Alumni Profile: Lisa Hodgson '11, B.B.A. Finance

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Lisa Hodgson is a by-the-numbers kind of gal. She's passionate about data analysis and finds joy in turning numbers into meaningful, useful information.

Lisa grew up in the rural village of Aleknagik, near Dillingham and Bristol Bay. "It's a small, peaceful community on a lake," she said. "I spent most of my time participating in outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing and camping, but my most cherished memories are those of my aunt and uncle." Lisa didn't grow up with grandparents, but she had an elderly aunt and uncle who taught her traditional activities such as sewing, beading and subsistence skills.

UAA finance alum Lisa HodgsonLisa excelled in school and always knew she'd go on to earn a higher education. "Growing up, my parents encouraged me to go to college," she said. "They instilled in me the importance of education."

She attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. "Mt. Edgecumbe helped to strengthen me into the individual I've become. I was able to overcome the stress of leaving home at an early age and gain an understanding of what it would be like attending a university."

After earning her high school diploma, Lisa wanted to find a field of study that best suited her, so she explored different paths. This all changed after taking a required business statistics course from Dr. Yonggang "Tim" Lu at UAA. Lisa was convinced that data mining and analysis was her chosen career path. "It's a really interesting field," she said, "analyzing data and turning it into meaningful information." In a journey that led to finance, Lisa experienced an educational epiphany of some sort. "I'm so much happier now that I've found a field that I'm passionate about; it's a field where I feel the opportunities are endless."

Lisa is proud that she's done well in her courses and feels prepared to start her career. She said that her instructors have inspired her to be successful. "Dr. Lu is an excellent professor. His passion and expertise shine through when he teaches, and he is always available when extra help is needed."

But Lisa has overcome several hurdles to get to where she is today. Coming from a small, rural village with a population of just over 200, to Alaska's largest city with nearly 300,000 people, wasn't easy for Lisa. "It took a while to familiarize myself with the university and adjust to the college lifestyle," she said.

Lisa moved to the city not knowing anyone, so it was her responsibility, and hers alone, to keep herself accountable for going to classes and doing her homework. Her hard work and determination has paid off. "I've learned a lot about how to be successful as a student," Lisa said. "I like sharing my experiences with family members and anyone else interested in attending college and offer support when needed."

Now, Lisa's younger sister lives and works in Anchorage, and is also taking accounting classes part-time at UAA. The rest of her family still lives in Aleknagik and Lisa visits occasionally.

Lisa, the first in her family to graduate from college, accepted her diploma at the 2011 Commencement Ceremony on May 1. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance with a concentration in investments.

She plans to earn a master's degree someday, likely in business administration, but is excited to put her skills to work in the meantime. "I definitely plan on continuing my education; I believe learning is a never-ending process and is the foremost key to success."

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