RIC Senior Spotlight: State Representative Brandon Potter
State Representative Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) is not only an elected official representing Cranston, but currently attends RIC too. This is Potter’s last semester as a student since he is graduating in the Class of 2022. Reflecting on his RIC experience, Potter enjoyed being a student at the college.
“I really enjoyed my time here. I feel like this school, in particular, gives a lot of opportunity to a student base and a demographic that really benefit from a college education, and get upward social mobility from it,” said Potter.
“And it was interesting to be able to see that up close while being a legislator because then you think about it in two ways. You think about your experience personally as a student and then you think about what it means in the context of public policy.”
Potter added that one of the many things he’ll miss is the great professors he had as a political science major.
Life as a college student has its own challenges. Those challenges can range from time management to getting involved on campus to build up a resume. Then adding life as an elected official creates more obstacles. State Representatives have to attend their committee assignments plus the session days every Tuesday and Thursday until the Summer.
“It’s been challenging time wise. A typical day for me is I’m here in the afternoon and then I’m immediately leaving class, rushing to my car, driving through traffic on Smith Street to get to the Statehouse – and then getting there right when the bell rings to be able to take my attendance. Being able to manage then school work, projects and assignments after – it’s time consuming, but it’s very rewarding,” Potter described as a day in the life as both a legislator and student.
“[And then] being able to study political science also while I’m in politics is convenient because it’s a similar subject matter. I’m appreciative that I had the opportunity to do it too, [especially] coming back to school at a later age.”
There are a lot of RIC alumni that have important roles in Rhode Island government. This includes Mayor of Cranston Ken Hopkins ‘78, Congressman Jim Langevin ‘90, Lt. Governor Sabina Matos ‘01 and many more. Potter ‘22 joins this list of distinguished alumni proving the value of a RIC education not just for themselves, but for the state.
He said, “I’m honored by it. I purposefully chose Rhode Island College. I had left [and] come back a couple of times. Along the way I always knew that I wanted to finish my college education. And I would have had more flexible options going to another school whether it be online or another hybrid program along the line. But I was always predetermined to come back to Rhode Island College because I really appreciate what this institution represents for the state and who it traditionally serves.”
Over 70% of alumni not only stay in Rhode Island but also bring their RIC experience with them. Potter plans to do the same now that he’s graduating. At the state level, he wants to utilize his RIC experience by advocating for the college and making sure the institution gets the support it needs to thrive.
Potter left and came back to RIC a couple of times. His story is inspiring and shows those who have a goal can achieve it and shouldn’t give up. He strongly encourages students that want to come back and finish their college education to return and obtain their degree. Potter further explains that’s just one part of it. There are obstacles that a returning student may face such as having to work and be in school or take care of a family member. He called on his fellow policymakers to favor creating more support systems for returning college students.
“If we recognize the value that people get from an education. Then we should also recognize the policies and the support that we can put into place to help them get across the finish line.”
There are a number of possibilities for Potter after he walks the stage at commencement. He’s going to explore possibly going to law school. As for Potter’s role in politics, he hopes to continue driving state politics in a progressive direction and to turn Cranston into a solidly Democratic city.