A former Cazenovia College student recently acted on his belief that one good turn deserves another.

Brandon Laboy came to Cazenovia College in 2015 on scholarship as a student in the Higher Education Opportunity Program and a basketball recruit. But his time here ended abruptly in March of 2020, when COVID-19 required all students to leave campus. Last week, he returned for the first time with an idea to do something impactful to help other students. Laboy presented a $25,000 gift to the College’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). His generosity has created a new resource—an angel fund current and future HEOP students can tap when they need to buy critical study supplies or cover travel or emergency expenses.

Prior to leaving Cazenovia, Laboy was working toward a degree in social science, and his goal was to become a corporate attorney. When COVID sent him back to New York, he took a job as a cashier at the Pita Pan restaurant at 30th Avenue in Astoria. An industrious guy, he was working 80-hour weeks to earn big paychecks while continuing to help family members who were facing significant challenges. Before long, his workplace talent and dedication earned him a promotion to manager. He also has enjoyed a new measure of good fortune.

Recently, Laboy decided that he wanted to help Cazenovia students who, like him, were managing college successfully despite financial struggles and home-life challenges. His experience prompted him to give at a level of real impact. “I wanted to give a good amount of money, and that $25,000 was a number that was comfortable, and I could see it being used productively here,” he relates.

Sheila Marsh, director of the College’s HEOP program, was present with President Ron Chesbrough to greet Laboy and to accept the generous check. She recalled his days as a Cazenovia student. “He was a special child,” she remembers. “He always had a special quality about him and I had a warm spot in my heart for him. But he also came from a rough beginning. He managed the best way he could manage when he was here. He knows himself. Now look at the good he’s done.”

His stringent focus on work goals these last 18 months and his recent fiscal gains have promoted a different kind of thinking about the future for Laboy. He’s now investing financially in the restaurant he works for and is excited to be expanding his business holdings and his entrepreneurial career.

Laboy has another goal, too. He left school one course shy of the credits needed to graduate. So, he plans to enroll in the College’s distance courses to finish his program and complete the bachelor’s degree he began six years ago as a freshman.

He’s also focused on a future that includes additional philanthropy and finding having impact in the area of social justice. “More than anything, I want to create monumental change in our society,” he said. “We live in a world so filled with hate and temper and racial escalations. If I can help someone change the world, that’s all I want; I’d give money to someone who may have an idea to fix the world.”

Laboy advises others to consider various avenues of philanthropy as they go through life. “Give to others what you can; it’ll always come back to you. You don’t need it to come back to you, but at the end of the day, things are not all about money.”


If you're inspired by Brandon Laboy's story and generosity and would like to join him in supporting scholarship funds or other needs, please contact Sam Harmon at sharmon@cazenovia.edu (917-225-2716) or make a gift online at cazenovia.edu/give. Every gift, no matter the size, provides powerful assistance to Cazenovia College students most in need.