Reaching unimagined heights after Dean College

Featured Alumni

Below is a sampling of alumni success stories, told in their own words. Click on the drop down menu to learn why these students chose Dean College and what they have been up to since graduating. 


Mike Backes

I will be forever grateful for the experience I got to have at Dean College. I now have many professional credits in theatre, TV and film. Dean instilled in me the importance of being well-rounded. Yes, I was focused on acting. However, learning about all aspects of the theatre craft and what it takes to put on a show, in my opinion, makes you a stronger actor. I was so blessed to have faculty that enjoyed guiding me to greatness, and without them, I wouldn’t be the performer I am today.

Brand Analyst, Altria

Nabeel Barqawi

Since graduating from Dean College, I’ve worked full time in brand management for Altria, a Fortune 200 company based in Richmond, Virginia. My day-to-day includes working with a team of creative agencies, cross-functional departments, and key stakeholders to ensure that we are delivering against our business strategy and objectives.

I am also working toward my Master of Product Innovation (MPI) degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. I am learning advanced product innovation and entrepreneurship topics pertaining to conceptualization, development, and commercialization of new products and services.

Dean enabled me to turn my life around. I maximized the resources at Dean to get immersed academically and through internships. It is the place where I was helped and coached to realize my potential and what I’m capable of. Dean set me up for long-term success and I’ve already seen the payback upon graduating. I am forever grateful for everything that the faculty and staff at the College have done to help me succeed. Forever a Bulldog!

Nabeel was the student speaker at Dean's 2018 Commencement Ceremony. Watch the video below to hear his inspirational speech.  

Assistant Athletic Director and Stadium Manager, Ridgefield High School

Anthony Cataldo

Dean College prepared me for the real world in many ways. My freshman year I took a public speaking course that helped prepare me for speaking in front of large groups and getting comfortable talking to complete strangers.

Throughout my time at Dean I participated in many leadership conferences and career building workshops that helped me shape my professional skills. I attended everything from career fairs to on campus fashion shows, just to be involved. By the time I was ready to graduate, I knew my resume and my interview skills, all polished by Dean College professionals, were ready to take on the real world.

After graduating I was offered my current position, assistant athletic director and stadium manager at Ridgefield High School (the high school I once attended). This may be outside the fields of my two degrees, but athletics has always been an interest of mine. Today I manage all operations, security and logistics for the 32 sports teams and approximately 900 student-athletes. I also oversee the maintenance and efficiency of the school sports complex and stadium.

I would like to thank the Dean community for all their help for where they got me to today. Never settle and never lose sight of your dreams Dean College. 

Gymnastics Coach
Master's Degree Candidate, Northeastern University

Alexis DeVogt

Dean was more than worth the financial expense. The educational and social experiences during my four years at Dean were priceless. Staff members helped to guide me through the financial aid process each and every step of the way, year after year. I am now a full-time gymnastics coach and will graduate in from Northeastern University in May 2020 with a master’s degree in Sports Leadership with a concentration in College Athletic Administration.

Contractor and Show Director, Major Cruise Line

Amanda Gaudette

After graduating from Dean with a bachelor’s degree in Dance and a minor in Business I performed at Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, participating in various parades and shows throughout the parks. I am currently a self-employed contractor directing shows for a major cruise line.

My position includes facilitating and maintaining all the original intentions of the shows I work with; teaching the choreography, blocking, tracking and overall theme of the shows. My job requires intense discipline, time management, efficiency in the workplace and being able to lead by example. This ensures all cast members are clear with what I need them to accomplish for each performance. I enjoy pushing each performer past their comfort zones, inspiring them and showing them that they are stronger than they ever imagined.

Dean College was the place where I not only continued my training in dance, but also took classes that prepared me for life in the entertainment industry. While at Dean, I was able to train in multiple disciplines of dance and was also a member of the New England Patriots Cheerleaders.

Without the opportunities at Dean I wouldn’t be the multifaceted performer that I am today. The professional work that I completed since graduating has required me to be extremely versatile in both commercial and concert work, as well as to have the strength to learn new styles and even circus apparatuses. 

Dean College assisted me by providing a safe place to learn, grow — and sometimes fail — in order to truly find myself as a performer and as a leader. I am a proud graduate of Dean College and hope to inspire future students in the program to keep pushing toward their goals.

Police Officer, The United States Department of Defense

Spencer Jackson

I work for the United States Department of Defense as a police officer in Fort Meade, Maryland. My position is focused around counterterrorism and force protection. I assist in maintaining physical security on and around various secure locations that are of high importance to the United States of America.

At Dean, my position as a community advisor helped prepare me for my current line of work. As the person responsible for the safety and wellness of the students living in my building, I learned how to be a leader and a critical thinker. Whether I was enforcing rules and managing residents or getting students out of their residence halls to partake in school activities, being a CA showed me that initiative, diligence and careful thought can lead to success

Dean College also gave me the academic tools necessary to succeed. The courses within the Criminal Justice program laid the foundation for my knowledge of police work. While at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, I used the education that I received from Dean College daily, helping me to successfully complete my training and graduate from the program.

