SUNY Potsdam alumnus Sean Koloski ’17 hopes to be a politician someday and based on his success at SUNY Potsdam, his aspirations seem to be well within reach. During his senior year, he maintained a very busy schedule balancing his role as president of the Student Government Association (SGA) with all of his undergraduate coursework. He graduated with a double major in politics and international studies with a minor in psychology.
As part of his work with the SGA, during his last semester on campus, he visited the state capitol in Albany with President Kristin Esterberg. “It was a great experience, I learned a lot. As someone who studies politics and wants to be a politician, it was great to go to the state legislative offices, where all those members of the state congress work, and meet them face to face,” he said.
Koloski met with Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, State Sen. Patty Ritchie, State Assemblywoman Addie Jenne and State Sen. David Valesky. “President Esterberg and I made a lot of progress. A lot of people were really listening to the things that we had to say. So, I hope that it’s a positive outcome for the school after this legislative period passes.”
As SGA president, Koloski was the only student representative on the faculty senate and he is also the only student representative on the college council. “My role primarily is to be the liaison between students and faculty, staff and administration...I just try to make sure students understand their rights, have the right information and make sure their voices are being heard on campus,” he said.
His work with the SGA fit perfectly with his career aspirations. As part of his role, he met with faculty, staff and administration on behalf of the student body. “It’s hard to represent roughly 4,000 students as one person, especially on such a diverse campus, but I did my best. I tried to meet with students and I always tried to listen and be readily available,” he said.
Koloski considers SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Politics one of the most challenging on campus. “I can’t sing the praises of my department enough. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with some great professors.” He said.
One of the highlights during his time at SUNY Potsdam was a month-long study abroad program in Croatia through the politics department. SUNY Potsdam professor Michael Popovic takes a group of students to Croatia every year to examine the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia, also the title of the class. “It was an intensive course, but I’m a firm believer that there’s no better way to learn about a country, especially one that’s experienced conflict, than going there and getting to talk to the people,” Koloski said.
As part of the class, students learned about the civil war in Yugoslavia and in addition to numerous field trips, students read between 25-50 pages a night and wrote a two to three-page response. It was a great opportunity for Koloski who had never been out of the country before. “I had to get my passport because I had never even been to Canada, I still haven’t been to Canada.”
He described flying across the Atlantic Ocean on a 16 to 18-hour flight to Denmark and then hopping aboard a flight for Croatia. “That was just an awesome experience for me,” he said.
Since graduating, he's taking some time off to relax and figure out his future plans, as well as applying for graduate school at the University at Albany and the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. “I’m hoping to take advantage of having some time to decompress a little bit, but also figure some stuff out about myself and what I really want to do. I want to run for office someday, but there are a bunch of different ways that I can go to get there,” he said.