Finding My Path, Leaving My Mark

Erika Thomas '18, Criminal Justice Major

Q: How did your Gannon experience transform you personally, professionally or academically? 

A: I am from Erie and I was itching to leave! My father told me that I would end up at Gannon and I didn’t believe him, and here I am a graduate of Gannon University. Everyone reading this probably expects me to say, because I am the founder, that Black Student Union (BSU) changed my life, and it did. A Diversity Issues course, along with BSU changed me for the better and inspired my desire to pursue my Master’s in Public Administration.  

In a course my junior year, our final was telling our life story. As I listened to my classmates tell their stories of lost loved ones, moments of depression, suicidal thoughts and other personal struggles, it made me take a step back and think about how I view others. It was eye-opening because you never know what is going on in another person’s mind.  

It pressed upon me the need to be kind to others and it made me reflect on my mother’s words of “You never know what a person is going through.” Because of this, I try to make new people I meet smile because I may be that reason for them wanting to live another day. 

Q: Is there anyone who really impacted your time at Gannon? 

A: My parents instilled in me wisdom and love. They push me to do great things, strive and pursue greatness. They inspired me to live out my dreams and do the things I love. Jessie Hubert (Director, Center for Social Concerns) inspired me to be kind. Ange Coustillac (Associate Director of Leadership Development, Student Development & Engagement) pushed me to live out my true self. Heidi Noyes (Director, Commuter Life), my advisor for BSU, pushed me to be kind and let me know there are still passionate and loving people in this world.  

Q: Are there any obstacles or challenges you had to overcome to get where you are now? 

A: Oh my gosh yes! Moment of transparency. I lost so many people on my college journey. I felt alone when I was trying to start BSU. I was battling the feeling of losing who I was, but I had to still move forward when I felt like I was alone. It was so hard. I don’t think I would have made it without God, counseling, my family and boyfriend.  

Q: Has your experience opened doors for your future to achieve your dreams? 

A: Yes, I actually want to get into student affairs now. I will begin working at a school in Pittsburgh helping juvenile delinquents.  

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