A conversation with Tyler Lomnitzer, English alumnus

Tyler Lomnizer and his wife Emily leaving their wedding reception
Tyler Lomnitzer graduated from Catholic University in 2015 with a major in English and a minor in Philosophy. While at Catholic U., Tyler was a Resident Assistant in Flather and Engelhard, worked at the DuFour Center for CUA Athletics, and was a tutor in the Writing Center. After graduating, he worked for three different companies in three years before settling in with Knights of Columbus. He married Emily Risley (B.M. ’14; M.M ’16) in August 2019 and ran his first marathon this past fall.

What is your current job/title?

Director of Programs and Member Engagement for Knights of Columbus. Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization with over 2 million members as well as a Fortune 800 insurance company. Knights of Columbus was just named to the Forbes America’s Best Insurance Companies 2022 list and was ranked #6 among life insurers who issue permanent life insurance.

Why did you choose to study English at Catholic U.?

Quite simply, English was my best subject in high school, and I loved (and still do) reading, writing, and arguing. I quickly knew that I made the right decision when President Garvey said to me in the Pryz: “I really love our English department”.

What was your path from graduation to your current job like? What advice can you give senior majors and recent grads about life after graduation?
Tyler and the Knights of Columbus at a FOCUS Conference

Graduation is a messy time for the human heart – it is precisely the time when all your anxieties about your vocation become immediate and apparent. You question if you majored in the right area, if you went to the right college, if you should have even gone to college, if your first job is the job you want to do, and so much more. I certainly asked all those questions. And I’m sure most of you will too. If you’re not sure where to turn, take courage! In time, you will end up where you are supposed to be. My advice: think of the successful people in your life that have made an impact on you and go get coffee with them. Ask them specific questions about their journey and take their advice to heart. 

Make sure to ask specific questions. For example, don’t ask: how can you help me to be better at my job? This type of approach risks wasting their valuable time. Instead: Here’s a situation where I didn’t get something across well to my boss. I took this approach. What approach would you have taken?

Tyler at the marathon finish line

It took some time and courage, but I asked (and still do) some successful professionals, husbands, and fathers for specific advice in various areas of my life and each of them have gone out of their way to take an interest in me. They’ve shared their stories, they’ve taken me golfing, they’ve encouraged my professional growth, and are helping me to be a better husband.

How has your English background served you professionally?

Although I don't always have the best idea, I am often the best at communicating my idea, arguing in support of my idea, and arguing against other ideas. Being an English major gave me the skillset to create and attack arguments in nuanced and smart ways. All that close reading really paid off! The best communicators are the most successful whether in architecture, engineering, medicine, business, teaching, etc. English majors tend to be the best communicators.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Tyler and the Knights of Columbus at the 2022 March for Life in DC

Up and running around 8:00am. Answer emails and plan the day ahead. I manage a team of 5 and we meet at 9:15am. And then until about 5:00pm will be a variety of items: analyzing data, developing strategy, coaching my team, briefing executives, and communicating with KofC leaders all over the world. The goals of my team are to increase Knights of Columbus charitable impact and to ensure that every member of our organization has a positive experience.

What do you like the most about your job?

The mission and the people. I’m amazed every day at the level of talent that surrounds me. For example, my boss was the captain of a nuclear submarine in the Navy.

What did you learn as an English major at Catholic U. that has stayed with you?

So many things. One of the first that comes to mind is the importance of memorizing poems. Ryan Wilson helped me realize that nothing compares to a life experience that can be described and understood through a poem in the memory bank.

Do you have any advice for current English majors?

Go to office hours regularly. There's no one that will be in your corner like a CUA English professor. No one wants you to succeed as much as they do. They want you to be able to read and write well. They want you to love literature. They want you to be happy and healthy. They want you to be employed when you graduate.

Photo credits: Tyler Lomnitzer