Photo: LHU Foundation Assistant Director of Alumni & Donor Communications, John Vitale '13, engaging students outside of Bentley Dining Hall during Lock Haven University's 2018 Thank-A-Giver Day.
*wRitten AND SUBMITTED BY STUDENT WRITERS FROM The Eagle Eye (VOL. 96, ISSUE 2).
Some Bald Eagles look to fly far from the nest soon after graduation. Others, like Lock Haven University (LHU) alumnus John Vitale, aspire to become “Bald Eagles for Life.”
After graduating in 2013, Vitale created a five-year plan for himself, hoping to land a job working for the university. He began immediately applying to the admissions office, and other areas on campus, but was denied a position nine consecutive times. Vitale, however, never lost sight of his ultimate goal and remained persistent. With just two months to spare in his five-year plan, Vitale received a job offer from the LHU Foundation (LHUF) and started working for his alma mater in March 2018.
Vitale currently serves as the LHUF’s Assistant Director of Alumni and Donor Communications. His specialties include traditional marketing, e-marketing, public relations, digital media, and copywriting. Vitale also manages all communication channels for the LHU Alumni Association, such as its website, publications, social media accounts, video content, and graphics.
His beginnings at LHU differed greatly from his peers. Vitale enrolled at the university as a first-generation college student in 2009 at the age of 26. While at Lock Haven, Vitale majored in Communication Media with a dual focus in print and broadcast journalism.
He excelled academically, making dean’s list all eight semesters in addition to graduating with a 3.96 GPA -- the highest earned GPA in what was then LHU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Vitale was then named the Rebecca Gross (student) Award winner during his senior year for his contributions to journalism and mass communication.
His excellence also extended far beyond the classroom, vying as an active participant in various extracurriculars. Throughout his educational journey, Vitale served as the Sports and News Editor of the Eagle Eye, hosted his own radio show, and announced for Havencast Sports Broadcasting. Additionally, he interned for the Williamsport Crosscutters and iHeart Williamsport, worked three on-campus jobs, and competed in intramural sports.
Despite being a non-traditional student, Vitale capitalized on the opportunities available to him while at Lock Haven and takes pride in being a Bald Eagle from humble beginnings.
“As a first-gen, non-traditional college student who grew up in a low-income, single-parent household these are all experiences that I am incredibly proud of,” he said. “My mom raised three kids by herself with nothing more than a 10th grade education and a whole lot of hard work, and helped two of her three children graduate college.”
Honoring my mom’s legacy is something that has always been very important to me,” he added. “I am very proud that I came to LHU and achieved so many things during my time there. I know my mom took great pride in that too.”
Following graduation, Vitale began his career as a sports reporter with the Williamsport Sun Gazette. Shortly after joining the newspaper staff, he obtained a supervisory position at Springs Window Fashions where he worked as a customer service trainer and graphic designer.
Vitale’s marketing & communications career took off in 2015 when he accepted an Assistant Media Specialist role at Sage Age Strategies, a niche market growth-firm specializing in senior living marketing. Within nine months, he was promoted to Director of Media and Public Relations, opening the door for his return to The Haven in 2018.
Even though he achieved massive success in college and throughout his post-graduate career, Vitale stated the most prominent lesson he learned after graduation revolved around humility.
“Earning a college degree doesn’t guarantee success,” he said. “However, what it does [do], is it creates additional, more-exciting, and more lucrative pathways to success.”
“I will never be done learning. I will never be done aspiring. And, I will never be done taking on new challenges,” he added. “Earning a degree is just the beginning of being exposed to newer and better challenges.”
Last spring, Vitale was honored for his contributions within the media industry at the The Haven’s annual Communication Department Awards Ceremony, where he was recognized as the 2022 recipient of the Rebecca Gross Alumni Award.
“I honestly did not feel worthy of winning the award,” Vitale said. “But it was truly an honor to be recognized and respected by the professors of the department that I have so much respect and admiration for.”
“I still feel like I have so much left to accomplish in my young career,” he added. “I truly feel like the best is yet to come for me.”
Vitale strongly urges college students to live in the moment throughout their remaining years at Lock Haven. He also emphasized the importance of taking risks and not fearing failure.
“Be a kid (responsibly)! Have fun (responsibly)! Make memories (responsibly)! Study abroad. Ask the guy/girl out. Challenge yourself. Take risks. FAIL BRAVELY,” he said. “None of your failures will matter nearly as much as you think.”
He added, “We spend our whole childhood wishing we could be grown and we spend our whole adult life wishing we could go back in time and do it all over again. Stop worrying about the could’ve, would’ve, should’ves, and simply live in the moment. Experience and enjoy as much as you can while you can. Make mistakes and learn from them. Live each day like it’s your last and when faced with the choice to be cautious or be bold, be BOLD!”
As for professional advice, he encourages all seniors and graduates to be open-minded, versatile, adaptable, and marketable upon entering the workforce. However, as an alumnus of the program, Vitale reserves a special place in his heart for Communication majors.
“Lock Haven communication graduates have a wealth of tools in their tool belts that enable them to hit the ground running upon entering the workforce,” Vitale said.
In a world of ever-changing digital and social media, businesses need someone who can do it all. Someone who can do it right. Someone who can do it now,” he added. “In an ever-changing world of digital and social media, businesses need Lock Haven University communication graduates."
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