High school students and their parents walk past the crimson and gray table at a college fair in southern New Jersey, sometimes stopping to ask questions or pick up brochures about Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Danielle Colella LaPorta '78 smiles and answers those questions, proud to have the chance to share what her years at IUP meant to her.
“Going to IUP—I really think it transformed my life,” said LaPorta, who started as a Biology major, worked in the Physics Department, and graduated as a Safety Management major. She now works as a certified safety professional handling training and compliance for a local government agency.
Brian Oglesby ’95 was among the alumni who participated in a panel presentation at a King of Prussia event in December that the Office of Admissions organized for prospective students.
“Every day, I use what I learned at IUP,” she said.
She was the first person in her family to go to a college or university. Now, she represents that university at three to five college fairs each year. She is one of about 40 alumni who volunteer to help IUP with student recruitment.
In the decade she has filled the role, LaPorta has noticed that interest in IUP is on the rise.
“It's a big school, and yet it has a small school feel,” she said. “There's a growing interest in its affordability and what it has to offer.”
Blaine Corle '79, another 10-year volunteer, talks to students and their parents at college fairs in Virginia. He reaches out to them on a variety of levels: as an alumnus, a parent of college-age children, and a potential future employer.
Corle, a Criminology graduate, is now the deputy chief of police in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to going to college fairs, he travels to IUP for career fairs to talk to graduating students about jobs in his police department.
On an average night at a Virginia college fair, he'll talk to 50 to 60 students, he said. They tend to ask about majors that interest them, while their parents ask about the safety of the campus and town.
“From being a student, I can assure them it's a clean, healthy, small-town atmosphere,” Corle said. “They like knowing it's a ‘walking' campus and that I had such a wonderful experience at IUP as a student.”
Laura Ferguson, Music Department, was the faculty representative on the panel in King of Prussia.
The IUP Office of Admissionsattends anywhere from 150 to 200 college fairs a year, according to Elisa Goserud '78, M'82, assistant director of Admissions. While alumni join the staff at some of those fairs, they cover 10 to 20 fairs a year on their own, typically at locations farther from campus.
Goserud is always happy to talk with alumni who are interested in helping with college fairs in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, particularly Ohio and New York.
“Alumni who volunteer have a lot to offer at college fairs,” she said. “They know the campus. They had the experience of being a student. It's that true connection. I am just so thankful for all they do. They help us reach students we can't always get to.”
Don Howe ’79 told prospective students how IUP helped to prepare him for his more than 30-year career with Lockheed Martin.
John Ninosky '93 and a few other alumni in the Harrisburg area have represented IUP at college fairs the Admissions office could not attend. Ninosky, a Criminology graduate who is now an attorney, has volunteered at fairs at both public and private schools for the last 10 years.
“It makes me feel good to do this,” he said. “I had a tremendous experience at IUP from the beginning, and it's a way for me to give back.”
While IUP's strong academics, affordability, and small-town atmosphere have traditionally garnered attention, Ninosky has noticed an increase in interest with the new residence halls and other renovations on campus.
“We were on the cutting edge with suite-style living,” he said.
Rachel Hard Morgan ‘03 started helping with college fairs in the Philadelphia area about two years ago.
Thomas Costello ’88, founder and CEO of UpStreme, Inc., a technology management consulting firm based in the Philadelphia area, was one of the alumni speakers at the student recruitment event.
“I'm not that much older than they are, and I can relate to them, and yet I have the experience of having graduated and started my career,” said Morgan, a change management analyst at a leading mortgage originator.
An English literature major with a pre-law minor at IUP, Morgan recently helped with a recruitment event in the Philadelphia area that involved alumni speakers and a panel presentation featuring alumni, a faculty member, and current students. She was one of the speakers.
“I reach out for these opportunities,” she said. “My experience at IUP had a profound effect on who I am today. It gives me a great sense of pride to be able to give back and to see, at those fairs, the potential in each student's face.”
Alumni interested in representing IUP at college fairs in their area should contact Elisa Goserud at 724-357-2665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.