Kaitlyn Beachner ’08

BeachnerZimpher Assistant Director of Strategic Planning for SUNY System

In 2011, Kaitlyn Beachner ’08 (pictured right with Chancellor Nancy Zimpher) was elected the President of the SUNY Student Assembly, which represents the system’s 465,000 students. She was nominated by a friend from her alma mater, former SUNY Potsdam Student Government Association President Sam McAfree ’12.

Beachner has parléed that position into a full time job with SUNY working on the Chancellor’s strategic goals related to Systemness.

A native of Webster, N.Y., she first found out about SUNY Potsdam when her high school guidance counselor handed her a guidebook. Excited, she told her father, Scott about the suggestion when he got home. “Dad laughed and said, ‘I went to Potsdam!’” Kaitlyn said. Turns out, he had attended in 1976-77 and transferred closer to home, but thought his daughter would also fit in at the College.

Her visit to SUNY Potsdam sealed the deal. “It was just meant to be. I knew it the first time I walked on campus—I fell in love,” she said. Kaitlyn became involved on campus, serving as a Resident Assistant in the Bowman West and Knowles residence halls. Eventually, a fellow RA suggested she run for SGA Executive Board on a lark, and to her surprise, Kaitlyn won.

“It was an extremely exciting time for me. There are so many things that happen behind the scenes at the College that students don’t even know exist unless they seek them out,” she said.

After graduating with two bachelor’s degrees, one in history and the other in anthropology, Kaitlyn went on to work in national sales for Paychex Inc. in Rochester. She was promoted after a year to working in the national corporation’s unemployment department, which advised companies on filling out claims. Pretty soon, she was ready for a new challenge.

“I like having a desk, but I don’t want to be glued to it,” Kaitlyn said. “I kept wanting to do my little sister’s homework for her—that was my sign that it was time to go back to school.”

As she wrote a letter of intent to apply for graduate programs in higher education administration, Kaitlyn found herself crying as she recounted her leadership experiences at SUNY Potsdam.

“The people at Potsdam have influenced everything I’m doing with my life. They taught me to want to be a better person and to seek out knowledge, not just wait for it to fall into my lap,” she said.

Kaitlyn was accepted into the graduate program at Buffalo State College, where she is seeking her master’s degree in higher education student affairs administration. Based on her extensive experience from having served as SGA President at SUNY Potsdam, she also earned a graduate assistant position in Buffalo State’s Student Life Office to help her afford her degree.