In the Spotlight: Sarah (Knowlden) Thomas '06

Sarah (Knowlden) ThomasSarah (Knowlden) Thomas ’06 majored in business administration and participated in the theatre while a student at Lycoming College. Today, she is using the skills she honed at Lycoming in her role as marketing and communications director at York County Community Foundation.

1. What made you choose to attend Lycoming College?

My junior year of high school, a Lycoming College alumnus came to speak to my AP Calc class and brought applications along with him. Honestly, my mother wanted me to at least apply to Lycoming, due to its proximity to our family home, and the recommendations of family friends who attended. After getting lost on Penn State’s main campus during one visit, I saw the value of attending a school where you could really stand out and make meaningful connections with the faculty and staff.

2. What is one of your favorite memories, classes, professors, or activities while attending Lycoming College as an undergraduate student?

My on-campus work-study assignments were some of my favorite memories from my time at Lyco. I spent quite a few hours in the costume and set shops and box office of the Mary L. Welch Theatre, but my favorite work-study assignment was as the student assistant to Dr. Bonita Kolb. Her influence on my career path has taken me places I never imagined, and to this day, I use a Moleskine notebook to keep track of my daily tasks and big ideas because she never went anywhere without one. There are authors she introduced me to that I still read and reference with regularity, and her very own books are a current source of tourism marketing strategies for a major project I’m working on.

3. How has your education at Lycoming College influenced or helped you in your life and career?

Many people in my life weren’t sure what value my many theatre classes would bring to my life, but the stage management and public performance skills I learned have played a role in every professional position I’ve held. Most notable, however, would be the job of a lifetime in public relations for Motor Trend Auto Shows. Once you’ve performed “Rocky Horror Picture Show” in front of your friends and family, including your grandfather, giving regular live interviews to TV audiences seems easy!

4. What is one or two of your proudest professional or personal accomplishments that occurred after graduating from Lycoming in which your education really played a role?

As I mentioned, Dr. Kolb had a strong influence on me, especially her expertise in tourism marketing. Having an education that included this area of study led me to take on the challenge of media relations and social media strategy for the Pennsylvania Office of Tourism under two different administrations. Currently, I’m putting this expertise to use leading a steering committee working to build a tourism brand for York County, Pa.

5. What piece of professional advice would you give your fellow Lycoming alumni?

If you have taken full advantage of your Lycoming College education, you will be unstoppable. By full advantage, I mean looking beyond the classroom to the variety of opportunities Lycoming offers — internships, special interest groups, one-on-one relationships with professors, and other promising students and faculty. Life is all about connections, and the ones you make at Lycoming could turn out to be some of the most valuable ones you have — the ones that make you unstoppable.