FTG 0003 - Happy Valley is Always Home: Economic Consulting, K-12, and Academia with Sam '04 '12g and Lauren '05 Bonsall

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Guest Bios:

We have two guests on this episode of FTG. The first is Sam Bonsall ‘04 ‘12g. Sam is the Reeves Family Early Career Professor in Accounting at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business in University Park, Pennsylvania where he teaches Master of Accounting and doctoral students and conducts research related to the impact of information on capital markets. Before joining Penn State in 2017, he served on the faculty of the Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business in Columbus, Ohio and worked in economic litigation consulting at Bates White LLC in Washington, DC. He earned a B.S. in Economics with Honors from Penn State in 2004. He also earned an M.S. in Business Administration from Penn State in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Penn State in 2012.

Lauren Bonsall ‘05 is a middle school math teacher in State College, PA where she teaches sixth through eighth grade students of a wide-variety of abilities. Before returning to public school teaching in 2019, she was able to concentrate her full-time attention on raising their two sons. She earned a BS in Secondary Education - Mathematics with Honors from Penn State in 2005. She also earned a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010.

Episode Specifics:

In this lively conversation, you’ll hear advice from both Sam and Lauren on:

• Engaging with campus as State College natives

• Stories from Penn State’s bands

• Insight into economic consulting

• Returning to graduate school after working

• The K-12 and Higher Ed faulty job search process

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Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form at https://schreyerhonorscollege-ftg.sounder.fm

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer). 

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer. 

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used unde r Creative Commons License. 

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and us ed under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how scholar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, the constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Goheen, class of two thousand and eleven and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. We have two guests on this episode of FTG. The first is Sam Bonsel. Sam Is the Reeve's family early career professor in accounting at Penn State's smeal college business in University Park, where he teaches master of accounting and doctoral students and conducts research related to the impact of information on capital markets. Before joining Penn state in two thousand and seventeen, he served on the Faculty of the Ohio State Universities Fisher College Business in Columbus and worked in Economic Litigation Consulting at Bates White LLC in Washington DC. Here in to BS in economics with honors from Penn State in two thousand and four. He also earned an MS and business administration from Penn stay in two thousand and four and a PhD in Business Administration, also from Penn State, and two thousand and twelve. Our second guest is Lauren bonds, all class of two thousand and five. Lauren is a middle school math teacher in State College, where she teaches six through eighth grade students of a wide variety of abilities. Before returning to pult school teaching in two thousand and nineteen, she was able to concentrate her full time intention on raising their two sons. Lauren earned a B US in secondary education with a focus in mathematics, with honors from Penn State in two thousand and five. She also earned a master of library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh in two thousand and ten. In this lively conversation. You'll hear advice from both Sam and Lauren on engaging with campus if you're a state college native, stories from Penn states, bands insights into economic consulting, returning to Graduate School after working in the k twelve and Higher Ed Faculty job search process. There's lots more to come, so let's just dive right into our conversation with Sam and Lauren Bonzel. Welcome to the show, Sam and Lauren. I'm so excited that you are here. How are you both today? Doing well, Sean, thanks for having us. I'm doing well as well, fantastic. So I know we've got a jam packed conversation ahead, but I want to just start. It's been a wild year. If Sam First, and in Lauren, tell me what are you working on right now in your respective roles? So I'll guess I'll go first. For me, it's a lot of what I'm doing is the same as it was before the pandemic. I'm working on research, on business research, and I can do that, fortunately, from the friendly confines of my Home Office. The fall semester was when I did my the bulk of my teaching, and that was a very different experience. I taught a hybrid sort of class and then as more of my students tested posit for Covid, the numbers in the in person Harhood part of it kind of shrink. So it was definitely a unique experience. But I'm sure Lauren can also talk about education in the world of covid nineteen, that's for sure. I'm a middle school math teacher and we've experienced all forms of instruction this year. We've been remote. We're currently hybrid. I teach some of my students online at home, some students are in person in front of me, and we're still changing. As of Monday, more students will be returning to the building. So it's been a learning year for the students as well as for me, as we've tried to learn all of these new methods of delivering instruction. Yeah, I bet that's been quite the adventure, especially in the K twelve ranks. Lauren is there. Has there been any particular success that you've found with those tools in the K twelve ranks or Sam with you in the university setting? One of my favorite tools that were using is a program called desmos, and it enables me to post problems that the kids can work on the most of them have a stylus on their computer and I can watch them in real time working through math problems and then give them feedback, either verbally or typed to them, and it's been so cool to be able to watch them. It gives me insight into how they're thinking in a way that if we were all in a class, I wouldn't be able to look at them all at the same time that way. So there have been some benefits to being able to see their work in real time. Yeah, I guess. For me I'm just thankful that I invested in canvas while I was at that school to the west of us. They adopted canvas...

