As the Dec. 19 graduation ceremonies approached, busy hands, busy ears and a busy
schedule continued to be what Scott Rogers manipulated, to great effect, since he
chose to attend Ferris State University.
As Rogers wrapped up his studies at Newaygo High School, in early 2013, it turned out Ferris’ stature in West Central Michigan shaped his higher education choice.
“Right after I made my choice, I began hearing that my uncles and other relatives had also gone to Ferris,” Rogers said. “There’s a lot to be said for being able to live at home and attend a university, which was very much in keeping with my family’s financial desires when I began my studies. I was very happy to continue our family legacy by choosing to commute to campus.”
His first career path was in the Graphic Design program, where he discovered similarities to his current professional focus, Technical and Professional Communication.
“I still see important elements of graphic design that help to frame technical writing, and aspects of professional communication,” Rogers said. “It has served as excellent background for where I am heading at the moment, professionally. I have been very comfortable with my studies in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education.”
Rogers began gaining necessary credits for studies in Mortuary Science, which he planned to pursue elsewhere, after completing courses at Ferris. He said that plan remains a dream deferred.
“The prerequisites I was being asked to complete would change, almost on a semester-by-semester basis,” Rogers said. “It was a little beyond my finances and desire to keep making those adjustments. The school has indicated the program requirements are a bit more stable now so I may follow my interests in that area at a later point in time. A majority of the necessary classes will soon be available through remote instruction.”
Rogers’ academic path has had interruptions. He lived independently, working jobs in Texas. In 2016, Rogers settled in for his upper-level English classes at Ferris.
“The theories I had learned by starting in Graphic Design and moving to TPC classes fit together very well,” Rogers said. “I was very surprised and honored to be named student of the year in the curriculum during my very first year of classes. I see many avenues of opportunity in this field.”
To help meet the costs of college, when he returned to Ferris, Rogers checked on job openings with the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning.
“I spoke to a secretary, who told me when I dropped off an application that was the time for my interview,” Rogers said. “When I have worked my last shift there, I will leave knowing that I was able to help the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning be the best it could be. There have been times where I was the only employee capable of operating certain programs for them. Training other staff members has been an important part of my work recently.”
Rogers has also found time to meet his tuition and living expenses through freelance work, including the rulebook writing duties for a role-playing game that a friend is producing.
“The backdrop for this game is outer space,” Rogers said. “While her strong suit is setting the scene, I find my role to be putting the appropriate words in place, so the game can be understood and played. The outline was there for me to follow, so I molded her intentions based on what I knew of this type of game, having played Dungeons and Dragons in the past. Role-playing games have campaigns or scenarios that are very specific, so seeing her artwork for this project has been helpful in my developing appropriate language for those who would play the game. This has been a rather extended project, where we are nearly at the point of putting this proposal out for Kickstarter support. I believe that making the request in the first quarter of 2021 is a bit ambitious, but I am very interested in how this might turn out. It has certainly given me confidence in checking on prospective employers, where writing game rulebooks would be part of my responsibility.”
Rogers has also put his skill set to use in freelance graphic work and technical writing assignments.
“It can be as basic as creating a resume, or more specific technical writing,” he said. “Using graphic design elements to make the message visually pleasing can be just what some projects require. I am happy to be part of the process of helping these people find their place, to get on a path of success.”
The talents Rogers has honed are being offered free, sometimes.
“Members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color are suffering, having lost their jobs due to economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rogers said. “They need resumes and other statements developed to help them make their next job connection. I have offered my talents to people in this situation, and that is something I do not intend to move on from when I have earned my degree.”
The hands that are adept at crafting messages have experienced creating mascots for individuals, teams and businesses, though Scott said that kind of work is on the back burner, for now.
“I have always been a hobby sewer, which gave me an outlet to be active in something that interests me,” Rogers said. “Sometimes the creation can be accomplished in just a matter of hours, other mascots require weeks to months of work, but each of them help me build on my experience and skill. These are usually animal-themed characters, but for those who are seeking to have their idea turn into a mascot’s costume and persona, it can be very interesting to help them recognize just what it will cost to have their concept brought to life. For now, completing my degree is my primary focus.”
Working at the LGBTQ+ Resource Center has been part of his life since it opened in March 2018. Rogers said this was a unique opportunity and a chance to advocate for fellow students who may struggle to find their voice and place.
“I was part of the committee who hired the first center director,” Rogers said. “It was gratifying to be selected as a student staff member when the center opened. I know that my experiences are not the same as another person’s, many times people come to us with a great deal of uncertainty. This area does not have a ready supply of counseling professionals who can support a transgender student, so I have led a bi-weekly discussion online. It is very necessary for these students to express their feelings and views, so we operate much like a family, which is an important outlet for them. Their nuclear family may not be accepting, and their college experience may be very complicated. I feel it is so important that they can move along in their education and as individuals, knowing they are valuable people and part of a true community.”
Rogers has also provided leadership with fellow Advocacy and Education For Gender Identity and Sexuality members, as a past member of their executive board. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has made speaking out in the classroom difficult, if not impossible.
“We would go out and advocate for AEGIS, to support an instructor’s curriculum, but the opportunities have not come our way, at least for the Fall 2020 semester,” Rogers said. “That seems to be a function of the amount of hybrid and online instruction that has come about. As a political activist group, we continue to reach out to students as we can, with a movie screening that we planned near Thanksgiving, to bring ourselves together in some fashion.”
With commencement on the horizon, Rogers eyed his short-term future. He pointed out that his adopted home of Big Rapids might gain greater permanence.
“I had an eye on buying a house here,” Rogers said. “I lived next to it for quite a while and just fell in love with it. The property went on the market, but before I could make it mine, it sold. I very much like and feel comfortable in the Big Rapids community, holding a personal belief that the pandemic has made businesses a bit more receptive to an employee who works remotely. That might present the opportunity for me to settle down here. Otherwise, Grand Rapids and Detroit are the most likely destinations for someone in my field.”
Rogers took a moment to consider what he has gained from his Ferris education and what may come next by continuing his career.
“By having left Ferris, then returning to complete my degree, it showed me I was capable of success and accomplishment,” Rogers said. “I am proud and more confident because of what I have accomplished since I returned. I can see myself serving as a very capable grant writer, advocate or other key staff member for a nonprofit or organization. I feel that whatever direction I take my life or career, I will be able to succeed in that endeavor.”