Like many alumni before him, SUNY Potsdam was a launch pad to success for Philip Paige, a 2015 SUNY Potsdam graduate from The School of Arts and Sciences. Paige ’15, of Madrid, has quickly launched a dynamic professional career working for the St. Lawrence County government. Just two weeks after graduating from SUNY Potsdam with a bachelor’s degree in politics and history, he entered an accelerated master’s degree program at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. One year later he graduated with his master’s degree in public administration. Shortly thereafter he accepted a position as the assistant county administrator for the St. Lawrence County.
At 23, Paige is the youngest assistant county administrator in New York State. “Essentially my position is budgetary and managerial. I have a leadership position on the budget team for the county and I also help the county administrator manage the day-to-day operations of our departments.” His passion is working with the county budget. “It’s an exciting time for the county. We are borrowing less money and are coming in very much under budget. We stayed under the tax cap.” He was hired by County Administrator Ruth A. Doyle, who reports directly to the 15 elected St. Lawrence County legislators.
During his junior year at SUNY Potsdam, Paige had the opportunity to intern with State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie. From Jan. 2014 – March 2014 he worked for Sen. Ritchie in Albany where he was able to see state government in action. “That was an incredible experience. Not only did you get the office experience, actually working in a legislator’s office, but you had the educational component. You were taking a course on state government, drafting your own bill, preparing to run the chamber and you had to learn parliamentary procedure.”
During his internship, there were 30 students working in Albany and because each person worked with a different senator, each experience was unique. Although some interns just filled envelopes and got the mail, he was much more involved in the process. “She (Ritchie) involved me in every step of the process, in high level meetings. You felt like one of the team from the very beginning.”
One of his most influential experiences while at SUNY Potsdam was with the history department where he started as an intern. He was then hired as a paid lab assistant before becoming a teaching assistant. “In a short period of time, about two years, I got to move up the ranks quite a bit and see that the hard work paid off.” He was able to form closer relationships with his professors through one-on-one conversations that he used as a foundation to teach other history students. He also stepped outside his comfort zone as he honed his public speaking skills while teaching other students.
“I was a politics and history major and even though my master’s degree and career are more indicative of the politics side of the equation, I found that, at least on a research level, the history program prepared me incredibly well for graduate school and now for work.” He said Dr. Geoffrey Clark, a history professor at SUNY Potsdam, is a great story-teller and that his style of teaching helps students retain the material. “Dr. Clark was phenomenal. He was a truly incredible professor.”
He refers to SUNY Potsdam as “a good launching pad” for his graduate work and current position as assistant county administrator. Now just six months into his new career, his experiences at SUNY Potsdam helped form the foundation for a bright future.