...before Penn stated, and so I didn't have to learn that like a lot of my colleagues, since I was good with that and I've been teaching with an IPAD in the classroom for basically my entire academic career, so using that and transmitting over zoom my the problems I'm working in class was pretty seamless as it turned out. That's fantastic and I think to your point, Lauren, when my immediate thought was wow, that kind of goes against a lot of the things you hear about screen time, being able to use these pieces of technology. But I know somebody who struggled with maths in aktwelve setting. I think I probably would have benefited from that. So that's a really kind of a cool silver lining in in this scenario it is and the kid. It makes the kids appreciate the Pencil and paper problems also. I think that having a good balance between doing things on the computer and doing them on paper has worked really well for me this year. That's fantastic and I love that you both are innovating. I think that speaks to your experiences Shire scholars and I know Sam you just alluded to some of your previous experiences at another institution. But I want to take it really further back and I want to know you know you're both in education and you both are molding minds at a different levels. Is that something that you both always wanted to do, or did you kind of fall into that? I would love to hear kind of your your superhero origin stories, if you will. Yeah, so this was I my origin story is nowhere near where I ended up if you'd asked me when I was a kid what I wanted to do. So take me back twenty five years. I'm a huge Philadelphia Phillies Fan. The phillies go and they they lose the one thousand nine hundred ninety three world series to the tone of Blue Jay Sam. Don't really don't remind me. Don't remind me right. So, but at the time one of the star players was their catcher, Darren's Alton, and he was my he was my hero growing up and but he had a shortened career because of knee injuries. And my parents will laugh when I say this, but all I want to do is become an orthopedic surgeon and become the Phillies team doctor so that I could repair Darren Dalton's knees, not really thinking through the logic that by the time I got through medical school and residency and maybe ended up getting that position, that Darren Dalton would have been well retired anyway. So that's that's where I was years ago. That one thing led to another. I still thought I might want to be in medicine, but then to the late s I started trading stock online and each trade with a friend of mine and got interested in finance and economics, and so when I got the Penn state I decided to study economics and and that led me into consulting, and then the consulting got me introduced to academics and and then I got my phd and the rest is, I guess, history. My origin story is probably not quite as interesting or involved. I feel like from early elementary school I wanted to be a teacher. I could remember lining up stuffed animals my sister, whoever I could find to teach them at home, and it just changed as I grew what grade level I wanted to teach. I think that math first became exciting to me in early elementary school and specific teacher took an interest in my math abilities and really nurtured that love. And I had a number of wonderful math teachers throughout middle and high school and kept me interested in that career path. So I feel like I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. It's trying to funny. Sam. You know you really discovered this along the way, that you that you love the academic side versus Lauren. You know you're sharing that. You know this is always what you wanted to do and I think you know for any for you listening at home. You know, everyone has a little bit of a different path than until you find that passion and I think you know even in a marry a couple you can have differences there which. Speaking of, how did you two actually meet? It's not every day that we have a pair of shryer scholars that are a married couple and involved in the college and doing all the great things in the local community here and state college that you're doing. So how did you meet? I want to hear your story. Well, we met in the I guess, late summer, early fall of one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine and I was a beginning my senior year at State College are high school, Lauren was beginning her junior year and we were both in the state colleger high school marching band. I played Alto Saxophone, she played clarinet. Our ranks, which is the kind of small instrumental groups in the formations, as we call them, we're right next to each other and I was a rank leader for the saxophone rank and Lauren was what we called the left guide, and so we were right next to each other the left and of another scholars rank right. Yes, indeed indeed. Yeah, so you want to take it from there, Lauren, keep going with it. So we spent a lot of warm summer days outside together and I just in love listening to Sam Talk. He was always joking...

