Alumni Stories

 Dickinsonians are achieving great levels of success. From experience in the arts, education, from business to government, alumni are the top in their fields. Their stories, like the ones highlighted below, illustrate the useful and highly personal education that Dickinson provides.

 Gay Fogarty '66 Barry White '84                          Danielle Goonan '07                Ke Zhou '09    
 Ben Tiede '05  Lisa Pawelski '79

Read more alumni profiles

Gay Fogarty '66
Owner of the Fogarty Group

"What Dickinson taught me, first of all, is that it started me on the road of being a life-long learner. And it kind of ignited my natural curiosity about how things work. Why do people think the way they do. What informs their decisions. What kind of context there is around their lives that made them who they are. Whether that was in the arts or the sciences or all the other things we got to learn about at Dickinson. And part of being a life-long learner is this curiosity, and this ‘wanting to understand,’ and so what I do for my clients is help them understand themselves. Helping them reframe. Looking at something differently. I would call it having a learner’s mindset. Where they’re going to be able to look at something very differently than they looked at it before, and because they’re changing that mindset, they’re able to change their behavior.”

"A lot of my work, is this difference between intention and perception. Intention is what we think’s happening out there, perception is how everyone else choose to view it through their own individual filter. But again, I think a lot of that comes back to the experience I got at Dickinson -  seeing why rats form habits in the psych lab and how you distinguish those habits is partly what I do in my work - figuring out how do we get rid of some of the bad habits you accumulated over the years."

"What brought me to Dickinson is the other half of my story. Because it was truly the walking through campus, the people were friendly, the campus was beautiful, and for me it was just the right size. And it remained that way, it was’t too big, wasn’t too small - but it was just the feeling of friendliness on the campus. But now I want to tell you the other part of the story, because that’s important to me. So, I spent all, almost all the entire four years with ten good friends. [After school] we would exchange Christmas cards, see each other at reunions, but we were all busy, raising children, things like that. In that exchange of Christmas cards I got from one of them, she said she had breast cancer. We had been talking about getting together and it never really happened. But she said, ‘I’d really like to get together,” and I said, fine, I’ll make it  happen. And, every year since then, we get together. Sometimes twice. And they have been through my life a phenomenal support system. Something happens at Dickinson, that you’re able to have that kind of relationship. I’m not sure what it is. But it happens."

"I would say to make the most of every minute you have here. in two respects. Your environment to learn. and your environment to establish life long relationships. You’re [at Dickinson], you’re living daily with somebody who is different than you are. How do you learn how to do that? This is playing ground. This is opportunity. A learning opportunity to get along with lots of different people. It's also a question of how do I maximize the moment that I have? It was a microcosm all unto itself."

Barry White '84

“Iʼm almost the accidental poster child for liberal arts education because I doubled majored in English and then picked up a degree in chemistry. I went to Dickinson to major in English, and I did, I always had an interest in literature, reading, writing and sciences...and ended up picking up a chemistry degree, too.”

“In the early 80ʼs when I was at Dickinson, study abroad was not nearly as widely done in different colleges and universities as it is now, and Dickinson was practically a pioneer in that. That was an important consideration and something that really interested me about Dickinson. I spent a year at the University of Durham in the north of England, my junior year.”

“I think that study abroad my junior year was really for me in particular a critical step – a very important part of broadening my experiences and perspectives. It did a couple of things for me. It fostered what was to become a lifelong love of travel, and I think also
served me very well in creating and maintaining business relationships with clients and client contacts, people literally from around the world.”

“The size, location and the intimacy of the community, the student community and the professors were very accessible at Dickinson. It pushed pushed me, it requires you to deal daily and directly with people and situations. I think I grew a little with that...yeah, that was sometimes hard, but there was always an experience of how to work with people...and how not to.”

“Dickinson was not a place where they gave you the track, classes, and books four years. It was a very different experience...a liberal arts education in the required dabble here, dabble there and have to get a much broader base, both educationally and in terms of people that you are interacting with as well as the professors and all types of people. You know, engineering students are different from English majors who are different from philosophy majors and you got all of that when you were at Dickinson.”

“The fact is that the broad based experience in education I had at Dickinson without me knowing it or planning that career path, prepared me for that career path. I very much enjoy being able to continue to explore and learn in the two areas that I studied there - the sciences, and English and writing and communications, I enjoy that.”

Danielle Goonan '07
Senior Associate, Clinton Global Initiative

"Dickinson first and foremost allowed me to write my own destiny. They said I’m going to spend the next four years investing in you. If you take advantage of all the opportunities we give you, we will invest in you and we will help mold you into the person that you want to be, and then from there and you’ll be able to jump off and quickly take on the world’s opportunities...and Dickinson was that. Dickinson invested in us and allowed us to write our own destiny. Dickinson gives you a taste for so many different topics and mixtures and languages and I was able to take all those things I know and move around and change careers and change interests and easily, which I think is really great."

"My liberal arts degree provided me with knowledge of many different areas of studies and taught me how to connect the dots."

"By attending Dickinson, I was propelled from one world to another and so that transition prepared me for all sorts of challenges, opportunities, cultures, peoples, work environments, etc. It made me flexible and adaptable, which are two necessary skills needed by employers."

"I’ve been able to adapt to a various and different environments, whether they’re in the US or abroad and work with all types of people. I think the most important thing is that Dickinson opened up my eyes to the possibilities out there...prepared me to compete, and deal with those possibilities...not only deal with those possibilities but to grab hold of those possibilities and run with them."

