Business was his Major. Teaching is his Hobby.

New to online learning, David Czuba began his Business Administration program at the Center for Distance Learning in 2006. He hadn’t been in a “formal” college class in many years but was determined to finish his degree in a distance-format classroom. At the start of his educational journey, Czuba searched for a “guide” for online learning; an overview; a one-stop reference that would help him figure out how to navigate courses, organize assignments, structure discussion posts, and make his transition back to college a little easier. He found a few, but none was exactly what he was looking for.

The Solution
Cover of BookPublished in 2010, Czuba combined his tips, tools and experience into this handy guide, “Distance Learning for Adult Students” to help online learners be more successful in their educational experience.

David Czuba, Class of 2008

“This book is really a primer for adult students,” said Czuba who is originally from Hamburg, NY (a suburb of Buffalo). “I am trying to get it in the hands of students who can benefit from it most,” he said. Czuba, now an Empire State College alumnus, is also an author, poet and comic strip artist. He lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Student Spotlight: Jorge Escobar

If you could see the world through Jorge Escobar’s eyes, he’d take you to faraway places like Cartagena, Tokyo and Cairo. He’d even give you a tour of Bangkok, Thailand where he currently lives.

Although legally blind, Jorge could lead you to many places.

“When I was in my 20s I’d throw three darts at a map, see where they landed, and then book my flight,” said Escobar, who originally earned his associates in Travel and Tourism from Johnson & Whales University in 1995. “So many of my relatives traveled all over the world – I’d always hear about where they went and what they did and eventually, I followed in their footsteps,” he said.

Originally from Wethersfield, CT, Escobar always loved to travel. However, it wasn’t until he connected with a political science teacher at Bangkok University International College when he realized his real passion: Teaching.

“I dreamed of being a teacher from the time I was a little boy. But I always wondered how I’d do it if I couldn’t easily read the textbooks or see the students,” he said. After building confidence in a volunteer program through the University teaching English to Thai university students, Escobar pursued a TESL certificate to begin his much-anticipated career.

“Teaching was just in me. I was always a coach. I was always there to help someone. It’s just natural for me,” he said. A native Spanish speaker, Escobar understands the challenges students face when learning the English language. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of practice. I know how it feels – I can really relate to my students,” added Escobar.

Maybe it’s because he has to work at studying as they do. To complete his Empire State College assignments Escobar uses a 17 inch computer with an “auto bump up” feature to magnify font sizes. He also has a magnifying glass, which he uses to read hundreds of college textbook pages each week, word-by-word. “It isn’t easy. It gives me a huge headache. But I get it done,” he said. And this is evidenced by his transcript, as Escobar has nearly completed all the coursework in his Educational Studies program, where he built a concentration in Educational Psychology.

Jorge pictured with his wife, Joy.

What’s next for Jorge?  Perhaps scuba diving in the Red Sea; backpacking Mount Siani; or touring Athens to visit ancient Greek ruins, as all are on his top-trip list.

“Adventure travel doesn’t have to mean bungee jumping off the Acropolis or skiing down the Great Pyramid. Some of the best adventures can be had roaming around a city and leaving options open to travel to destinations you had not planned,” said Escobar, pictured here with his wife, Nampeung, who offers this simple approach to vacation and relaxation. No wonder he is so successful…It’s very similar to his outlook on life.

CDL Peer Tutoring: Help When and Where You Need It

Need a tutor? Want to be a tutor? CDL’s Academic Support Specialist Theresa (Terry) Vamvalis can literally help you learn more.

“Peer tutors are current ESC students who work with others struggling in a on-line course. Our tutors complete extensive training and are required to have completed the course they will tutor in, since their primary focus is to assist students in understanding course content and related materials,” said Vamvalis, also an Empire State College alumnus.

Currently at Empire State College, 155 distance-based peer tutors assist students in more than 250 courses. Additionally, in a newly-developed program, peer tutors are embedded in 12 sections of CDL courses like Algebra, Human Nutrition, Genetics and Statistics to provide frequent, ongoing assistance as needed. Tutoring is also available in PowerPoint, Excel, MapleSoft, navigating Angel for new users, and academic research.

“I am very pleased with the results of our peer tutoring program,” said Craig Lamb, Director of Academic Support, who started this service in 2009 and recently received the James William and Mary Elizabeth Hall award for Innovation at Empire State College. “It’s a win-win. Students get the help they need from people who understand their frustrations since they’ve likely encountered these same issues in the past,” added Lamb. 

Another reason to try it? The Center for Distance Learning’s Peer Tutoring program won second place at the Center for Transforming Student Services’ (CENTSS) 2010-11 Innovation Awards in Online Student Services awards. Congratulations to the Academic Support team.  

Tutors in all areas are available. Inquire today at the peer tutoring web page!

Miss the Immigration Panel? Recorded Version Now Available!

December’s Immigration panel, “Immigration in the U.S.: Implications for Our Future”, presented on-site and on-line with experts from Empire State College and Skidmore College, featured many different perspectives and active audience participation. Interested in viewing it via web? Here is a link to the recording from the workshop. When you see the home screen (shown on here) click on the person’s photo to hear their presentation.

Check back for an upcoming announcement for Part 2, a second immigration panel to be hosted by Empire State College in February. Hope to “see” you there!

Budgets, Loans, Work Study: Learn More at Financial Aid Webinars!

Home screen of web pageTo “celebrate” Financial Aid month, which runs from January 25 – February 25, 2011, Empire State College’s financial aid office will offer the following webinars:

-January 26: I’ve filed my 2011-2012 FAFSA, now what?

-February 2: Federal Work Study- A Money Making Proposition

-February 9: Loan Now, Repayment Later

-February 16: Budgeting Tips and Tricks

-February 23: What you need to know about Good Academic Standing

Go to to view the pre-recorded sessions and e-mail any questions to