Michelle Ann Liptak

Siena College is the proud home to not only many fantastic students, but also to many extraordinary faculty members, such as Michelle Ann Liptak.

 Michelle Liptak is currently a First Year Seminar professor here at Siena, being in this full-time position since last spring. She says that her position as a First Year Seminar professor allows individuals to bring in their unique opinions into the classroom in a different way and apply their own interests to the class discussions. Michelle also says that she focuses her First Year Seminar on crossing borders because it makes the course very relatable and easy to connect with. She loves that she is able to bring her passions into the classroom, such as her love for 20th century literature revolved around famous female and diverse authors, and her love for not just watching movies, but for looking at them. She believes that students leave First Year Seminar with viable skills that will ultimately help lead to their future success.
When speaking of her job, Michelle says, “I feel very, very fortunate that I am able to do what I love, because I know there are a lot of people, not that don’t, but that can’t.” She says that her motivation for her career is the sheer fact that she is a people person, loves learning from others, and loves sharing her knowledge and experiences. Michelle’s ultimate goal as a First Year Seminar professor is to get students excited, inspired, and passionate about things they find interest in.

When I asked Professor Michelle Liptak about what her personal long-term goal was pertaining to her career, she gave me an answer that I don’t think you would find in most people. She said she is content and satisfied with where she is, and that it really couldn’t get any better for her. But Michelle’s career success didn’t just fall out of nowhere, she had to work for it. After graduating from Siena in 1992 with an English major and business minor, having received her Bachelor’s in English, she found work as a waitress and bar tender at her family’s restaurant for two years. Michelle’s career at her family’s restaurant left her with somewhat of an epiphany. She realized how unsatisfied she was with sticking to the family business and began to realize how much she truly missed being in school. She had always loved being in school, and found pure enjoyment out of continuously learning. She humorously said, “As a child, I couldn’t wait for summer to end and to get back to school. Now, I get to be in school for the rest of my life!”

She then attended Saint Rose where she received her Master’s in English, and then continued on to Saint John’s where she received her Doctorate. She said that it took a long time for her to finish her dissertation because after getting a job, as she decided to settle down and raise a family right away. After telling me this, she began to laugh and gave me the honest advice of, “Finish what you started before you move on to another big project or career choice,” in a fun and good natured way. She then told me that she returned to Siena in 1999 after her doctoral course work, where she worked in the HEOP office as a professional tutor and tutor coordinator. She was then hired as an adjunct for the English department, continuing on to working part-time between teaching First Year Seminar and English.

Then, in 2005, she became the director of the Writing Center and continued to be for ten years. She also co-founded Gleanings: A Journal of First Year Student Writing and continues to serve as the editor. Finally, she loved the classroom environment and went on to teaching First Year Seminar full-time, where she is happily found now. When asking her how she got to the position she currently has now, she said that she simply put in work and worked her way up the ladder. I asked Michelle Liptak to what does she owe her success, to which she replied, “Passion and enthusiasm for my interests. Motivation and drive developed from being fortunate to have a career I love, where I read, write, and talk.”

When wrapping up the career-specific questions I asked her, I concluded with asking, “What do you think of Siena’s DORS values and how do they contribute to the community?” She excitingly replied, “Siena’s DORS values are Franciscan values that the college emphasizes, but they are great values for anyone. I appreciate how relatable they are to everyday life, and how embedded they are into Siena’s close-knit community, and I believe that from this, people find strength.”

Although Doctor Michelle Liptak is profoundly successful within her career, she is also extremely successful within her personal life. Michelle Liptak grew up in the small community of Kinderhook, NY. She said that although she enjoyed it, she didn’t appreciate it much as a child, however, she returned, because she said it was a great place to raise a family. Michelle now lives in a beautiful, old, white farmhouse with her husband Robert Pesano, whom she’s been married to for seventeen years, their two children, a fifteen-year-old son named Christian and thirteen-year-old daughter named Rachel, and two cats. Michelle also used to have six chickens, and told me quite an interesting story of her rooster. Her, what seems to be immortal, rooster survived two fox attacks, one where he lost nearly half of his body. Michelle enjoys attending sporting events with her kids, like her son’s basketball games or her daughter’s dance competitions, for which they will soon be attending Nationals in Wildwood. Michelle’s hobbies include reading, gardening, walking, and going to the movies. Aside from being a master in the English language, she also knows how to speak French and Italian. Professor Liptak loves skiing, the beach, and, much to my surprise, motorcycles. She has her motorcycle license and used to drive a Yamaha 600 with her leather jacket and boots. She said her father had an appreciation for old cars, and because of this, as a teenager she drove a 1968 Convertible Camero.

I asked her the question, “Do you have key mentors who influenced you as a person?” to which she said Elaine Ognibene. Elaine was a Siena faculty member, and Michelle said that she admired her in the classroom and admired how much she knew. Doctor Liptak said Elaine was her inspiration for what she should do with English, become a college professor. Michelle returned to Elaine after she graduated from Siena and Elaine helped her get into grad school. To this day, Elaine and Michelle keep in touch. Although Michelle Liptak doesn’t have any career long-term goals, she does have personal ones. In the future, Professor Liptak would like to spend more time writing personal essays and fiction, and hopefully making something out of them, like a book. She would also like to travel more, and is already starting to achieve that goal because this May she will be going to Italy, something she really looks forward to.

I chose to write a profile on Michelle Liptak because her accomplishments in and outside of the classroom are very influential. I find her inspiring and feel as though her passions flow not only through me, but through her entire student body. She has a way with words and truly knows how to relate to others. I highly enjoy the company of Professor/Doctor/Dance Mom/Wife/Adventure Seeker/Motorcyclist/Immortal Rooster Owner/Writer Michelle Liptak and would recommend her class to any incoming freshman. The last thing I asked Michelle during her interview was, “If you could give advice to any Siena student today, what would it be?” Her extraordinary answer was, “Find something you love to do, find something you’re passionate about that means something to you, because whatever career you wind up in you’ll probably be doing it for a very long time, so be happy. Be happy with what you choose. Some students come in here and it’s all about going to college to get a job and certainly getting a job is important, it absolutely is, but it’s also about trying to figure out who you are and what you’re about and what you want to do with your life. Try to expect that there are going to be challenges and have an alternate plan if things don’t work out the way you want them to work out.”