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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.

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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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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A New Beginning

We're so thrilled to welcome our first-year students to campus as we begin an exciting Fall 2021 Semester! Join us for a look back at some of our favorite moments from Move-In Day, the First-Year Funnel, Playfair, late-night entertainment at the Center For Diversity, Welcome Weekend activities, and the first day of classes.

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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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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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Hammering Out the Past

From analyzing rocks within the walls of the geology lab, to visiting rocky outcrops around Northern New York, Megan Heins '20 gained valuable skills as an undergraduate student at SUNY Potsdam. Now she's completing a master's degree, with plans to get a Ph.D. in the field of micropaleontology.

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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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Skating into a New Age

Guided by the enduring passion of her mother, Breanna Cardinal ’22 latched onto figure skating at a very young age. Now she’s working side-by-side with her mother as she coaches young figure skaters in northern New York, while pursuing her degree in business administration at SUNY Potsdam. As she enters her senior year, Cardinal will be looking for ways to intersect her passion for figure skating with her marketing and social media management skills—hoping to one day run the social media platforms for a major sports organization.

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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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On the Front Lines

A community health major with graduate school on the horizon, Monica Montero ’21 just wrapped up her senior year with an internship like no other—working for the American Red Cross to assist asylum seekers in Texas. After completing the necessary online trainings and certifications this spring, Montero was deployed to Midland, Texas, to support undocumented teenage boys seeking refuge in the United States.

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The Perfect Balancing Act

Pursuing a degree at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music is a daunting task in and of itself, but Natalia Buitrago ’21 went the extra mile, recently graduating with a double major in music performance and music business. Over the past four years she has not only continued to refine her abilities as a musician, but she learned valuable entrepreneurial and communication skills.

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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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Persevering Through the Pandemic

As we wrap up the Spring 2021 semester wraps up, we take a look back at the moments that showcase our strength, unity and perseverance during the global pandemic.

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Putting Things in Perspective

During the pandemic, one thing has become perfectly clear to SUNY Potsdam alumna Latesha Fussell ’11, ’12 & ’14—family is what matters most. As a single mother balancing a full-time job, while also pursuing a doctoral degree in education, she needed to make a change. Fussell recently accepted an impressive new position at Cornell University as the director for diversity and inclusion, and in the process, moved closer to her family where she found a support system that she desperately needed.

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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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Discovering Her Path

A passion for the arts took root at an early age for Marie Amell ’21, who is now wrapping up her senior year at SUNY Potsdam, and completing an animated film for her Presidential Scholar’s project—all while preparing for a career as an artist.

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Staying Fit During the Pandemic

Adaptation—the pandemic forced it and we can see it all around us. Right in step with the spirit of innovation are Tanya Hewitt and her exercise science students, who have found some unique ways to stay fit while gyms have been closed.

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Finding Her Voice

Once an introverted first-year student at SUNY Potsdam, Kiara Espinal ’21 has continued to develop skills as a public speaker and artist, on a path of discovery to find her voice and become a leader among her peers.

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Rising Leader in Health Education

A native of Canton, N.Y., with five generations of family history rooted in the North Country, Meghan Conklin ’21 wanted to stay close to home after graduating from high school—and SUNY Potsdam proved to be just the right fit. Now she is completing her degree in community health, wrapping up hands-on internships, and working as a youth ambassador for International Adolescent Health Week.

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The Good Fight

A sense of service defines the work of Pamela Charleson, who has found ways to turn the challenges of her own experiences into gifts and important lessons for others.

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Serendipity and Divine Providence

Dr. Lonel Woods has had an illustrious career as opera singer, Broadway actor, and music educator—the latter of which has been his greatest passion, with 12 years of experience as a dedicated professor of voice at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. He was recently selected as the interim dean of The Crane School of Music, a new role that he is embracing with open arms and a fresh perspective.

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Rising on the Wings of Dance

Zoe Walders '16 has refused to let a pandemic quash her creative spark. Dedicated to the art of dance, she brings her talents full circle in a new filmed dance-theatre production presented by her alma mater.

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Harnessing the Power of Justice

As the nation responded to incidents of racial violence and injustice last year, Dr. Peter McCoy was compelled to make his advocacy more tangible by establishing the Racial Justice and Equity Scholarship at SUNY Potsdam—supporting students who are committed to advancing the cause of racial justice and equity on campus. In McCoy’s estimation, “Now is the perfect time to harness the power and the interest and the energy that we are all feeling to make a difference.”

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Landscape of Discovery

As he mastered sculpting, painting and graphic design in SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Art, Evan Blondell ’06 had no way of knowing that he was planting the seeds for a fruitful career as a landscape architect. Armed with an artistic eye, and years of training, Blondell now works in major urban centers to transform the landscape into breathtaking parks that intertwine modern design with nature.

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New Ways to Think About Success

Dr. Tasia White ’12 has a newly minted Ed.D. and passion for transforming how people view their own professional success. She wants them to be fulfilled by their work, and that part is trickier than some think. As national interest turns to the need for greater support of diversity in the workplace, White is in a position to offer the perspective of both a woman of color and a person who made the study of such diversity—and the barriers to it—the subject of her dissertation.

