Joshua Lanza is a 2010 graduate of Herkimer High School
You will experience unforeseen changes, and how you navigate them is what matters.
What’s your favorite high school memory?
My favorite high school memory was attending the rock concerts in the cafeteria. My younger brother, John, was in a band called, “Visitor Parking Only,” and I had a number of classmates in a band called, “Atticus Finch.” Sometimes I would join them for a song or two, and it allowed me to break out of my shell for a little bit. The principal at the time, Terry Dangle, was all about giving us a safe environment to play our music, and I will always be grateful for that experience.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
Since I graduated, I have gotten my associate’s degree in music from Herkimer County Community College, my Bachelor’s in English from Utica College, and my Master’s in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University. I spent about five years working at HCCC in their academic support center as their technical assistant. In a nutshell, I made sure students got the academic help they needed in a timely manner. During that time, I was also an adjunct professor of music appreciation. I also advised the college’s gaming club and coached their esports team on the side. I currently work for St. Lawrence University as their full time esports coordinator. With have three titles competing at the varsity level. They are League of Legends, Overwatch and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I am looking to add more titles to the varsity roster as time goes on. Video games have always been a passion of mine, and now I get to work with that passion full time. When I am not working, I am playing the piano somewhere or writing the manuscript for my first novel. The novel is actually inspired by events that took place in high school with me and my friends while playing Dungeons and Dragons. It’s about halfway done at this point.
Did anyone from Herkimer Central School District influence you in becoming who you are today?
There is no doubt that many different people in the Herkimer CSD help shaped who I am today. The entire English department gave me the foundations I needed to excel in my degree programs and gave me the tools to begin the novel that I hope to send them all a copy of one day. Beyond that, there was one individual who I credit with making me want to become a teacher, and that is my former music teacher, John Krause. It was through his choir classes that I realized I wanted to work in education, and that I wanted to continue to have music in my life no matter what. His kindness, empathy, and wisdom are something I continue to try to emulate in my career as an educator today. I owe a lot to that man in particular.
What advice do you have for current Herkimer High School students?
My advice for the current students is two fold. One, don’t feel like you have to have your whole career path figured out by the time you are ready to apply for colleges. Your life will take twists and turns you absolutely did not expect, and that’s okay. You will experience unforeseen changes, and how you navigate them is what matters. Secondly, just because you get a degree in something does not mean that the world owes you a good paying career or a job that you love to do. What I and many of my former classmates are finding out is that there is much more to snagging the “good job” than just having a piece of paper saying you completed a degree program. Therefore, work on your networking and people skills because the connections you make today will be important tomorrow in ways you can’t even predict.
The Herkimer Central School District Spotlight showcases student, graduate and staff member successes. If you know someone who should be in the Spotlight, please fill out this Spotlight nomination form.