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SUNY Potsdam Alumni Headline Career Panel, Mentoring Sessions on Feb. 11

February 5, 2021

Virtual Panel, Other SUNY Potsdam Events Highlight Themes of Diversity During Black History Month 

SUNY Potsdam alumni are stepping up to mentor the next generation, offering field-tested insight on how to effectively navigate the workforce, break glass ceilings and thrive in the workplace. They’ll lead a virtual alumni panel titled “Industry Insight and Career Advice,” on Feb. 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The public is also invited to attend the free event. 

The discussions and breakout mentoring sessions will help SUNY Potsdam students draw from the perspectives of those who have built success using the College as their foundation. They’ll hear about the bumps, reality checks and inspiring and unexpected turns, and tips for navigating the way to rewarding work in higher education, social work, health communications, investment management and much more. The mentoring sessions—where participants are assigned to virtual breakout rooms from 7 to 7:30 p.m.are geared mainly to SUNY Potsdam students. Early registration is strongly encouraged through the following registration link. 

Panelists represent SUNY Potsdam’s diverse alumni, including Dr. Tesfa Alexander ’02, director of the Division of Research and Evaluation, Health Communication, of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a member of the SUNY Potsdam Foundation Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2020. Panelist Evril Clayton Jr. ’05 is the deputy director of global equity for the New York State Common Retirement Fund. Also set to share transformative learning experiences is Shelitha Williams ’99, vice president of student and enrollment services and chief diversity officer at Genesee Community College. 

panel of speakers
From left, Alexander '02, Williams '99, and Clayton Jr. '05.

In my career, it has sometimes been necessary to be courageous and to take actions despite fear,” Williams said. I have held several inaugural positions without a reference for how to achieve a goal; however, I have always committed to exceeding what may have been expected. I have a responsibility to keep going because there are people watching me now and I know there are many who will come after me. I hope to be an example for the panel attendees of what is possible despite perceived limitations in race, gender, status, or other familial roles.” 

The event is part of the Diversity and Careers Series, sponsored by SUNY Potsdam Career Services and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as SUNY Potsdam's Diversity and Inclusion Action Coalition (DIAC). It is just one of many virtual SUNY Potsdam events celebrating Black History Month. The public is also invited to plunge into history with The Underground Railroad in the Lake Champlain Region,” presented by Jackie Madison, president of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, from 6 to 7 p.m. The presentation will delve into on the arrival of slavery in the region, abolitionists at work, as well as those seeking freedom coming through the North Country. Participants can register here and will be sent a Zoom link prior to the event. 

Events for SUNY Potsdam students include “The Power of Activism: A Review on the Impact of Black Student Activism on Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 7 to 8 p.m.The event focuses on inequities that Black students encounter in higher education, the benefits of collective action and the impact of student activism on Black students and the college experience. Latesha Fussell ’14 and Tiana Pena Colon will headline the presentation. 

Two other presentations are offered in collaboration with The Writer’s Block. “From the Classroom to the Boardroom: Being a Professional and Black,” will feature Kevin Agyakwa ’16, a communications professional from the South Bronx, who will share key insights from the field of strategic communications on Thursday, Feb. 18 from 7 to 8 p.m. In a dialogue with Associate Professor of English and Communication Dr. John Youngblood, Agyakwa will focus on ways young professional can navigate their own development before and after graduation. And, on Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., students who rap, sing or write poetry will have an opportunity to share their creativity during the Breathing in Blackness: Open Mic Artistry” event. Participation is encouraged, but not mandatory to attend the event.   

Students will be able to sign up for these and other Black History Month virtual eventsand learn more about what’s ahead—by visiting the campus Get Involved website. 

About SUNY Potsdam: Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit 

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