Saturday, July 20, 2024

Graduate student selflessly serves peers

Walking across the room, standing tall and sturdy, Scott Sheehan is quiet but confident. He has spent his undergraduate and now graduate career focusing on becoming a leader, always willing to lend a helping hand to whoever needs it.

The Malone native graduated in May 2014 with a double major in political science and history with a concentration in teaching preparation. He continued on at Plattsburgh State in the two-year graduate program for student affairs counseling.

Sheehan’s resume and experience speak volumes to his goal of landing a job in higher education one day, but his classes are helping to hone his leadership skills even further. Currently, Sheehan is taking a class, Leadership and Management, with VP of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman.

Sheehan said the class deals with different issues that occur in higher education, how the stu-dents envision their own supervision and leadership style and how their strengths connect to the greater college environment.

As a future leader in higher education, Sheehan has utilized leadership opportunities on the PSUC campus. After serving as a resident assistant in Kent Hall, he worked his way up to Resident Director of Macdonough Hall where he now oversees nine resident assistants and about 280 residents.

“The most important thing I’ve learned in my role as an RD is the continuation of getting to know people and being able to build a connection with my RAs and building a connection with my residents,” Sheehan said.

He said being a resident director and being a student in his master’s program work perfectly together because he can take what he learns in the classroom and apply it directly to different situations he might come across such as identifying crisis and suicidal intervention.

One of Sheehan’s resident assistants, Jessica Bautista, said working with Sheehan is like being on a roller coaster. She said he’s a funny and happy person, and their team has fun together.

“He’s a by-the-rules person. We can joke around, but when it comes to rules and certain things, we have to get it done,” Bautista said.

A former Student Association senator and SA Chief Justice, Sheehan said working with the SA contributed to his progress in his field by helping him learn how to work with people, find his role in groups and figure out how to use his leadership abilities to push a group toward certain goals or direction.

Sheehan tried something different from his typical role and became a founding father of the PSUC chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity, a system he never thought he would be part of. After speaking with members of the national organization about their philanthropy, which used to be Push America but is now the Ability Experience, he was hooked.

“It just spoke to how I felt a fraternity should run, and I knew I would have a major say in how it was going to start, so I decided to take on that opportunity with a few friends and we got chartered,” Sheehan said. “I just really believe in what my organization’s values are.”

Awarded “Fraternity Man of the Year,” Sheehan is now on his chapter’s advisory board, and next fall he will be on SUNY Genesco’s as well. As an adviser, he likes to “have his hand in the pot” to make sure they’re staying on the right track by continuing to live up to their values of what he envisioned for the fraternity.

Sheehan will head to Irve’s Glove West Virginia for his third alternative spring break. This will be his second time as a site leader and his second time in West Virgina working with The Shack Community Center. Sheehan will work with a group of PSUC students in one of the poorest areas in the country, where they’ll assist 3-year-old children to teenagers.

“The Shack provides meals to children, and for some of them it’s the only meal they’ll get,” Sheehan said. “So, it’s important to the community to keep it nice and running.”

He will spend his entire spring break there, playing with the kids, helping with homework and fixing up The Shack.

Outside of his jobs and school, Sheehan stays active by playing on a flag-football team, playing basketball with friends and training for the upcoming Plattsburgh half-marathon. His work and classes take up a lot of time, but he tries to make time for himself.

After graduate school, Sheehan plans on looking for jobs as a professional residence hall director to “get his foot in the door at a college.” He said he will join committees to see what avenue of higher education he’ll pursue, whether it be student conduct, fraternity and sorority life or in housing.

Assistant Director of Residence Life James Sherman has known Scott for over two years and said he’s a team player, an exceptionally hard-worker, timely and organized.

“I’ve seen him grow into a stronger leader, somebody who is exceptional in bringing things together,” Sherman said.

His long-term goal is to become VP of Student Affairs at a college or potentially get his Ph.D and become president of a college.

Sheehan, having never visited the campus, chose PSUC out of three college options. He said he never would have expected to have such a good time here, being only an hour away from home.

“I have definitely had an amazing time here at Plattsburgh,” Sheehan said. “I’ve met amazing people from all over the world and all over the country, and coming from a place like Malone, it’s pretty awesome.”

Sheehan’s original plan was to attend law school or become a history teacher until he found student affairs. Looking back, he said he’d still choose student affairs if he could do it all over again.

“You’re not going to get rich in student affairs, but I think it’s what I’d be happiest doing,” he said.

Sheehan said the biggest struggle of his college career was the passing of student Kody Beckles, Sheehan’s resident in Kent Hall. He said it “hit his floor hard,” and he didn’t attend classes for a week so that he was available for his residents.

That moment solidified his career choice because he knows he wants to be able to help people through situations like that and be able to stay strong for them.

“I want to be the kind of person who people can come to in difficult times and know they’ll be heard and taken care of.”

Email Brittany Shew at

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