Scholars Speak: Guest Blog by Forman Scholar Lissie Hogate

Elizabeth “Lissie” Hogate shares her thoughts to our Scholars Speak student blog series. Lissie is a 2020 graduate of East Stroudsburg University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Hospitality.   

Read on to hear about Lissie’s experiences in college and lessons she’s learned along the way, including the importance of networking and forming connections with others. 

What does pursuing a college degree mean to you?  

I feel as if higher education gives you an opportunity to find out who you are. In college, you learn more than strictly academic knowledge. You figure out how to interact in a social setting and connect with peers, you gain networking skills and you are challenged to venture outside of your comfort zone. Having a good attitude and being open to ideas and advice will take you far in college – much farther than being strictly ‘book smart.’ Making time for a social life is crucial and should always be balanced against your academics. All of my job leads so far have come from peers I networked with and got to know during my time at East Stroudsburg. 

What’s something you didn’t know during your first year in college that you wish you knew?  

I met some of my best and closest friends during my first year in college. I feel as if the first year of college is where you are closest to your genuine self, before you fully acclimate to the university and get involved in organizations. I wish I had kept better in touch with the friends I made during my freshman year, instead of getting involved in so many activities and putting them on the ‘back burner.’ 

What is your most memorable academic moment from your time in college? 

The most memorable and important lesson I learned was how essential networking is to your future career success. I had the chance to practice my networking skills with my fellow classmates, sorority sisters and other alumni who have been through the job application process and know what it takes to build a career. I made incredible connections with my professors as well, and they made it so easy to reach out to them and ask for advice!

Tell us a time when you overcame a challenge. 

With the coronavirus pandemic cutting my senior year short, I never had the chance to attend job fairs, guest speaking events and other opportunities to grow my network and get my name and resume out there. Therefore, I had to rely more heavily on my personal connections to build a more professional network. I reached out to alumni in my major, individuals in my sorority and my professors to discover job leads and understand what is expected of a recent graduate. 

For people who may not know about the Foundation, what role has the Foundation played in your educational journey?  

The Foundation was always there to support me every step of my academic journey. They helped me arrange a study aboard experience, bought uniforms for my classes and kept in touch throughout my entire college career. 

As someone who grew up in either Salem or the Salem area, how has your community shaped your upbringing, and what do you think is needed to ensure the best future for Salem? 

Now that I am back home in Salem, I am starting to see how closed-minded some individuals can be. People need to realize that it’s okay to not be a nurse or a teacher. Those professions are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but they are not the end-all-be-all. The community should be focused on encouraging students to follow their passions, wherever they may lead. If students don’t know exactly what they want to study, that should be okay, too. They should be encouraged to enter college undeclared and take it one day at a time. Along the way, students will change their minds, and that is fine as well. The only thing that matters is that students are working on becoming the best person they can possibly be. Their paths may look different from what is considered the ‘norm,’ but that it what makes each student special.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a student who is applying for college, what would it be and why?  

Go where you feel comfortable and disregard what other people say about your choices. College is all about what you make of it. It may seem easier to follow your high school friends or siblings, but by not choosing a different school you could be missing out on incredible experiences and the chance to make lasting friendships.