...around and we got to know each other as friends and then I decided that I wanted to invite this person to the homecoming dance. And so, late one night, after a football game and a meal at Highway Pizza, I pulled him into a dark sidewalk space and asked him if he wanted to go to the homecoming dance with me. And Sam will left, but he told me that he needed to ask his mom and waited three more days and kept me hanging. But we couldn't text and we didn't email and do those kinds of things at that time. So I had to wait my three more days and he said that thing that we talked about on Friday, I would love to go. So the rest is history. Oh my gosh, that must have been one very long weekend for you. Oh my God, it's worth it. So you're both locals. I know that there's often you kind of here two angles to that. Some you know some students who go to State College, eary high school they grow up and they're like, I'm going to Penn State and others say I'm going anywhere. But so how did you know, especially being in different grades, How did you both come to not only come to penn state but also select the Shire Honors College as part of Your Journey? Sure, I was definitely part of that. I'm never going to Penn State. I want to go anywhere but Penn State Group. I. Both of my parents went to a small private school and so I think that in their minds that was the way that I needed. I needed to follow a path like that, and they were terrified about me being at such a large school that I would kind of get lost in the crowd. So I felt like all through high school that was kind of the message that I had heard. Thankfully, Sam, being a year ahead of me, had already started at the Honors College when I was figuring out my path and I figured out that I kind of wanted to be close to home, and having Sam at Penn State certainly helped and showed me that the honors college really is a college within this large university and is able to provide so many of those small school aspects that I and my parents were looking for in a college. So I changed paths I and decided that that was where I wanted to go. Yeah, so for me, Sean I, I was in that that bucket, my mindset at least, was in that bucket of anywhere but penn state. And so I applied to many schools, Ivy League institutions, other state schools, with the thought there's no way I'm going to Penn State. But when you come down to an you really think about it, there's something that's basically in your backyard. That's all. It is a super wonderful place. When you're in high school you don't really get to experience what Penn State is, except for football, but you don't get to understand what the Penn State College experience is about. And I had some friends who are in jazz band with me who are in the Shuire Honors College and they were really enjoying their experience and and factory and also the the financial aspect of it when it when I was frankly thinking about the University of Virginia, etcals scholars program or try rotters college, and I'm facing out of state tuition, it for Virginia or in state tuition and the academic excellent scholarship and maybe other scholarships down the line it. You know, I'm a fairly rational guy. I was getting ready study economics. These things, these things matter, matter to me right and I would never look back. So certainly I didn't go into it thinking either, but I became one of those statistics. You had like two thirds to three quarters of typical state college high school graduating class goes to penn state and I'm proud of it and I think that it's in none of our pair of our four parents worked at the university and so it really was a different experience than we were used to being on campus. I remember walking around before school started and remembering realizing that I hadn't walked anywhere except around on the stadium area or downtown, and so it was a new experience. It wasn't just a continuation of high school for us. Like you said, Sam, you had this world class institution, especially with the shryoners college right in your backyard. So from a rational decision making perspective, the rational being in economics or in political science definitely a great choice and I'm glad that you both made that. You know skipping a little bit ahead in the story, but you're built amazing volunteers with the college, so really appreciate that. But I want to hear about your experience as a scholar. We've we've talked about you know, you came in, you knew what you were going to major and it sounds like and you stuck with that, which is kind of uncommon at times. But I'd love to hear you know, you're involved, tell us about what all...

...major experience special what clubs are, activities and research where you involved in? So it's interesting. You said that we stuck with our majors. I in fact did not stick with my major. So the little backstory here. My my mom more so than my dad, had this idea that only engineers good jobs and so there's a lot of pressure to major in engineering and so I think to placate my my mom, I actually entered Penn state as an engineering, science and mechanics major, but I very quickly, in the what I think was edng one hundred class of the time, realized this is was not my my cup of tea and and I knew, knew I wanted to study economics, but had hard, a hard time convincing my mom that that was a good thing to do when I was still in the house. But once I was liberated and living at Atherton Hall, there was nothing stopping me from going and filing paper work with the College of Liberal Arts. And that's what I did with in the first two weeks of the first semester of my college experiences, I switched Major. I switched majors. I was barely in the major and I switched to ECON and and and so then I stuck it out with with ECON and then and then discovered accounting along the way to which was I think I had a big impact on me. One of the I think that the truly remarkable experience as I had in the in my time of kind of state was the Economics Honors Program so my Honors Advisor, Dr David Shapiro, was my he was in charge of this departmental honors proger in which he was very proud of saying predates both the Shuyer Honors College and the University Scholars Program. So the ECON department had a history of enriching education for students and it was a was a great twelve credit sequence during my senior year and which we studied the kind of the philosophy of economics also worked on our theses with it with a small group of I think there are probably ten to twelve students all together. So we really got to know each other quite well. I got to know Dr Shapiro well and Dr Pinksy, who is the other ECON faculty member, and I really think it was in that program it really, I think, got me thinking about academics as a as a possible future career option. So I think that's something that I'm not sure the all scholars have that same opportunity within there, within their major, but that was certainly a big, big thing for me. Outside a ECON A lot of my time was spent out on the fields, the intramural fields by the stadium, as a member the the blue band, playing saxophone. I can't tell you how many hours of practice over the course of four years that was, and over the course of four years that were particularly terrible for Penn State football. Let me add I got to so the Blue Band likes to, at least when I was trying out for the first time, like to build this as you get this free trip every year at New Year's to these wonderful locales like like Arizona or Florida or New Orleans or taxes. Turns out I got one trip in four years too, if you count the the socalled pretzelable that we attended in reading PA during my freshman year. But that was that was a blast. I made many, many friends, lifetime friends, being in the blue bands and many, if it were actually interesting enough, in the in the honors college as well. Sam, was that the was that a citrus bowl? By any chance it was. Yeah, you know, it's funny is I think I may have seen you march at Universal Studios and that one good year in those dark years, as they call them. So if you were if you were there, I saw you at that theme park down the street. So after seeing all of the time that Sam spent into with Blue Band, despite the fact that he was really loving it, I decided I was not going to try out for a blue band, but I did have the chance to participate in the basketball pet band with him and some other Atherton Hall friends, which was a great way to continue my clarinet playing through college. One other thing that really stands out to me during my time at Penn State is the opportunities I had to actually teach math, whether it was during a pre student teaching experience, which I had a number of. Thinking I got to go to Claysburg my freshman year. We drove in this fifteen passenger van, woke up at four oclock in the morning in order to get there every Tuesday so that we could work with students. I had another experience through an honors college class to go to Bald Eagle and work with students who are struggling to learn how to read professor, or an instructor, I guess, of Math. A friend of one of my the mother of one of my friends, asked me if I would be interested in tutoring one of the intro math classes at Penn state, and so I was able to have that opportunity to work with college students and help them with math all the way to my student...