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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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SUNY Potsdam’s TikTok Sensation

A refuge from the grief of COVID-19 became a way to connect with millions of viewers for alumnus Daniel Mertzlufft '15. His viral TikTok videos struck a chord with many, including the Late Late Show’s James Corden, who recently hosted him on the show and featured Mertzlufft’s latest hit, “The Thanksgiving Musical,” a tension-relieving romp through collective pandemic realities, holiday foibles, and even post-election drama.

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Building Stronger Students

The mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are only just beginning to be documented, but SUNY Potsdam alumna Jennifer Hutchins is out ahead of the curve. Through a new program to build mindfulness practices in North Country schools, Hutchins is giving students tools to work through their pain and confusion—on their own terms.

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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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Lost and Found in the Adirondack Mountains

A university's classroom isn't always what you think. In the SUNY Potsdam Wilderness Education Leadership program, students build inner strength and outer savvy in the deep woods of the Adirondacks.

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@sunypotsdam

Ives Park was infused with energy today as Cynthia DuFault's Modern Dance students were rehearsing for "Rumba on the River." They will be performing alongside @thecranelatinensemble tomorrow night (Saturday, Sept. 18) at 6 p.m. at Ives Park in downtown Potsdam! Join us for the free outdoor latin jazz concert and dance party! 💃🎺 #MakeItCrane #PeopleOfPotsdam #PotsdamProud #SUNYPotsdam

Ives Park was infused with energy today as Cynthia DuFault's Modern Dance students were rehearsing for "Rumba on the River." They will be performing alongside @thecranelatinensemble tomorrow night (Saturday, Sept. 18) at 6 p.m. at Ives Park in downtown Potsdam! Join us for the free outdoor latin jazz concert and dance party! 💃🎺 #MakeItCrane #PeopleOfPotsdam #PotsdamProud #SUNYPotsdam

We love seeing our classrooms, labs, and outdoor learning spaces full of life! From geology classes in Timerman Hall to chemistry Iabs in Stowell, it’s been a great start to the fall semester!💡💻⛏🔬#SUNYPotsdam #PeopleOfPotsdam #PotsdamProud
We are honored to once again be ranked in the top tier of Northern Regional Universities by U.S. News and World Report this year! We also ranked highly among the best colleges for veterans, best value schools, top performers on social mobility, and top public universities. #PotsdamProud #SUNYPotsdam
It’s our favorite time of year in Potsdam! ☀️ Just ask Chelsea Wright ‘25, a first-year student majoring in environmental studies, who was outside enjoying the warm weather this afternoon while working in the Academic Quad. #PeopleOfPotsdam #SUNYPotsdam
Twenty years has gone by, and still our hearts are no less broken as we reflect on all who were lost on September 11, 2001, including two members of the Class of 1977 -- Billy Burke '77 and Kenneth Cubas '77. Both were beloved by their families, friends and classmates. Both made the choice to run into the Twin Towers engulfed in flames, to try to save others.

FDNY Captain Billy Burke '77 gave his life heroically on 9/11, ordering his firefighters out of the collapsing north tower of the World Trade Center while he stayed behind, refusing to leave two stranded office workers who were stuck on the 27th floor.

Ken Cubas '77 was a vice president at Fiduciary Trust, not a first responder. Still, he helped his coworkers evacuate the World Trade Center -- and then ran back inside to help more, despite their pleas to wait with them.

Our thoughts are with Billy and Ken's families, and all of the loved ones of the 2,977 people whose lives were so tragically cut short, 20 years ago today.

🇺🇸 #SUNYPotsdam #NeverForget
We're so excited to have our students working outside again on a variety of hands-on projects!

This week, Dr. Walt Conley's biology students were busy collecting samples from the Raquette River in Lehman Park, and Dr. Timothy Messner's students were hustling around campus collecting apples for their crafting hard cider course. ☀️#PeopleOfPotsdam #SUNYPotsdam
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 at the College, all while teaching art full time in the North Country. 🧑‍🎨🎨#PeopleOfPotsdam #PotsdamProud #SUNYPotsdam
We are thrilled to finally have live performances on stage again @thecraneschool! Our faculty members took the stage last night at Hosmer Hall during the faculty gala, our beloved tradition that marks the beginning of the concert season. We hope to see you at one of the many concerts scheduled this year! 🎶 #MakeItCrane #SUNYPotsdam #PotsdamProud
It's a beautiful day out there! ☀️😎 #SUNYPotsdam #PotsdamProud
We’re so excited to see students back on campus and enjoying the Center for Diversity! Open Monday- Friday from 8 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. in Sisson Hall, the CFD assists all students, with an emphasis placed on students of color and diverse backgrounds, in their educational and personal transition and development at SUNY Potsdam. 

Many impressive updates have been made at the CFD. From a food pantry, conference room, and mindfulness room, to a recreation room with fooseball, air hockey, and a pool table, there’s something for everyone. The CFD also has a large computer lab where students can print for free. Stop by to check it out! #PeopleOfPotsdam #PotsdamProud #SUNYPotsdam

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