C-GCC graduate Emily Kratz ’21 believes that small steps lead to big destinations.
A graduate of Grapeville Christian School in Climax, N.Y., she was one of just four students in her senior class. That meant there were plenty of opportunities for extracurricular activities and one-on-one interactions with both teachers and administrators, but also that even the smallest colleges have a tendency to seem huge.
“I worked in the Principal’s office, volunteered at the library and the day care, and even did some substitute teaching,” she said. “I was always really involved with school, but I was nervous about going to college.”
As Salutatorian of her class, Kratz, of Coxsackie, N.Y., was eligible for the Presidential Scholarship that allows students who graduate first or second in their high-school class to attend C-GCC for two years at no cost. That lead her to take a small step and attend an open house on campus, thus discovering a college she dubbed “adorable.”
“CoGreene was the first college I looked at, and the decision seemed simple,” she said. “I loved the campus, and it’s right here.”
Building off her experiences in high school, Kratz set her sights on earning an associate’s degree in Psychology, with plans to transfer to a four-year institution. Her next move was to find opportunities for involvement on campus, and a work-study appointment as Student Assistant for the Advising, Career, and Transfer Office was the foothold she needed to get her bearings.
“That was one of best things that could have happened – working in the Advising Office kick-started my involvement in other ways, and it gave me a lot of confidence that I definitely needed,” she said. “I don’t think most students realize how necessary and important they are – that their colleges really want them to be involved. Once you know that, it’s easier to feel confident.”
Before long, she found herself assisting with career-preparation events for the Office of Career Success and Experiential Learning, serving as a peer tutor in the Academic Support Center, and nominated to serve as the 2021 Student Trustee, a liaison to the College’s governing Board of Trustees.
Vicky Pecord, office manager for Advising, Career, and Transfer, added that the department also benefitted from Kratz’ employment, lamenting its shortened run due to the COVID-19 campus shut-down.
“Emily quickly became a trusted member of our team, and the advisors often asked for her opinion on work projects,” she said. “We had her as our aide for a semester and a couple of months before COVID hit; I would have loved to have worked with her for her full two years here.”
In some ways, however, the pandemic did create some silver linings: Kratz was called upon to serve as a student advisor to Chancellor’s Office, SUNY’s Mental Health Task force, and its Office of Student Wellness during the height of the pandemic in 2020.
“I was part of a conversation assessing the general ‘vibe’ and struggles students were dealing with regarding COVID-19,” she explained. “Because I showed a lot of interest, I was invited to a SUNY-wide meeting, and that led to being part of a bigger social outreach among all SUNY schools.”
Her efforts did not go unnoticed: in April, she was awarded the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, Ph.D., given to students across the system who demonstrate both academic excellence and accomplishments in areas of leadership. Soon after, she was named to the 2021 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-New York Academic Team, which recognizes exceptional community college students throughout the state.
“There are many wonderful things we can say about Emily as a CoGreene student, and now alumna,” said C-GCC President Carlee Drummer, Ph.D. “But, in short, she not only strives to help individuals, but also to build a better society.”
What’s more, Kratz has chosen to remain within the SUNY system as she continues her education, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University at Albany – perhaps with a focus on criminal psychology and forensics, though she’s yet to whittle down her many interests. “I’m never not all-in on something. I want to get everything out of my psych. degree, go to grad school, and earn my doctorate, eventually.”
She added she’s been applying lessons learned during her first days at C-GCC as she readies for her next steps: taking campus tours, setting up her class schedule with advisors, and researching the college ambassador program, in an effort to give back to incoming Freshmen.
“I was a super-nervous Freshman, so I want to help, because I know that feeling,” she said. “I’m looking for ways to work with faculty to represent students and make people aware of what’s out there. There are so many opportunities; we just need to know about them and feel comfortable asking about them.”
Thusly, Kratz continues on her path – marked by signs of success as she progresses, little by little.
Photo Caption: Columbia-Greene Community College 2021 graduate Emily Kratz of Coxsackie, seen here at C-GCC’s Commencement Caravan graduation ceremony, served as a liaison to both the C-GCC Board of Trustees and to the SUNY Chancellor’s Office during the COVID-19 shut-down. Now, she’s headed to UAlbany to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.