Q&A With Chapter President, Joshua Hoch

The Penn State Alumni Association conducted interviews with Millennial Chapter Presidents to hear how they develop leadership skills early on, learn from alumni who’ve been involved with their chapter for years (or decades), and stay connected to Penn State through their volunteerism.

Alumni Association: How did you initially become involved with your alumni chapter, and what inspired you to become your chapter's president?

Josh Hoch: I became involved with my local alumni chapter in December 2011, during a time when I think a lot of Penn Staters were trying to find ways to make a difference and become more connected to Penn State. When I got involved, I saw countless opportunities for growth and camaraderie of Penn State alumni in our region. I wanted to be the driving force that helps to bring local alumni, fans and friends together for one common reason — to connect with and support Dear Old State.

 

Alumni Association: Were you involved with any Alumni Association-related activities as a student, and following up on the first question, how did you learn about your local Alumni Association chapter? Was joining an alumni chapter something you knew about even as a student?

Josh Hoch: As a student, I was a member of the Blue & White Society and attended Alumni Association-sponsored events such as the Rally in the Valley, and sat in the S-Zone in Beaver Stadium to cheer on our Nittany Lions on those brisk Saturday afternoons in the fall. I was also a member of the Student Nittany Lion Club during my four years as an undergraduate student. I found out about my local alumni chapter shortly after I graduated, when I received a flyer in the mail and also received email newsletters. Toward the end of my senior year, I started to learn more about the Penn State alumni network and how powerful it is. I realized that there are alumni chapters all over the world, and that you can join these chapters to stay connected to Penn State by way of volunteering, fundraising, and attending social events and football watch parties.

 

Alumni Association: Being a young chapter president, did you have any prior experience that helped prepare you for this leadership position, and what have you learned during your time as chapter president that's helped you grow, personally and professionally?

Josh Hoch: I have been involved with the Capital Area Chapter for over six years now. When I first started, I helped plan social events, track memberships and led the design and development of a new website. Wanting to become more involved, I pursued a position on the board and then assumed the executive officer position of vice president. After being absorbed with the intricacies of the chapter for over five years, I felt I had gained a full understanding of how to successfully lead my local alumni chapter, which is home to more than 25,000 Penn State alumni. It was these experiences of starting from being a chapter member and striving to make a difference, that inspired me to strive for a leadership position.

 

Two of the biggest things I have learned during my time as chapter president is how to manage limited resources and to always keep an open ear. I have grown a deeper appreciation for the time and efforts former chapter presidents have put in to keep alumni chapters afloat, which cannot be done alone. In order to manage limited resources, you have to surround yourself with strong, passionate people that think outside the box. Open communication acts as a catalyst for new ideas, so I have learned to listen to not only our chapter board members and local alumni, but to fellow alumni leaders and alumni from all over the world. I take everything I learn from all Penn Staters to help take the Capital Area Chapter to the next level. Being that I work in a team-driven, information technology environment, understanding and respecting these two concepts has also paid dividends in my professional career.

 

Alumni Association: Do you have any chapter members who've belonged to the group for a long time, perhaps decades? If so, how special is it to bridge those generational gaps and have shared Penn State experiences with alumni who might've graduated decades earlier?

Josh Hoch: Our oldest chapter member is 80 years old and the median age of our chapter members is around 55 years young. We do, however, have a good mix of recent alumni within the past decade, too. Alumni chapters exist to be the catalyst for bridging the generational gaps within our alumni base. That has its challenges, at times, but those challenges are outweighed by the passion and bond we have for our alma mater. The unique stories and memories our seasoned members share with our more recent alumni, and vice versa, is what makes alumni chapter involvement worth it for any individual. When memories and stories are shared between multiple generations about seeing Penn Staters in other parts of the world and hearing the phrase, “We Are ... Penn State,” loud and proud, hanging out on the Old Main and HUB lawns, attending a game at Beaver Field/Beaver Stadium, the Berkey Creamery, or participating in THON, those are unique memories that must be cherished and passed on to future generations. It is this very pride and passion that our alumni have about Dear Old State that makes me extremely proud to be a Penn Stater and to lead my local alumni chapter.

 

Alumni Association: In what ways does belonging to an alumni chapter help you stay connected to Penn State, and why is it important to keep that connection?

Josh Hoch: Being a member of your local alumni chapter helps like-minded alumni, fans and friends stay connected by participating in social events, fundraisers, networking, conferences and volunteering. Keeping a close connection to our alma mater was engraved into all of us during our time at Penn State and makes us who WE ARE today. The camaraderie, passion, stories and memories we have made during our time at Penn State is what ties all of us together, forever. Sharing these experiences ensures that the traditions and connections to our alma mater will be carried on for future generations. For the Glory!

 

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