...teaching experience in Pittsburgh. So I really had a chance to work with a number of different age groups and different math levels, and I think that that really helped to solidify the my belief that being in the classroom was the place where I wanted to be. I think that really speaks to what I hear from so many scholar on I like Shire doesn't guarantee you the world, but it opens a lot of doors to our scholars and those opportunities that you only get because they the fact that you are in the Shire Honors College. So that is some great stuff to hear. I want to start talking about your transitions into, you know, your careers, but I would be remiss if I didn't ask you if you both remember your thesis topics and possibly what you learned out of that process. So my thesis, I think, had a title something along the lines of bank opacity and the and monetary policy transmission or something like that. I think what I got out of it is I learned how to do statistical computer programming. I learned Sass to do the day and data analysis, and that has served me well in the year. Sense, my thesis was about making the connection between children's literature and Middle School Mathematics, and it makes me smile thinking about it because those are my two passions. I love to read and I love to teach math and I, after graduating from Penn state, taught for a few years and then decided when I was time to go back and get my master's that I was going to get that in library and information science. So it continued to kind of project what my journey might look like combining these two loves that I have. That is awesome. That's not something that you think of every day, being able to combine this combined mad and literature. That my advisor still may not think that that's a very good idea, but well, Hey, you have that honors metal at home or in your you know, in your office, so certainly we're in your classroom. I should say you know. So I think that that would prove that it was a great topic. Other trap. So it sounds like Lauren, you went straight into teaching. But Sam, I know you have not always been in academia. Can you tell us a little bit about your pit stop along the way in in a different career paths? Yeah, so I so, toward the end we started this conversation, like me changing my mind and what I wanted to do all the way get back to my aspirations to be an orthopedic surgeon. I actually, by the end of my college career, thought I still thought I wanted to attend law school at some point, but I wasn't ready to do that yet. And so I took a job at Bates White, Ballantine at the time. Now it's Bates White, which is an economic litigation consulting firm headquartered in Washington DC, with the thought that I could kind of marry the disciplines of economics and its application to the law. So at Bates White we were hired by law firms to write expert reports to support large scale civil litigation. And so during my time of Bates White I worked on securities class action lawsuits involving fraud allegations of fraud. I work for eighteen months on bankruptcy proceedings related to and Ron Corp, which was when I was in college, this huge bankruptcy as, I think, the seventh largest in US history. It's, I mean, the kind of the poster child for bad corporated behavior and it's still, you know, a big issue here I and now, twenty years later, teaching accounting, it's still it's still comes up, it's still important. But it was at bates white that I learned that I was much too much of a quant to go to law school. Is what I decided. And so, and also most of the partners at my firm were PhD or our PhD economists and may have spent some time in academia before joining the consulting ranks on a more full time basis, including the former chair of the Penn State Economics Department, Bob Marshall, and and so just interacting on a day to day basis with these really smart PhD level economists, and that's just kind of kind of lit the fire to maybe that would be something that I would want to do. And that, coupled with the fact and consulting of that site, there's an unwritten rule that at some points on Bates White was a little less structure than some other consulting firms where was a to and out rule bates white. At some point you need to go back to the business wool, get an NBA, go to law school, get your jd or get a PhD. And so little by little, all the all the the my colleagues who started with me in two thousand and four started going off to graduate school and I was one of the last to to be at the firm. And and so I decided I should probably go go back to Grad school if I ever want to do that.

