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Growing up in Western New York, Alex Miecyjak spent a lot of time at the dental office where his mom worked. That time spent at Westermeier Martin Dental Care in East Aurora ultimately influenced his career choice. After a start in business school at the University at Buffalo, Miecyjak realized it wasn’t for him. He decided to pursue dentistry, so he made the switch to bio…

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Life has a way of coming full circle. For Gregg and Heather Stierheim, that phrase couldn’t be more true. The Stierheims first met in seventh grade, while on a church trip heading for Washington, D.C. Though Gregg grew up in the Northtowns and Heather in the Southtowns, over the years, the two became friends, seeing each other at various church events and mission trips.…

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As a flight attendant, Julianne Bruyer gets to travel to cities all over the country. But the one place she always wants to visit is her hometown of Buffalo. The Western New York native now lives in Littleton, Colo., with her husband, Mike, and stepdaughter, Hayley, working for Southwest Airlines. She first moved away from the Queen City at 23 to work with Southwest…

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After seven years in Chicago, Maura and Dan Devlin knew it was time to buy a house and commit to living in the Windy City — or move back to Buffalo, the city they would always call home. It didn’t take them long to decide on the City of Good Neighbors, the place they were raised and longed to raise a family of their own. “Our hearts were always here [in Buffalo],” Ma…

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When Dave and Donna Ortolani’s four children moved away, they never dreamed three would end up back in Buffalo within two years of each other. The Williamsville residents always wanted their kids to experience the world outside of Buffalo. “We didn’t insist but we encouraged the kids to go away to school,” said Dave Ortolani. Both had been born and raised in Weste…

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While Jessica Keltz had lived in Western New York off and on since 1997, it wasn’t until almost 20 years later that she realized it was where she wanted to settle. The Bradford, Pa., native attended St. Bonaventure University for journalism and later the University at Buffalo School of Law for public interest law. She continued living in Western New York after law schoo…

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Mark Topping didn’t grow up in Buffalo, but after four years living and attending college in the Queen City, he considers himself a “Buffalonian at heart.” Topping grew up in California, in the San Francisco Bay area and suburbs of Los Angeles. He ended up in Buffalo during his college years, when he did a national student exchange program in 1992 at SUNY Buffalo State.…

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With a passion for politics, Bryan Wandel wanted to be in the center of the action. So in 2008, he said goodbye to his family and friends in Buffalo, and headed for Washington D.C. But over the years, his calling shifted, and a move towards pastoral work eventually brought him back to the Queen City. Bryan began his political career as an intern in the Senate, then move…

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Like many Western New York natives, Laura Habberfield felt drawn back to her hometown after several years living away. Habberfield initially moved away to Hoboken, N.J., in 2011 to pursue a job opportunity with Toys R Us. She was recruited for a position in the supply chain management training program after graduating from the University at Buffalo. She spent the nex…

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After college, Maura and Charles Winkler had their sights set on bigger things. With a degree from Canisius College in biology, Maura had plans to become a doctor, and Charles wanted to use his MBA from Canisius to get into the business world. Having both lived in Buffalo their entire lives, they wanted to take those next steps in a big city. So in 2011, they moved to C…

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Beth Klarin didn't grow up in Buffalo, but when she moved here in 2001, she instantly fell in love. Now she calls herself one of the city’s biggest cheerleaders. “I’m probably the most enthusiastic Buffalonian on the planet,” she said. Beth initially moved to Western New York to attend the University at Buffalo School of Law. The Schenectady native had been living in…

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When Matt Keeler was a sophomore at Notre Dame High School in Albion, he combined two areas of interest — hockey and graphics — and began creating designs for baseball caps and T-shirts. “Being around the sport my whole life, and having a passion for the game and also for creativity, there was nothing in the hockey market that served those two things,” he said. “It gave…

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It's not easy finding a good chicken wing 1,000 miles from Buffalo, but when Western New York natives walk into Al’s Bar and Grill in a northern suburb of Kansas City, they not only find an authentic wing, but a place just like home. With Bills and Sabres memorabilia throughout, the sports bar feels like something you’d find in Buffalo. That’s exactly what the owner, Ha…

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Last June, Jack O’Donnell and his wife, Marina, couldn’t wait for the state legislature to wrap up the year’s business. “We were in Albany for the end of the session,” O’Donnell said. “When they adjourned, my wife and I and two kids piled into the car and drove home. We’ve been trying to get this great old house up and running ever since.” O’Donnell, a Buffalo native…

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Deepali McCloe (Oberoi), 42, didn't plan on ever leaving Buffalo. It never crossed her mind. Her family immigrated from India in 1976 and Western New York became their home in 1981. Deepali grew up in Williamsville, went to high school at Williamsville North and happily immersed herself in the cultural diversity that the University at Buffalo readily provided when sh…