Chemistry & Biochemistry, Education

Soccer is a game of goals, and Tristan's goal is to defeat ALS.

The score used to be what mattered. That's how you measure wins and losses. But in the only game that really matters anymore, Tristan Verdone '20 measures success in dollars. And nobody wins until there's a cure for ALS.

When Tristan's father, Frank, was diagnosed with ALS the prognosis was grim. It's always grim with ALS. But while his dad was still alive, Tristan wanted his father to be a part of the cure - even if he wouldn't live long enough to see it. 

A lifelong soccer player, Tristan started the fundraiser Kick Out ALS six years ago. His high school on Long Island, Miller Place, plays another school under the lights each year, with proceeds benefiting ALS research. They sell bracelets and t-shirts, plus raffles and a bake sale. In all, they raise more than $5,000 a year. Tristan's friends grew up with Frank Verdone and were happy to help kick-start the Kick Out tradition. Frank was a part of it too, until he passed away two years ago. 

The tournament lives on, but it's not the only way Tristan honors his dad. Tristan comes from a long line of teachers. In fact, his father was just about the only member of the family who's not a teacher. His passion was science. Tristan is the only chemistry education major in the Siena Class of 2020. 

He blended science and education to honor his father, but to also motivate the thousands of students he hopes to teach during his career. Tristan aspires to be a role model, and wants to inspire students to pursue STEM related fields. Which, in a way, is also a tribute to his dad. 

Tristan is currently a student teacher at Iroquois Middle School in the Niskayuna School District. He'll be teaching at South Colonie High School in March and hopes to stay in high school education.

Tristan is pictured above (right) with his father (middle) and ALS survivor Chris Pendergast (left) who represents ALS Ride for Life, the charity benefiting from Kick Out ALS. 

"My dad was a huge inspiration to me being a science teacher. He was an optometrist, so he had always put an emphasis on science. Chemistry happened to be my favorite, but anything science was approved by him. It was a way for me to combine his profession and my mom's profession."

Tristan Verdone '20