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The Student News Site of Landmark College




Interview with Scott Forthofer

Editor’s Note: The following interview originally aired on WLMC Radio and has been edited for clarity.

Hello everybody and welcome back to another installment of Sounds From A Distance. I am your host, DJ Tyra. Today I have an interview with Scott Forthofer. Say hello and let the people know what you do here at Landmark.

Hi, my name is Scott Forthofer, and I am the manager of the Landmark College bookstore.

Yes. So, Scott, what brought you to Landmark?

I originally came to Landmark for housing, for Residential Life, and then I ended up switching down to the bookstore.

Oh, so did you attend Landmark?

No, no. I was initially hired to a position working in Residential Life. This position opened up and I applied for this position.

What I was thinking was something different. OK, so you eventually switched over. So, have you ever worked in a bookstore before, or is it the first time?

No, this is the first time that I’ve worked in a bookstore. My background is more with student activities, housing and conferencing.

So, you’ve worked in different colleges before?

That’s correct. Yeah, this is the fifth college I’ve worked at.

Wow! What colleges have you worked at and where have they been?

I’ve worked at a university in North Carolina, Lenoir-Rhyne University. And then out west, the University of Idaho, Carroll College and Montana Technological University.

In Montana, is that is that southern or am I…?

No, that’s west, right next to the top part of Idaho-Washington-Oregon area. Montana borders Canada kind of like Vermont borders Canada, so we’re kind of just northern top states.

OK, I don’t know why I thought southern. I don’t know why that’s the image that comes into my head when I think Montana. Maybe it’s because I just don’t know enough about the place. So, of all the places that you have worked, which one’s your favorite?

I don’t know if I have a strong favorite. Each one brought something new. Like for example, Landmark College, what I’m doing now is nothing that I’ve done before, so it provides me with new daily challenges that I have not been used to in the past. I feel like this job…I’ve gotten a closer connection with students, just because I see everybody coming in. I think sometimes when you’re in housing, some students can be a little reserved in what they say. But when you run in the bookstore, we have a conversation.

I feel like people are just less scared

Maybe. I think that’s probably true. I mean, I’m the same person as I was when I worked in other areas, but it’s sometimes the position. I enjoy having daily conversations with the students. I enjoy hearing things that they like, or if we get a new product and seeing the excitement. For example, when you came in that one day and saw the Lay’s Ketchup Chips…

Oh yeah, the ketchup chips! I lost my mind because those are like Canadian staples, and you really can’t find them outside of Canada unless you order them. And obviously they’re more expensive because they have to be shipped. Or when you bought the Pez, because I remember that day, like everyone who came in bought Pez.

I bought like a 100 Pez things and could not believe they how quickly they sold out. I did not know.

I was surprised how much people liked them.  

But it’s kind of just fun to see what students want. And now one of the things that I also like doing at the bookstore for students who have quite a bit of dining dollars left is helping them get the full value of their dining plan. And so if they have an item they want, I search for it and see if I can bring it in, even if it’s just for them. It’s not something we have to do, but I think and that’s probably my Student Affairs background of wanting everybody to feel a connection, have something. Even though it’s a bookstore, that can be impactful. If you have that special food that you really enjoy when you’re having a bad day, knowing that had a place on campus to get it, or you were able to order it, can sometimes make a little difference in the day. At least I like to hope.

Yeah, it does. So, you said that you used to do student activities. What are your favorite activities that you’ve organized?

I did one at a couple of different schools. It’s called the egg scramble. We’d get anywhere from three to four thousand plastic eggs–it’d be right around Easter–and we’d stuff them all with candy. And anywhere from 50 to 100 of those pieces of candy would have a label wrapped around it that would say a prize. And so, if you got one of those, you ran to the table and you collected your prize. But we would spend weeks stuffing all these eggs and then lay all of them out.

So, it’s a scramble. It wasn’t an egg hunt because it looked like a field of polka-dotted eggs. We would have students line up usually. We had anywhere from 100-150 students, and I kid you not, every year we did it in less than 60 seconds. All the eggs were picked up. But the coolest part of it occurred afterwards. After everybody grabbed all the eggs, people clumped together, just hanging out talking while they’re searching through the eggs. And sometimes when someone got a prize winner, it was like that whole group would get up and rush over to the table just to see what that person won, and then they would go back to their little spot and start going through more eggs. So that community building that occurred, I really liked.

