Alumni Interview: Jennifer Pizzi

Jennifer and her husband

Tell us about yourself.:

I currently reside in Truckee, California (North Lake Tahoe Community). I moved here in 2008 after graduation. Originally, I grew up in Braintree, Mass just south of Boston before relocating to Farmington in 2002 to attend college. I began as a secondary education major, but wound up with a unique Bachelor of Arts combining studies of English Literature with Philosophy, as well as ascertaining a Philosophy minor. In college, I worked everywhere in town it seems (Granary, Front St. Tavern, the Shipyard at Sugarloaf) but most of my college employment was spent bartending at the Bag and Kettle while juggling being a part time snowboard coach for Carrabassett Valley Academy. I am presently pursing a master’s degree in journalism at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada Reno. After graduation, I dabbled in writing for a small east coast ski magazine “Steez” based out of Beverly, Mass for a few years, but mainly, I have spent the last 12 years working full-time in the restaurant industry, chasing the snow, and enjoying life in the mountains.

What are some of your most memorable moments at UMF?:

Participating In a May semester in Italy was awesome. Snowboarding in the Italian Dolomites during a winter term that went back to Italy was probably the best college experience.

How did your time at UMF help you beyond the classroom?:

So many ways. Moving to rural western Maine from a large suburb of Boston was one of the most humbling and defining experiences of my life. UMF and the Farmington community showed me how to slow down, demonstrate acts of kindness to others, and to enjoy the simpler things in life. The community portrayed a resilience of character and level of generosity I had not ever recognized in my adolescence—I carry that with me everywhere—always. At first I remember feeling frustrated in a small town, the tiny classroom sizes annoyed me, but by the end I truly recognized how it personalized my education and triggered my development as a caring and contributing adult.

What advice do you have for current or prospective students?:

Embrace the intimacy of the classroom, peers, and faculty. In the world outside the University, it is all about connections and relationships. I am not sure what the English department requirements for graduation are but we were never required to do an internship.  If this has still not become part of the curriculum, take the initiative to find one.  Reach out to community members and faculty to guide you.  A degree in English is only as impactful as you choose to make it.  While I cherish my undergraduate education, I struggled to apply it to a profession and, ultimately, found myself philosophizing from behind the bar for 10 years too long. Find an internship. Find two, if you need to.

Jennifer and her college roommate, Becky, on a trip into the Dolomites when staying in Venice during a winter term abroad with UMF.
Jennifer and her college roommate, Becky, on a trip into the Dolomites while staying in Venice during a winter term abroad with UMF.

What type of students should consider majoring in English at UMF?:

Creative thinkers and pipe-dreamers. A strong reader will develop into a strong writer. Writers will always be needed.

What do you see yourself doing in the future (10- 20 years)?:

I tell you that is a loaded question. And I don’t have the answer. I am further from it now, than I have ever been in the past. I am hoping that this education will open new doors for me. When I graduated from UMF, I wanted to get involved in publishing. It was a tough time to graduate and try to get into a transitioning industry. 22 year old Jen wanted to work for an outdoor magazine and travel. 30 year old Jen wants stability, flexibility, healthcare and a 401k. Out of my current pursuit in education, I hope to ascertain the skills that will guide me through use of basic technology and help me be able to land a job where I can creatively write content for an active company, preferably related to the snow-sport industry. I am seeking the balance between maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, paired with a career that will challenge my intellect and put my education into practice.