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Home | Episode #3
Finding My Angle
September 12, 2018 | Student Producer:

Meagan Wilkinson
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Finding My Angle
Professor Lisa Hemminger struggles to find purpose after graduating college. (7 minutes)
Lisa Hemminger

Lisa Hemminger: 00:00 I did not appreciate my undergraduate experience. I went on a scholarship. I lost the scholarship because I stopped going to class. I dropped out for awhile. I had to sell a really expensive trumpet that I had. 

Lisa Hemminger: 00:23 Yeah. So I went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I graduated in 1982, barely. I say this because I actually use my experience as something to teach through. I don't like people being late to my class. I don't like people being absent from my class. And I guess it's because I was those two things a lot in my first college experience. Um, I graduated with a degree in English because it was the only thing I could put together. I wasn't really planning on this. 

Lisa Hemminger: 01:00 So I moved to Columbus with a friend of mine and I was getting gas, I think. And I saw a sign that they needed people at the gas station. So I decided to apply to be what some people used to refer to as a grease monkey, somebody working at the gas station, which I found very interesting. And it actually inspired some writing of mine. 

Lisa Hemminger: 01:28 So I had an English degree and I went to work at a gas station. But I wasn't very happy with my job at the time either, so I was kind of treating myself poorly. And about a month after I got a job there, a man that I know, I guess a young man, who had gone to high school with me, came into the gas station and he came up to pay for gas and he said, "Hi Lisa. How's it going?" And of course I knew this person. I had gone to school with him for eight years, but I said, "I'm not Lisa." And he said, "What?" And I go, "I'm sorry you have the wrong person." And he said, "What? What do you mean Lisa?" And I go, "Nope, my name is Bernadette," something like that. And that was because I wasn't proud of myself for working at a gas station. 

Lisa Hemminger: 02:24 So it wasn't very long before I realized that that was a bad way to view the job. I actually went into a deep depression because of the job. Um, and I moved home, I quit and I moved home and I was trying to rearrange my life if you were. I actually was diagnosed with depression and I went on an antidepressant and it picked me up so much that my ego and self-esteem grew magnanimously and I knew that I was a good writer so I went to a local paper and I asked them if they needed a new reporter and I interviewed with the guy and I, the managing editor, and he said, "this is great. You have a wonderful attitude. It seems like you really want to work here. Why don't you sit down and type out for me why you should get a job as a reporter here." And I sat down and I started typing one letter at a time because I never learned how to type. And he said to me, "You want to be a reporter here and you don't know how to type?" And I said, "Do you want a writer or a typist?" I said, "Well, I'll stay every day until I get my stories done. So you never have to worry about that." So he gave me a job. 

Lisa Hemminger: 03:57 But I also found out from having a job in college and then getting the job right after college that I got bored of jobs a lot. I always had to have something new going on or I would be bored. And now in retrospect I see that five years is really like my prime time to stay with a company. I think I had been at the weekly paper right around four years and I was starting to feel like I wanted to move on anyway. And actually I did. I moved, moved to Chicago and got a new job. And so I think that then I was high, I had a lot of self esteem, because I was trying something new. I had been working, I don't know why I'm using the word working, but I guess I will, as a performance poet too. So in the day I was writing for a film magazine, at night I was running a show in Chicago and it was a poetry open mic that was open to all kinds of artists. A woman who was coming to my show told her mother about my poetry, my performance poetry, and my show, and she asked me if I wanted to teach a class on performance poetry and boy did it change my life. 

Lisa Hemminger: 05:21 Once I had my interaction with students and I realized what can evolve out of that, I was never the same. So I decided to go back to school. I really enjoyed going to school this time, the second time around. It was very different for me than it was the first time. Every single professor I wanted to know more and more about them. I went to all their office hours. I got involved with the department. I just hung on their every word. And so I went to Grad school and then eventually I was able to teach at a university like this. 

Lisa Hemminger: 06:03 I see such bright students stress out so much it makes me want to cry. If I have the opportunity to see that someone is going through that I like to reach out to them and say it's gonna be okay and when you get a job and you're enjoying life, you're going to find that it's gonna, all of a sudden, at least for me it was, and I feel like for more people that I, that I know now, one day you're going to be like, you know what, I'd like to do something else. And so you have to look back in your bag of tricks and decide what it is, you know, that you might want to try to do in a different way. Um, I really believe that most people, if you gave them their choice, they would choose not to stay in one career. I do feel content here for a while longer, but I am looking at the last stage. So weird, you know, to think of the last stage of what you're going to do for work. And I do have some, you know, picked up some hobbies that are really calling me. I like ghost hunting. I like mining for gold.