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A Returning Student with Renewed Energy

Ali Lozoff, MCTC alumAli Lozoff is senior marketing manager for Minnesota Public Radio, and an MCTC alum. She got in touch with the College following a recent push by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to expand President Obama’s proposal of free community college. We asked her some questions about what brought her to MCTC, and what kept her in touch all these years later.

Why did you first choose to come to MCTC?

I was a straight-A, gifted student up until 11th grade, but I was a little punk rock girl going to a huge Miami, Fla. high school in the mid-80s, and it wasn’t a good fit. I was an avid reader, gifted writer and interested in languages, music, photography and art. My friends and I were the “weird” kids in school. We were teased and moved away from each other in class. It was a very John Hughes experience. Eventually my interest in school waned, and my grades plummeted. I ended up leaving school without enough credits to graduate—which my parents didn’t know—and a huge self-esteem problem, thinking I was not cut out for formal education systems.

I landed in Minneapolis and after a few years of hanging out with very smart, educated people, my boyfriend convinced me I was actually kind of a nerd and I should be in school. So at age 22 I got my GED and decided to try the school then known as Minneapolis Community College and dip my toe in higher education. I figured the low cost of credits and easy access to classes made it possible to try it without having to commit, and they took me without asking questions about my previous school experience. It was the best decision I ever made!

What was your experience here like?

There’s so much to answer! Once I started, I immediately decided to go full time, and eventually got my associate of arts degree. I became a peer tutor in English, English composition and English as a Second Language (ESL). I led ESL conversation groups and formed a group with five of the women I met through that program, and we met outside of school for outings in the metro area so they could continue their conversation skills. I edited Jambalya, the student literary magazine, both of my years at MCTC. I became close with a number of my teachers, all of whom influenced my life and inspired me to continue my schooling and pursue dreams that reached well beyond my time at the College.

What did you do after college?

I flourished and ended up earning the highest grade of my graduating class. Suddenly I loved school! I went on to the University of Minnesota and received a bachelor of arts in Journalism and Mass Communications. I became the marketing director of Radio K, the student-run station that had just launched, and spent the next few years turning that into an award-winning, trend-setting station that helped me get where I am today: the senior marketing manager of Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media.

I also have spent time at the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Walker Art Center, and in all of those jobs have spent time mentoring teens and students, and working with non-traditional students and employees to guide them through their careers both in and out of school.

You responded enthusiastically about news coverage of America’s College Promise, and MCTC’s visit by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. Why are you so passionate about community college?

I firmly believe in education and the doors that it will open, and also that the traditional high school-to-college trajectory doesn’t work for everyone. I was able to decide where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do with my life before investing thousands of dollars in a future envisioned by my parents, and I had a great network of friends around me to support me through that journey. That’s what worked for me, and I believe more people of all ages should have that opportunity.

As the education system becomes ever more expensive and difficult to reach, and our employment system ever more competitive, I would like to see community college be more of a first choice for people as they transition between high school and the professional world or between career fields.

What advice do you have for current generations of students looking ahead to college?

In the long run, an education is the best gift you can give yourself, even if you think it doesn’t quite fit when you first try it on. I’m so thankful to MCTC for everything I learned there and the people I met; it’s a huge value to this community. I’m proud to be a graduate!

Published September 2015


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