And and so I went back to Penn state into a thousand and seven. That is that is quite the rebound boomerang. And and I think a theme here is that it won't be the last time, right Sam, that's right. We can't get enough of this place. So I think you alluded to this a little bit earlier, but so you know, you come back to penn state, you earn your doctorate and then what was the next part of your journey? And you can use the full name of the the institution. It's okay. Yeah, so in a and this is different. So I maybe to kind of preface the response here. In Business School PhD programs, business schools have historically had a shortage of PhD level faculty at universities and so it's the objective to get a job as a tenure track academic, whereas and some fields, and economics included, the production of PhDs well exceeds the number of positions at universities. So there are a lot of really smart ECON PhDs who go to work for firms like base white but don't go an act. So I knew going into the program my goal was to move into an academic position. But there's this idea in in business school and then again, this is not consistent with all fields. So anyone out there who's thinking, well, maybe I want to get a PhD in engineering. It's different in engineering, but business schools don't typically hire their own PhD grads. There's the the the term I've heard as a Grad student was like it was called intellectual inbreeding, maybe not fully politically correct, with that was the term that was splowed out. The idea was it you want to go out there and mix ideas with other people who were trained by others. So I went and did this fairly elaborate interview process during the number statements. Yeah, yeah, winter of two thousand and twelve, so I think so. Colleague of mine actually made me a t shirt with on the fronts like the bonsel national tour two thousand and twelve. I think I interviewed to twenty one universities across the across the country, but ultimately I got a few job offers and ultimately decided to start my career at the Fisher College of business, APP the Ohio State University, as they they like to refer to it, and it's that's that's where I got got going on this academic thing. So that sounds like it was a pretty wild couple of years for you both. Lauren, you mentioned you went back and got a master's, that it was a pit. I believe it was, but we keep them a little bit quiet. Great, it's a great school. It is a great school. We don't want to knock pit on the academics. We just need we just want to cheer really hard against them on the field, the court, the RNS, right whenever, on the Mat, whatever it is. If Penn State had offered a master of library and information sites, I would have been there, but you got to go where the program is exactly exactly. So it sounds like a pretty wild period getting masters, getting a PhD, job searching and if I am correct in knowing a little bit about your story, I think there was also you were starting a family around this time. I was going to say it is correct and I was going to say we wonder sometimes whether Sam's twenty one school visit or me being working full time caring for our ten month old son was the worst deal there. So it was a wild few months. So we were excited when we finally knew where we were going to wind up and we could be settled and kind of return to normal life again. Well, I think that's you. I bet you've learned a lot and I hear more and more from students. You hear more and more in the Zikegeist about this idea of work life balance. So I'm sure you both must have learned some great nuggets of how to balance a family, job searching, getting advanced degrees all and working all at the same time. So if you have a couple of nuggets that you want to drop for the scholars listening, I have been working full time our older son, Colin, whose ten now, was born and I continued working full time because Sam was still in school. And then when we moved to Ohio, I thought that I would continue working full time and had some interviews and things didn't work out and I decided to take that as a sign that it was time for me to take a step back from teaching. And that was really hard. I loved my jobs, I loved being in the classroom and I really had no idea what to do being a stayathome mom. But the what turned into seven years of me being able to be home with my boys I'm so thankful for and I think that it's okay to change your ideas about what your life looks like and what your plan looks like. In the past two years I've been able to return to working and I'm so lucky that I was able to find a part time teaching job. So I feel like I'm still working towards that balance, but the ability to be in the classroom and also be a mom who gets the boys off the...

...school bus. When the pandemic is over, I guess I have to pick them up from school now, but it helps me to balance and I think that they are really proud of being knowing that I'm teaching at the school next door and they love asking me about my students and math, and so being able to kind of have my feet straddling both worlds has worked out really well for me. So I think from my perspective, an academic career is actually particularly difficult, I found, to get to work life balance unless you really work at it. And the reason is it's not a nine hundred and twenty five type of job because a lot of what I'm doing when I'm not teaching, right to the teaching you can think, Oh, it's you're teaching certain class as a certain period of time. And a certain semester and the semester begins at this point and ends at that point and you grade and then you're done. But that's only a third of kind of the job that I'm expected to do it. The rest is is to is to publish research, which is to come up with questions that haven't been answered in my field and try to answer them with with data in some way. Right. But coming up with those questions, it's a very unstructured process and so it's really hard to kind of turn your mind off at five o'clock or a five thirty or at six o'clock, and so that's been that's been a kind of an ongoing back and forth. I think for me what's helped is, as the kids have gotten older and I've gotten involved being a den leader in Scouts or assistant baseball coach, is that, you know, the practice of those are a natural way to like, okay, I gotta I gotta go, I've got to go do something else, and I at least I get for some period of time can shut off the thinking about research or thinking about how to, you know, how to satisfy this anonymous reviewer at a journal's concern about the paper this or out another way. I feel like that work life balances as factored in for us is a couple of years after I started at Ohio State, I got a job offer from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and because of the statue of that school lauren and I we took it seriously. We went for a we went to Philadelphia for a weekend for a full real estate tour and it meets a Factuley. But the the one thing that we were thinking about now was, you know, we gotten comfortable and Columbus. So it was a it was a medium sized city with a reasonable commute, a low cost of living and a department where we were productive. But there weren't these, I think, astronomical sorts of expectations about what you should be doing and how you should be doing doing your job. As long as you were you're publishing, they didn't really care. You know what you're if you work from home, a little bit this or that, but just what I knew about about pain and the Warton School, it was going to be completely different. The the time in the office was going to be the expectations for that were going to be extensive. The the obligations greater and going to the place like Philadelphia, we were going to live much farther away from campus and we were at a high of state. And so then you factor in the commute time and I I think that collectively, despite the the prestige of the job, it just wasn't it was just wasn't right for us from from a couple of family of worklife balanced type of perspective, and so I think that, you know, sometimes work life balances is trading off the maybe like the the pinnacle kind of job that you're you're aspiring to, because taking that job necessitates trading off other things and I just we weren't willing to werm willing to do that. Yeah, I mean that sounds like, you know, I imagine that was probably some very tough conversations and a lot of thought put into that. Pen is obviously a very prestigious school. Sounds like you were willing to leave Columbus because obviously you are now back here in happy valid again. So touching. You tell us a little bit about that process and how, you know recruitment and job searching works in an academic setting. Yeah, so it's turned out that that recruitment process was one that my my former advisor, really got started through just informal conversations, talking with me whether I we would be interested in moving back at some point, you know, if the timing was right. And Lorden, I loosely talked about it. But we still figure that the horizon for moving back to Penns Day was still a number of years away because again, this whole idea got your PhD there. You can't go back. But I guess the the success I had in in my early career made it made it more feasible to make that that recruitment earlier in my...

