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SU Changed My Life Three Times

Christine Carona

My connection with Syracuse University goes back almost as long as I remember…one of my earliest recollections is watching basketball with my dad and brother at Manley Field House.

But I’m not exaggerating when I say that SU literally changed my life three times. I’m pretty much the poster child for the impact SU can have.
 
It started when I was growing up, in a middle class family in Syracuse. Education was important to my parents; they knew about the dependent tuition program for employees, and my mother wanted to apply after being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. Despite having zero experience, she taught herself to type and started looking—on paper, she was a middle-aged mom with an empty résumé. But one place saw something more and decided to take a chance on her—the SU Health Center. Three weeks later, our world turned upside down when my father had a career-ending heart attack. Suddenly, we went from comfortable to near panic. My mother became our sole breadwinner, with just three weeks of work experience!
 
However, she was determined, as well as honest and kind. The health center embraced her and our family, and she thrived. She was even featured on the front page of The Daily Orange—the article mentioned her kindness to students far from home. She loved working at the health center, was responsible for many challenging projects, and finally retired after 17 years.
 
At 16, I really had no idea how extraordinary this story is, but I do now—a mom reinventing herself, suddenly responsible for a family’s income…and SU seeing a person, not a résumé, and giving her an opportunity to shine. It speaks to both their characters.
 
That was the first time SU changed my life. The second time was when I applied as a student. I was accepted but couldn’t have afforded to go, except for my mom’s employment. I got a great education because SU takes care of its “family.”
 
My time at SU was pivotal in my career. Through the business school, I was able to secure a number of internships, which led to a fulfilling and successful career as a financial advisor—in fact, I was recently named one of the Top 200 Women Financial Advisors by Forbes. And SU led to something else I find incredibly fulfilling—mentoring young women. I had mentors throughout my time in Syracuse, and they showed me how to help a young woman reach her potential.
 
The third time SU changed my life is still to come, I hope...my daughter is a senior in high school and a current applicant! If she enrolls, SU will have had a transformative effect on three generations of my family.
 
If all that’s not enough, my brother also attended SU—another young person given an opportunity he wouldn’t have had otherwise. That’s why I’m proud to serve on the Boston Regional Council and have a special interest in the scholarship fund for students.
 
Some of my fondest memories are of my time at SU. I was a dancer for the basketball team and an active member of Alpha Phi. Even today, some of my closest friends are the ones I made at SU. Without SU, my life would’ve been very different.
 
And that’s ultimately why I support Syracuse—not just because I believe in the school and higher education in general (which I do)—but to pay it forward for all the University has given me and my family. —Christine Carona ’85
 
Source: Forbes.com (February 2017). The ranking of America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors, developed by Forbes’ partner SHOOK Research, is based on a ranking algorithm that includes telephone and in-person interviews, client retention, industry experience, review of compliance records, firm nominations; and quantitative criteria, including: assets under management and revenue generated for their firms. Investment performance is not a criterion because client objectives and risk tolerances vary, and advisors rarely have audited performance reports. Rankings are based on the opinions of SHOOK Research, LLC which does not receive compensation from the advisors or their firms in exchange for placement on a ranking. The rating may not be representative of any one client’s experience and is not indicative of the Financial Advisor’s future performance. Neither Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC nor its Financial Advisors or Private Wealth Advisors pays a fee to Forbes or SHOOK Research in exchange for the ranking. For the full list and more visit: forbes.com/top-wealth-advisors.