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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

Alumni & Friends

The SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association is proud to welcome new members into the alumni family each year as our students officially become graduates. We love connecting with our alumni and friends—whether through social media, virtual events or (hopefully someday soon) in-person gatherings across the country. Our shared experiences at SUNY Potsdam keep our community strong, no matter the distance.

Check out the links below for opportunities to connect with the SUNY Potsdam family, and contact the Office of Alumni Relations with any questions.

View Active Alumni by State

We Loved Celebrating the Potsdam Family During Reunion 2021!

Over 700 alumni and friends participated in Virtual Reunion Week 2021 from July 6-11. Visit the Reunion website to continue the fun and mark your calendars for Reunion 2022! As we prepare for future Reunions, we consider your feedback, so please complete the Reunion 2021 feedback survey.

Refer-a-Student Program

You can help the Potsdam family grow by sharing your love for the College with a prospective student. The Admissions Office will connect with the student, and you can receive a Potsdam Proud Package, including resources for students you know and a gift for you. Complete the online form today!

Stay connected with alumni and friends all year long!

Social media allows us to share nostalgic memories, exciting news and relevant stories with our growing network of alumni and friends. Follow our public pages on Facebook and Instagram, or request to join our private alumni groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Crane School of Music Livestream

Don’t miss a performance by any of our talented students, faculty members or guest artists! Many Crane School of Music concerts and recitals are streamed live on YouTube and Facebook.


View Livestream Schedule

Alumni Update Form

Have you recently moved to a new city, married the love of your life or celebrated a career milestone? We want to know! Complete our online Alumni Update Form to ensure we have your most up-to-date contact information or to submit an exciting life update to be considered for the next issue of Potsdam People.

Chords of Success

Wheeling a large Lyon & Healy harp through the halls of SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music is nothing new for Shannon Boyle ’20 & ’22. For more than a decade she has been mastering the harp at Crane, 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 at the College, all while teaching art full time in the North Country.

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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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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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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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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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The Good Fight

A sense of service defines the work of  Pamela Charleson ’06 & ’08, who has found ways to turn the challenges of her own experiences into gifts and important lessons for others.

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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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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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Taking the World by Storm

From an immersive experience in SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Modern Languages, alumna Meghan Sullivan ’11 launched an impressive career with the United Nations World Food Programme in Haiti—humanitarian work focused on food insecurity in the Caribbean nation, where around 3.7 million people are in desperate need of assistance.

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A Creative Journey to Tinseltown

From Potsdam to Hollywood, Keisuke Hoashi ’89 has continued to push the creative envelope his entire life. The SUNY Potsdam alumnus has carved out an impressive career in acting—starting on stage during a live performance at SUNY Potsdam—he has gone on to appear in more than 85 TV shows and movies, 80 national TV commercials, and 150 live theatrical productions, everything from "Mad Men," and "Bob’s Burgers" to national TV commercials for TD Ameritrade and Citibank.

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Taking the Pulse of the World

Isaac Griffith ’15 & ’16 developed an interest in global learning and social justice on an international level during an undergraduate trip to Cambodia in 2014, part of a SUNY Potsdam travel abroad class examining the origins and impacts of human trafficking. Since then, he has earned two master’s degrees, and has led and coordinated travel experiences in Dubai, one of the world’s emerging cities.

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Working Hard for Others

A magna cum laude graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and a minor in women’s and gender studies, Serena Rockingster ’19 sees herself as a professor and clinical psychologist far down the road of her future. Rockingster could have gone many places for her advanced degree, but she stuck close to the North Country in hopes of setting up a counseling practice that will help bring healing to Vermont’s underrepresented populations.

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In Her Own Words

Natasha Brooks ’15 & ’17 has discovered just one of many ways to see the world after graduating from SUNY Potsdam. An aerospace medical services technician, Brooks has parlayed her college experience into a desirable job serving her country while immersing herself in global culture.

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Under Healing Sky

Mike Yuhnke ’12 found his compass and fresh inspiration when he transferred to SUNY Potsdam and became immersed in wilderness education. Following graduation, his adventures took him on soul journeys to the world’s forgotten corners and high peaks. These days, Yuhnke helps at-risk youth find their own pathways to healing.

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Bearing Witness

Doctors face challenges like never before in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. One of SUNY Potsdam's own, Dr.Stuart Etengoff ’82, gave us a report from the field.

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Taking the Lead

When Adam Smith ’15 entered SUNY Potsdam his freshman year, he never imagined he would be backpacking throughout the Adirondacks or scaling walls of ice and rock. Through the wilderness education program he gained leadership skills that set the stage for a successful career in outdoor education. Now he’s come full circle, back at SUNY Potsdam as an instructor in the same program where he was once a student.

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High Fashion Mask-erade

The accomplished fashion designer and savvy entrepreneur Saad Hajidin ’88 has turned his company InPhorm into an ally in the fight against COVID-19—shifting his focus from manufacturing women’s activewear to producing protective face masks. The SUNY Potsdam alumnus has been working with his factory in Thailand to manufacture protective face masks that are fashionable and eco-forward, while also meeting guidelines set forth by the FDA.

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An Afternoon with Jacob Collier

Grammy award-winning musician Jacob Collier met with students from The Crane School of Music on Wednesday, May 13 during a private Zoom call. The English singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist talked with students for over an hour about the intricate beauty of music and the creative power of ideas.

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Generations of Success

On a blustery winter day in New York City, two successful women (Christine Haile ’74 and Kadiatou Balde '19) pose for a photo in front of the Hudson River. On the surface, they may not seem to have much in common. One is a retired Chief Information Officer with over 38 years of experience in higher education. The other is a young scholar and entrepreneur who graduated from college less than a year ago. The pair’s connection stems from SUNY Potsdam, their shared alma mater.

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Lisa ’81 and Dan Shields ’80

“Our time at Potsdam was definitely a highlight of both of our lives,” Lisa shares. “We wouldn’t have met – and maybe re-met– without it. It was an important experience and foundation for both of us in all kinds of ways.” Learn More

The Destruction Guy

Exquisite truths lie buried in history's destructive events — if you just know how to look. Read about SUNY Potsdam graduate Jesse Millek '12 and his work to bring new clarity to the disasters of antiquity.

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Rising Out of Darkness

As a wounded service member returning from Iraq, alumnus James Wilkes ’01, ’06 & ’10 re-entered civilian life with a battery of injuries, including significant memory loss. For the past 15 years, he has been continuing to climb out of that darkness left behind in war. After receiving degrees in biology, business administration, and instructional technology and media from SUNY Potsdam, he went on to an impressive career at IBM. In his spare time, he tackles the most daunting endurance races on the planet—including recently completing the Quintuple Anvil Triathlon, with 703 miles of biking, running and swimming.