Around the World From Student to Professor

By: Ariel Moore Photography

By: E’Lisha V. Fogle, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, The Collins College of Hospitality Management, California State Polytechnic University, Ponoma

The journey to becoming the first Black tenure-track faculty member in my current department has been an experience of global proportions. From international exploration to instrumental hospitality and tourism industry and non-profit experience, these opportunities have been propelled by enthusiastic mentors who have supported my creativity and scholarly development. It is through creativity in poetry which I will share my journey, passion, and coming into the professoriate. My hope for this poem is that it serves as inspiration to the minority hospitality academics of the future.


Army brat! It’s in my blood – love for travel and adventure

Road trips, family vacations, and state parks were all inspiration

Over the hills and through the woods, I grew respect for nature

Understanding my passion came with time to consider my future occupation


Now off to college, an HBCU to discover in all its glory

Decided on hospitality at Virginia State for my bachelor‘s education

Trying out culinary, hotel, and events – they’re all part of my story

Honing in on what I could manage best, with little complication


Ecstatic I was to work for the mouse where housekeeping taught humility

With a focus on an area of improvement, foodservice with SODEXO upon graduation

Oh the places from south to midwest provided learning experiences and opportunity

Realizing that sustainability in Hospitality was my true aspiration


Left corporate for a Masters to build respect between industry and residents

Down to UNTexas and Costa Rica – for Pura Vida, Eco, and green inspiration

Following no one‘s path, I was a black girl setting some precedent

Reading, writing, and research with great mentors to support my foundation


On to better things where I could put to work what I had learned

My internship with Ecotourism Australia led to my first publication

So thankful for time across the seas, where my academic spirits were churned

To continue the journey, a Ph.D. – the final step in my education


Undecided on where to study as the choice was not always evident

Determined to choose a best fit for hard work and great preparation

Ecstatic to join the Clemson Tiger crew even though I was initially hesitant

No clue the journey that awaited me was the best in fostering my transformation


The classes were tough, the days were long, and statistics I detested specifically 

Tried my best, finished strong, and found qualitative research as liberation

Obtainable Fullbright fell out of reach, but I knew it wasn’t – I thought optimistically 

Prepared a grant with my chair and won ten grand – what a celebration!


Readied for a trip of epic proportions across the Atlantic to Africa’s natural glory

Observing and talking to communities through participatory research and collaboration 

Fueled by their passion for community and tourism and willingness to share their story 

Experiences can’t compare, nor can I express the depth of my appreciation 


So now I’m a doctor, professor, researcher, and creator

Sharing these experiences with the hope that some find inspiration

On my path from student to professor, and now onto things even greater

Reaching back to pull others along – our academicians of future generations 


PDF Version Available Here


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