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Full Circle: Graduation Caps to Faculty Hats

By: Thomas Dachik

Purchase College’s mission is to set up students for success in their respective career paths wherever that may be. However, for some, that place remains at Purchase.

Many student employment positions begin on campus as either unpaid or part-time, though they can become leverage for bigger roles. This is the case for Stephanie Santora, Jasmine Sitti, and Ben Erkan.

Santora, Purchase College’s current Internal Operations Manager, graduated in 2011 and earned her bachelor's degree in journalism. During her time, she also played on and coached for the Purchase Women’s Soccer Team. After graduating, Santora found out about a brand-new position: Assistant Sports Information Director. She felt the position was perfect for her as she transitioned into a new stage in her adult life.

“I did not want to go back home,” Santora said. “I wanted to be independent.”

Stephanie Santora on camera duties in the Purchase College gymnasium in 2022 (Photo via Stephanie Santora)

This was Santora’s first full-time position at Purchase. When she was promoted to Internal Operations Manager, she was succeeded by another Purchase alumni, Jasmine Sitti.

Sitti, like Santora, also played a sport at Purchase, as she played for the Women's lacrosse team. She is also now the head coach of the team. Despite being so new to her position, Sitti feels compelled to her role, having been an athlete herself.

“I am still learning,” Sitti said. “Though we want our Purchase community to know when [the athletes] are recognized.”

Sitti attributes her return to Purchase to a connection she had with a former coach, who then offered her the role after Sitti had returned to the U.S. after spending some time in South Korea.

“She reached out to me because I was kind of in between [jobs],” Sitti said.

Jasmine Sitti, Jersey #8, posing with her Lacrosse teammates in 2014 (Photo via Jasmine Sitti)

Jasmine Sitti in her office holding her 4-month-old baby Genevieve (Photo by: Thomas Dachik)

Connections tend to go a long way, as is also the case with recent Purchase graduate Benjamin Erkan, class of 2022. As a student, Erkan was doing a tremendous amount, as he competed in the sports of Golf, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and Swim on top of being a member of the Purchase Community Standards Student Board. He is now the head coach of the men's and women's golf teams at Purchase and the Residential Coordinator for the Alumni Village apartments on campus.

Benjamin Erkan, Jersey #12, posing with his volleyball teammates (Photo via Benjamin Erkan)

Erkan is the first in his family’s history to attend college, and he finds athletics to be a key piece to finding friends and connections quite easily at Purchase, though he finds it more important to learn to break out of the comfort zone and reach out to new people. He found his best friends, along with his girlfriend, by doing so.

“When you come as an athlete, you get a family right off the bat which is your teammates,” Erkan said. "Though it is good to reach out to other people. I was best friends with people that were not athletes. Those were my people.”

Benjamin Erkan (far right) posing with the Alumni Village Residential Assistant staff. (Photo via Benjamin Erkan)

An extrovert himself, Erkan feels networking, putting oneself out there, and breaking out of the comfort zone is the greatest skills one can have. Santora agrees as she feels any student can be successful and find lasting careers by experimenting and trying new things. She recalls that she initially wanted to take on broadcasting, though she realized she did not like being in front of a camera. Regardless, she learned to embrace the uncertainty she had in finding a career.

“Go to bigger places, go to smaller places, and get a feel of what you want to do,” Santora said. “If you feel something is just not for you, know that it is okay. If you want to change or adapt, that is okay too.”

Although the extroverted, enthusiastic Erkan is usually quite extensive with his words, he has one simple message to his peers.

“Be the superhero of your own movie,” Erkan said. “By the time you are done, you can go back, watch the whole movie, and say ‘I became that person.’”



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