Alumni Profile: Shawn Yetter
Alumni Profiles is an ongoing series highlighting successful graduates who, with a SUNY education, achieved interesting and influential careers.
Yetter has spent the last three decades in public and private sectors in the health and human services arena, where most of that was in leadership positions. He is now actively involved in organizational and community development projects around the Owego, NY area, where Yetter lives.
Using his managerial expertise and applying his social science background, Yetter serves as: Board Member (and past President) of Tioga United Way, Inc.; Advisory Board member of Lourdes Hospice; Board Member of New York Public Welfare Association; and Board Member of Broome-Tioga Workforce Investment Board. Yetter is also a Board Member of the Broome Community College Foundation, which provides financial support for students enrolled at his Alma Mater.
As Commissioner of Tioga County Social Services, Yetter leads a 100-person staff to serve a population of 52,000, budget of $22 million, and over 30 diverse Federal and State programs.
1. How did you first get involved in public service?
Following my first year at BCC, I was hired as a Summer Intern by the Tioga County Department of Social Services. It was through that first-hand exposure to a very broad array of Social Services programs that I became interested in a career in public service of some kind.
2. Why did you choose Broome Community College and SUNY Oswego? And why did you continue your education from Broome to Oswego to complete your four-year degree?
Affordability was a factor in both choices, but I chose BCC because I was not interested in leaving the area yet and I was not set on what I wanted to pursue career wise. The Business Administration program at BCC seemed like a good first step for me. I had a part time job that I enjoyed and did not want to give up, good friends who also stayed in the area, and staying at home was financially wiser.
Following my two years at BCC, I was hired full time by the Tioga County Department of Social Services as a Social Welfare Examiner. I spent four years getting some very good experience (and saving money) so that I could pursue a four year degree. When I was ready to do that, I chose Oswego because it had the curriculum I wanted (Business and Distributive Education). And upon visiting, I loved the area and the campus.
3. What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
My positions over the years have allowed me to become actively involved in organizational and community development projects that have lasting and important impact on the people and communities the respective organizations serve. Work with various Boards and Advisory groups can be some of the most rewarding work that professionals find themselves spending their time and energy on and it can also be some of the most important work they will do during their careers.
4. Overall, how did your college education help prepare you for life and your career?
Education is often the foundation for what you can accomplish. My Associates Degree from BCC allowed me to qualify for my first full time positions in Human Services and likewise, my Bachelors Degree allowed me to qualify for my move into administrative positions. The discipline required of earning a degree at any level is something that stays with your during your career. I may not have utilized every piece of knowledge gained while in college, but that discipline and respect for knowledge is used every day.
5. What advice do you have to share with SUNY students?
For two year students, if you have the desire or motivation to go on to get a four year degree, find a way to do it. If you meet up with barriers, take advantage of the resources and people you can talk to and work with to make it happen. The rewards of earning that degree are lifelong. Also, motivation follows doing the right thing.
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