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A Salisbury Gentleman

Jared Zissu '12
Kristina Miller

Learn More About Salisbury Gentleman Jared Zissu '12 And How He Discovered A Passion That He Turned Into A Career And Life Journey 

I grew up in Bernardsville, NJ and transferred to Salisbury for my junior year of high school. The change to Salisbury allowed me to concentrate on my academics, and be in a more structured environment, it also gave me the time to concentrate on athletics, soccer being the sport at the time. I was extremely intimidated being at Salisbury, especially since I entered so late into high school. To be honest, I didn’t want to be there, but I stuck with it, and made some really close friends which made things better. The more time I spent at Salisbury the better the experience became, and it really helped shape me as a gentleman, student, and leader. 

After graduating Salisbury in 2012, I headed to Sewanee, the University of the South. I went to play soccer and followed in Salisbury alumni footsteps Hurst Renner '09, who I met while visiting. Hurst told me I had to go to Sewanee, as it changed his life. At Sewanee I joined a volunteer fire department and started fly fishing, I majored in Natural Resources and had the best time of my life.

Salisbury, number one, taught me how to be a gentleman. Everything from being cleanly shaven to wearing a belt and socks, to holding the door for people. That definitely had a big impact on me. In addition, Salisbury helped me become more independent, as a student, as an athlete, and as a friend. Living in a dorm on your own forces you to master time management, that was something that really helped me at Sewanee. I think Salisbury also helped me with communication. The teachers force you out of your comfort zone, and that is a good thing when it comes to public speaking. I still remember having to recite Canterbury tales in Procter Smith’s English class.

I had a few teachers who impacted me at Salisbury. I think we probably had a love-hate relationship since I did seem to get in trouble a decent amount! But, my advisor, Mr. Russel, was a huge help with me growing as a student and an athlete at School. Xander Jones and Tote Smith were also a huge help. I think I learned more in Tote Smith’s AP Econ course than I have ever learned in a single class. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I have been back on campus and I would love to visit. The athletic center, the boathouse, and some of my old dorm rooms would bring back a lot of memories.

Today, I started and run a fly fishing media company called Flylords. Flylords reaches millions of users a year inspiring them to learn more about the sport of fly fishing. We create content for some big outdoor brands like Yeti, Patagonia, and Costa Sunglasses, and we also travel all over the place creating content for Lodges in remote places like the Seychelles and Bolivia.

My advice to current students is to keep your focus on graduating and getting into the best possible college you can. This means keeping your grades up, listening to your teachers, and trying to create a close relationship with a few where you can share all your thoughts with. Find what you are passionate about, and work really hard to turn that into a living. Don’t get discouraged about failing, or facing a challenge, these are the building blocks to who you will become in the future.

Robby Kasten '19
Kristina Miller

Salisbury gentleman robby kasten '19 shares his love of learning on the hilltop 

Coming to Salisbury I had hoped to follow in the footsteps of my brothers and grow as an athlete and a student. After being here for three years, I have continued to do that, but I have also begun to work on digital media. I have learned about creating a long exposure picture and the process of making videos. These are all large interests for me and I have begun to focus on them more. Throughout this experience I have learned about how important it is to take advantage of the opportunities offered on the Hilltop. If I had never taken an intro to film-making course, I would not be the skilled photographer and videographer that I am now.

My favorite place on campus is the Media Lab. Whether it is during free blocks or during study hall, I work on projects and homework there. It is such a great space to work in, and with all of the technology if I am inspired to make a short film and set up a shot, I have all the tools I need to turn my idea into a reality. I have also begun to work on adding visual effects and animations to my work. Even if my idea cannot be done in reality, I can use the plethora of adobe applications we have to find a way to generate it.

My favorite extracurricular activity I have done at Salisbury is my independent study. Over the past two years, I have studied coastal erosion as part of an independent study I presented in my sophomore spring. I have really enjoyed this process amid lots of mechanical and programming failures. I learned a lot about being an engineer and a problem solver. I hope that other students can take advantage of the many unique opportunities we have, especially the independent study because it allows a student to choose anything that he is passionate about and receive credit for his work.

Luis Rivera-Gonzalez '95
Kristina Miller

SALISBURY GENTLEMAN LUIS RIVERA-GONZALEZ '95 SHARES HIS STORY THAT TIMING IS EVERYTHING AND WITH PATIENCE THERE IS A REWARD

I am originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. My dad had sent me to summer school at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, GA, and, seeing that it was not a good fit for me, he decided to explore other options. It was when a friend had suggested three schools in Connecticut (Cheshire Academy, where I also attended summer school, Avon Old Farms, and Salisbury). I must say that it was the campus and the welcome I received from Mr. Wolcott (what an amazing guy). That day, it was an easy, but scary, decision for me to choose to attend Salisbury. It was the first time I was going to be away from my family, and also experience the big winter the Northeast has to offer.

My first impression of boarding school was totally different from the prison vision I had originally had. Now, I see it more like a college experience where “mom and pop” rules still apply.

After Salisbury, I attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges, but finished my bachelor’s degree with a major in biology and a minor in environmental science (Hugh Cheney's influence!), then followed with a Master’s in Science from the University of Puerto Rico (Medical Science Campus), and did my Doctoral (Ph.D.) and Post-Doctoral Degree at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor on environmental health, where I concentrated in studying the effects that environmental toxicants may have in the development of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

At Salisbury, I learned that there is time for everything - as long as you prioritize, work hard, and delay gratification; believe me, you will be rewarded. 

I had two very important and influential gentlemen guide me during my Salisbury years. One is Mr. Cheney, and the other was Mr. Henning. I was a resident of Carr Dorm both of my years. My second year I became the Prefect for Carr--probably the only international student to do so, so I must say that Mr. Henning saw the leader in me, and pushed me to polish him. He made me feel welcome, as an international student, as well, and helped me during my time periods of home sickness. Not to mention he comforted me when it was very cold, by making me an active skier. I still remember the first time he mentioned and picked my winter sport for me. He said, “you have never skied, right? Then, you are doing recreational skiing!" Of course, I am still an avid skier thanks to him. And, of course, my love for the outdoors, the environment, and health comes from trips and teachings offered by Mr. Cheney. I must also say that Mr. Shortell and Mr. Wachter also helped me become a better man.

I was back on campus for my 10th year reunion, so I am due back soon, especially now that I live in New Jersey. I would love to come speak at the Chapel sometime. My favorite places were always the woods around the boathouse and the mountain biking trails near Mt. Riga. It was a way of escaping campus in a way, and being free.

After my academic years, being a research fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, I decided to accept a position as toxicologist for region 2 (NY, NJ, PR, and USVI) at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (Federal Agency CDC-ATSDR). If I hadn’t learned to structure my time, and work hard--a Salisbury attribute, I wouldn’t have made it to where I am now. It's all about building structure in a time where chaos flourishes--during the teenage years!

Some of my hobbies include disc golfing, playing tennis, creating bonsai, and playing electric bass. If I am around Puerto Rico or the Caribbean, some scuba diving will do!

Work hard, experience life and different cultures, connect with your roots and those that help you and push you to be better. A highlight in my career is that I was instructed to be the Chief of the Public Health and Environmental Health Branch during Hurricane Irma and Maria Response and Recovery periods in Puerto Rico. It was a very rewarding and hard job to do, considering I am from there. Very intense times, that helped me to give back to others.

The photo included is in action conducting CASPER (Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response) during FEMA’s Isolated Communities Mission.