From Small Town to Big City
After spending more than two decades in a town with just one stop light and “so small that you knew everyone who lived there,” one might think New York Tech’s Associate Dean of Campus Life Patricia Napolitano would have culture shock from splitting her time between New York City and Long Island in her student-facing role. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, after moving from such a different environment, one of Napolitano’s favorite pastimes has become discovering more about her new surroundings.
“New York City was always a place I wanted to live,” she says. “I love exploring my new city and area—especially walking and biking around Brooklyn, where I live with my husband and our dog, Rocket.”
Napolitano came to New York Tech two years ago after having spent 25 years working in upstate New York at Alfred University—the same school from which she graduated with her master’s degree in education in college student development.
“When I went to college, I was planning on being a teacher,” she says. “But over time, and through my activities as an undergraduate, I was able to see a career working in student affairs that would bring me joy.”
Over the years, that joy has not diminished, and Napolitano cites working one-on-one with students, Student Government Association presidents, and other student leaders on campus as one of her favorite parts of the job. She is also involved in the larger student affairs industry, working collaboratively with other professionals in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), where she serves as NASPA’s region II treasurer.
When deciding to leave her previous long-term position, Napolitano credits New York Tech’s community and culture as her motivator to take a chance at change.
“My kids had gone off to college, and we were ready for a big change. Not only is it in a great city, but I knew that New York Tech had an amazing team, a great campus environment, and a strong mission that I felt I could align with,” she says. “I was also really excited to have the opportunity to work on multiple campuses.”
Even though she has only been working on the New York campuses for two years, Napolitano says she has already learned so much from New York Tech’s student body.
“Our students are very strong academically and are very passionate about their education. They are also kind students who come from a lot of diverse areas around the world,” she says.
While New York Tech students are serious about their studies, they are also involved in a number of extracurriculars. Napolitano works closely with Dean of Students Felipe Henao, Ed.D., to make sure there are also exciting opportunities for students outside the classroom.
“I always tell students to take chances and find out what you are passionate about,” she says. “Don’t just do things you have always done—check out new clubs and activities that you might not have tried before.”