Written by Danielle Couture
left to right: William Kelly, Eastern President Elsa Nunez and Robert Hacker
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University inducted its sixth class of Alumni Fellows on March 26 in the Paul E. Johnson Community Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. Inductees included Robert Hacker '86, a dentist who runs a successful practice, and William Kelly '82, deputy director of securities lending for Bank New York Mellon.
Hacker '86 earned his degree in biology at Eastern and went on to Tufts School of Dental Medicine where he earned his Doctor of Medical Dentistry Degree. Hacker practiced with other dentists for three years before buying a Branford practice from a retiring dentist. While running his own practice, he advanced his dental education at Americus Cosmetic Institute in New York City, which led to be one of the first practices in the area doing cosmetic dentistry.
Hacker travels to Ecuador annually with his family to provide free dental work for poor children. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, the Connecticut State Dental Association and the Branford Chamber of Commerce. Kelly '82 double majored in Economics and Public Policy and Government at Eastern. Today he serves as deputy director of securities lending for Bank New York Mellon, a role in which he is responsible for more than $300 billion of business activity, and Global Head of Client Management, where he makes sure the bank's list of clients are satisfied with the services provided by the investment professionals he supervises. As part of his job, Kelly has traveled throughout the United States and to nearly 30 countries.
Both Hacker and Kelly give credit to Eastern for getting them to where they are today. When Hacker went to graduate school at Tufts, he couldn't believe he was chosen to be in the same class as people from schools like Yale, Cornell and Harvard. "Seeing all these Ivy League schools and competitive universities made me nervous about who I was up against," he said, "but I quickly realized that Eastern had prepared me well. I had a solid knowledge of basic sciences and the team of teachers I had not only got me into one of the top dental schools, but allowed me to compete with other students from universities around the country and the world."
Hacker talked about how having a liberal arts education contributed to the success of his career. He had to take a psychology class as part of the core curriculum, which helped him relate to his patients later on. "I would recommend taking the opportunity to get a well-rounded education and be creative when picking your classes, because you never know where skills from those classes will be needed later in your life," said Hacker.
Kelly says he gained crucial skills from Eastern that helped land him his first job in the field. "I was chosen for a leadership position because of my ability to communicate effectively and my ability to demonstrate leadership experience that I learned from my foundation at Eastern," said Kelly. He also explained how one opportunity in his work led to many more opportunities and experiences. He advised students to keep in touch with their networks whether it be through Eastern or through professional ranks. "Become associated, become active within your particular field and have that desire to reach out beyond your comfort zone," said Kelly. "It's easy to get settled in, but the opportunities that are afforded to us as young professionals are limitless."
The Eastern Fellows program was established in the 2008-09 academic year to recognize and engage distinguished Eastern alumni in the life of the University. This program is a means of enriching the educational experience of current Eastern undergraduates by exposing them to alumni who are able to share their work experiences with students in realistic terms. The program is an exciting and stimulating way for our students and faculty to benefit from the knowledge of accomplished professionals.