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Lynn Vogan overcomes adversity to spread health awareness.

In 2011, Lynn Vogan was immersed in the curriculum of culinary school at Scottsdale Community College when she realized that learning to cook was not the ticket to pursuing her dream of owning and operating her own business. After deciding to transfer to Northern Arizona University, where she arrived in the fall of 2011, Vogan not only faced the challenge of adapting to a new curriculum as a transfer student, but did so with the added hardship of dyslexia.

Despite these obstacles, Vogan has become one of the best students in the Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) program, all while helping to manage a company that helps put on campus events, being an active member of a transfer-student sorority, and mentoring other transfer students to help them adjust to campus life. 

The right ingredients

“I want to teach people about nutrition,” Vogan says. “In the past, I saw kids with unhealthy foods for lunch, and if I could have an organization where kids can see what goes in their own food, I believe that will benefit them.”

She also decided she wanted to do more with her career than be working in the back of the house. “I decided I wanted to run things,” Vogan says. “The HRM program here is one of the best in the country, so I knew I had to come.”

Since enrolling, Vogan has felt at home because of the relationships she’s built with her advisors and mentors in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. She lists Gary Vallen, a professor of HRM, as one of her favorite faculty members because of his ability to teach real-world lessons within a classroom setting.

Vogan says that Vallen has even set her up with a position at a local company that works in conjunction with SUN Entertainment on campus.

“That was my first job in Flagstaff,” Vogan says. “He used to own a casino company that put on events on campus. I’m a manager now, which is really helpful because I’m learning how to do all the paperwork involved. Once I graduate, I’ll be ready.”

These opportunities have enabled Vogan to focus on her education, even as a transfer student. Coming in, Vogan’s advisors informed her of the prerequisites for HRM students at the university, including the need to work 1,200 hours in local industries outside the classroom.

“The advisors go through everything you need,” Vogan says. “Coming in as a junior, it seemed really tough to finish, but they sat me down and taught me how to do it.”

Exploring opportunities

Having cemented herself as part of the HRM program, Vogan decided to round out her resume by participating in a variety of extracurricular activities tied to her major - she joined Hospitality Entrepreneurs, an organization designed to bring like-minded individuals together as they explore different realms of the hospitality industry. She is also a member of Tai Sigma, a transfer honors society.

But her most rewarding experience comes from mentoring transfer students.

As a peer mentor, it is Vogan’s responsibility to work with transfer students and ease their transition to the university. She admits her own experiences motivated her to apply in order to help those in need, and guide her in providing the most benefit to her mentees.

“I definitely could have used a mentor,” Vogan says. “Having someone who went through the same thing I did and understood what it was like would have been really helpful.”

Vogan says the fear of tackling challenges alone affects every transfer student in some way, but they need to believe in their ability to rise above this adversity.

“I tell them not to be afraid,” Vogan says. “They’re afraid to try things because they’re not going to know anyone, but that’s how you meet people and interact.”

Looking ahead

Vogan’s commitment is set to pay off when she graduates this December with honors. As she prepares for what comes next, Vogan is grateful for the opportunities she’s had at the university, and the connections she has made with both peers and professor alike.

“Here, you get the opportunity to interact with new people and experiences, every day,” Vogan says. “I really think you need to be able to work with people, and Northern Arizona University has definitely helped me do that.”