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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

Find your calling. Find yourself.

An uncommon college experience in Northern New York.

400
Annual Arts Performances
11:1
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
134
Academic Programs

Immerse yourself in a campus culture that's as eclectic as you are.

The Stars Aligning

Jaylen Kawenninon Francis-Herne ’23, who is pursuing a degree in community health with a minor in human services, first enrolled at SUNY Potsdam in 2012. Fresh out of high school, she wasn’t prepared for the road ahead, and withdrew during her first year. Eight years later, she has returned to the College—this time with an unwavering determination and focus driven by the responsibilities of motherhood and a commitment to serve the Mohawk people within her community.

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A Calling to Give Back

Jason Sanchez ’23 was raised by strong women. His mother, who has held jobs as an EMT and teacher, and his grandmother, who spent her career working in law enforcement, both have had a significant impact on his academic path at SUNY Potsdam within the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.

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A Philosophical Mind for Animals

After graduating summa cum laude with a double major in music and philosophy, Kate-Nicole Hoffman ’17 has continued to excel academically. First receiving her master’s degree from York University, she’s now pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and conducting research on animal cognition—a natural extension of a Presidential Scholars research project that she completed years earlier as an undergraduate student at SUNY Potsdam.

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Hands On, All In

From forensic anthropology students working with Kathryn Allen at a mock recovery scene on campus, to students in Amy Swartele’s mural class creating large-scale outdoor paintings, hands-on learning is back in full force. Join us for a look back at images highlighting applied learning experiences at the College during the Fall 2021 Semester.

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Arts Management in the Real World

Business savvy students pursuing a degree in arts management are gaining valuable hands-on experience this semester at organizations around the North Country—impactful capstone internships that allow them to take what they’ve learned in the classroom out into the real world. Led by Arts Management Coordinator Joshua Vink, students are completing internships at organizations like the St. Lawrence Arts Council, Brick & Mortar Music and the Community Performance Box Office.

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Applied Learning, Close to Home

Graduating at the top of her class in high school, Anah Bogdan ’24 was looking for a college experience close to home where she could pursue her passion for mathematics. Now a sophomore, she has made the President’s List the past two semesters, and has added a second major in geology. She was recently asked to join a research team to examine rock formations in Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains National Park with Dr. Page Quinton and Dr. Mike Rygel. Leading up to that trip, Bogdan will be working as a field assistant in Montana to measure and describe 300 million-year-old rocks, valuable field that she will inform her research project in Texas.

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Finding Peace in Potsdam

Born and raised in New York City, Laneise Goggans ’15 & ’22 found a new home when she enrolled at SUNY Potsdam. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she returned to the city and immediately launched a career as a dance teacher at a charter school in Brooklyn. Now she’s back in Potsdam, pursuing a master’s degree in education while raising her twin boys, in a community that has always felt like home.

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Whitewater Rafting in the Adirondacks

A group of adventurous students recently spent the day whitewater rafting along a 15-mile stretch of the Indian and Hudson Rivers—a beautiful patch of wilderness in the heart of the Adirondacks. As part of the new Live Now program at SUNY Potsdam, the trip is one of many being offered this year, bringing together diverse groups of students to explore Northern N.Y., and the Adirondack Mountains. Join us for a look back at their unique hands-on experience.

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Foundations for Success

With aspirations to work in the field of health care administration when she graduates, Nikki Ramirez ’21 & ’23, a double major in psychology and business administration, has been a leader on campus this year as an official contact tracer for the College. Back home in California, she gained additional applied learning experiences as a volunteer for CORE, an organization that offers free COVID testing and vaccination clinics for underserved communities in Los Angeles. After she graduates in December, Ramirez will be pursuing her master’s degree in management at SUNY Potsdam, while working as a graduate assistant for the men’s volleyball team.

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An Unwavering Trajectory

After devising an ambitious plan to complete her undergraduate degree in just three years, Cashlynn (Jaggers) Colbert ’19 & ’21 immediately landed a job as an art teacher at Salmon River Central School. Now she is back at SUNY Potsdam, wrapping up an educational technology specialist master’s degree program, all while balancing her responsibilities as a full time teacher.

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What started in 2017 as a GIS mapping project for Dr. Jessica Rogers and her environmental studies students to locate purple loosestrife throughout the North Country, has expanded to include a solution for eliminating the invasive plants by inserting beetles into the equation. In May, two of her students joined forces to dig up purple loosestrife plants in local wetlands, collected beetles, and combined them in the artificial wetland (beetle hatchery) behind the WISER Greenhouse to grow the next batch of insects in the fight against the purple loosestrife.

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Chords of Success

For more than a decade Shannon Boyle ’20 & ’22 has been mastering the harp at The Crane School of Music, first in middle school and high school through the National String Project, then as an undergraduate student, and now while pursuing her master’s degree in music performance. Through an outpouring of scholarships, she will be graduating in May without any debt as she looks ahead to the future as a musician and educator.