And the other thing I liked, one year we did a Fear Factor Challenge. I got freeze dried insects for people to eat.

Ah, yes. You also got some here.

I did get some flavored crickets.

I wanted to try one but I was really scared. I’m not gonna lie. I was so terrified.

You know, I think it’s almost 3 billion people in the world eat insects as part of their nutrition. It just doesn’t occur really on this side, or in the northern hemisphere. But I don’t know, I got it in just to try. Some people really liked it and I still have a couple of students asking if I’m ever going to get crickets again. But for the vast majority, it was like, nah, we’ll just leave it in the package.

Did you try any?

Yeah, Once you freeze dry them, they don’t have much of a taste.

But aren’t they flavored?

Some of them were flavored. The one I tried, I think was lasagna. I didn’t know if it really tasted like lasagna to me, but it had like a cheese flavor to it.

But it was crunchy?

It was crunchy.  But when I did the Fear Factor challenge, you get some students that were a little nervous. I’m like, it’s not like you feel the legs going down your throat…just to just to see their reaction! I thought it was fun. I think doing fun little things like that, especially when you’re in college, maybe getting to try something new, something you haven’t tried before, sometimes it doesn’t work out and you’re like, nope, never again, but at least you know. So, I like trying to bring some things like that into the store on rare occasions to mix it up a little.

How many years have you worked in colleges as a whole?

I started in 2000. So, almost 23 years now.

And was that a job you got, like, right out of college? Or did you do something before you decided you wanted to work at colleges?

Actually, right after high school I got a certificate through a travel and tourism program, and I worked on a paddlewheel steamboat.

A boat?

Yeah, I worked on a steamboat traveling up the Mississippi and Ohio River. I did that for about a year and a half.

What did you do?

Well, my first job on the boat was a Porter. We helped bring all the luggage on and delivered it straight to the rooms. Then they usually assigned me to work the front desk. So, I did room service, I would talk with the passengers, I would handle their requests. And then I switched to a cabin attendant or the cleaner. The pay was really good for that. It paid pretty good on tips.

OK, I’m thinking like wouldn’t a cruise ship be the one that has like a front desk for people to go to?

Yes. If you picture like, Mark Twain days, where he talks about traveling the mighty Mississippi on a boat with a big wheel on the back that was turning and spinning, this was just like that boat. If the wheel broke or stopped moving, we were stuck. We could only go about six miles an hour up the river, and there was even a time when up in Minnesota they got a lot of rain, the Mississippi River was rushing so fast, the boat couldn’t go forward.

So it was rushing down fast the opposite direction?

Yes. And so, they had to cancel all the trips up to that area for that brief little moment. And so they did some other things. But they would bring in big band jazz. They had Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller Orchestra. They brought in retired old time baseball players and they would come and hang out with the passengers and sign autographs. We would stop by all kinds of local touristy areas. Anywhere from New Orleans, all the way up to Minneapolis, Saint Paul, St. Louis, Missouri, over to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

It was a different way of life. It’s taking things a little slower. The food was good, even for the employees, because on nights where they had lobster dinner, usually that first night, if you got down to the crew kitchen fast enough and if they had leftover lobster tail, sometimes you get leftover lobster tail.

I think for me the hardest part was being away from family and friends, because I would work 12 hours a day, seven days a week for six to seven weeks straight, and then I’d get about a week to week and a half off..

I’ve always wondered about that the same way I wonder about people who flight attendants. If you’re always flying to different places do you even have a house? What’s the point of having a home or a place to live if you’re not going to be there most of the time?

Sure. When I was on the riverboat, we had some parents where this was the way that they could raise more money for their family. I remember this one cabin attendant, her kids lived with her mom—so, with their grandmother–and she would come on the boat and work. And a cabin attendant did pretty good. You could make almost $1,000 a week just in tips, not including the paycheck. And this was over 20 years ago so it’s probably way more now. But she was like that way I can make sure my mom and my kids are in a better location to live, and this this way I can support them. So, she would only get to see them for a week and a half once every six weeks or so, which is a bummer. But that was how she found to fully support her family.

