YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Graduating from college is a defining achievement for many young adults, but for Noah Migliore, that accomplishment felt a little bit sweeter than it does for most.
In his six-year collegiate career, Migliore has been through four schools, two medical leaves of absence due to depression, and a six-month bout with mononucleosis. On top of that, both his parents battled cancer. Amidst all the external strains on his life, Migliore became just the second member of his family to graduate college when he received his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity by graduating with honors from SUNY Albany.
“It really hit me when I got those final grades in. It’s finally over, and all that hard work and time has paid off,” he said. “It was incredible to see how happy they were. too. It just meant so much to all of us as a family.”
It has been a long and challenging journey to get to this point for the Migliores. Noah’s father has been fighting adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of cancer that begins in the glandular tissues, in his face for 11 years. He has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments that have resulted in graphic results and surgeries. It has been a grueling process on both him and his family. His mother also fought Merkel cell carcinoma two years ago and beat it.
“Sometimes, when I’m feeling down and upset, I think, ‘Look how strong my dad is.’ He’s going through so much, and he’s still so tough, he wakes up every day and he takes it on,” Migliore said. “It definitely helps me feel stronger, because I just tell myself if he can do it, I should definitely be able to do it. That keeps me going on those days that are a little bit harder than most days.”
Migliore has seen his fair share of tough days as well. He began his collegiate career at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, after graduating from Yorktown as a member of the Class of 2014. He began to study criminal justice, but his first semester was cut short when he caught mono two-thirds of the way through.
His bout with the virus caused him to be bedridden for almost six months and lose 30 pounds. He received his first medical leave of absence from his school.
“It really messed me up,” Migliore said. “It was wild to go from, in high school having been a varsity athlete and playing sports my whole life to walking to the car becoming a really challenging thing.”
Migliore made a full recovery from the disease and went back to Clinton in the spring to finish off the remainder of his first semester. After the strenuous first year of school, he decided to make his first transfer, enrolling at SUNY Canton, a school about 100 miles west of Plattsburgh.
His first semester in northwestern New York went well, but about two-thirds of the way through the second semester, Migliore felt the overwhelming stress of the external factors in his life starting to weigh heavily in his mind.
“I was depressed about the state of my father’s illness; at that point in time, things were taking a turn for the worse, so that downhill spiral affected me a lot,” he said.
He received his second medical leave of absence in two years of school to go home and be with his family, to support his father, and to focus on keeping his mind healthy.
“At that point, now I’ve completed two semesters of college, but I’ve been going for two years,” Migliore said. “That was really frustrating for me, being that both of the semesters that I left, I was two-thirds of the way done with it and I was actually doing well in school.”
The Migliores decided as a family for Noah to take some time away from school to focus on himself, an approach that he is grateful for because it allowed him to come back to his education when he was ready to fully focus on it. He took a semester off from school and got a job at the Inn at Pound Ridge, working 30 hours a week and focusing on strengthening his mental health.
When Migliore felt ready to return to school again, he enrolled at Westchester Community College and completed two years of school there, originally not knowing what he wanted to study anymore. He switched back to a general liberal arts track for a semester before he found the cybersecurity program.
He joined a couple of clubs, including the Cyber Security Club and the College Steps Program, where students can apply to become peer mentors for students with disabilities on campus. Migliore ended up becoming the lead mentor of the program.
“You would go to class with the students who had disabilities and help them out with taking notes and staying focused on the task at hand,” he said. “It was nice to be able to help them and be there for them.”
After completing his two years at WCC, he transferred for the fourth and final time. He ended his whirlwind collegiate career at SUNY Albany by receiving his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity after discovering the major at WCC. Migliore is undecided as to what is next for him in life, but is mulling many options while relishing his achievement.
“I would love to work in the technology industry, but I’m also open to anything,” he said.