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Zanesville Campus debuts Bobcat Blitz to welcome, prepare new students (PHOTOS)


“This is where it all begins.”

That was what Alan Punches, associate dean at Ohio University Zanesville, told first-year Bobcats at a new program on the Zanesville Campus designed to welcome and prepare the Class of 2018.

The Zanesville Campus kicked off its first-ever Bobcat Blitz on Aug. 19, welcoming new students to the Ohio University family with informational sessions as well as opportunities to get acquainted with fellow classmates, faculty and staff, and representatives from the Ohio University Alumni Association. More than 260 first-year students attended the one-day program, which was held over the course of four days.

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Charles Savage, assistant professor of music at the Zanesville Campus, kicks off the Bobcat Blitz by leading incoming students in the singing of “Alma Mater, Ohio.”

“The purpose of Bobcat Blitz is to introduce new Ohio University Zanesville students to the culture of campus, its procedures and processes, and campus resources to better prepare students for success,” explained Jennifer Redrup, coordinator of the campus’ Student Success Center. Redrup organized the Bobcat Blitz, which was coordinated by a campus-wide ad hoc committee.

According to Redrup, some of the activities included in the program are designed to ensure that students:

  • Can use such things as the My Ohio portal and Blackboard
  • Understand important policies and processes, such as registering for classes and applying for financial aid
  • Meet individuals on campus who can guide them to appropriate contacts
  • Find out what faculty will expect from them for their coursework
  • Sign up for the campus emergency notification system

“We know that students come to college a little trepidatious, and part of our mission is to do everything we can to make them feel at home in their new space,” said Ohio University Zanesville Dean Jenifer Cushman, who is also relatively new to the Bobcat Family, having begun her tenure at the Zanesville Campus this past March. “What I really consider the strengths of the Zanesville Campus are its size and its supportive faculty and staff.”

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Bobcat Blitz attendees Rachel Bowers, Emily Blubaugh and Lyndsay Sowers, all recent graduates of Lakewood High School, already show their Bobcat Pride.

The Bobcat Blitz included five workshops that provided students information on how to succeed in college, as well as opportunities for incoming students to get to know one another.

“What we want you to do today is connect,” Punches told students during the welcome session.

In an effort to help these new Bobcats connect, students were divided into groups for the remainder of the morning, which was spent in workshops led by Zanesville faculty and staff.

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Among the presenters was Bethany Hayes, director of public safety at the Zanesville Campus. Students learned about safety procedures and had the opportunity to sign up to receive e-mail, text and landline alerts from the RAVE system.

Before heading into those workshops, Redrup offered students some words of wisdom.

“Research has shown that the No. 1 indicator of success in college is a student’s motivation,” she said. “Nobody is going to give you anything. You have to ask for it. You have to work for it.”

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Hannah Nissen, an associate professor of early childhood education, talks with students about what faculty will expect from them.

Hannah Nissen took that message further in her workshop, “Get Prepared for College Coursework.” An associate professor of early childhood education, Nissen engaged the students in discussions communicating with faculty, classroom etiquette, studying outside of class, and preparing for their first class.

“Your time here will be nothing like high school,” Nissen told the students. “You will have to work harder. Your first priority is learning.”

First-year student Cheyenne Danison of Somerset said Nissen’s presentation was enlightening.

“I really liked that session,” said Danison, who is majoring in middle childhood education and is attending Ohio University Zanesville on a full scholarship. “I know it’s really going to help me get prepared because I really didn’t know what to expect at college.”

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Mary Beth Robinson, supervisor of the Information Technology Help Desk at the Zanesville Campus, shows students around the My Ohio site.

Two members of the campus’ Office of Information Technology talked technology with the incoming students and fielded their questions on everything from how to find their grades to taking tests online.

Mary Beth Robinson, supervisor of the office’s help desk, facilitated a workshop called “Online Resources at Ohio University,” which instructed the students on the University’s e-mail system and My Ohio portal, which provides them access to their accounts and academic information. Larry Tumblin, director of the office, schooled the students in using Blackboard, a Web-based learning management system.

“We want our students to be familiar with the basics of Blackboard, so they can be successful in their courses,” Tumblin explained. “Hopefully this session will allow them to get a jump-start on the academic year and make them more comfortable as they prepare to start here.”

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Students attend a session facilitated by the Information Center staff to learn about how to access different resources and get assistance when they need it.

Information Center employees Sara Brennan, a records management associate, and Kim Border, an administrative associate, presented the workshop “Stay on Course with Student Services” and shared with the students the University’s academic policies and registration procedures as well as the numerous forms they may need while on campus.

“I really liked the session at the information desk,” said first-year student Darian Timms of Lancaster, who will be majoring in nursing. “The people there seem really nice, and now if I have questions, I know exactly where to go.”

Another workshop focused on safety and security on campus and was led by Director of Public Safety Bethany Hayes, Sgt. Steve Gallagher and Officer Dwight Gildow. Their presentation focused on services provided by the campus’ Public Safety Department, provided information on the campus’ emergency notification system, and gave a brief overview of ALICE, an active shooter response training program.

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Roberta’s Café prepared lunch for the students including Bobcat-themed cookies.

Following lunch, the students participated in a campus-wide scavenger hunt designed to get them familiar with the campus while also rewarding them with prizes.

The day concluded with a student panel, providing incoming Bobcats with a chance to hear from and get to know some upperclassmen.

One of those upperclassmen was Jordan Simon, who served as a student ambassador for Bobcat Blitz. Simon is a second-year student who is majoring in exercise physiology and who enrolled at the Zanesville Campus after serving in the Army.

“My advice to new students: Keep an open mind. Learn to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and break the ice as much as you can,” he said.

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Current students Blaire Border, Charlotte McElroy and Jordan Simon were among the ambassadors who helped the new students go from workshop to workshop.

“I came here just wanting to learn everything and get familiar with the campus,” said Andrew Hronec, a first-year student from Caldwell who is considering majoring in psychology. “By the time I leave, I’ll know better what I’m getting into and won’t feel liking I’m going into college blind.”

“I’ve really enjoyed just getting to know some people and a feel for the campus and meeting some professors,” said first-year student Melody Maynard of Corning, who will be majoring in communications. “The whole program has been really interesting. It’s been nice to get to know the campus and the people.”

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Bobcat Blitz attendees make new friends during lunch.

“We hope students leave Bobcat Blitz feeling they are prepared for success at Ohio University Zanesville,” said Redrup. “Hopefully they met someone who they can connect with and are prepared for learning the very first day of classes.”

When asked what she would say to the Class of 2018, Cushman said, “We need to understand that we are living in a changing landscape, and we want these students to know that we are partnering with them to work toward their success in this 21st century.”

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Part of the fun was a group picture. This one is a photo of the group who attended Bobcat Blitz on Wednesday. They made friends already as can be seen by their “crazy” pose.

More photos from the Bobcat Blitz can be found on the Ohio University Zanesville Facebook page.