Bringing inclusion to the North Country, a SUNY Potsdam Professor speaks to his experiences

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POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — A professor, a mentor and a leader for inclusion in the North Country.

SUNY Potsdam Assistant Professor Dr. Christopher Torres has been a voice of inclusion and change both in and out of the classroom.

Doctor Torres has a background in public health and was brought to SUNY Potsdam five years ago to establish the exercise science program. He currently teaches within the Department of Public Health and Human Performance, leading classes in epidemiology and labs in human performance.

His work started in the hospitality industry, working as hotel assistants, within dining operations and even playing characters at Disney World such as Tigger and Goofy.

Following an injury at one of his jobs, Dr. Torres switched his career path to focus on the human body and how it functions. He first attended Portland State University where he received his Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, and later went on to receive his masters and PhD at The Ohio State University.

However, his work as a professor is just the beginning of his work within the SUNY Potsdam community.

Since his start at the university, Doctor Torres has had, what he considers ” many one in a lifetime experiences.”

A noteworthy one in 2018 when he joined a team from SUNY to volunteer in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, a part of the The Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico, New York Stands with Puerto Rico.

Torres commented on how quickly the Puerto Rico project evolved, and how he immediately was driven to sign up to help stating, “as soon as I saw the email I responded, ‘I’m in!’, ‘I’m all in’.”

“For me personally, being Puerto Rican and growing up on the island, it was very personal for me,” stated Torres. “Because it’s hard to imagine a category five hurricane going through anywhere, let alone two within just a few weeks.”

Dr. Christopher Torres’ group of students participating in the New York Stands with Puerto Rico Relief and Recovery Effort

Torres took a team of 30 students from across the state to the island, 16 of which were directly from SUNY Potsdam. For two weeks they worked on rebuilding and repairing houses, devoting selfless time and supporting the communities in need.

As they worked on repairing roofs and removing debris, Dr. Torres reflected on his experience, and the growth he saw within his students.

“To see a 19, 20, 21 year old wake up a six-o’clock in the morning, excited to go out and spend all day, in the sun, on a roof… I couldn’t have felt more proud,” said Torres. “The community really came together and it was really just a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Dr. Torres has also been inducted as a fellow for the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute where he serves as a mentor for students and other faculty. Through his leadership he aims to continue his mission to give students the experiences they deserve and embrace the differences of others.

Watch the full video story on Dr. Christopher Torres, previously featured live on ABC50’s Hispanic Heritage Special.

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