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Class of 2019

As another academic year comes to a close, we take a look back at some of our outstanding graduating seniors—their stories of success, the professors who have impacted their lives and the challenges they faced along the way. Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

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Erica Ylitalo ’19

Like all music education students at The Crane School of Music, Erica Ylitalo spent her last semester at SUNY Potsdam as a student teacher in both a middle school and high school in Central New York—leading everything from band rehearsals and band lessons, to music theory classes.

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Jillian Dolder ’17 & ’18

Finding a job after graduation is always the ultimate goal, and for Jillian Dolder, that came to fruition literally two days after Commencement. She received her diploma on a Saturday and found herself standing in front of a group of high school students on Monday morning.

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Isata Tarawally '19

During her last semester at SUNY Potsdam, community health major Isata Tarawally landed an internship with the American Red Cross in New York City. As part of the amazing hands-on experience, she has been traveling all over the city to speak with children about disaster preparedness. The opportunity led to a job with the American Red Cross after graduation—a position that will allow her to continue her philanthropic work as part of an Americorps program.

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John Alleyne '14

SUNY Potsdam alumnus John Alleyne ’14 has found great success since graduating with a BFA in studio art five years ago. He went on to work at the Museum of Modern Art, received his master’s degree from Louisiana State University and now works as an artist and adjunct professor at three universities in and around Baton Rouge.

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Zerrouk Bessa ’20

Adjusting to a new country and culture is always challenging, but Zerrouk Bessa ’20, who worked as a financial auditor in Algeria for more than a decade, found the support and guidance that he needed in SUNY Potsdam’s management program—one of the newest academic offerings on campus.  

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Dr. Faris Khan

Assistant Professor Dr. Faris Khan has spearheaded a number of projects at SUNY Potsdam since he started teaching here in the fall of 2017. Last semester he launched a new digital anthropology studio, started a digital anthropology internship and he created the inaugural anthropology film festival. His implementation of digital technologies, in and out of the classroom, is driven by an effort to make anthropology more accessible to the public.

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Dr. Lily Li

Now in her sixth year of teaching at SUNY Potsdam, Dr. Linghong (Lily) Li is leading an initiative to create a new Nanoscience major and minor program at SUNY Potsdam. If approved, the new nanoscience program will be offered through the Interdisciplinary Studies Department, of which Li is a founding member. Li hopes to draw more international students to SUNY Potsdam with the new program—which will be the first of its kind in the North Country.

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Anaya Phoenix ’19

Anaya Phoenix ’19 was very introverted and reserved as a high school student. When she came to SUNY Potsdam she started to come out of her shell and get involved in a variety of clubs and organizations on campus. She became the president of the Black Student Alliance (BSA) and then found another leadership role as the vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA).

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Kate Grisi '16

Alumna Kate Grisi ’16, a Geospatial Analyst for the Department of Defense, has climbed the ladder of success very quickly since graduating with a B.A. in geology three years ago. After taking just two GIS classes at SUNY Potsdam, she landed an invaluable internship with the DOD, which has since led to a full-time position.

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