“At SUNY Ulster, I found dedicated professors and TRIO counselors who have taken an interest in my personal well-being and academic success. There’s so much that can be gained in an environment like this,” Michael Mulvey, Media and Communications, Honor’s program, expected graduation spring 2016
Michael Mulvey never dreamed of the future he now sees for himself just two years. A first-time college student at the age of 55, Mulvey of Woodstock will be spending part of this summer at Vassar College as part of the highly selective “Exploring Transfer Program.”
Mulvey learned of his acceptance into the prestigious program on another milestone day – the one-year anniversary of his release from NY state prison on a repeat DWI offense.
Mulvey’s own experiences with the penal/treatment program set him on a path of redemption and personal re-invention that began with pursuing an associate’s at SUNY Ulster.
Now an honors student on the President’s List studying Media and Communications with a concentration in film and video production, Mulvey is seizing every opportunity put before him – and he’s found plenty in this diverse community college setting.
From dedicated and motivating instructors who took a personal interest in his success to pursuing his musical interests in playing bass in the SUNY Ulster Jazz Band, Mulvey has flourished in the small close-knit environment.
A high school dropout, he received student support to get his basic college requirements fulfilled for admissions and credits the counselors at TRIO Student Support Services for their tremendous support.
For his accomplishments, he also has received a TRIO award for student excellence.
Seeking Legal and Social Justice
When SUNY Ulster’s Honors Program coordinator Jennifer Kaufman, put the Vassar program before her students to apply, Mulvey was immediately intrigued by a course being offered on “Legal Justice, Social Justice: The Politics of Imprisonment.”
The essay about his own experiences flowed easily and formed an early idea for a thesis. A recovering alcoholic who struggled with dependency issues while on disability as an operating engineer in New York City’s building trade, Mulvey believes the state should devote more resources to education than prisons.
His goal is to apply what he learned as a negotiator and shop steward during 25 years in the labor movement to the political process as a media consultant and filmmaker. “I see new media and Social Media platforms as grass roots political mobilization tools with the ability to reinforce the social contract and invigorate our faltering democracy,” he says.
Mulvey credits Dr. Ray Raymond, Associate Professor of Government and History, as serving as his academic advisor and a mentor. He aspires to transfer to a four-year college to pursue Communications and Government, and apply his knowledge to the American political process.
The Vassar Exploring Transfer program is designed to introduce first-generation community college students from underrepresented populations to the possibilities of transfer to a wide range of four-year colleges and universities.
Over five weeks, Mulvey will take six credits of interdisciplinary liberal arts courses and live in the residence hall at the Poughkeepsie liberal arts campus. His scholarship completely covers tuition, room, board, books and all other supplies.
Mulvey wants to help other college students to focus on the opportunities before them while they can, and also serve as positive role model for his 22-year-old daughter, Alexandra. “As a parent, I can show her how people can redeem themselves when they make mistakes,” Mulvey says.
“Start here, go far is a motto for anyone at any place in their life,” he says.