For me. I was just recently out of high school, so I didn’t have a place. I would just always would fly home, or when you worked on the riverboat long enough you could get on other cruise ships and pay like $10 a night If they had an opening. You could just go down there, show up, show your badge, and you’d get charged $10 a night. So, for like a seven day cruise…$70.00.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

So, there’s little perks. But I mean, it’s a lifestyle. You live and work in the same place when you’re on there. If you need the separation, it’s not the right place. But if you’re OK with combining everything, it was a great little fun place. I mean, the bedrooms were the size of a closet. And you had bunk beds that were shared. It was only like 6 feet across the room by like 8 feet, so the rooms weren’t very big, but you didn’t spend a lot of time in your room.

Did you at least get to go around and see the sights of the places that you docked? Or was it just let all the passengers off and then off to the next?

It depended what time of day and depending on your job. Like I typically worked noon to midnight when I was a porter. And when I was a cabin attendant, while the passengers had breakfast and lunch you were cleaning the rooms. Then you had a break, and you came back at dinner to turn down the beds, put the mint on the pillows and do all that.

When I was a captain, I got to go off to see some of those sites, but you didn’t ever get to go where the passengers go. I would hit antique shops or catch a movie. At that time, cell phones are just coming out. So, it’s not like you had cell phones. That was the time you got off the boat to make a phone call to family or friends. There wasn’t e-mail and all that stuff that we take for granted now. I used a lot of those times to catch up on what people were doing.

That sounds like an adventure.

It was. But what it did was make me go, “do I want to do this for my whole life?” And it’s like, no. So, I said maybe I should go to college. And then I went to college and became an RA, and from there I started seeing what my hall director was doing. I could do this. I like this, and so I lived on campus for about 18 years in different housing roles until eventually I became a director, and then I moved up into other roles. Now, I’m trying some new.

What does it require to be an RA? I don’t know if it’s the same for all schools or if this school is different from another one, because I know a couple of people who are RAs, and it seems like a lot of responsibility. I work on campus, but I probably wouldn’t want to do that.

Well, you know how I talked about being on the riverboat, you live where you work as an RA. So, first thing is you have to want to do it. What you get paid, it’s good and it’s important, but that can’t be your only reason. Because there could be a night where you’re studying and somebody is struggling, they come knock on your door. As an RA, you’re almost always living in a fishbowl. Have you ever seen one of those round fishbowls, where you look in and the goldfish all of a sudden looks huge, but when you look over top of the bowl into the water, it’s really tiny?


So, life as a leader is often like living life in a fishbowl. Everybody’s looking at you from the outside. If you do something wrong, it looks bigger than life. You really have to embody a certain lifestyle on and off campus. So, it’s not always for everyone. But I think for the students that want to grow as a leader and they want to be there to help other students, the RA position can be a great and rewarding role.

And it could also lead to a career. That’s kind of where it led me. I jumped into a hall director position, then started learning all about the different jobs on campus. I don’t think very many people in high school go, “when I grow up or I’m going to work for a college” unless they have family that work there. Once you get into college, you start to see these other jobs and think, “I would love to do that.”

Then with housing, we do programming in the halls, and that that led to me going, “I’d like to do more.” And so, then I jumped over into student activities for a little bit. So, instead of doing programming for a building of 80 or 100, now you’re talking about a campus of two to five thousand students that you are trying to provide entertainment; educational, non-educational, which I always thought was fun.

I always thought an RA was usually just a student, who then one day graduates and just another person comes in. I didn’t know it could be a career necessarily.

It can lead into one. Most RAs do it for a semester, a year, maybe two years, and then they do something else, or they graduate. Every once in a while someone says, I could try this; or if say you want to go to graduate school, and say you’re an RA, sometimes you can get a job called a graduate assistant.

At many schools that have graduate assistant programs in housing, it means your housing’s covered, a lot of times your academic program costs are covered. You could work 20 to 30 hours a week, with housing, while being a student, and not come out with a lot of loans and getting a lot of experience. You can go be an RA and then come out with two years of grad experience and come out with your master’s degree. If you want to stay in higher ed., having a master’s degree is important for certain roles. If you want to get into housing, student activities, or admissions work. You’ve got your business and finance side. There’s a lot of opportunities I don’t think everybody knows about.

Do you think working in colleges, for, you is going to be a job that you retire in?

Right now, yeah. Yeah, I do. I think I’m closer to retirement than I was. Which is scary to think about, but no, I like working for colleges. Some of my friends ask well, when are you going to grow up and go out into the real world? And I’m like colleges are a real world. It’s just not what everybody’s used to.

