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Joshua Sussman, '10

Student Association President Aims High With Speaker Series

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With his own brand of tenacity and chutzpah, University at Albany Student Association (SA) President Joshua Sussman found a way to turn a lofty idea into a program the University has never seen before. The World Within Reach Speaker Series debuts October 10 amid much fanfare with its inaugural speaker: former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It was no small task to pull this series together. It wasn’t until Sussman and his SA colleagues grabbed the attention of University senior administration, re-engineered SA's budget and garnered massive student support that The World Within Reach Speaker Series happened. But now that it has, Sussman is practically giddy – and rightfully so.

"The continual enlightenment of our students is important," said Sussman, a senior from Long Island. "But we also want to help shine a spotlight on the University and build its academic reputation by bringing in positive role models who've accomplished great things. After all is said and done, I know everything that weve put into getting this off the ground will be worth it."

His efforts have included countless hours of meetings, starting last October, when Sussman suggested that the student organization direct its resources toward something new -- a program that would add to the depth of the University's academic and cultural opportunities. He turned his attention to a speaker series, inspired by a similar, successful program at the University of Buffalo. In it, Sussman saw the value of bringing in the most influential voices in politics, science, business, journalism and technology to discuss pertinent current topics in their fields.

Now that he had the idea, it was time to make it happen.

Sussman looked to the University's senior administration for support and turned their heads with his fortitude and initiative in pursuing such an undertaking. He came away with their full backing. Then, after much internal discussion, the SA Senate and Board of Finance approved an allocation of funds for the Speaker Series program. Both were major feats during a time of budget challenges.

Finally, when it came time to discuss potential speakers, Colin Powell rose to the top of the list.

"People see him as a leader who is respected around the world. He has a great life story," said Sussman. "I think he will inspire students, and hopefully help them see their own potential."

Sussman, himself, knows a bit about what it takes to be a leader. When he’s not at home studying for political science classes or the LSATs, he's likely in his SA office in the Campus Center, where he easily spends 50 hours a week planning and budgeting. It was through that same fervent dedication that he was able to create The World Within Reach Speaker Series and bring it to fruition.

Kelly Virkler, '09, Department of Chemistry
UAlbany Students

In three and a half years at UAlbany, Kelly Virkler leaves with a Ph.D. and international attention for groundbreaking work related to crime scene forensic evidence.

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