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Sean Koloski ’17

SUNY Potsdam senior Sean Koloski ’17 hopes to be a politician someday and based on his success at SUNY Potsdam, his aspirations seem to be well within reach. He maintains a very busy schedule balancing his role as president of the Student Government Association (SGA) with all of his undergraduate coursework. He is currently wrapping up a double major in politics and international studies with a minor in psychology.

As part of his work with the SGA, he recently visited the state capitol in Albany with President Kristin Esterberg. “It was a great experience, I learned a lot. As someone who studies politics and wants to be a politician, it was great to go to the state legislative offices, where all those members of the state congress work, and meet them face to face,” he said.

Koloski met with Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, State Sen. Patty Ritchie, State Assemblywoman Addie Jenne and State Sen. David Valesky. “President Esterberg and I made a lot of progress. A lot of people were really listening to the things that we had to say. So, I hope that it’s a positive outcome for the school after this legislative period passes.”

Back on campus now, shedding the suit and looking very relaxed in his black Potsdam sweatshirt, he discusses his position as SGA president. “My role primarily is to be the liaison between students and faculty, staff and administration.” He is the only student representative on the faculty senate and he is also the only student representative on the college council. “I just try to make sure students understand their rights, have the right information and make sure their voices are being heard on campus.”

His work with the SGA fits perfectly with his career aspirations, saying that it “really feels like what I want to do with my life.” Many people hate meetings, but “I love going to meetings. I could go to meetings all day long.” As part of his position, he meets with faculty, staff and administration on behalf of the student body. “It’s hard to represent roughly 4,000 students as one person, especially on such a diverse campus, but I do my best. I try to meet with students and I always try to listen and be readily available.”

SUNY Potsdam’s politics department has been a great educational resource for Koloski. “I can’t sing the praises of my department enough. I feel very fortunate to work with some great professors.” He said that professors really care about their students. “I think if you put effort and interest into their classes, they will very easily take a liking to you and they’ll care about you, they’ll care about the work you’re doing.” He said that his workload has been very challenging, but that it has also been rewarding. “I think we have one of the most challenging departments on campus.”

One of the highlights during his time at SUNY Potsdam was a month-long study abroad program in Croatia through the politics department. SUNY Potsdam professor Michael Popovic takes a group of students to Croatia every year to examine the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia, also the title of the class. “It was an intensive course, but I’m a firm believer that there’s no better way to learn about a country, especially one that’s experienced conflict, than going there and getting to talk to the people,” Koloski said.

As part of the class, students learned about the civil war in Yugoslavia and in addition to numerous field trips, students read between 25-50 pages a night and wrote a two to three-page response. It was a great opportunity for Koloski who had never been out of the country before. “I had to get my passport because I had never even been to Canada, I still haven’t been to Canada.” He described flying across the Atlantic Ocean on a 16 to 18-hour flight to Denmark and then hopping aboard a flight for Croatia. “That was just an awesome experience for me,” he said.

With less than two months to go until graduation, he admits he’s a little burned out and looking forward to taking some time off. “I’m hoping to take advantage of having some time to decompress a little bit, but also figure some stuff out about myself and what I really want to do. I want to run for office someday, but there are a bunch of different ways that I can go to get there,” he said. During his year off he will be applying for graduate school at the University at Albany and the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Sean Koloski '17