On May 25, Paige Shippie will walk across the Commencement stage to receive not her first, but her second, undergraduate bachelor’s degree from Endicott College—this time around in hospitality management.
“If I were to look back at myself from two years ago, I wouldn’t recognize the person I was. I’ve become someone completely different—but in a really great way. I knew I had it in me, but you just need the right circumstances in life to push you forward—good or bad—everything shapes you,” says Shippie.
Rewinding to two years ago, Shippie who graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s in English & creative writing and a minor in studio art, was testing out the healthcare industry. After realizing that the 9-to-5 was the complete opposite of what she wanted to do, she moved on to give teaching a try by working in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom at Salem High School.
Once again, Shippie found herself discouraged by the experience and decided to reach out to her former teacher and mentor, Endicott Creative Writing Professor, Daniel Sklar. Sklar invited her to come and get a real feel for teaching by guest lecturing one of his classes. “I’m a driven, determined person and I realized it shouldn’t be ‘this difficult.’ This experience made me realize that I wasn’t meant to be a teacher and it drove me to seek my passion,” says Shippie.
"You’re never done learning, you’re never done progressing, you’re always going to strive to make yourself better. If you’re living life right, then you’re always seeking these ideals for self-improvement."
Fast forward to 2017.
After experiencing a moment of clarity while canoeing on a lake with her mother, Shippie decided to return to her alma mater to pursue hospitality management—an industry that she already had experience in from various jobs, including Richardson’s Ice Cream in Middleton, Mass., when she was 14 years old.
“When I decided to go back to Endicott, I knew they would make it work for me as they had done in the past. It’s a really great community and I can’t imagine being at another school,” she says. Make it work, Endicott did. After allowing her to apply her previous undergraduate credits toward this second degree, Shippie was able to fast-track her bachelor’s in hospitality management and graduate in just two years.
“I’ve always had a high drive as a student and I never really felt that passion toward anything in the workforce until now, working in hospitality. I can apply things that I learned in the classroom to things that I will be doing in the field—planning and events, scheduling staff, and writing banquet event orders. My classes have really prepared me for what’s next.” Shippie says that for her, the most interesting piece of the hospitality industry is the stewardship. “It’s about psychology and dealing with people and experiences. It’s about magic. It’s about happiness.”
Shippie, who has bipolar disorder, almost didn’t graduate the first time around due to a mental break, but Endicott faculty and administration made it possible for her to complete her degree that summer. “It took me a little longer, but I still did it,” she says.
What will be going through Shippie’s mind when she walks across that familiar stage this Saturday? “Something completely different than the first time,” she says. “The first time around, I was in a tough place in my life, but now I feel like I’ve gotten my redemption with Endicott and closure. This time, I’ll be saying ‘wow, I earned a lot.”
Les Roches for the last six months.Indeed, she has. In her six years as an Endicott Gull, Shippie has accomplished a list of accolades that range from receiving two bachelor’s degrees, publishing a poetry book with 35 pieces of work, holding a plethora of on-campus jobs, and impressive internships—including her latest at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass., where she has been doing a management in training internship through
So, what’s next week for Shippie?
After completing her internship in mid-August, she hopes to secure a full-time position at the Hawthorne. Her career goals include working her way up into operations where she can oversee food and beverage, housekeeping, and the front office, and even own a few hotels of her own. As someone who likes to know everyone on a first-name basis, she would prefer to stay with smaller hotels where she can continue to build those relationships with her staff and guests.
“I can do anything that I put my mind to and this experience confirmed that. It made me really excited about the opportunities I have going forward in the workforce,” she says. “You’re never done learning, you’re never done progressing, you’re always going to strive to make yourself better. If you’re living life right, then you’re always seeking these ideals for self-improvement.”
Endicott’s Undergraduate College Commencement ceremony will be held Saturday, May 25 at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit endicott.edu.