Mark Potter
Mark Potter juggles dual majors, Honors Program … and even knives

This week’s Spotlight shines on Mark Potter, an Honors Program accounting major who will complete a second major in information science during a fifth year here in 2011-12.

Mark Potter.Q. What is your hometown?
A.
I live in a very, very small town called St. Regis Falls in Northern New York, on the tip of the Adirondacks.

Q. Why did you choose SUNY Oswego?
A.
Oswego came highly suggested to me by a number of high school teachers who studied here and an uncle who came here. Family and friends who have lived in Oswego all highly suggested the college and the town as a great place to live. I took size into account—Oswego was large enough, but I didn’t want to jump too far in size.

Q. Why stay for a fifth year to combine accounting with information science?
A.
First of all, I didn’t come in from anywhere that had a way to get started on college courses. I don’t know if I’ve ever taken just the (standard) 15 credits. On average, I take 17 a semester, and I’ve had as many as 21. In business, technology is more and more important—it’s a part of everything. Accountants know how to do all the business work, my professors say, but don’t always know the technical side, like data mining.

Q. How did you get involved with the Honors Program?
A.
I was invited when I first came in as a freshman. I met some of the staff, and I liked the focus on discussion-oriented classes. I liked the idea of smaller classes, coming from a small high school. I have even worked in the Honors Program office since the start of the fall semester.

Q. What work do you do in the Honors Program office?
A.
I’ve been a desk assistant here. I file paperwork, answer the phones and do tasks for Dr. (Robert) Moore, the director, and Dr. (Norman) Weiner, the associate director. I also act as a peer adviser for students, giving students advice about what classes to take and in what order, to keep them on track to graduate on time.

Q. What do you feel has been your top achievement at SUNY Oswego?
A.
A thing I’m proudest of is tutoring students in Math 208, business calculus. I started that in my freshman year. To me, there’s no greater achievement than helping out a student, breaking things down for them and seeing the light bulb come on—and then actually seeing them turn around and help someone else.

Q. What do you think about your fellow SUNY Oswego students?
A.
Our students are so diverse and have so many different interests that you just can’t generalize. They never cease to surprise you, there’s such a variety.

Q. What do you plan to do after graduation a year from now?
A.
Here’s an interesting thing—I’m actually looking into getting a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction. It seems like an odd switch, but I do a lot of research in instructional technologies—technologies that help students learn.

Q. What are some of your other interests on campus?
A.
I participate in the Wind Ensemble and the College-Community Orchestra—I play French horn. I’m also part of the Information Science Club on campus. I’m treasurer for all three of those groups. I am a McNair Scholar, and McNair has been wonderful. It’s not only an excellent support group for undergraduate researchers who want to earn their Ph.D.s, but it has supplied me with the ability to do things I would not have been able to do otherwise. Right after spring break, I was able to attend the American Physical Society conference in Dallas. It’s one of the world’s largest physics conferences.

Q. Did you do a presentation at the conference?
A.
Yes, I presented research on instructional technologies, titled “Physics Learning Strategies with Multi-touch Technology.” It’s basically using fingers to touch screens and other objects in a collaborative environment. We have a 60-inch diagonal screen—as many people as can fit around it can participate.

Q. How about hobbies?
A.
I juggle, and I’ve started taking up photography. I’ve juggled rings, clubs and even knives, but not torches. I usually stick to three objects, but I’ve done four and I’m currently working on five, but that’s going to take some time! I actually performed for a circus several times.

(Posted: May 06, 2011)