Dr. Marian Conway

Dr. Marian Conway

Marian is a two-time graduate of the college, receiving an undergraduate degree in 2001 and a graduate degree in Liberal Studies in 2004. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration, Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Walden University. A longtime supporter of the college, she serves as a member of the Empire State College Foundation Board of Directors and is a former president of the Alumni Student Federation Board of Governors. Marian works as executive director of the New York Community Bank Foundation on Long Island.

While the fund was established on the occasion of the completion of her doctoral degree, the Pay it Forward Fund is, at heart, an intensely personal and emotional tribute to Marian’s father, the Reverend Edward F. Conway, and a celebration of her own educational journey.

The words “nontraditional student” describes me to a T. I did not start college until I was 33 years old, married with two daughters. I was working for the NY State Parks Department at the Long Island headquarters. I was restless; something was missing. I took a couple of adult education classes at the local high school, quilting and a typing refresher. I loved the classes… and discovered the missing thing – the learning. But could I handle college? I turned to my father.

My dad is my hero. He quit school to join the Navy at 16 because he was considered lazy in school. My grandfather lied on the forms, letting my dad join before he was old enough. When Dad was in his 40s he was diagnosed as dyslexic and the world opened wide. He got his GED and discovered learning. Dad went to college, taking tests orally and dictating papers to someone else to type. Today, the Reverend Edward F. Conway, Ph.D. has two Masters’ degrees as well as a doctorate. With my dad as an example, it was obvious that I could go to college.

The classroom setting at SUNY Farmingdale was tough, fitting that regular time in my schedule was complicated with a full time job and daughters in elementary school. Dad suggested I try the nontraditional route. I found Empire State College and never looked back. I consider the Empire State College staff and faculty as friends; I could not have done it without them.

Our family rarely asks for help, we want to be the ones doing the helping. We volunteer; my daughters and I have hammered nails for Habitat for Humanity – we have our own tool belts. We do what we can. Dad and I never discussed money (still don’t) but there were many times it was difficult for me. Once, when finances were really stretched and I wasn’t sure how I was going to register for the semester, a check arrived out of the blue, from my dad, with a short note, “This is for college. Love, Dad.” When I called to thank him profusely, especially for his timing, he said to just “pay it forward” someday.

  • Dr. Marian Conway ’01, ‘04


Established in 2013 through the generosity of Dr. Marian Conway. The scholarship is available to students enrolled in any location or program of the college who meet the Empire State College Foundation’s scholarship eligibility criteria. The scholarship is available to undergraduate or graduate students on the basis of financial need and academic promise.