Ohio University

The class of 2020 forms "2020" on the Ohio University football field

Celebrating OHIO's Class of 2020

Fall Commencement 2020 Student Features

Congrats, grads! 

Ohio University students are passionate, intelligent and driven. It's no wonder our alumni make a difference around the world.

Mary Basham 

Mary Basham

Major: Applied Business

At the age of 46, Mary Basham decided to enroll in her first college class. Neither of her parents attended college, but her little brother Jay Dee earned his degree from Ohio University Chillicothe at a traditional age. 

“I guess you could say I was always a little jealous,” Basham admitted. “When I made my decision to work towards my business management degree, he was one of the first people I told. He was very supportive. As a non-traditional student, I’m proud to have finally achieved something I didn’t think was possible.”

Basham, who works at OHIO Chillicothe’s Testing Center, will earn her associate’s degree in applied business this month, after completing the program this summer. Basham shed a few tears when her diploma arrived in the mail, overwhelmed with a deep sense of achievement. 

Basham originally enrolled in the class just to better herself and help her husband, who runs his own handyman business. Then, a co-worker asked if she was working towards a degree.

“Me? Working towards a degree? Could I do it? My younger brother was an alumnus of OHIO Chillicothe, but is that something I could do? He was a teenager when he started, and I’m definitely not a teenager anymore.

“With the encouragement of family and friends, over the next couple of years, I decided to work diligently towards my degree, taking classes as I could, while working full-time,” she continued. “Sometimes it wasn’t easy, but I kept doing my best. I have an amazing support system and I couldn’t have finished with my degree without them.”

Basham has worked at OHIO Chillicothe for the past five years and truly loves her job. Working in the Testing Center, she’s able to encourage and cheer students on — often times sharing their highs, and sometimes even their lows, with them. 

It’s likely she’s able to provide advice to them on applying themselves to the best of their ability and powering through. She’s no stranger to that.

“It’s never too late to go to college and better yourself,” she said. “The personal enrichment a degree can bring is worth the time and effort. I learned you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

What’s next for Basham? Well, she’s decided to continue work towards her bachelor’s degree. The obstacles she’s bound to face in the future are temporary, but her OHIO experience? That will last forever. 

Jayda Morgan

Jayda Morgan

Major: Political Science

Just a few years ago, Jayda Morgan was an excited and overwhelmed freshman walking around Ohio University’s campus.

As she prepares to graduate this month after three-and-a-half years with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she can’t help but think back on that first weekend at college.

Adjusting to a new environment wasn’t easy, but she found her community at OHIO and didn’t look back. She was a member of OHIO’s LINKS program, a year-long transition, enrichment and support program committed to attracting and retaining high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds, to maximize their academic, leadership and service potential.

“The hardest hill to climb for me at first was putting myself out there and getting involved,” Morgan explained. “Thankfully, through the LINKS Program, I was able to meet so many students, both in my class as well as upperclassmen, who were able to lead me in the right direction.”

In her time at Ohio’s first university, Morgan attended a master class with Broadway performers and prolific choral conductors; she was able to meet rapper Young Dolph; and she attended events featuring some of the country’s leading academics, the most memorable being Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, assistant professor at Princeton.

Morgan also expanded her resume with a minor in African American studies and a certificate in law, justice and culture. She’s in the process of applying to law school, with a dream of attending Howard University.

“This year as a whole certainly not easy for anyone, so overall, I feel blessed to have made it through healthy and to have all of my loved ones healthy as well,” she said. “Receiving a degree despite being in the midst of a global pandemic feels like that much more of an accomplishment. I hope to be able to celebrate with my friends in person very soon.”

Q: Where do you like to hang out on campus?

College Green and the Multicultural Center. College Green was the perfect place for me to sit between classes when it was warm and the MCC allowed me a place to connect with other multicultural students and faculty.

Q: Who were your favorite OHIO professors and why?

Dr. Jeffries, Dr. Moak, and Dr. Taylor are my favorite professors at OHIO. They pushed me to be a better student and they made their learning environments challenging while still being as flexible as possible. I have taken what they’ve taught me throughout all the classes I’ve had with them, and fostered conversations among my peers, family, and friends and I hope to continue to do so as I continue on my career path.

Q: What was your favorite course at OHIO?

Black Music Criticism with Dr. Houston. It was a great way to tie in my minor with my hobby.

Larry Ervin 

Larry Ervin

Major: Specialized Studies

Forever learning: a non-traditional path to graduation

Ohio University students take many different routes to graduation. Some move from start to finish in four years or less. Others, like Larry Ervin, take a less traditional path to graduation. Ervin first started his Ohio University journey in 1985 with the intent of studying recreation, but he was not focused on academic success and dropped out after a year. Now, more than 30 years later, Ervin will earn his bachelor’s degree in specialized studies (B.S.S.) from University College and become the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college. 

