Syracuse University

Alumni Spotlight

Meet Gen Orange Alumni

There are nearly 40,000 Generation Orange alums around the world.

Generation Orange

Equipped with the knowledge and tools they gained at Syracuse University, these young alumni are launching successful careers in virtually every field of endeavor. Meet just a few of them here!

Elizabeth O'Neal '11

Rawan Jabaji ’05

Jake Duneier ’10

Oswaldo Ortega ’05

Alexis Ostrander ’07

Chelsea Prince ’10

Jason Sacks ’03

Elizabeth O'Neal '11

Elizabeth O'Neal '11

Elizabeth O'Neal '11 says she owes all of her professional success to her time at Syracuse. "As an Industrial and Interaction design major, I learned to be a creative problem solver and a leader," she says. The IIC major allowed her to collaborate with different departments – from the Whitman School of Management to the LC Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science – and prepared her to work in a corporate environment with multiple stakeholders.

O'Neal describes her experience at SU as a chance to make friends, challenge herself to learn new things, and shape herself into being the person that she is today. Her favorite memory at SU was jumping on the roof of the Carrier Dome right before graduation!

This academic experience led to her being recruited at a Career Fair in the Carrier Dome by EMC Corporation, a company that offers data storage, information security, and cloud computing. O'Neal now lives in San Francisco and manages their west coast video studio, and coordinates all video shoots, post production distribution, and social media strategy. See some of her work here.

Dome Jumping

O'Neal's experience at EMC Corporation has opened several other doors for her, too. At a crowd-funding conference in San Francisco, she met the founders of a new platform called "Seed and Spark" which is building what they call, "a truly independent filmmaking community where filmmakers and audiences come together for crowd-funding, production, and streaming distribution." She was offered an opportunity to work with Liam Edward Brady, Seed and Spark's COO, on an independent film called Fog City. The film's description is as follows:

One early morning on a desolate San Francisco beach, Jimmy Darcy discovers a pile of folded clothing and an indecipherable note abandoned perilously close to the deadly riptide. The police prove indifferent, but unsatisfied, he spends the rest of the day quietly investigating on his own. With the help of a baseball teammate, he begins to discover that he may have exaggerated the beach scenario. He then must decide whether to continue on his phantom personal quest. This is a story about everyday mortality, friendship amongst dudes, and how even just a little fun is often a good dose of medicine.

fundraising campaign for the film will launch on April 20, all SU alumni are invited and can RSVP at There event will feature previous work from the filmmakers, as well as local beer, wine, food, and music.

For O'Neal, her move to San Francisco has been successful, but also helped by Syracuse University's presence on the West Coast. "Having an alumni presence in San Francisco has been an amazing way for me to get acclimated and connect with new people in the city. From the Success in the City events to watching the 'Cuse games together at a local bar, the alumni group has been a wonderful way for me to feel right at home, even though I'm 3,000 miles away."

Rawan Jabaji ’05

Rawan Jabaji ’05Growing up in Syracuse, Rawan Jabaji always felt like SU was a part of her life. “I remember driving by SU and staring at the Hall of Languages in awe. I remember being glued to the TV watching SU basketball with my family. And I remember almost all of my cousins going to SU,” Jabaji says. “When it came time for me to pick a college, there was no question where I wanted to go. I see SU as home, as a family tradition, and as my first act in adulthood.”

As a college student who admittedly studied more than she socialized, Jabaji was exposed to new ideas, cultures, and philosophies at SU. “I still remember the thrill of leaving class excited by what I had scribbled in my notebook,” she says. “Nerdy, I know. But through this process of learning, I grew from being a teenager into an adult. Those ideas, cultures and philosophies shaped me and led me to pursue a career in journalism.”

Although Jabaji received dual degrees in psychology and political science from The College of Arts and Sciences, her heart was in storytelling. After pursuing her masters at New York University, Jabaji worked as a multimedia producer for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). 

Today the 2005 graduate is a producer and correspondent in New York City. There, Jabaji’s efforts were most recently focused on a new one-hour television special titled Culture Shock. The special, which premiered in July on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), follows three young filmmakers exploring relationships and marriage around the world, from a lavish wedding among Moscow’s nouveau riche to the life of an on-the-go Indian matchmaker to a mistress village in China where wealthy businessmen support secret second families. 

“The inspiration behind Culture Shock was to make a film of intimate portraits of people around the world seen through our eyes, the filmmakers. I was contacted by a great Brooklyn-based production company, part2 pictures, to get involved with this adventure, and I immediately said yes!” Jabaji recalls. “Culture Shock allowed me to travel and see how other people live in different parts of the world. Having traveled quite a bit growing up, this was the perfect fit.” 