...career and I don't know, one thing led to another and and then I guess it was the fall of two thousand and sixteen. The the person who is the head of the factory recruiting committee called me and said we want to want to interview to to come back, and so someone will be in touch to pick a weekend and so well, it's real now. And so we picked a weekend and it just so happened we picked the we picked the weekend to coincide with when we were going to come be coming back to town anyway, which was the weekend of the the Ohio State Penn State football game, and if any of you big penn stay foot fans out there are remembering that two thousand and sixteen game, Oh yes, when we've blocked a field goal and we defeated the buck eyes to really begin this trauejectory under coach Franklin that we've kind of continued since, since that season, because the beginning of that season wasn't going well, and it really was that I think that game was a catalyst for what what was to become with trace, mcsorley, say, Quan all those guys. So yeah, so we can. I interviewed. It's it was the sort of the standard interview, academic interview, come in, have dinner the night before, although it was a little bit different because my advisor Carl, or former advisor Carl, took me out to dinner, so it wasn't like this strange faculty member and then thirty minute office visits with with the different faculty, although I will have to say that the interview didn't go smoothly in the sense that we were supposed to bit of launch and there's this tie place since stay college, Cozy Tie, and one of the faculty members was taking me there for lunch, but he didn't consult the schedule and didn't allow enough time for to get parked and have meal before getting me back to the see that to meet with the Dean, which is one of the important meanings, and so it turned out. We got seated, realized that there was no time left, so we had a little bit of our work, glass of water, got back in the car zoomed back to the the business building and so I got an energy bar rather than a restaurant meal for my lunch and then our department share at the time. He had his tradition of taking the speakers. So part of an academic interview is is presenting a paper for ninety minutes, and academic job Docs actually presentations of any kind. It's basically you against the world. You've got a paper and everybody in the audience is attacking your paper from every possible angle about why it's not an interesting question, while the statistics you've done or wrong, why the data you have is bad, why it doesn't contribute beyond existing literature. So that's what I'm getting ready for and department chair says, Oh yes, my tradition Sam to take speakers to the creamery before the presentation. So we go to the creamery and we have creamery ice cream, you know, large portion sizes, and then he brings me in five minutes late to the to the start of the presentation. So the room is full. I've got a kind of fumble around with my USB drive to get my presentation loaded onto the computer and then it's you know, the questions start flying, but it all at all ended well, a couple weeks later I got I've got a call from the department share with the the formal offer and and then the the decision making. Well, I think our decision was made, but then it was it was tough. It would I think it was really hard because, you know, I spent five years and, despite all the joking about Ohio state, made a lot of lasting relationships with with faculty there. My Department share at Ohio State is my was my academic grandfather. He was my advisor's Advisor at University Illinois years ago, and so there are a lot of a lot of connections established and it's really tough to tell them. You know, hey, I'm leaving and saying goodbye to all those all those good friends and good colleagues, but we were excited to come back that. I've never heard about an academic interview quite like that. Is Intense. I can only imagine that, especially with a belly full of creamery ice cream. Exactly exactly. But I think to balance out, Lauren, I would love to just hear like what a K twelve teacher might go through in an interview process, for for you know, for any students listening on who have that on the horizon. Yeah, thankfully, it seems very easy compared to what Sam has described. I know that my process started when we were still in Ohio. I can still remember sitting in Sam's home off as the Department Chare here, who knew me, who actually I had had for a PIE statistics in high school and then was on the team that hired me. When we moved back the second time, called me and said I are you ready to come back, because he had heard through the grape vine that we were moving back. And that was the first time...

