Growing up, Selia “Seal” Potas ’23 gravitated to the art room of her school.
“I quickly realized, ‘I think I like art a lot more than anyone else,’” she remembered.
Potas, who goes by the nickname Seal and will soon graduate from Endicott with a B.F.A. in studio art with a secondary education concentration and a minor in creative arts therapy, has had a passion for art for as long as she can remember.
As she got older, art became an outlet for her own personal growth, a way to excavate her emotions while parsing life’s inevitable turbulences.
“A big part of being able to accept myself and getting to know myself better has been through the process of making art,” she said. Working in 2D and 3D art with both clay and mixed media, Potas makes “forms that are a mirror image of what I think I am or pieces that represent different experiences that I’ve gone through, or mantras that I believe in.”
Potas’s confidence in both art and herself also stemmed from the strong connections she forged with her teachers. “They became my biggest champions without them even realizing it,” she said.
Through their encouragement, Potas learned how important it is to make young people feel seen and supported, which laid the groundwork for her own desire to become an art teacher.
“I think the richest thing is making someone feel good about themselves and making that difference to students,” Potas added.
At Endicott, Potas sought to do just that.
“Something about this place just made me feel like, ‘I want to do the best I can,’” she said.
As an occasional camp counselor, babysitter, and older sibling, she fell naturally into mentorship roles like Orientation Leader and Orientation Assistant.
“That became a goal of mine: to be a mentor for the student I once was,” she said.
Potas joined Her Campus—a nationwide online magazine by and for college women—where she quickly moved from social media manager to vice president and eventually president.
As a member of the e-board, Potas prioritized making fellow members feel comfortable and supported. She also wanted to make sure women on campus could have their voices heard by sharing ideas or emphasizing important problems affecting women.
“I loved it because I could have genuine conversations and help people feel comfortable,” she said. “I wanted Her Campus to stand out as an environment that was unlike any other club just so people could come and be themselves or get away from the typical college day or meet someone new without any pressure. And that’s a big thing, finding your people here.”
“Although it’s impossible to plan for all the uncertainty of what will happen during your time in college—like a pandemic or literally anything else—it’s best to take everything in stride just one day at a time with a smile,” she said.
She also learned how to stand her ground and trust her gut.
“At the end of the day, it’s crucial to put yourself first—no matter how much of a people pleaser you are—because this journey through college and life itself is about growing and developing the best version of you!”
Potas shared that outlook throughout her Endicott journey in writing, art, and in the classroom, too.
Interning in art rooms in various middle and high schools, Potas found her footing in fall 2022 at Danvers High School, where she was given the opportunity to work as the primary art teacher for an entire semester and connect more intimately with the content she taught and her students.
One thing that truly surprised Potas was how natural it felt to teach high schoolers and empower them as students and as human beings.
“The biggest takeaway from practicum would be to value and nurture the relationships with students no matter what,” she said. “The importance of connection is truly the most valuable aspect of teaching. I have been able to educate, empower, and support students throughout my time at Endicott as a leader and teacher, which is all I have ever wanted to do and more.”