How a Student Activities Director Writes

Beth Hagovsky, Ed.D.
Director of Student Activities


Quick Facts

Favorite punctuation mark?
The hyphen.

Favorite music to write to?
The Hamilton Soundtrack.

Misspelled word?
Committed and committee. All the t’s and e’s.



SJU Writes: What kind of writing do you do as a director of a department?
BH: For the most part, the majority of my writing is emails: replies, questions, you know, that kind of thing, answering inquiries.  A handful of times over the course of a year, a director in student life, like myself, will be asked to compile reports that might be paragraph-based or they could be asking for a more bullet point, executive-type summary of things.

SJU Writes: What advice do you have for writing a professional email?
BH: You have to reread. I think a lot of people don’t reread their emails before they send them. Maybe use the editor functions your email allows you to use. I also would say don’t do it from your phone.  I don’t think it is nearly as easy to send a grammatically correct and professional email from a phone as it is when you are sitting at a laptop or a computer and you have a minute to really compose your thoughts.

SJU Writes:  You have a doctorate in education. Was your dissertation one of the more difficult things you’ve ever had to write?

BH: Yes and no. I genuinely enjoyed the dissertation process, so I wouldn’t necessarily say it was difficult. I’ll be honest. The most difficult stuff I ever wrote was back in high school and college. In some classes that I had, the teachers, or faculty, were sticklers for how to write , and would make you revise and revise and revise until it was done correctly. I’d rather write another dissertation than have to do those kinds of papers again.

SJU Writes: Do you think any of that structured writing has stayed with you in your professional writing?

BH: Oh my gosh, sure! I mean, OK, so I’m probably a bit of a contradiction because I’m also the person who sends every email in lowercase letters. That being said, those folks back then–they were both English instructors–really informed how I write in terms of grammar. Also the woman who edited my dissertation for me, a friend of mine and a lawyer, really made sure I nailed the grammar. She was a wonderful editor.

SJU Writes: What’s your favorite thing that you have written?
BH: When I was in fourth grade, I entered this short story competition for the city. I don’t remember what I wrote. What I remember is that I won a prize for it, and I got a ribbon, and I got to pick out a pumpkin from this weird pumpkin patch at the awards ceremony. But I just remember this feeling that I wrote something, someone read it, and I got positive recognition for it. So that’s what I take away from that experience even though I don’t actually remember what I wrote.

—Dominique Joe ’19