...that I had to make the decision about what I wanted to do and I decided that I just wasn't quite ready to return. And then the opportunity came up again in two thousand and nineteen and he called again and said we have another position and I think this would be great for you, and I decided that that was the right time to interview. So thankfully it was a small group of people. I think the hardest part was that on this interview process I had met the principal previously. One of my best friends was on the interview team, another colleague that I was familiar with was on the team, and so it was awkward in the sense that I was knew everybody and but thankfully it was just about a half hour of questions. I had a chance to talk about my previous teaching experience and coaching. I was able to coach the math counts team to Pennsylvania State Championship during my previous experience, so that was fun to be able to talk about that and was able to get a call a couple days later that they were interested in having me back. So thankfully it's not the same involved process that Sam has had to go through. YEA, that that sounds intimidating. So it sounds like that might have been a little bit of a more I don't want to say job interviews are enjoyable, but at least definitely more absolutely, and I think that sometimes districts will ask you to teach a lesson. I think that because this group was so familiar with my teaching that that was not part of my interview, but I know that I've heard that that is a possibility out there. So some people may have a more involved interview process. That made sense, some insense, you know, kind of get a little bit of a vibe of what you're you know you're teaching style is time. It's a lot of sense which, speaking of I would love to hear and take this, as you will pre pandemic, post pandemic during but like, what is a and you alluded to this little bit with, you know, some of the IPAD and and the digital tools that you're using, but what is a day in the life of a math teacher? Like? I love it when the kids are working together. My my ideal day is nothing like what I'm doing now. I Today I was at my chair, the in front of my computer the entire time and, although we're making the best of it, in a normal year I would never sit down. I joke that I don't even realize I have a desk at school because I'm constantly moving around the room. I don't like standing in front of the board and lecturing, but I love giving the students problems to work out that they don't necessarily know how to do it completely when they get started, but that they're kind of working together to do some trial and error or developing new strategies. So anything that I can do to get them engaged in the process that we're working on is my goal every day. I love to have them talking and sharing ideas and it's my favorite when different people come up with different strategies. I am not a fan of problems that only have one way of doing them, so giving some of these multidimensional kinds of problems are my favorite way to teach math. You know, that's not surprising at all based on, you know, Sam, what you're doing in academic research and and Lauren, as you know, a scholar alumni, you're continually challenging the status quo in your respective areas and I think that just as a hallmark of our grads. But you know, when you're shures dollar, not everything comes easy and I'd love if both of you could share you know, you could call them a learning opportunity, something that you know mistake you made along the way and, most importantly, because you are both scholar alumni, what you learned from it. It integrated into your life for profession since. So, I guess for me this is this is post graduation, I'd say, where I want to I want to focus. But you might think the academic research is a little bit more of a kind of by yourself sort of activity, but it's it's there's a lot of there's a lot of collaboration, right, and so this is all the idea when you're go into school and you're doing group projects and you're bemoaning working with others and dealing with free riders and all this stuff. You know, it even even even effects professors, as it turns out. I think some of the biggest mistakes I found are choosing co authors to work with who just aren't all that into research and and participating in that, in that whole process, because it's a it's an arduous process. To get a paper from idea to publication is often a five year endeavor for a particular paper, and so I've really early in my career choosing to work with people I was friendly with. Right. That was a starting point and that turned out to be a not so good choice, and so...

I've been much more, much more selective about the people I work with on on research, and I think they just the importance of picking your team when you can, when you have the choice over those individuals. Picking Your team is so important to the ultimate success of whatever your endeavor is, whether it's research, whether it's a client project or whether it's you're helping, you're helping your students succeed, and I think that, in addition to picking your team, which I love, that idea that being prepared is what helps me to avoid or reduce the number of mistakes I make. I think that when I think about the days that don't go well for me, it's because I'm under prepared. There's more to planning a lesson than just coming up with an agenda and there's a lot of trying to predict what kinds of questions, are problems that students are going to encounter as their learning new material, and the more time that I spend kind of brainstorming the he's road blocks for them, the better my day is going to go, because then when they ask a question or they stumble through something, I'm ready for to give them some piece of wisdom or negative knowledge so that they can continue working. So the mistakes that I've made are can be solved, I guess, by thinking through scenarios ahead of time. I also think that when I learn best from it is when I then take notes after it's easy to kind of teach my day and then head out and not think about it again. But I love it when I can go back the next year and see posted notes with information about how something went or this was a great question that was asked this day. Make sure that you bring this up next year. And I my memory is not good enough anymore to remember these things from year to hear, but if I can write them down and then find them rediscover them again, it really is helpful to me going forward. Wow, those are really really great suggestions for for the for whoever's listening to this. You know, Sam, something I thought of. When you say bad about picking your team, sometimes you can't necesside pick your team. But even when you know something, especially any senior scholars are probably thinking about as taking that first job right and when you're interviewing you're also interviewing a potential employer and, let's face it, in an office environment. You're around your co workers as much as, or maybe even more than, your family and friends. So that's a huge decision. And Lauren, you know great, great points about being prepared and leaving yourself suggestions and really reflecting, I think, is word that comes to mind on like hey, what went well here? This was a great question. Let me incorporate that or oof that. That approach didn't work so well some of you. I can change that next time and say I'm you already. You give a shout out to your thesis advisor and some other faults, but I love if you know, if this is your chance for the both of you, if you want to give a shout out thank you to any friends or professors from your scholar days. Yeah, I guess beyond again, just shout out to Dr David Shapiro, wherever you are out in New Mexico. I think you've retired in New Mexico at this point. But thanks for all the the wisdom years ago, and to Charlie Smith, who I still see in the Department of accounting. You got me, you got me into accounting right if with, if it were for you, who knows where I would be and I would say thank you to Dr Janet Bobango, who is my student teaching supervisor. Once I decided that I wanted to do secondary man you get certified in seven through twelve and I always assumed that I would be a high school math teacher. At that point, kind of look down at Middle School. Who would ever want to go back to Middle School? And when I was getting ready to do my student teaching experience, Dr Bobango said, I really think you should think about middle school and I just thought that that was the worst idea ever, but I figured if she had faith that I could do it, that what better time than doing it when I had a mentor to walk me through it step by step, and it really changed my life. I've taught middle school every experience that I've had and I love Middle School. I can't imagine being anywhere else and she really shaped my self as a teacher right now. That is wonderful. I hope they get to hear this at some point. I just have two final questions for the both of you. First, you're both involved with Penn state in various ways as alumni and I love if you could just give a very brief overview of the ways that you're giving back in that capacity. Yes, so, I guess it's been about two years now, but I have been a member of the scholar Alumni Society board and and Sean, I want to thank you for coming down to my office, you know, two years ago, Issh and and pitching the idea. It's been. It's been a great experience to me alumni from all different kind of...

