By Glenn Calafati (B.S. '98)
Remember when you were trying to figure out which direction you wanted to take? I do, and, as corny as it sounds, I found it in the NYIT undergraduate catalog, right under “Computer Science.” I enrolled in night classes at the Old Westbury campus while working full-time in the telephone industry. As public awareness of the Internet grew in the early 1990s, I saw firsthand the need for a more advanced telecommunications system. NYIT, too, saw the winds of change, years before the proliferation of e-mail, Web surfing, and broadband. I was only too happy to be studying at a university that envisioned the future as I did.
Eventually, I switched majors to telecommunications management after realizing the magnitude of the shift we were about to experience … in how we spoke, wrote, and even thought. I remember one NYIT class in which we discussed technology and economics as driving forces of the telecommunications industry. During that course, I picked up on the concept of convergence—the merger of voice, video, and data, thanks to the Internet—and how the cable industry of the 1990s was in the best position to challenge the telecommunications juggernaut that had existed for decades at companies such as AT&T.
After earning my NYIT degree, I continued to work in the telecommunications industry. As the world around me became more connected, I found more opportunities. I started at Optimum Lightpath, a division of Long Island, N.Y.-based Cablevision Systems Corporation, in 2000 as a network engineer, moving up to chief engineer. I continued climbing the ladder for the past 11 years until I reached my most recent position as director of new product development. With these new responsibilities, I now have the chance to participate in a creative environment that leverages my talents and my NYIT education.
I am proud to note that during my time at Optimum Lightpath, I have seen the company recognized for its innovation through several industry awards, including Frost and Sullivan’s Product of the Year “Direct Contributor” and its North American Ethernet Service Emerging Company of the Year awards, as well as a string of awards from the Metro Ethernet Forum from 2006 to 2009. I am fortunate to live and breathe in an innovative environment—just like the one I was introduced to by that course catalog so many years ago.
None of my success would have been possible without NYIT, which set in motion an educational mindset that pointed me toward a career full of opportunities. If you haven’t found opportunity yourself yet, remember that it usually doesn’t go knocking on just anybody’s door. Sometimes, you need to place yourself in its path and then knock it over yourself.
Glenn Calafati is director of new product development at Optimum Lightpath. He lives with his wife and three children in Kings Park, N.Y.