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A New Lease on Life

Leaving behind a decade-long career as a paramedic, Laura Schappert ’08 & ’22 returned to SUNY Potsdam for a fresh start. She’s now pursuing a degree in biology, and gaining hands-on experience as a beekeeper, researcher, and caretaker for a lively cohort of amphibians within the walls of Stowell Hall. 

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Making an Impact in Africa

Balancing his education at SUNY Potsdam with his commitment to the U.S. Army Reserves, Joseph Bovee ’23 is in the midst of a nine-month-long deployment to Niger, Africa. He’s been busy fostering relationships with local communities in the region, using humanitarianism as a tool to thwart terrorism throughout the country. He will be back on campus in the spring of 2022 to continue working on his degree in exercise science, with the goal of one day opening his own gym and continuing his career in the military.

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Slingshot to Success

Just four years removed from The Crane School of Music, Jordan Olinsky ’17 is already making a name for himself in the music business industry. After graduating from SUNY Potsdam in 2017, Olinsky immediately landed a job as the northwest division manager for Buffet-Crampon, a music company that has been manufacturing wind instruments for close to 200 years. In 2019 he received a promotion and moved to Houston, Texas, where he oversees an even larger market as the southwest division manager for the company.

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Choosing Potsdam

From the beaches of Long Island to the mountains of Northern New York, Grace Conway ’24 jumped at the opportunity for a change in scenery when she graduated from high school. Now she’s pursuing a degree in environmental studies at SUNY Potsdam, and after just one year at the College, she's already receiving grant funding to assist Dr. Glenn Johnson with his ongoing efforts to protect threatened Blanding’s turtles in Northern New York.

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Seeds of Change

In an ever-changing world, SUNY Potsdam is at the forefront of adapting with the times, and developing relevant academic offerings for students. During the Spring 2021 semester, Dr. Christa Haifley offered a Cannabusiness class for the first time—one of three new courses that will form the backbone of a Cannabis Studies minor currently being developed at the College.

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Love and Music

As an alumnus of SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, Drew Coles ’12, has come full circle, and is now leading Crane’s music business program as an assistant professor and program director. Leaning on the experience he’s acquired as a musician and entrepreneur through the Metropolitan Players—a highly successful wedding band business he launched with his wife Erin Coles ’12—he is sharing his real-world experiences with his students, and preparing them for successful music business careers.

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Answering the Call

COVID-19 has presented challenges that we never could have imagined. Social distancing, wearing masks, and weekly pooled saliva testing have become as familiar to the campus community as late-night visits to the library. This semester, nine SUNY Potsdam students have embraced the challenge, and are giving back to the campus community as part of a new internship to meet the demands of the global pandemic—answering the call as newly appointed contract tracers for the College.

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Finding her Layer at SUNY Potsdam

Using cutting-edge technology in SUNY Potsdam’s geology labs, Rachael Savoie ’21 has been analyzing the rich shale and limestone from the Joggins Formation in Novia Scotia—digging back 300 million years in search of answers.

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The Path of Persistence

As both a full-time student and a full-time employee at SUNY Potsdam, Angella St. Denis ’21 has learned to make the most of every moment, spending her days studying and her nights working on campus—all in pursuit of her dreams.

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From Zeppelin to Mozart

Introduced to music on his father’s electric guitar, Alex Mariano ’21 played the songs of Led Zeppelin and Van Halen throughout his youth. Now he’s pursuing a music performance degree at The Crane School of Music where he’s been mastering the classical guitar under the guidance of Dr. Douglas Rubio.

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Raising the Bar

As a preamble for her education and career, Sara Behuniak ’14 found herself playing the role of a lead defense attorney in high school. A reading of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” set the stage for a mock courtroom trial as Behuniak and her classmates brought the pages of Capote’s non-fiction masterpiece to life—and in doing so, she found her true calling.

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A Guiding Light for Diversity Initiatives

Since he started at SUNY Potsdam in the fall of 2019, Clifton Harcum has been supporting diversity initiatives on campus, and creating unique opportunities for students to get out of their comfort zone and have an engaging college experience. Last spring, he launched an alternative spring break program for students of color, providing them with a fully funded week-long journey throughout the Adirondack region.

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Seeing the Future Through the Past

Marla Jacobs ’20 drew strength from her Mohawk heritage to overcome daunting challenges and finish an archaeology degree with three minors. Hard at work on a new display for The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, she continues to help build our knowledge of Indigenous peoples and their role in the ancient Adirondack landscapes.

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Between Mummies and Motherhood

Powered by a SUNY PRODiG Fellowship, a passion for anthropology and a wealth of lived experience, Kathryn Allen is inspiring other women to pursue their interest in the STEM fields.

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The Curious Cases of Nasser Malit

Dr. Nasser Malit has volunteered his time with the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Unit since 2011. In the role of a forensic anthropologist, he narrows and focuses the almost endless possibilities surrounding a skeleton or a shard of calcium. Malit’s early research prepared him for this work, taking him deep into the Great Rift Valley in Kenya where he excavated a 7,000-year-old human skeleton in partnership with the famed paleoanthropologists in the Leakey family. His forensic anthropology students now benefit from his vast knowledge while examining bones in his lab.

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