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From local newspaper reporter to director of communications for global companies, Steve Trapnell ’90 knows that Lebanon Valley College gave him the basis for his career success.
Trapnell was the first person in his family to go to college and, like many college students, was not immediately sure what path he wanted to pursue. He selected general education courses in fields that interested him and engaged with student activities to help him find his way. Dr. Art Ford, professor emeritus of English, who advised the newspaper at the time, suggested English would be a good fit for Trapnell.
“Classes were taught by faculty with a wide range of backgrounds that enabled them to offer different perspectives, including longtime LVC professors like Dr. John Kearney, professor emeritus of English; adjuncts like Paul Baker, who was editor of the Lebanon Daily News (and an LVC alum); and those who entered academia as a second career like Dr. Phylis Dryden, professor emerita of English, who previously worked in business.”
Along with learning from his English professors, Trapnell also gained valuable insight across a wide range of subjects in his other classes. This knowledge came in handy when he spent almost a decade working as a newspaper reporter in Lancaster, Pa., covering breaking news and writing stories about business, religion, education, and government.
“It’s important to recognize that the skills you learn in English can be applicable in many careers. From my education at LVC and my initial work as a journalist, I developed valuable expertise in quickly learning about new subjects and developing engaging content to inform, educate, and call people to action,” he said.
Through Trapnell’s work as editor of the student newspaper and volunteerism with other student organizations, he developed collaboration skills including how to navigate within a community. He relied on these skills when he transitioned into the corporate communications field.
As vice president and director of corporate communications at a 240-branch bank, he led a team that handled media relations, internal communications for employees, investor communications, and community relations, which included managing the process of donating millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations each year. His time at the bank also included communication challenges such as educating and reassuring people during a crisis like the financial recession that began in 2008.
Now, as communications manager for Armstrong Flooring, Inc., a leading manufacturer of resilient flooring, he manages public relations and works on internal and external communication projects, collaborating with the marketing team, executives, and departments across the company, as well as six U.S. plants and facilities in Australia and China. Along with writing, these projects often include video, photography, and digital content.
“Corporate communications can give you a great cross-sectional view of an organization, because you partner with so many departments and people at all levels, right up to the CEO,” he said. “Functioning as an internal reporter within an organization, you bear the responsibility of breaking ‘bad news’ when necessary, but you also get the pleasure of helping to plan how the organization celebrates and shares the good news of its successes.”