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One Hundred Miles Away

Stacey Ayers

Stacey Ayers '07, MALS graduate

I am 43 years old and just recently moved away from my hometown of Hilton, New York for the very first time in my life. My new home is in, not Liverpool, England, but Liverpool, New York. Even though a transition of about a hundred miles does not seem monumental in this age, for me it was huge. I come from a tight-knit community and opted to commute rather than reside on the Nazareth College campus during my undergraduate years of study. This life-changing experience of moving is not one I would have conceived of—much less done—just a few short years ago. Although circumstances precipitated my change of venue, I credit my MALS experience with giving me the confidence and courage to work through the questions and doubts that threatened to squash my dreams of a better and more fulfilling career. Here’s my story.

In 1985, I was hired as a cashier in our village’s independently owned supermarket. As a teenager and young adult, I had dreams of a particular career path which I pursued through my college studies, but due to the recession of 1990-91, those dreams never materialized. Thankfully, I remained employed at the supermarket throughout college and afterward; in fact, my employment expanded in a direction I did not expect. Because of my skills and work ethic, I was given the opportunity to work full time as the store’s scan coordinator (responsible for pricing integrity) as well as take on some of the additional fluid responsibilities that come with working in an independently owned environment. This world of business became my career, one I grew to love and even thrive in.

Unfortunately, working for an independently owned business also has its challenges. In my case, the owner had no children to inherit the business and no other clearly defined succession plan. I feared this gig was not going to last as long as I was going to need to be employed. That is one reason I decided to take advantage of Nazareth’s Liberal Studies program. In addition to pursing the M.A. as a personal challenge, I was hoping that a graduate degree in Liberal Studies would be an insurance policy of sorts. I was looking for a way to make myself more marketable to future employers when the time came to seek alternative employment.

About a year ago, the world as I knew it fell apart. My co-employees and I were notified that our business was being sold to a large corporate supermarket. Though we were assured that we would all be offered jobs by the new company, the news was devastating. I was especially upset by the fact that my employer would no longer be a customer of a support company that I had grown to respect. This support company was our source for computer hardware and software applications used by our supermarket. Through the years when we upgraded equipment or software, I had opportunities to attend training sessions at this company’s location and work with its wonderful staff of people. I felt as if I had a really good rapport with them. From my observation, I found this company to be thorough in its work, professional, and dedicated to providing the best service possible to its customers. In the back of my mind, I thought this would be a really great company to work for. But there was a problem: it was located in the Syracuse area, a hundred miles away from my current and long-time home.

When I first heard the news that our independently owned store would be going out of business, something inside me said: “You will not be happy working for the new supermarket. You need something more.” That little voice inspired me to send my resume to the Syracuse-based company where I had done some software training. Consequently, I was invited to interview and was probably on the verge of being offered a job when the doubts and questions reared their ugly heads. Unfortunately, I put the brakes on the process. Who would take care of my family members as they aged? Was I being fair to ask my husband to give up the things and places that were important in his life? What if we moved and it did not work out? Then what? I decided my best decision was to stay in my hometown and work for the new corporately owned supermarket, hoping that its size and scope of operations would present me with challenges and opportunities in the future.

However, that is not how this story ended, and I believe it is because of my earlier decision to earn my master’s degree in Nazareth’s Liberal Studies program. The coursework and the capstone process proved to be invaluable in providing me with additional skills and tools that serve me beyond the classroom, whether it is the power of critical thinking or the ability to confront new challenges facing me or those of my own making. After my MALS experience, I found a new confidence in myself, a willingness to step out of my comfort zone, and a determination to work through problems and situations that at first glance seemed impossible.

Although a year ago I chose to do the “right” thing and to stay in Hilton, to work for the supermarket, as time went on, I was frustrated with the more regimented nature of the corporate environment. I felt boxed in by my specific job responsibilities. Those hopes for future opportunities did not seem as desirable as they once did. My heart was not in my local job but was a hundred miles away. Slowly some of my concerns that kept me from relocating a year ago began to sort themselves out and the little voice of MALS confidence whispered in my ear, nudging me to take action. Should I? Is this the time? The confirmation came one day when out of curiosity I checked out the Syracuse company’s website. On its employment page was a posting for a position almost identical to what I had interviewed for a year ago. This time I said yes.

Stacey Ayers is a 2007 graduate of the MALS program and currently works as a Supermarket Help Desk Analyst for DUMAC Business Systems, Inc. located in East Syracuse, NY. Stacey and her husband John reside in Liverpool.


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