Profile by Maria Lawrence (’17)
Sheryl Lynn Sochoka
Publications Director at Marywood University
Editor of Marywood Magazine
A Budding Student
Like most students, Sheryl had a fear of not being able to find a job after college, so she decided to play it safe and major in Public Relations. After her first semester, she
switched her major to English, thanks to Professor Barbara Hoffman. Barbara (as she
insisted on being called) encouraged Sheryl to become an English major because of
how impressed she was with Sheryl’s writing.
Barbara was Sheryl’s biggest influence, and it is easy to see why. Barbara taught in a
way that “sparked a fire” in every student. Sheryl spoke of some of Barbara’s most
influential assignments. Barbara used to take her class to the cemetery and have them do a grave rubbing with art paper and charcoal. Afterwards the students would use their imaginations to write about the person’s life and how they died. For another assignment, she blindfolded the students and had them eat Hershey Kisses. They then had to write about every aspect of the experience: what it tasted like, how long it took to melt, and so on.
Barbara believed that in order to learn how to write and enjoy writing, a person had to get up, go outside, and think: “She saw writing as a completely organic experience and one that had to be experienced by all the senses.”
Sheryl graduated from Marywood University in December 1992 with a degree in English and a minor in Religious Studies. Right before graduation she heard about a temporary full-time position opening up in Marywood’s Public Relations Department. She decided to let them know she was interested in the job and dropped off her portfolio. The portfolio contained her resume along with a variety of writing she had done throughout the years. She added in her best Bayleaf submissions, school papers, and freelance work she had done for a local newspaper. “I felt I couldn’t go in with nothing but my word; my writing had to speak for me,” she explains. Two weeks after graduation, Sheryl was hired for the temporary position. Six months later, the man she was filling in for decided to retire so she was hired permanently.
Sheryl has been continuously growing at Marywood for twenty-three years. She began as a writer and editor, then moved to News and Information Manager, is currently the Publications Director, and all the while has worked as editor for Marywood’s alumni publication. Some of Sheryl’s responsibilities are speechwriting for the president and overseeing campus publications. One of her favorite job duties is writing alumni feature articles because she can really get to know the person and live vicariously through their experiences.
Grateful for an English Degree
“You can learn skills, but education is what is important. Education is what gets methrough stressful times,” Sheryl observes. When she was hesitant about becoming an English major, her mentor Barbara reassured her that with an education in English she would have the knowledge to succeed in any job. Sheryl can now confirm that her mentor was correct. Sheryl believes that being able to think critically and creatively, and then have the ability to express those thoughts will make any person a versatile professional. Sheryl’s advice to students is to “be true to yourself.” She wants students to follow their passions and always stay passionate; as a result they will live a satisfying life.