What I like is every year you meet a whole new group of students who bring excitement. The freshman, they’re excited to be at school. They’re nervous being away from home and then you see all that growth that comes until when they graduate. It’s amazing how much growth some students have in college.

Then you get other students that know exactly what they want to do. The last school I worked at, the majority of the students were in engineering programs. A lot of them came in: “I want to work for the oil refineries,” “I want to work with mines.” “I want to work in some of the think tanks doing mathematics.” They had an idea what they’re doing, and so for that school it was very specific. A lot of the students knew what they’re doing. I went to other schools where people came and like, “I don’t know. I just know I need to go to college,” or “I want to go to college,” and then they figure out what they want.

My undergrad was computer science. I didn’t end up using it because I went into housing and then I got my master’s in education, which I used more. I tell my children that you can have a plan, that’s great, have a plan. But don’t instantly close off a door or a suggestion that comes up because you never know where it’s going to lead. If I hadn’t tried being an RA, I probably wouldn’t have known everything, and it wouldn’t have led me to where I’m at, which I’ve been very happy with. Who knows? I could be a computer programmer working for Blizzard. I don’t know. As long as you’re really open to opportunities that come up and trying something new, I think that’s always important. That always adds a little spice to life.

I’m going to assume that Landmark is the first college you probably worked for that has this specific demographic of students. Do you notice differences in student interactions or student behavior at a school for neurodivergent students?

Sure. I would say almost every college has a small group of students that are neurodivergent, whether they’re diagnosed or they’re undiagnosed. But I think this is the first school that I’ve worked at where the programs were geared for their success. And we’re geared knowing that changes and accommodations shouldn’t have to be hard or difficult to mark. Because other places I’ve worked, students would have to go through a lot of hoops and channels just for accommodations. Where here, yeah, we’re going to have accommodations.

I think for your question on if I notice a difference with students? Honestly, what I like about Landmark students is that they seem to kind of know who they are as a person. “I like sci-fi,” “I like plushies,” and they’re not afraid to show it or tell you about it. I had one student talk to me about all these different lobsters and different things. Where most schools, everybody’s a little nervous about, “well, my interest isn’t something most people aren’t interested in,” so they’re afraid to share. Here, I’ve found more students are willing to be open about what they enjoy, what they do, what’s going on in their life.

And that could just be down here in the bookstore, too. I do see a lot of students that are introverted and that they’re working towards trying to be more social and more engaged with other people and learning how to do that. There’s more of a population that I see with that, but I think the key is that the majority of students are here because they want to grow and want to learn. I think that’s the biggest key. If you have that true desire, you almost always are going to make leaps and bounds when you grow. Because you’re open to the idea and I feel like this campus is student body is really open.

Well, it was great having an interview with you today. I’m so glad that we found time to talk today honestly, because I was kind of like trying to work around my schedule. I didn’t know if it was going to be able to happen, but thank you so much for sharing with me and sharing with my audience. And, I’m going to miss this bookstore. I’m sad I didn’t get to work here this semester, because you hired a new person full-time so there wasn’t enough hours, obviously. But also, I’m transferring next semester.

Ah, you go! Yay.

Unfortunately, but fortunately.

Well, no, that’s good news for you, right? It has programs that you’re wanting to do?

Yeah, it’s a more focused program. Because at least at Landmark, a class that I’m really interested in, which is theater, there’s only one teacher for it, and I’ve pretty much taken all the classes that he offers. So, I really can’t take any more theater classes while I’m here. And that would be sad if I had to  never take theater again.

We’ll be sad to see you go. But the other part with college is sometimes you have to make those changes to help put yourself where you want to be in the future and recognizing that. So, good for you recognizing that you need more and going after it. That’s great.

Yes, well, thank you again.

And we’re shaking hands now.

Yes, we’re shaking hand now, just so everyone is aware, we’re shaking hands. And so, this has been another episode of the Sounds From a Distance–I was about to say podcast, it’s not a podcast–radio show. I will speak to you guys later. Goodbye.



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About the Contributor
Tyra Cole
Tyra Cole is Canadian and raised in Mississauga and Toronto. She first enrolled at Landmark in 2020 and has been here for 6 semesters. Tyra graduated in 2022 with an associate degree and is now pursuing her bachelor’s degree in communications. On campus, Tyra is in the theater club and has jobs at the bookstore and the dining hall. She also hosts a radio show on WLMC from 8-10 pm every Sunday.

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