August 2, 2021

Her Next 50 Years

Elaine Caruso-Roberts ’21

“My first 50 years were all about my children. Now it’s time to take everything I learned throughout those years and pursue my goals.” ~ Elaine Caruso-Roberts ’21

Elaine Caruso-Roberts’ story begins like so many SUNY Empire student stories. A Brooklyn native, she enrolled in college after graduating from high school in the 1980s, earned her associate degree in business administration at SUNY Delhi, and had every intention of continuing her education. But, as is so often the case, life happened. Elaine met the man who would become her husband and together they had four beautiful children. And although Elaine tabled her dream of earning her master’s degree to be home with her growing family, she never let go of the hope that one day, she’d reach her educational goal.

Today, Elaine is on what she calls her “next 50 years,” a half century of time she’s setting aside to focus on herself now that her four children are grown, successful, and out on their own.

“My first 50 years were all about my children,” Elaine explained. “Now it’s time to take everything I learned throughout those years and pursue my goals. It’s time for me to do this.” 

And she is. In December 2021, Elaine will walk across the stage at the SUNY Empire State College winter commencement armed with her bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration and an advanced certificate in healthcare management. She says the desire to help others — and to earn her degree at SUNY Empire — is in her blood. Elaine’s family is made up of nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, physician assistants, and biomedical engineers, and both her mother and her sister earned their degrees at SUNY Empire.

As for Elaine, she has set her sights on epidemiology, hoping to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them understand the connection between environmental factors, nutrition, and good health.

“The pandemic instilled in me the importance of individual health,” Elaine said. “I watched so many people fall victim to COVID-19. I now know that I want to work behind the scenes to better understand diseases and help educate the public for future problems.”

As she finishes up her bachelor’s degree at SUNY Empire, Elaine is already preparing for her next move. She has decided to pursue her long-awaited master’s degree at SUNY Empire — a Master of Business Administration in healthcare leadership.

From there, she hopes to continue her education in the public health epidemiology program at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health or in the nutritional epidemiology program at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One of Elaine’s daughters is currently enrolled in the graduate program at Emory, and another recently graduated from the pediatric nurse practitioner program at MGH Institute in Boston. She says both daughters are trying to get her to study near them.

“I love the whole process of learning. You’re never too old to learn. Just figure out your goals and pursue them,” Elaine advised. “SUNY Empire helped me reach my goals because they made it so easy for me to be an adult student. Everyone believed in me and pushed me, and that made all the difference in the world. Not all colleges do this.”

Elaine said the ability to choose in-person or online instruction also helped ease her back into the swing of college.

“A bonus with SUNY Empire is you choose whether you’re in person or online. You choose the level of interaction. That makes a very big difference because we’re all different learners at different times in our life,” Elaine said. “At SUNY Empire, you can earn your degree around your home life, no matter how intense your career, after hours, during lunch…whenever. SUNY Empire gave me all the tools I needed to reach my goals.”