...periods of time. Right, we get to we remember the the the scholars who, you know, we went through the college experience with, and so I'll take this opportunity to shout out to someone like Sean misco. You keep saving democracy, okay, but it's been it's been a thrill just to meet scholars who graduate only a couple of years ago, scholars who graduated before the shier honors cause when I was the university scholars program it's just it's amazing to see where people have gone in the different perspectives they bring into the the issues and really just how many people care about linking back to our current students and giving back. I think that's been, you know, a terrific part of it and I really enjoyed being able to, instance, I'm here and stay college being able to interact at least before the pandemic. You know, going to Afforton Hall and do a resume workshop like I did for the the student council, and hope to do more of that in the future, but it's has been. It's been a wonderful experience. Yes, thank you, Sam. I think that was one of the better walks across campus that I've ever taken. I was I remember it was a very beautiful sunny summer day walking up to the business building from Atherton and we really appreciate you having, you know, taking the time to be on our alumni society board and being a leader and some exciting things that you're helping a contribute to around mentorship that aren't quite ready for prime time, but we're we're developing them and, you know, putting some good efforts into them. So I want to say thank you for what you're doing and what you're going to do as you continue on on our board. And Lauren, I know you're doing some other interesting things across campus as well. Right. I I need to thank Mitch Kersh for getting me involved when we were back here the second time. She had me helping with the implementation of the pilot interview process for admissions and it just showed me kind of another side of the Honors College. And this year I've just started working as part of a donor tesk force within the women's Philanthropic Advisory Board and just getting a chance to meet some fantastic women who are looking for great ways to encourage women to donate and participate at Penn State. So I'm looking forward to seeing how that goes over the next couple of months. Yeah, I'm looking forward to hearing about that too. I know Brenda Walker and Haley stab who is a scholar Alumna herself, right are are, are putting that initiative together and I really look forward to seeing what comes of that, as some of our colleagues here in the Division of Gentlemen Alum my relations at Penn State. So keep me a prize to that. I'm looking forward hearing that's happening. The one final question for you both. This is a real fun one, is but the important part is explain why on this one. If you were a flavor of Burkey creamery ice cream, which would you both be? And again, why, as scholars, explain your why? Well, it turns out Shawn that we know this is one of the listeners out there. Was You can interview. You get a couple questions up front to think about, not everything, and it turns out that, not surprisingly, the married scholar couple chose the same flavor. So we would we would both be the WPSU coffee break and because I always need a pick me up, that caffeinated pick me up to get me, particularly early in the morning, get me going, and I you know, it's harder to do the older I get, but I do burn the midnight oil and so that's that's often helpful to get me through whatever work I'm trying to finish up for the evening. Maybe, maybe, Lauren, you've got a different rationale for that was exactly what I had said. But you can't forget about the chocolate. I said, we love cooking together and we love eating savory foods together, but we also both have a little bit of a sweet tooth, and so those little chocolate bits mixed within the coffee flavored ice cream, I think, just provide that perfect sweet finish to the day. Indeed. Excellent choice, excellent choice. You can't go wrong and that was a very great sweet way to end our conversation today. If any of our students want to get in touch with either of you, what's the best way that they could connect with you? So they can find me on Linkedin. Just search for Sam Boncil. I'm also I have a Sinema Faculty member. You can find me on this meal College of Business Accounting Department Faculty page. It seems like the education world is not as involved with Linkedin, so you can find me on facebook or instagram or on my school district website. Well, I hope that some of you, if you have interest in learning more and connecting with Sam or Lauren, will take advantage of that. Thank you both so much for joining me today and dropping some great bits of wisdom and sharing your story. I really appreciate it. Thanks on thanks. Has Been a blast. Thank you, scholars,...

...for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shure Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays dot PSU DOT edu, forward slash shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say uptodate on news events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU dot eedu. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

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