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Acting and acting on a dream
Grad ’s complimentary careers fit fine
When it comes to juggling dissimilar careers, Bill Fisher ’98 has found a recipe for success. In fall 2004, Fisher and his wife, Connie, opened The Pop Shop on Haddon Avenue in Collingswood. The kid-friendly, nostalgic-style soda fountain features American diner classics as well as ice cream, milkshakes, floats and desserts. The breakfast, lunch and dinner choices include 31 varieties of grilled cheese, a dozen pancake styles and 10 different toppings for their Idaho fries.

“We wanted to create something soda fountainish, something that could’ve been here 50 years ago or 80 years ago,” said Fisher, who has plans on franchising his business. “We didn’t want something too modern or too retro that it would be in your face. I think we accomplished that.

“The concept behind The Pop Shop is a nod to a simpler time. Really, small town America is what we were going for. We saw an opportunity and we couldn’t let it slip by and think, ‘That could’ve been us.’”

But running a restaurant is only part of what Fisher does. The father of two boys (Holden, 5, and newborn Dashiell), is also an actor and has a supporting role as Denny Franks in the upcoming Disney film “Invincible.” The film depicts the story of former Philadelphia Eagles special-teams standout Vince Papale.

Fisher has acted in over 25 commercials, appeared in skits on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and played Warren, a psychiatric hospital orderly, in the sixth season of “The Sopranos.”

“I’ve always been interested in the arts,” said Fisher, a Collingswood resident. “My dad (Herb) was a big influence on me. He was totally captivated by films and TV. He was a football player, director of plays, high school football coach and teacher, a screenplay writer, really a renaissance man. He instilled in me a sense of adventure and a ‘Don’t let anything stop you’ attitude. Life takes you on your path and you just have to ride it instead of fight it.”

Acting since 1997, Fisher (who goes by the first name Stink to distinguish himself from other actors with the same name) also gained hands-on restaurant experience.

“As an actor you need a flexible schedule and working in the restaurant business allows for that. It’s what I did when I first was starting out as an actor and it worked for me. I got a lot of second-hand experience that I put to use every day now.”

Fisher, a defensive lineman on Rowan’s 1993 football team, left Rowan in the spring of ’94 a few credits shy of graduating to sign a free-agent contract with the New York Jets. Although he didn’t stay in the National Football League, he did play in the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League until landing his first acting gig. He returned to school and finished his degree requirements in 1998.

Fisher majored in psychology and although he’s not working in the field, he says the study is still useful. “You’d be surprised how much you have to tap into that knowledge (psychology) when you’re dealing with 70 employees and over 3,000 customers a week in the restaurant business, Fisher said. “People say to me that I don’t use my degree but I do use some of what I learned back in class along with common sense.”

—Mike Shute ’93


Prepared for the job

Can studying engineering at Rowan help you become Miss America? Jamie Ginn, chemical engineering ’04, thinks so. In fact, as the newly crowned Miss Delaware, Ginn intends to change the face of the Miss America pageant.

“Miss America must be a businesswoman,” said Ginn, 24. A Delaware resident since 2004, she turned a DuPont internship into a full-time position with the international company.
“Right now, the Miss America program is struggling to find out who they are. I want to help the program become even more successful.”

Her Rowan classes and extracurricular activities developed the self-assuredness and stage presence that helped her become Miss Delaware, Ginn said. They’re the same skills Miss America needs, she noted.

“I did a lot of presentations, particularly in the College of Engineering,” said Ginn. “That, coupled with my involvement with the Rowan Contemporary Dance Company, helped me gain a whole other level of confidence.”

The oldest of six, Ginn, an Ocean City native, attended Rowan on a full tuition scholarship through the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation.

Though coursework was demanding, she found time to perform with the dance troupe and to organize three benefit walks to raise $15,000 for Crohn’s disease. Ginn’s sister, now 12, was diagnosed with Crohn’s six years ago.

“A Cure for Crohn’s and Colitis Can’t Wait” is Ginn’s platform as she serves as Miss Delaware. She has already visited Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Act, which would allocate funds to research the disease.

“I’ve seen my sister go through so much—medications, surgeries,” Ginn says. “All of these children are growing up being treated with harsh medications that affect not only their physical health, but also their psychological health.”

“Preparing for Miss America is a whole other job itself,” said Ginn, who is working on a dance routine for the pageant. “I had to develop my marketing plan and my strategy for being Miss America. You have to be ready should you step into the job.”

—By Barbar Baals

 
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