April 3, 2014

SUNY Empire State College Alumni Visit the White House

Erin Hamlin '11 and Ashley Caldwell '14, Visit the President and First Lady as Members of the U.S. Olympic Team

Ashley Caldwell '14 tweeted the college a selfie with fellow alumna Erin Hamlin '11 on their way to the White House as members of the U.S. Olympic Team

Ashley Caldwell '14, at right, and Erin Hamlin '11, took time to share a selfie with Empire State College on their way to the White House. Photo/Ashley Caldwell
















(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – April 3, 2014) SUNY Empire State College alumni Erin Hamlin ’11 and Ashley Caldwell ’14 are at the White House today. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are hosting the 2014 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams.

Hamlin was the first American in U.S. Olympic history to win a medal -- she took the bronze -- in luge singles competition.

The U.S. Olympic Committee also just announced that she has been voted Best Female Olympian at the 2014 Winter Olympics Games as part of the Best of U.S. awards program for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

On March 29 of this year, Caldwell won her first-ever national championship. She also has just been named a 2014 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, SUNY’s most prestigious student award.

“We are so proud to have Erin Hamlin and Ashley Caldwell, two of our most accomplished alumni, visit with the president and first lady,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “Erin and Ashley are remarkable not only for their achievements, but also for completing college their degrees while meeting the demands of training and travel schedules. They embody the spirit of all our other nontraditional students, who are primarily working adults, many of whom are raising families and meeting civic commitments every day in the communities where they live.”

About Erin Hamlin

In making the Best of U.S. announcement, the committee noted that Hamlin broke a 34-year hold on the women’s luge podium by German and Austrian women. She will appear on “The Best of U.S. Awards Show,” at 7 p.m., Monday, April 7, on NBC.

In addition to competing in three consecutive Winter Olympics and her historic achievements at Sochi, Hamlin was the gold medalist in 2009 at the World Championships held in Lake Placid, N.Y. She was the 2008 Verizon U.S. National Champion and the 2009 and 2010 Norton U.S. National Champion.

The 27-year-old native of Remsen, N.Y. earned her A.A. in interdisciplinary studies online through the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

A sectional all-star in soccer and track while attending Remsen Junior/Senior High School, her favorite athlete is soccer’s Mia Hamm.

About Ashley Caldwell

Ashley Caldwell won her first-ever U.S. Freestyle Skiing National Championship in aerials at the 2014 USANA U.S. Freestyle Championships held in Park City, Utah.

The 20-year-old native of Ashburn, Va., a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team, completed her requirements for the B.S. in business, management and economics with a concentration in finance and graduates this spring with at GPA of 3.8. Like Hamlin, she earned her degree online through the Center for Distance Learning.

At the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Sochi and at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, she finished 10th in women’s aerials.

Caldwell was a competitive gymnast for 11 years before she watched Olympic skiing on TV and thought it would be “totally awesome” to try aerials. After only three years of training, Caldwell made the U.S. Ski Team at a selection event in the beginning of the 2010 season and then went on to an outstanding rookie season.

Later that year at the age of 16, Caldwell claimed top 15 results in her first three World Cup competitions. She finished 10th at the Olympics and claimed a silver medal at the U.S. National Championships, a feat she repeated in 2011.

Then, in December of 2011 and again in 2012, Caldwell sustained serious injuries to both her right and left ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments). Overcoming both injuries, she earned a silver medal in women’s aerials at the World Cup competition held Dec. 15, 2013 in Lake Beida, China, on her road to Sochi.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY System from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918


518-321-7038 (after hours and on weekends)