Marketing and Events Associate, Kraft Sports + Entertainment

Kaili Kellam

My first job is better than anything I could have asked for. I am currently a member of the marketing and events staff for Kraft Sports + Entertainment at Gillette Stadium. My responsibilities include coordinating events and working with fans to ensure that they have a great experience at the stadium.

The first event that I worked was the New England Patriots Training Camp! In preparation for training camp, I set up stations for the fans, such as Quarterback Challenge, End Zone Catch, Field Goal Kick, as well as working with players at the team’s autograph signing day. More recently I am working at the stadium for all Patriots home games, assisting with sponsor tailgate events that are held in the Patriots field house before each game begins. Before this position, I had never been to a Patriots game — now I’m there for every home game. It was so surreal to be there and see over 150 students from Dean participate at the Patriots home opener this year.

Dean College helped me to prepare for the wonderful position I currently hold due in part to the awesome partnership that the College has with Kraft Sports + Entertainment. Because of this partnership, I was able to secure an internship, which ultimately led to my current position.

I truly cannot wait to see what the future holds for me. It’s nice to know that the family I made at Dean College — that is, the faculty and staff — are always supporting and cheering me on. I can go to them for advice anytime. My best advice is to make strong connections at Dean, because everyone knows someone you may need, and/or meet, down the road.

Performer, D&G Entertainment at Carowinds
Assistant Director, Mooresville Community Children's Theatre

Sierra Key

After graduating from Dean College, I moved to New York City to pursue a career in musical theatre. While in New York, my time was spent gaining experience, auditioning and making connections.

Would you believe I even met my vocal coach at The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival because of Dean?

I left New York City to return to my hometown and pursue a position at D&G Entertainment at Carowinds, an amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I performed in a show called Haunted Homecoming on the weekends. I also work with the Mooresville Community Children’s Theatre where I am the assistant director for Almost Maine and control the light board for their production of Footloose.

Dean College not only gave me my theatre degree, but wonderful mentors, friendships and a support system I cherish every day. I not only studied musical theatre, but also learned about the other aspects of theatre, including costuming, choreography, directing and technical theatre. These skills have helped me qualify and receive incredible job opportunities. I am thankful for the well- rounded education that I received at Dean.

Dancer and Aerialist, Norwegian Cruise Lines

Sammy Laabs

The dance program at Dean gave me the technique and performance training I needed to land my current job as a dancer/aerialist in the entertainment department for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Because of my degree in dance, I feel confident as a performer — whether it’s at an audition, rehearsals or performing at sea!

Apprentice, Global K-12 Programs, The Juilliard School

Devan Manning

I am so grateful to the professors and staff at Dean College for providing the encouragement and support that inspired me to pursue a career in theatre education.

Since graduation, I had the opportunity to study abroad in London, and recently graduated from NYU Steinhardt with a Master of Arts degree in Educational Theatre. I have been working in various jobs in the New York theatre community and was recently hired for a yearlong apprenticeship for Global K-12 Programs at The Juilliard School. Theatre has helped me overcome my own learning challenges, and I hope to one day help others by creating theatre programs that will benefit students of all ages and learning styles.

Master's Degree Candidate, Indiana University
Arts Fellow, City of Bloomington
Associate Instructor, African American Arts Institute

Tyler Myles

Currently, I am pursuing a dual degree, Master of Arts in Arts Administration (MAAA) and Master of Public Affairs (MPA), at Indiana University. The program melds my passion for the arts and public policy. My time at Dean helped me discover my passion for utilizing the arts for public discourse.

While at Dean, I was encouraged by my advisor to explore interests outside of my major, including politics. My Dean education enhanced my drive and passion for my pursuit to address misconceptions around Black identity in America (and the world); the performing arts and how one can use it for public discourse; as well as investing in entrepreneurship, philanthropy and fundraising endeavors. These interests also contributed to my experiences in helping to reestablish the Black Student Union and creating the BlackSpeaks group on campus.

Dean also helped me refine my leadership skills and ability to respectfully address administration through conversations on campus. All my experiences at Dean led to me wanting to dive deeper into using the performing arts to address social issues, specifically Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA).

I was confident when I applied to graduate school at Indiana University, and I am still confident because of all I learned during my time at Dean.

Freelance Dance Artist

Jessica Pretty

Since graduating from Dean, I have received my MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois and have moved to New York City. I am now a full-time freelance dance artist, working and performing with several choreographers. I also create and perform my own work and teach in the City and at colleges around the country. Dean helped me develop the work ethic I have today, to keep pushing for new opportunities while maintaining a full-time performing career. I am forever grateful for the support I received from the School of Dance faculty and students, who still make up a large part of my community to this day.

