: Senior Product Designer at Shutterstock Inc.
  • Graduate School: Parsons, M.F.A. in Design and Technology

“I loved the package design class. It’s hands-on and challenging. One project was to design a package for eggs. We had to design using the form-follows-function principle — something which looks awesome and still protects the eggs from impact.

“Professor Norman Taber is one of a kind. He is humorous and always makes learning into a fun and enjoyable experience. He also knows how to lead the students into what they love to do for the rest of their lives. I did an independent research for package design with him. We dived into package design for high-tech products. That research helped me bridge what I learned in school with trending markets and design needs.

“Unlike design school, the graphic design at SUNY Plattsburgh is well-rounded with other fine art classes. You don’t have to make a decision until you find something you love. How many designers have ever experienced oxy-fuel welding for sculpture? I did.”


More Alumni Stories



Contact Information

If you would like more information about art at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Dr. Karen Blough
Office: Myers Fine Arts 220B
Phone: (518) 564-2468
Email: [email protected]

Kimberly Hall-Stone, Secretary
Office: Myers Fine Arts 220B
Phone: (518) 564-2179
Fax: (518) 564-2199
Email: [email protected]

SUNY Plattsburgh
Art Department
Myers Fine Arts 220 B
Plattsburgh, NY 12901