"Going to Dickinson, it put down my foundation for my love of traveling. Getting to know other people, other cultures, other religions, Dickinson sets you up in a way to know, this is what you should be doing. It’s going to make you understand how you can be a part of a small community, but communities elsewhere and the world in general. It’s incredible that as an American Studies major, I was able to go abroad and I was able to take classes at the University of Bologna - courses that provided an international view of the United States and United States history, which is a view completely different that we as Americans think about our history. It’s incredible that Dickinson provided these kinds of opportunities from the domestic to the international."

"Most important, I think, Dickinson prepared me to think outside the box and prepared me for this opportunity. I had a chance to think about other careers, and not pigeonhole not myself. There were so many opportunities and no one clear path. I could go to college, go on to a Fulbright for a year, come back, get my Master's degree, work at the UN for a few months in foreign learn how to think globally, think about how your actions will affect not just your locality but the entire world."

"This liberal arts background allowed me to adapt to very different programs, and so I didn’t really have a work force or government when I started at CGI. I had an immigration background, but I had the skill set necessary to hit the ground running, I had the communications skills, I knew how to talk to people, I knew how to build networks because I’ve blended in, because I’ve done my masters in London, because I’ve studied abroad in Argentina...because Dickinson so much promoted global thinking, and study abroad, they had students from all over the world."

Ke Zhou '09

“I was from the first day encouraged to explore, to ask questions, and couldn’t believe that I could pop into a professor’s office any time and talk and chat or ask questions. And in fact was encouraged to do that."

“Perhaps the most valuable thing that Dickinson taught me, overall, is to explore, Dickinson taught me how to think. The most valuable part of my experience is that my education was very intimate and personal. In fact, I made friends with all my professors and keep in touch with almost all of them to this day."

“I laugh when I think back on my first week, I thought here I am, I’m in college, so I’m going to be doing a lot of papers, and was prepared to do that, but the first thing that happened was, I was working on a farm two days a week. Now, imagine here I am from an urban setting of Hong Kong, and now I’m working on a farm. It was completely unexpected and so delightful and very valuable to me."

“My relationships at Dickinson have had a great impact on where I am now, my new course in life, and where my destiny will take me. It was my senior roommate who said to me, ‘Harry, you would make a good lawyer.” It seemed like just a whim, but the idea stuck, and I’m very grateful, because it all happened so quickly."

“I am an integral thinker, with a very systematic approach, very analytical, and these are my strengths. I was both an economics and a computer science major, two very unrelated fields. Which is rare to have such unrelated majors. I didn’t think I could manage a double major, but my professor said, yes, I believe you can, and he sat down with me and mapped out a plan and figured out the course work and made it all possible."

“You see, there are areas where these two disciplines overlap, and I approach solutions to problems from a programming point of view, and it really works for me. And so I had some overlapping classes, and oh, my -- my senior year, I don’t know how I got through it.  It took some courage, but everyone was so supportive, even when there seemed to be no possibility I could handle both. I was prepared to just have a minor, but the double major worked best for me and I accomplished it with the help of everyone at Dickinson."

“I have learned that I can become quite good at something, once that happens, then I am passionate about it, and Dickinson taught me that and so became the fuel for my passion in my work."

“I will be going into the banking industry in New York soon, which you know is characterized by vast volumes of regulations -- networks of regulations. Dickinson taught me to be comfortable with and handle large volumes of information.  That was the most useful skill I learned at Dickinson, and will be invaluable to me, moving forward."

“To incoming freshmen, I would say, enjoy your time at Dickinson to the fullest.  You will someday realize that every bit of it will enrich your life greatly; one day you will see how very useful every part of your Dickinson experience is, for the rest of your life.”

Ben Tiede '05
Global Public Health Consultant

“At Dickinson, I really got a well rounded education. I wasn’t just focused on my major, but exposed to a lot of environments, which is especially important these days. You know, it’s rare, now, for a person to work for one company in your career -- you won’t work for one company for the rest of your life, you have to be ready for any direction. That’s what Dickinson did for me. You have to be prepared to apply anywhere. That was so valuable."

“Dickinson gave me great technical knowledge, yes, but it’s really the foundation that Dickinson gave me that made the difference.  These days, you have to be ready to take the opportunity when its there, be ready for it, wherever it is. Dickinson prepared me and gave me an international background, prepared me for a more connected world."

“And I learned that I wasn’t entitled to anything, but had to work for it. Dickinson taught me that you have to earn it."

“And that’s what I’d say to incoming freshmen. Dickinson taught me there’s nothing like hard work, and you’re not entitled to something just because your have a good name on your diploma, or the name of a wonderful graduate school. I’ve seen that attitude in graduate school.  But coming from Dickinson, I thought differently."

“Dickinson taught me you’re not entitled to anything, you really have to work for it and be ready. And that door will open.”

Dr. Lisa Pawelski '79

"I really do believe that the smallish, very personal, academically rigorous, get a kick out of asking questions kind of place that Dickinson is made me a better doctor."

"How Dickinson prepared me for this was, being surrounded by brilliant professors and really smart kids who kept me on my toes and thinking for four years; honed my critical thinking, encouraged my inquisitive mind, got me excited about making unexpected connections and trained me to be a really good detective, and slightly small, and a real community."

"The first people who greeted me and surrounded me and were in sync with me were forward looking and bright and curious and capable, and that’s a great way to train for four years, with people like that."

"I can’t say enough about the professors, I really can’t. The opportunity to explore just about anything, artistic, academic, social and otherwise was amazing."

"The spirit of Dickinson prepared me to look to the bigger picture with patients. To look at not just the disease but also their social circumstances. It taught me to go carefully with someone - is there something in their social situation that means there’s something else I need to do (to help them)."