Two SUNY Oneonta student athletes spend month in Paris

What did senior Hans Purtell and junior Maggie Vachris do on their summer vacation?

The two spent the month of June in Paris, France interning at the Sodexo Quality of Life Services.  The Division is one of two Sodexho Corporate Headquarters with the other being located in Singapore.

Sodexo is a global company that provides services that seek to increase quality of life through physical environment, health/well-being, social interaction, recognition, ease and efficiency, and personal growth. Sodexo provides these services in corporate, education, government, health care, senior living, sports and leisure, and remote site settings. Sodexo manages the foodservice operation on campus and they, along with Oneonta Auxiliary Services (OAS), have worked to create this exciting program for two students each year.

After an intense interview process, that included several interviews with faculty members and OAS staff, Purtell and Vachris were the two students selected to represent SUNY Oneonta and the USA.  Both dietetics majors, the two had an exclusive opportunity of a lifetime to apply their classroom knowledge while exploring one of the most beautiful cities in all the world.

Oneonta is one of only two campuses currently offering the internship opportunity the other being Keystone College in Pennsylvania.  This year was the first year that Oneonta was involved.

“I am so thankful for the opportunity,” said Vachris.  “It was thrilling, rewarding and extremely fulfilling.  It is something I know that I will not forget.”

The pair began its journey in Gaithersburg, Maryland to prepare and briefed on what they would be involved in while in Paris.  After a couple of days meeting and speaking with the leadership, it was off the France.

The two were grouped with students from Singapore, France and two others from the USA.  Vachris and Purtell spent their work week – M-F, 9:15-5:30 – working on projects such as international food service consumer trends, categorization of various foods and even learning the potential of helping people lift themselves from poverty with proper diets.  They worked in the Consumer Insight department studying target market data and trends. Their mission was to seek out trends affecting specific populations and then strategize different ways Sodexo could adapt to them in order to satisfy the consumer.

“We were able to see first-hand how a global company caters towards different types of people across the world,” said Purtell.

Purtell and Vachris also met and worked with people at the headquarters from all over the European Continent including students from Holland, Italy, Ireland and even from the continent of Africa.

It was not all work and no play.  On the weekends Vachris and Purtell spent lots of time together visiting museums, galleries and even traveled to neighboring Germany to visit the cosmopolitan city of Berlin.  In Paris you could find them at many of the sidewalk cafés, parks, gardens, the Eiffel Tower and walking along the Seine River just taking in all the sights.  While in Germany, they visited the Berlin Wall, Museum Island and Check Point Charlie.

Purtell was lucky enough to be in France when the country hosted the Euro 2016 and spent much time at the Fan Zone right by the Eiffel tower watching many a soccer games with the locals.  When France was playing the fans were boisterous and rowdy and that made for an incredible atmosphere witnessed firsthand by a young collegiate soccer player from Oneonta.  Vachris accompanied him to many of the games and the pair was exposed to Parisian life living like a local.

Purtell and Vachris serve as team captains for the soccer and field hockey teams respectively while also serving as members of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.


Somehow things are a little different in that they feel as though their lives have truly been enriched.  For these two ambassadors from SUNY Oneonta and the USA.  For Purtell, it was his second time in Europe having gone to Barcelona two years ago with the men’s soccer team and Vachris’s first experience in Europe.