By Megan Greve
The first graduate of President Roderick J. McDavis' Appalachian Scholars program is getting ready to graduate -- a year ahead of schedule.
Erin Shipbaugh, a business marketing major from East Rochester, Ohio, who also will earn a Professional Sales Certificate, completed her degree in only three years.
"Erin is so focused and driven that she is always using time to meet her goals," said Mark Skillings, program director of the Appalachian Scholars Program, which admitted its first class in fall 2006. The program, founded by McDavis in 2005, aims to provide scholarship opportunities to students from Ohio's Appalachian region.
"However she is not leaving anything behind. She's had fun at college and she'll have international experience," Skillings said. "She's been able to pack what most students do in five years into three years."
Shipbaugh will complete her degree requirements this summer when she participates in a Global Competitiveness Program in Leipzig, Germany, through the College of Business. The program allows students to work with a company overseas and solve a real-life business problem for that company.
After she finishes the program on July 4, Shipbaugh plans to travel Europe for about 10 days, then return to the United States and pursue a sales job in the Cleveland/Akron area.
"I took post secondary classes at Kent State University as a senior in high school so I came to OU with a quarter of classes already completed," Shipbaugh said. "I also took about 20 credits every quarter. People thought that I was crazy for it, but I will never forget that my mom always told me, 'Your scholarship requires you to take 16, so just take the 20, it is already paid for.'"
The Appalachian Scholars Program is a need-based scholarship that looks for students who are enthusiastic, show leadership potential, have financial need and live in one of Ohio's 29 counties of Appalachia.
"I have been given so many opportunities with this scholarship," Shipbaugh said. "I have been able to do community service activities and also meet great kids from Appalachia. I live in the northern area of Appalachia so it is has been wonderful to meet other people from this area that are in the same boat I am. We are good kids and we are all smart, this scholarship has given us a way to prove it to everyone."
Shipbaugh knows that while the program was beneficial to her as a student, it will also prove useful to her in her future.
"I now can stand out among the other business graduates because an OU degree is worth so much more because it is such a fabulous school," she said. "I love knowing that once I start my career, I will be able to give back to the program and provide the same opportunity I had to another kid just like me."
Shipbaugh also had some thoughts on being the first Appalachian Scholar graduate.
"I have worked really hard and I know that even though I am the first to graduate, I am only the beginning, because there are going to be many Appalachian scholars just like me that will graduate from Ohio University because of this program," Shipbaugh said. "Days will come and go, but I will never forget my time at OU and being from the inaugural class of Appalachian scholars."