Reflecting on her present career, Jabaji credits a handful of SU professors who inspired and pushed her to always do her best. “One particular professor, Laurence Thomas, always told me to ‘be brilliant,’ and I’ve carried that message along with me in the real world,” she says. “Whenever I have a moment of insecurity, when I’m not sure what to do or which direction to take, I remember ‘be brilliant.’ Things always seem clearer.” 

While the future of Culture Shock remains to be seen—Jabaji is waiting to see if the pilot gets picked up as a full series—she’s already finding new ways to “be brilliant.” “Right now, I’m producing on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront. It’s fast-paced, live, daily news,” she says. “It’s exciting, because it’s a totally different experience from what I was doing before!” 

No matter where Jabaji goes in pursuit of new cultures and philosophies, she’ll always consider SU to be home. “My alma mater is a part of me for life! I get excited when I meet other grads and love reminiscing about sunny days on the quad, classes, Marshall Street, and SU basketball,” she says. “Being involved with my alma mater allows me to share those happy memories and encourage prospective students to go to SU and make it their own. My time at SU was special, and I want to pass that experience along to others.” 

Jake Duneier ’10

Jake Duneier '10

It took Jake Duneier ’10 only a year after graduating from the Whitman School of Management to transform his family’s century-old business.

Founded by Duneier’s great-grandfather in 1910, Clyde Duneier Incorporated traditionally imported and distributed generic merchandise for U.S. department stores, specialty jewelry chains, wholesale clubs, and TV shopping channels. But as retailers began working directly with manufacturers, wholesalers such as Clyde Duneier Inc. found their roles diminished.

To refocus the business, Duneier looked to brands licensed by highly recognizable celebrities and entertainers as a way to breathe new life into his company. He has positioned the business in such a way that retailers wanting to carry the licensed brands have to deal with his company, not directly with the manufacturers.

Duneier’s company now holds the license to more than seven brands and is recognized as a licensing leader in the jewelry and watch industries. Duneier, who spends most of his time at the company’s corporate headquarters in mid-town Manhattan, also travels to India, Thailand, Hong Kong, and China to work with his manufacturing partners.

Oswaldo Ortega ’05

Oswaldo Ortega '05

Oswaldo Ortega got his first taste of architecture in a class at Brooklyn Technical High School. That propelled him to Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, where he not only earned his bachelor’s degree, but took on leadership roles that included founding the Society of Multicultural Architects and Designers and joining the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

“Syracuse University provided a solid foundation for my professional development,” says Ortega. “In the School of Architecture, I developed my understanding of design. And through SMAD and Alpha Phi Alpha, I gained skills in management, team dynamics, and negotiation.”

After graduating from SU, Ortega attended Columbia University, where he earned a master’s degree in urban design and architecture. During that time, he worked for the Urban Technical Assistance Project, where, through a grassroots process that included interviewing community leaders, residents, and store owners, he assisted in designing the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building Plaza in Harlem.

In 2007, Ortega joined the Washington, D.C., office of HOK, one of the world’s largest design practices. Since then, he has operated as project architect for three office buildings and one biotech laboratory facility. He has also continued to develop his leadership skills through the Leadership Development Program at Johns Hopkins University and by leading the Architecting, Construction, and Engineering Mentoring program at Wheaton High School, near his home in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Ortega feels it’s important to stay connected to SU. “It’s through staying connected that opportunities for professional and personal growth will appear,” he says. “Mentoring is one of the primary reasons I stay involved. Former alumni served as mentors for me, and I continue to provide that for current SU students.”

Alexis Ostrander ’07

Alexis Ostrander '07

For director and producer Alexis Ostrander, her experiences as a musical theater major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts have been nothing short of priceless.

They taught her to see opportunities and gave her the confidence to act on her instincts. As part of the inaugural class of the Sorkin in L.A. Learning Practicum, she spent a week immersed in the heart of America’s film and television industries, then turned her attention to any television-radio-film courses she could take at the Newhouse School.

Along the way, she made friendships and connections that have been instrumental to her career. “I would not be in Los Angeles if it weren’t for Sorkin Week,” says Ostrander. “That led to my first internship on Studio 60: On the Sunset Strip, which led to my first job as an assistant to Tommy Schlamme, the director of The West Wing, Life on Mars, and Studio 60.”

Since then, Ostrander has worked with Nathan Barr of HBO’s True Blood; Dave Frederick, director of photography, second unit, and main camera operator for FX’s Sons of Anarchy; Betsy Thomas, creator and showrunner of My Boys; and two-time Emmy Award-winning director of photography Bob Primes.

