Vincent Mattone '06 was an interdisciplinary economics and political science major. His favorite Union class was “Mind of an Entrepreneur,” taught by Professor Hal Fried, and his favorite Union experiences are “too many to count, but not many we could publish.” Vin grew up in Franklin Square, N.Y., and now lives in Rockville Centre, N.Y., where he is a certified financial planner/financial advisor.
How did you find Union and why did you choose to attend?
Vin recounts this in his response below.
Who were your mentors and how important was their guidance?
The two people who helped me most with finding Union were my high school athletic director and my school social worker. I went to a small public high school where, historically, a lot of students were comfortable with local college options or the SUNY system. I was looking to find a school that fit my academic profile, where I could live away from home and also have an opportunity to try and play football. My athletic director asked my father and I to meet him one morning and he handed me a list of schools, of which Union was one. He told me that his son, who attended a school in a different district with more resources, had just been through a similar search, and that he was happy to provide insight that I may not receive leveraging my guidance department. My high school social worker, who oversaw a student peer organization that I volunteered for helping incoming students get acclimated, validated this advice. She even cited Union as a school I should focus on. She had advised another student several years ago who had enjoyed his experience at Union. Funny enough, during my career we ended up becoming colleagues and compared notes on how we both ended up at Union.
Students often feel pressure to do well in college. Did you feel any particular pressure?
I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself while in college. My first two years at Union were challenging as I looked to balance school work, sports, work study and social life. My parents had always helped me focus on “just getting in” to college, so once I was there, collectively we weren’t sure what to expect and how to manage. My biggest fear was failing, and then not being offered a second chance. I had earned a Presidential Scholarship as well as qualified for aid via a Pell Grant and New York State Tuition Assistance. For whatever reason, I thought if I couldn’t make it at Union, then I wouldn’t be enrolling anywhere else. I knew my parents worked so hard to give me an opportunity that they both didn’t have, so I didn’t want to disappoint them or not take full advantage of it.
Have you provided any mentorship yourself, academically or otherwise?
I’ve helped a few Union students interested in pursuing a career in financial services. I appreciate the assistance I received from various mentors as I weighed opportunity and career choices so I try and pay it forward. I’ve helped students secure full-time employment coming out of school, spoken with alumni weighing career choices, and most recently helped a current student with an internship opportunity.
What made you click? Where did you find your niche? What experience made you feel like you belonged at Union?
I got the opportunity to try out for the football team as a freshman, so I was on campus, living with 100 other players before my Union experience even started. That made it easy to feel included and get acclimated to a new experience. That made things a lot easier for me from day 1, as I continued to explore what would be my interests academically and socially. From there, I felt comfortable during difficult spots like changing majors, getting injured and needing surgery, and working through the housing crunch, which was an issue while I was on campus. Those friends I made my first few weeks on campus are still great friends today. We were in one another’s weddings, try and catch up in person when we can, and talk frequently.
Do you feel your Union experience differed from that of your peers? If so, how?
I think the main difference for me was having a group of friends from the onset of being on campus. I certainly made new friends and had different experiences, but I think that sometimes I may have shied away from trying other things since I already had a group of people that made me feel like I belonged. I really enjoyed my experience but looking back could have tried more of what else was available to me.
Were there any particular programs or people at Union who really made a difference to you, either academically or personally?
At Union, the person who had the greatest impact on me was George Tiggle, who at the time was the assistant director of Annual Giving. George was someone who took an interest in me and hired me to work as an affiliate caller in Alumni Relations. He told me this was real-world experience as I looked to graduate into a sales role in financial services after college. He said that if you were passionate about what you were selling, which in my case was the Union experience, people would be receptive to what I had to say. George always was someone who took the time to ask how things were going and provide real-world advice to someone still trying to find their way. I certainly learned a lot in the classroom but George embodied what students seek out in a Union experience – understanding how to apply all that we gain from Union into the real world. George introduced me to this concept of giving back to Union, and is a major reason why I’m as involved as I am today.