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Alumni Spotlight

After 40 Years He's Finally an Alumnus!

Peter Spall

“It’s 40 years later, and I’m officially a college grad!” 

That’s the joyous reaction of Peter Spall, former Farmingdale State College student – and now alumnus – to receiving his Associate in Recreational Leadership after just one class separated him from achieving his dream. 

Spall enrolled at FSC in 1979 after graduating from his Staten Island high school. Spall wanted a degree in Physical Education, but the College – known then as Agricultural and Technical College at Farmingdale – didn’t offer one.  

“I was always an above-average athlete, and thought the idea of being a phys ed major would fit me well,” says Spall. “At 17 I had the whole thing figured out.”  

Spall also figured out how to pay for school. As the first in his family to attend college, he was expected to pay tuition plus living expenses. He started working summers, weekends, spring breaks, and event security on campus. 

In his second academic year, however, a required course was offered only on Saturdays. It was an agonizing choice, but Spall decided to transfer his Recreational Leadership credits to SUNY Brockport – even though he was only one course shy of a Farmingdale diploma. 

“I knew I might need to do an extra semester, but, already being an RA, I planned I could be an RA at Brockport as well.  I was now 19 and really had it all figured out.” 

“All was going well through that third year, until I came home for Christmas and fell in love,” with a young woman named Lynn, now Spall’s wife of 37 years. “At Brockport, I was eight hours from home, extremely homesick, and missing my new love.”  

The break with college came the following September, with a job offer from the telephone company. “I could make lots of money, not worry about how I was going to pay for college, and most of all, I could be with my sweetheart.” 

Although Spall was enjoying life as a husband, father to three college-educated sons, and telephone company employee, something kept gnawing him. 

“I always said I would someday go back to school. New York Telephone, Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, and Verizon – all through my career they would have paid for me to go, but I never found the time.” 

In 2018, two years after Spall retired, the couple bought a home in Florida near a golf course. Last Christmas Spall bought his wife golf lessons at the local community college. While registering her at the Bursar’s Office, he spoke to an academic adviser about his long-lost degree. 

“She told me I needed to contact both my previously attended schools for official copies of my transcripts. I laughed and told her, ‘I still have my originals.’ ” 

At Farmingdale he reached Judi Cestaro, Director of Transfer Services, who told him about life credit – college credit based on knowledge learned through professional experience.  

“Peter was on a mission to fulfill his lifelong dream of earning his degree,” says Cestaro. After the provost’s office reviewed his transcript and resume, it was decided that Spall had indeed earned his degree. 

“I haven’t met anyone like Judi before, ever. I felt like no matter what needed to be done, she would take care of it.” 

The last piece of Spall’s dream is to walk at commencement – whenever that will be. “Just holding my diploma makes me cry tears of joy. Getting it in the mail was one of the best days of my life. Without those magical people at Farmingdale, it would never have been possible.” 


Article Credit: Campus Times 


Development & Alumni Engagement

The Office for Development and Alumni Engagement works closely with the Farmingdale College Foundation – raising and managing critical philanthropic dollars for the College, cultivating meaningful relationships with donors, corporate partners and community friends – and the Farmingdale Alumni Association, keeping our 100,000 alumni informed, engaged, proud, and supportive of the College, strengthening their lifelong connection to FSC students and each other.

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