Lori Fisher ’80Executive Director of User Technology the Software Group at IBM Corp. San Jose, CA
One of Hartwick's first two Fulbright Scholars, Lori Fisher's wanderlust began in Vienna with Professor of German Wendell Frye, relishing the academic program abroad that he still leads as a J Term experience for Hartwick students. "It was an incomparable experience," Fisher recalls. "I had a taste of living in another culture." One bite was far from enough.
"I came straight back to Hartwick, went to the Dean's offce and said, ‘I have to go back; how do I get a Fulbright?'" She says, "Mary Beth Zollars '80 and I were on that early J Term program together – we both applied for a Fulbright and we both got it." Zollars returned to Austria; Fisher moved to Germany to study Modern German Poetry. (A music major, Zollars earned a Master's degree in German and became a high school German language teacher in Pennsylvania.)
"A Fulbright is a formative experience, a defning experience," Fisher explains. "Really, any international experience helps you be open to others. Once you realize what it's like to live outside your own experience, once you realize there is so much more beyond your native culture, you carry that always."
Fisher chose Hartwick for its English program, "expecting to be a poor poet," she says. She immersed herself in the program, becoming president of the Writing Club and editor/co-editor of the literary club and student newspaper. One of her favorite enterprises was The Writing Center, which she coordinated with the guidance of Professor of English Robert Benson. "He took personal interest in students' dedication to his subject; he helped us love it and breathe it," she remembers. Fisher graduated with a major in German as well as English, as a John Christopher Hartwick Scholar, and winner of the Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets, and the Kellogg Oratorical Prize.
"At Hartwick, as a small school, you can take a lot of responsibility, a lot of initiative," she says. "It's a very customized education that trains you to be an active participant in your life. You have opportunities to make the experience what you want, and that's great preparation for your career."
After the Fulbright, Fisher earned a Master's degree in English Summa Cum Laude from the University of Iowa. The lure of a challenge drew her toward the rapidly-growing field of technical writing. Today Fisher is Executive Director of User Technology for IBM Corp. She manages technical writers and user interface designers and is responsible for 200 employees in the U.S. and across the world in Canada, India, China, Germany, and England.
"I'm in technology, not with an engineer's brain but with a liberal arts brain," Fisher asserts. "That means I bring a whole new perspective. Studying the liberal arts is about analysis, content, and meaning; I see context and connections.
"I learned how to learn at Hartwick," this IBM executive adds with appreciation, noting that most of what she knew about technology 20 years ago is obsolete. Another benefit: "I am at an advantage in my work all the time because I can communicate well. It's an absolute asset in business."