Red Fox Spotlight: Andrew Zink ’19
April 5, 2019—Andrew Zink ’19 is from rural Pine Bush in New York’s Ulster County. He was always interested in political science, and didn’t want to leave the area, so Marist seemed like a natural choice. Says Zink, “The proximity to home was a big draw, but so was the Department of Political Science, which I had heard good things about. Plus, I had several friends who attended Marist and had a great experience here.” Upon his arrival on campus in 2015, Zink dove right into campus life. Unlike his high school, Marist offers a huge number of student clubs, and he got involved in quite a few, including the Student Government Association, Black Student Union, Marist Democrats, and the Chess & Table Top Society. Zink notes, “It’s a great way to meet people and make friends.”
While Zink started off majoring in political science, by the end of his sophomore year, he had completed almost all of his requirements for the major. Seeing a great deal of free space in his schedule, and always having been a fan of history, he decided to declare a second major. It proved to be a great move, says Zink, as political science and history are two disciplines that complement each other perfectly. “Political science teaches you how to navigate the fundamentals of institutions and government, while history gives you the context behind it.” Studying history across both regions and time periods, he could see how political science concepts played out through the human experience. And the history major had another advantage, according to Zink: “Majoring in history taught me how to write well and make a clear, concise argument.”
Putting what he learned in the classroom into practice, Zink got involved in local politics. In 2017, he helped restart the Town of Shawangunk’s Democratic Party and became vice chair of the committee. That same year, he was the youngest candidate in New York State to seek election to a county legislature. Though he lost the race, he continued organizing young people in his home county. In 2018, Zink became chair of the Ulster Young Democrats and was elected treasurer later that year. Observes Zink, “The Democratic Party structure is really lacking in rural areas, so I helped out by going door to door, calling local voters, and getting community members involved in the public arena. You have to put in the hard work of grass-roots organizing.”
(L-R) Andrew Zink '19, Alvin Patrick '86, Sage Kawelo '19, and John Ansley at the opening reception for the library exhibition "Black Lit."
Back at school, Zink continued his political journey by spending six weeks in Marist’s Albany Summer Internship Program. He worked in the office of State Assemblymember Kevin Cahill of Kingston, who represents the 103rd Assembly District and chairs the Committee on Insurance. Says Zink, “I was the first Marist student to work in the Assembly through this program, and it was a fantastic experience. [Cahill] must have liked my work because he decided to pay me, which is highly unusual.” One good thing led to another, and the internship experience led to his current part-time job with State Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson of Newburgh, who represents the 104th Assembly District. In this capacity, Zink is a community liaison handling constituent services around Newburgh. He reports, “I attend city council and town council meetings to listen for any issues that state government could help with. I help keep Assemblymember Jacobson informed of what’s going on in the community.”
Looking ahead to life post-Marist, Zink had originally considered completing the College’s MA in Museum Studies in Florence. It would have made sense given his passion for historic preservation; in fact, this semester, he helped curate an exhibition of rare books on the African American experience at the Cannavino Library. However, Zink’s experience in state government has whet his appetite for more. “I love the work I’m doing now, but I’m also open to serving in county government or other opportunities at the state level.” Wherever he ends up, Zink feels extremely prepared, giving particular credit to his professors in both the History and Political Science Departments. “They’ve influenced my life in more ways than they know. Marist is so good at providing students with avenues to seek guidance and the opportunities to discuss where you want to go in life. I’m so grateful for all the mentorship I’ve received and look forward to what’s next.”