When he isn’t busy being JSC’s Director of Admissions, Patrick Rogers focuses his camera lens on his favorite JSC scenery from the glistening colossus of Whiteface Mountain past the south lawn to the rugged terrain of the rugby pitch behind the tennis courts, literally just off the beaten path. As a former rugby player and club advisor, Rogers remains an ardent supporter of the men’s and women’s rugby teams to this day. Basement Medicine recently sat down with the 2011 champion rugby advisor for an exclusive interview.
What is your best memory of college?
My best memory of college was—there was many of them—but I would say many involved making some of the greatest friends for a lifetime here at JSC. None are still here on campus that I went to school with, but some of my best memories revolved around playing rugby, being part of a business program and making connections and traveling with them within the program. I’d say, out of who is still here on campus, are many of the leaders, like Michele Whitmore, who were some of my first managers and employers who taught me who to become today as a manager and also helped me become who I am. The faculty that are still here like Todd Comen and Jim Black who are some of the faculty I had when I was in the business program. Then [there’s] the theatre—there’s just so many experiences—because I earned my associate’s degree in tech theatre and a business degree. I have a wealth of experiences in both fields. I really enjoyed working for Burklyn Ballet Theatre Company [at JSC]—I worked with Conference and Events Services [CES] and for the theatre—I worked with that group over many summers which was really enjoyable to get to know them and come back every summer. I think a lot of my experience is in working in different departments on campus and making those connections and growing with my work knowledge.
What do you love most about rugby?
I don’t play any longer, but what I loved best was the camaraderie—I’ve seen it with the women’s team as a sisterhood and the men’s team as a brotherhood—individuals trying to accomplish a goal. Even though it’s a tough sport, you still have connections with the teams you play against. Actually, something I miss from playing is definitely the challenge when you’re out there. It also gives perspective, you know. Life is tough; we get knocked down, and we get back up again. That is definitely the quintessential part of rugby and why I’ve always enjoyed supporting the team as the previous advisor for the women’s and men’s team.
Who was a mentor for you growing up?
I’d say here at Johnson, it’s retired faculty member Tom Niles. He was always someone that told us we’d be winners and we’d be leaders, and I’ve seen many of my classmates be very successful in different fields, whether it’s finance or business and going many places in the world. He was someone that definitely was a mentor to many of us and the rugby team when I was a player here. He’s very successful and he’s kept those connections to this day—I still go to events and weddings—he’s always there to support all of us into the future, even past his retirement.
What are your go-to bands in your music library right now?
I always like Mumford and Sons. For me, it definitely varies—this Lumineers mix is kind of my big one. I really enjoy them. I’m a huge fan of classical music; it’s something that I use to focus. But, I’d say, right now Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers are my top bands.
What do you love most about your job at JSC?
Promoting the institution and connecting with students who might’ve never heard of Johnson State and telling them about the institution. Also, seeing them be successful here and watching them grow in the institution and write their own stories. Then, to see them graduate and continue that. To be a part of that process—I’m very grateful.
How do you relax after a long day’s work?
Typically, in the past I’d say I like to go to the gym, but recently I’d say reading is a huge thing for me. To read a book; it could be a self-improvement book and anything from that to a [John] Grisham book. Reading’s a great way to unwind. I also go into church as a way for me to unwind after a long day or a long week. That’s something that’s been a huge support for me.
What would you do if you were President of the United States of America?
That’s a huge question! First, I’d be surprised—rarely nowadays are we. It’s a very loaded question. There’s a lot of things I would want to do. At the end of the day, I always hope that I helped others and made people’s lives better. If I had the ability to do that in that position, which I think is a struggle no matter who is there, that would be my main goal. That would be my main aspect to make sure people feel heard. I think the biggest thing is just helping others if I could do that in that position.
Where’s your favorite place in Vermont to photograph?
Johnson State College. If you look at my Instagram account, VT802, I take a lot of my photos when I leave work at night and arrive in the morning. I’ve been here for many years, and it’s always just a beautiful location that’s always captured my heart.
What location would you love to photograph that haven’t yet?
Going back to that traveling experience, I’d say that I’d love to go to Wales, specifically; it’s always a place that has interested me. There’s some similarities to [Vermont], but I’ve always wanted to go to northern Scotland to hike and get to experience it and take photos.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Chinese food. It’s something that I think you shouldn’t eat too much of and something I probably shouldn’t have, but I definitely enjoy it.
What is your advice for students to get the most out of their experience at JSC?
I would say engage and never give up. Something that’s a lifelong skill is when you reach an obstacle, always reach out to others and connect. Never just stop in place; keep moving. The same kind of theory applied to rugby: always keep moving forward and communicate, work with others and move forward towards your goal. Sometimes we get knocked down, but you have to pick yourself back up and get out of the mud. The best thing about college is looking forward to where you want to go and how you can get there working with as many resources as possible and never stopping. Have tenacity, have grit. One of the rugby players used to say, “You should respect everyone, but don’t have fear, either.” I definitely think that’s a skill that you can really utilize. College is a place to try new experiences and take a dance class if you never thought you could do it before. Take a rock climbing class, take a class outside of your major and experience something new. I think it’s a great part of the Johnson experience is to try something outside of your normal viewpoint.
Where is your favorite place to hike?
I’d say Belvidere [Vermont]. It has a lot of great memories; the fire tower has a great view. I’ve had some great hikes up there with friends.
What’s your greatest accomplishment?
One of my greatest successes with my career at Johnson was volunteering for the women’s rugby team as their advisor and watching them win the national championship in 2011. It was one of the most amazing experiences and was gratifying to see them go to the national level with a sport and watch their continued successes to this day.
If you had to take a road trip with five athletes, alive or dead, who’d they be?
I’m a [New York] Giants fan, so I’d probably like to take Tom Coughlin. I think he’d be a fun coach. I think Jackie Robinson and players who throughout time have broken barriers, not just on the field, but within social boundaries. That would be much more fascinating to me than just those who won the game. Games come and go, but it’s the big moments in the world that’ve changed people’s viewpoints. That would be fascinating to me. That would be the group I’d take. [Robinson and Coughlin], that’d be a weird combo. With some thought, I’d choose individuals who have changed the world. Olympic runner Jesse Owens is the other [athlete]. Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens would be the two—I think five’s too many. If you’re doing a road trip, you don’t do a road trip with five people.
What change do you most want to see in the outcome of this unification process?
The change that I’d like to see the most is students having access and more opportunities in their educational experiences, which I think it will do. It’s something that I hope to definitely see occur.
What ways do you want to see these opportunities grow?
I think that’s yet to be developed, and the students will be part of that process of deciding. For me, it’s what the students want as well in line to them getting what they want for their education. I think incorporating them into that discussion will be a big part of that. It will take time, but… to have a connection with two communities that are small and personalized and having a much larger experience between the two and feeling a much larger connection will be very beneficial for the students as alumni going into a career. We’re still staying to our principles of being personalized campuses; the interactive classrooms have already been established. The rugby club has already had players from Lyndon play with our women’s team before and worked out an arrangement to do that. More interaction between clubs to do activities with each other and for performances to occur [at JSC] and [LSC] and to share the greatness of both schools with our peers creates great learning opportunities. It’s great that students here can learn about atmospheric science and students [at LSC] can learn about the different elite programs we have at Johnson like Outdoor Education, Wellness and Alternative Medicine and our environmental science and biology programs. Our world is very complicated, so the more opportunities you have to explore, the greater the education you will receive.
What is the meaning of life?
The meaning of life for me is having faith—that’s a huge part of my life—but also helping others…. a huge part of my life is giving back.