The Cogan Alumni Fellowship, now in its 7th year, welcomed Nicole Dispenziere-Pitcher ’99 and Alison Taylor ’76 back to campus in late February to share their post-Dickinson experiences. Speaking to a full house in Memorial Hall, each alumna recounted her journey from the Dickinson English department to various career paths.
Dispenziere-Pitcher’s talk, Living, Learning and Working Abroad: A Graduate’s Experience, showed how a year abroad at the University of East Anglia became a springboard for her future: she was inspired to return to UEA for a master’s degree in fiction and a post-graduate certificate in education. Now she lives with her Australian husband in Brighton, England.
Having taught in a British high school for two years and having worked with a team to support at-risk students, Dispenziere-Pitcher is now pursuing a certificate in language and speech therapy, an interest fueled by these experiences.
Although it would have been easier to have studied speech therapy from the beginning, Dispenziere-Pitcher believes that she “wouldn’t have the same depth of experience. It can take several steps to reach a goal.”
Dispenziere-Pitcher recommends teaching and living abroad because of the new perspective that it offers. “Living abroad is wonderful and often challenging,” but these challenges have helped to form her career and personal goals.
Taylor, who was an American studies major as well as an English major, discussed Life’s Opportunities. She explains that her life has been “all the richer for my journey, and that journey was propelled by Dickinson.”
After studying in Sydney, Australia, during high school through a Rotary International program, Taylor came to Dickinson due to its strong reputation for its study-abroad programs. She spent her junior year at the University of Durham in England.
Her public relations career immediately following Dickinson allowed her to travel back to England, and it also made her realize that representing some of the most important companies in the United States required the same kind of “vigorous achievement and focus” that she needed at Dickinson.
Eventually, Taylor grew weary of public relations and wanted to pursue something that she felt was more important. She enrolled at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law and obtained her J.D., finally making her lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer a reality.
Taylor has since served as chief clerk for Cumberland County’s district attorney, as an assistant district attorney and as deputy general counsel in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of General Counsel.
Her English background has served her well in law because communicating well, she believes, “is central to any career path.” Taylor also has found that public relations and prosecution are similar—both require you to “prove an argument to an audience.”
The Cogan Fellowships were established in 2000 to reaffirm the connections between current students and graduates of the English department. They are named for Eleanor Cogan, who received an honorary doctor of letters from Dickinson in 2003 for her commitment to lifelong learning and to the study of literature.