First-generation students are less likely than their peers to complete a college degree and 33% drop out within three years, according to data from the United States Department of Education. Ervin has helped to break that pattern for his three children, all of whom are currently pursuing their own degrees at OHIO. With his enthusiasm and persistence, he sets an example for generations to come. 

“Larry’s enthusiasm for what he learns in the classroom, and his persistence to pursue coursework while working full-time and raising multiple kids is truly an inspiration,” said Dr. Elizabeth Koonce, associate professor in the Department of English and one of Ervin’s advisors. “Both he and his son Ben (who is also my advisee) are both excellent students.”  

Thanks to the flexibility of University College’s bachelor of specialized studies degree, and the support of advisors and faculty in UC and across campus, Ervin was able to design a degree that spoke to his interests. He selected a concentration in cultural history and written expression. As he prepares to finish his unique degree Ervin already has his sights set on his next educational milestone. After his fall graduation he plans to complete a writing certificate in the English Department and is considering enrollment in a graduate program. 

Ervin is proud and happy to be graduating, but also a little sad. “I kind of hate graduating because I love going to class,” he said. “I want to continue because I enjoy learning.” 

A building maintenance specialist in OHIO’s Life Safety Shop, Ervin followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who both worked for the university. He came to work as a custodian at OHIO in 1987. With encouragement from a former supervisor he re-enrolled in University College in 2012 and earned his associate of arts degree in 2015. 

Obstacles are temporary. For Ervin, who doesn’t carry a cell phone, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of academic progress was the technology required to fully participate in classes. With a lot of perseverance, a willingness to grow and adapt, and a little help from his wife, Ervin learned how to use tools like Blackboard and Top Hat and completed some of his courses online. He appreciates the support of his managers and colleagues as well as his family, including his wife, two sons who are seniors, and daughter who is in her first year at OHIO. 

“My kids have been very helpful,” Ervin noted. “I have my son and my daughter proofread my papers.”

Ervin has helped several other people return to their own studies at OHIO and encourages other non-traditional students who are pursuing degrees while working full-time. “Don’t get behind on your assignments because it’s hard to make up,” he advises. “You’re going to have to make some sacrifices. Take it one step at a time.”

Like other Bobcats, Ervin thrives on the discussion that happens in the classroom whether on campus or via Teams. Though he’s graduating this semester, he knows his OHIO journey will continue.  

Abi Flory 

Abi Flory

Major: History Pre-Law; Minors: Anthropology, English

Flory Says Classmates Are Adaptable, Plans Career Moves

Adaptable. That's how Abi Flory describes her fellow Ohio University classmates who are graduating during COVID.

"Something that stands out in my mind is how adaptable this class of graduates is. We were able to overcome a lot of challenges that living through a global pandemic presented us, and we were able to graduate in the process," says Flory, a History Pre-Law major with minors in Anthropology and English.

Before the pandemic, Flory was able to take advantage of study abroad in Ireland, and she took on leadership positions on campus, including serving as secretary and co-editor of S.T.A.R.S. (Students Teaching About Racism in Society).

Now, she's planning her next career moves.

Q: What are your next steps/future plans?

I plan on getting my paralegal certificate from Duke University, getting certified as a paralegal by NALA, volunteering abroad for a few months, and then moving to Florida to become a paralegal.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

Some of my favorite professors were Dr. Miriam Shadis, Dr. Mariana Dantas, and Dr. Kevin Uhalde (all in the history department). They are all very kind and supportive individuals who absolutely refuse to let their students not come to their full potential. The coursework in their classes really helped me to realize what aspects of history I was interested in. I think it is important to have people like that in your life, and I want to be able to be that person for someone later in my life.

(Uhalde had to brag a little about Flory, noting that she has received competitive departmental scholarships every year she's been at OHIO: Frederick H. Boston Scholarship in 2018; Roger and Katherine Feinthel History Scholarship in 2019; and John and Alexandra Preston Scholarship in History in 2020.)

Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”? 

I think when I changed my major from History to History Pre-Law. I had been really struggling to figure out what exactly it was that I wanted to do with my major, and at some point, during my junior year, I changed my major to History Pre-Law after someone told me about what a paralegal was. I think that was the moment when I really gained the confidence to pursue something I was really interested in.

Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

Learning how to study. I really learned what study skills worked for me while I was at OHIO, and I think that contributed to my success.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

I think my favorite memories include studying abroad in Galway, Ireland and making friends that I will have for a long time.