In 2009, Ostrander started her own production company, Defining Media, LLC. One of her major projects was directing and producing Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America, a thought-provoking documentary about five women with disabilities, their vibrant lives, and their journey to the 2010 Ms. Wheelchair America pageant. Narrated by Golden Globe winner Katey Sagal, the documentary won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

Ostrander’s SU ties have been invaluable both her personal and her professional lives. “All roads lead back to Syracuse,” she explains. “Throughout my career in Los Angeles, I have met many SU alumni, which has led to not only friendships but other job opportunities. While working on Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America, I was able to assemble an amazing team and resources through the Syracuse University network.”

Chelsea Prince ’10

Chelsea Prince '10

For someone who graduated in 2010, Chelsea Prince has covered a lot of territory, including all seven continents.

She was still a student in the College of Arts and Sciences when the history/magazine double major started her first business—the social media startup After earning her degree, she worked with Women’s Wear Daily in Manhattan, but soon realized that she “craved that combination of creativity and entrepreneurism I found thriving at Syracuse University. I found it again in San Francisco and, personally, it’s changed my life.”

Now president of Chelsea Print & Publishing, her vision is to create a threshold between art, social technology, and causes by publishing books of human interest that educate communities, inspire the lives of others, and set the modern standard for original storytelling. She has worked with a number of non-profits, including Next Generation Nepal, New York City Center, Women’s Funding Network, Women’s Media Center, NCRW, Ashoka, and Salzburg Global Seminars. She also writes for Inside Facebook, provides content support for photographers, and is authoring Chelsea Print & Publishing’s first two books, Ice Life: End of the World, an interactive children’s book about the exotic wildlife in Antarctica, and The Source: Nepal, a book of stories about responsible volunteering in Nepal.

In addition to a foundation for exploration and a standard for craftsmanship, Prince’s experience at SU gave her the opportunity to work with various organizations on campus. “I learned to think big and believe in my own ideas,” she explains. “Last week, I was reaching out to national media about the first adaptive athlete to reach the South Pole, and I thought back to my time at The Daily Orange when I called the secretary of education for a quote—and got it. It’s those early lessons from big goals that I remember now.”

Prince thinks it’s especially vital for young alumni to stay involved with SU. “Young alumni have the energy to support the University better than anyone,” she states. “We have great zeal, and while we may not be at the top of the food chain, we have great power in our social capital. Plus, it’s fun to be part of something bigger and to know you’re needed.”

Jason Sacks ’03

Jason Sacks '03

Jason Sacks developed a fondness for Syracuse University before his days as a student. Sacks’ sister and brother attended the school before him. “It’s great to have the opportunity to share the SU bond with my siblings, who each majored in different areas and are proud of their SU roots,” he says. 

A broadcast journalism graduate from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Sacks’ SU experience meant more than just earning a degree. He was involved with WAER Sports radio, University 100, and was a Newhouse Peer Advisor.

Reflecting on his time at SU Sacks says, “The things that stand out are the people I met, many of whom became my closest friends, along with my professors and other faculty who guided my interests and career aspirations. I had one-of-a-kind experiences, too—like sitting courtside in New Orleans with WAER radio when SU basketball won the NCAA Championship in 2003.”

Upon graduation, the New Jersey native took a job with TWI, the sports production division of IMG, which is the largest independent producer and distributor of sports programming. This gave him the opportunity to work at events like the U.S. Open, the ING New York City Marathon, and NBA All-Star Weekend. From there, Sacks earned a masters degree in sports management at New York University. He worked in the NYU athletics department as an assistant basketball coach and sports information assistant during graduate school. He also worked in basketball operations for the New York Knicks.

Sacks is currently the executive director for the Positive Coaching Alliance’s Chicago Chapter. PCA is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to transform the culture of youth and high school sports, so all athletes have positive, character-building experiences. He’s been with PCA for nearly six years, also having served as the organization’s partner development associate in New Jersey and the national director of partner development.

Putting his journalism background to use, Sacks has started a blog where he writes about college basketball and other sports related topics. He also served as an adjunct writing instructor at Atlantic Cape Community College in 2007-08.

“SU helped me become a well-rounded individual. The ability to become involved in different organizations and activities outside the classroom, as well as having the opportunity to take classes of interest in areas outside of my major, offered valuable experiences,” Sacks says. "Even today, people give the Syracuse and Newhouse names instant credibility. I’m proud of being an SU alum and know that staying connected will help me in my future career endeavors.”

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