Senior Producer, Universal Creative

Adam Rivest

After graduating from Dean with a degree in the Arts, I began my career at Universal Studios, Orlando performing as the character Scooby Doo.  I decided to take that opportunity and see where it could go.  Through hard work, I have steadily climbed at my almost 20 years with this amazing organization and currently find myself as a Senior Producer.  

In this role, I am responsible for creative development and execution of large-scale attractions and master planning for Universal Studios theme parks. I was heavily involved in the strategy and implementation of Harry Potter World, even having the opportunity to present to consult with J.K. Rowling in the development and ultimate execution of this cutting-edge project.  

Today, I continue to focus on the creation of new Universal theme parks and attractions throughout the world. 

Corrections Officer, Middlesex Sheriff's Office

Nicole Sandell

I received my associate degree in the Criminal Justice program in 2015 and continued my studies to receive a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

The coursework in the Criminal Justice program at Dean helped me understand the criminal justice system, including rehabilitation of offenders, preventing additional crimes by offenders and supporting victims.

The Psychology program at Dean helped me gain a deeper understanding of how the human mind works. Having this knowledge allows me to assist people when trying to find reasoning for human behaviors and actions in my current position as a Corrections Officer. This understanding critical when working in a jail environment, as it could help me prevent detrimental behavior. 

Career Resource Specialist, Work Opportunities Unlimited

Michele Sessa

I always knew that I wanted to give back to my community in some way. Before my last semester at Dean I accepted a position at Work Opportunities Unlimited as a Career Resource Specialist to help individuals with disabilities find and retain employment based on their abilities.

I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance that I received at Dean. Dean College prepared me for life after graduation. I am now in the process of applying to graduate schools to continue my education in social work. Through Dean I discovered myself, my worth and my passion. I will never be able to thank Dean and the faculty and staff enough.

Certified Personal Trainer, YMCA

Robert Toy Giles

After graduating from Dean, I accepted a position as a Certified Personal Trainer at the YMCA in Concord, New Hampshire. My job as a Personal Trainer involves helping individuals reach their goals in the safest and most beneficial way possible. The course that I had to take in order to get certified helped me really understand the human body better, which also helped with creating the best workout plans for incoming clients to get them towards their fitness goals. Not only do I help people 1-on-1, but I also offer group trainings for high schoolers in order to prepare them for their upcoming sports seasons. 

My time at Dean helped me realize what I am fully capable of. The friendly community at Dean allowed me to branch out of my comfort zone, specifically, becoming a Community Advisor. This experience taught me how to create plans, formalize ideas and become a leader. 

The most beneficial skills I developed at Dean was goal setting. It was up to myself and no one else to achieve whatever it was that I wanted to achieve. I made it a goal to study away at The Washington Center in Washington, D.C. I made it a goal to become a Community Advisor. I made it a goal to be involved with the Student Government Association, and the list goes on. Because of the amazing faculty and staff at Dean, I realized the importance of setting goals for myself.

Photographer, CNN - Jerusalem Bureau

Freddy Wheeler

Freddy graduated from Dean College in 2011 with an A.A. in Communications and from Emerson College with his B.A. in Visual Media Arts in 2013. He began working as a News Photographer for NH1 News in New Hampshire where he was eventually promoted to Chief Photographer.

He received an Emmy Award for producing the 2018 special Beyond the Border: The Opioid Pipeline, a documentary that takes viewers on the 1,700-mile journey through the opioid pipeline that runs from the Caribbean, through Puerto Rico, also known as America’s “back door” and up the East Coast into New England. 

It was during his time at NH1 News that he began working with Anchor and Chief Investigative Reporter, Celine McArthur. The two were the first to cover the crisis in New Hampshire before it gained national political attention.

Freddy is currently a photographer for CNN, stationed at their Jerusalem Bureau. 

Performer, Walt Disney Company

Robert White

Most of my time at Dean was spent on stage performing, which prepared me for my career with the Walt Disney Company. I perform on the Castle Forecourt Stage multiple times a day, in addition to a multitude of other amazing performance opportunities. I’ve been so fortunate to work for a company that allows me to perform for a paycheck and offers me plenty of room to grow as both a performer and leader. I’ve had a very magical experience for the past five years.

Physician Assistant Candidate, Northeastern University
Medical Assistant, Ortho.Boston

Murilo Zanette

I had a great experience as an undergraduate student in the Exercise Science program at Dean College. The variety of classes helped me obtain a broad understanding of the exercise science field. The hands-on experience and capstone research project were crucial in preparing me for a career as a health care provider.

I currently work as a medical assistant at a private orthopedic clinic, Ortho.Boston, and was recently accepted into the prestigious Northeastern Physician Assistant program. I look forward to instilling the benefits of physical activity and nutrition into the lives of my patients!