Elon as employer: Alumni enjoy careers at their alma mater

Recently, the Elon community honored President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley ’46 on Founders Day. And while Danieley might be the most celebrated alumnus working at Elon, he’s joined by more than 120 fellow graduates of the past few decades. Some leave and come back, others become faculty and staff immediately after Commencement, but they agree on one point: Elon is a great place to live and work.

Lisa Roper ’93
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

When Burlington native Roper left for her freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she had plans to become an advertising major and move to New York City. She couldn’t have predicted that her true calling would steer her toward a completely different career – and much closer to home.

Lisa Roper ’93

After a year at UNC, Roper decided to transfer to Elon College. Immediately, she immersed herself in her human services major, the Liberal Arts Forum and Elon’s chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

“The Elon atmosphere was incredible. Professors helped students in every way,” she says. “I grew and learned so much about myself.”

After graduation, she never expected to return to Elon as anything more than an alumna visiting for Homecoming or other events. She worked as a program coordinator for the Coalition on Adolescent Pregnancy, guiding an initiative she helped launch while she interned for as a student. In 2003, she heard about a temporary position in Elon’s Office of Alumni Relations and the idea of working for her alma mater intrigued her.

“All of my friends are Elon alums. Elon merged a part of our lives and brought us together,” she says. “(Working at Elon) seemed like a perfect fit.”

Roper got the job, and in short order she was promoted to assistant director of alumni relations. Just as she did as a student, Roper engaged herself in the life of the campus, including becoming adviser to her Delta Sigma Theta chapter.

“They call me ‘mama,’” she says with a smile.

Roper says working in Alumni Relations has shown her a side of Elon she never really thought about as a student: the importance of keeping alumni connected with the university and its current students. And while one might imagine working as a staff member at one’s alma mater could be a bit strange, she brushes the thought aside.

“There are a lot of things here that are still the same,” she says.

April Post ’01
Lecturer in Spanish

Arriving at Elon as North Carolina Teaching Fellow, Post knew what she wanted to do with her life – vaguely.

April Post ’01

“When I got the Teaching Fellowship, I had to choose a concentration,” she says. “I knew that I loved to teach, but thought, ‘If teaching doesn’t work, what can I fall back on?’”

Post’s answer was Spanish. She recognized that Alamance County and the state of North Carolina were experiencing a significant increase in the Hispanic population. She decided that fluency in Spanish would allow her to make a difference in the local community.

Before graduating from Elon with a degree in Spanish and her K-12 teaching certificate, Post traveled to Ecuador, Chile and Guatemala for study and service-learning projects, honing her skills in Spanish along the way. During her master’s program at California State University in Sacramento, she traveled to Spain, Costa Rica and back to Guatemala. When she completed her master’s in 2004, Post was presented with another question/opportunity. Did she want to teach at the college level? And did she want to go back to Elon, where a one-year teaching position in Spanish had opened up?

Post’s answer was yes. She admits the transition from student to professor so shortly after graduating wasn’t without its difficulties. Mingling with her teachers as peers was a strange experience for the then-25-year-old faculty member.

“We’re collaborating on courses and working as co-teachers. Now that I’m friends with my professors I see a different side of them,” she says.

Post, who in 2005 was promoted to lecturer, sees her relative youth as an asset in the classroom. Being not far removed from her own Elon experience helps her students navigate their own.

“I’ve enjoyed teaching here. It’s been wonderful to come back and work with colleagues and students on research and teaching,” she says. “It’s been an amazing experience.”

Brian O’Shea ’04
Assistant to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

The first member of his family to attend college, Brian O’Shea ’04 took advantage of all Elon had to offer as an undergraduate. He got involved in the Student Government Association and Phi Kappa Phi fraternity, and he even tried a couple of majors on for size before settling on corporate communications.

Brian O’Shea ’04

Then, graduation came.

“After college, I had no plan,” says O’Shea, a native of Long Island, N.Y. “I knew I liked communications and I liked working with people.”

While he weighed his options, O’Shea returned to Long Island and worked in his father’s hardware store for nine months. He considered working for nonprofit organizations and entertained ideas of pursuing elementary education but eventually found his way back to North Carolina, to Elon. He originally took a temporary position with Elon’s Office of Student Life in April 2005 but quickly was steered toward a permanent opening, for an assistant to the vice president of student life.

“They were having a hard time finding someone who was the right fit because it was a new position,” he says. “I understood the Elon culture, and having that under my belt was a real advantage.”

Since joining the Office of Student Life in June 2005, O’Shea has worked on a variety of special projects, including coordinating Elon’s annual Founders Day activities and Vice President Smith Jackson’s mini-grant program for student organizations. He also advises his chapter of Phi Kappa Phi and the club swim team, and occasionally works with SGA events.

While O’Shea admits his current position at Elon wasn’t part of his original career plan, he says it’s worked out well.

“I think the transition from student to staff is different for different people,” O’Shea says. “My nine months away made it easier – people knew I had been gone, knew I had graduated and knew I was in a new role.”

Jozi Snowberger ’07
Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Parent Programs

A Connecticut native, Snowberger hadn’t even considered Elon as a possible college, much less as a possible employer, until her family moved to Greensboro, N.C., her senior year of high school.

Jozi Snowberger ’07

“I came for a visit and as soon as I set foot on campus, I was like, ‘thank goodness,’” she says. “I was speechless about the appearance of the campus, the different programs offered, the professors and the small class sizes.”

Her lofty first impressions of Elon play a valuable role in her work for University Advancement today, but working in higher education support wasn’t her chosen career at the start. A leisure and sport management major (LSM) as an undergraduate, Snowberger was active in the Lesiure and Sport Management Society, planning conferences and working with fellow students on volunteer projects.

“I had visions of working in athletics,” she says. “I love sports and athletics, but I realized that if you work in the sports industry, you don’t really get to enjoy the sports because you work so much.”

Still interested in a career that involved event and campaign planning, Snowberger took the advice of one of her mentors in LSM, Jim Drummond, and pursued an opening in University Advancement as assistant director of annual giving and parent programs. She applied and, she says, the rest is history.

“Elon makes it easy for you to make the switch from student to faculty/staff,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine starting my career anywhere else. Elon treats its faculty and staff very well.”

Snowberger points to the several perks of working at Elon, including tuition reimbursement for its MBA program, for which she’s considering applying. She also appreciates the opportunity to stay involved in the life of the campus; she frequently visits the Leisure and Sport Management Society’s meetings and sits in on senior seminar classes.

By Sarah Beth Costello ’11