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

One thing I would tell a new Ohio student not to miss is the bike path; it's beautiful when the trees are in full bloom.

Madison Groene 

Madison Groene

Major: Biological Sciences; Minor: Psychology

Groene Sets Her Sights on Career in Genetic Counseling

Madison Groene says her college career isn't defined by where she started. It's all about where she's going.

And her next step is graduating from Ohio University in December, then on to a future she never envisioned when she was a high school student choosing a college major.

She's still majoring in Biological Sciences, but it's the minor in Psychology—and an inspirational professor—that helped change her career trajectory from pre-med to genetic counseling.

"I think the hardest hill that I have had to climb at OHIO was figuring out what I wanted to do for a career. When I came to OHIO I was sure that I wanted to become a doctor, but throughout my freshman year, I had doubts about whether this was the right path for me," she says.

"These doubts culminated the beginning of my sophomore year, when I officially 'declared' that I was no longer pre-med. But this declaration was just the beginning because for so long I had used the title of pre-med to define myself. I no longer knew what my future goals where and it scared me. So, I began a journey of career jumping. I was not comfortable admitting that I did not know what was next, so I kept picking a new future plan, hoping one would stick. It was not until I learned to define myself outside of my career, that I was able to be comfortable in choosing a path forward."

Q: What are your next steps/future plans?

I am currently applying to master's in genetic counseling programs, so hopefully grad school is in my future. However, for my “gap” semester, I am currently in the process of applying to jobs as a genetic counseling assistant.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

One of my favorite professors is Dr. Michael Grant. I took intro to psychology with him freshman year, and it was through hearing about his experiences as a behavior geneticist that set me on the path that eventually lead me to genetic counseling.

Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?

I do not know if I could pinpoint one point. I think rather it is has been a culmination of lots of little moments. Every semester presents new challenges, and there are times where it can feel like I have everything under control, and then the next week you're questioning everything again. But I think it has been those hard weeks, where there does not seem to be enough time, and no matter what you do it won’t be enough that have helped me realize that I do have this. Because I have made it through those weeks and moments, and thus I know that I can again in the future.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

Some of my favorite moments at OHIO include the late-night study sessions I have had with friends over the years. Don’t get me wrong; these were often times filled with stress and nerves, but there were also a lot of laughs and deepened friendships that happened through these.

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

One thing I would say not to miss at OHIO is going up to the Ridges. I actually did not make it up there until this semester, but now I wish I had gone up there more often. It is a beautiful hike, and you're able to see (almost) the town from up there.

Logan Hinebaugh 

Logan Hinebaugh

Majors: Finance and Economics

Instead of giving up on astronomy because it wasn’t his strongest subject, Logan Hinebaugh found another way to one day combine his passion for space and his knack for finances. 

Hinebaugh will graduate this month with a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from Ohio University’s College of Business.

“I chose to go into finance because every company around the world requires capital budgeting and money managing,” he explained. “I hope by choosing this path, I can end up in a firm that is dedicated to solving the world's problems or in a firm that focuses on learning the unknowns. My dream job would be either working for NASA or SpaceX in a capital budgeting or financial analysis role.”

He’s well on his way to achieving that goal after accepting a global finance and business management analyst position with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Hinebaugh believes the support from Dr. Sinan Gokkaya played a huge role in him receiving the offer. 

“Dr. Gokkaya took interest in me during his financial modeling class and I am so thankful he did,” Hinebaugh said. “He believed in me and was constantly a person I could talk to about anything without fear of being judged. He also helped me prepare for my interview. Sinan is an amazing professor and friend, and the College of Business faculty has so many diverse backgrounds that offer so many networking opportunities. They genuinely care about who you are as a person and a student, and Dr. Kelly Bergsma and Dr. Lee Wakeman have been extremely impactful on my learning experience over the past two years.”

Hinebaugh’s support system extends far beyond OHIO’s faculty. During his junior year, he went through a mental health crisis, and the professional fraternity he was a part of, Delta Sigma Pi, was extremely supportive in helping him recover.

The soon-to-be grad was suffering from an identity crisis, imposter syndrome and depression. He said he wasn’t the type of person people enjoyed being around. He was mean and extremely emotional; because he didn’t know how to handle what was happening to him. 

“I felt like none of my friends liked me for me, and that I did not deserve any of the good things that were coming my way,” he noted. “My health was getting worse because of this. My fraternity brothers were extremely supportive of me, and there was one person who really helped me understand what I needed to do. Chloe Martin was straightforward and told me I need to get my life together because I have a lot of potential and I should not let it go to waste.”

With a new sense of belonging and continued unwavering support, Hinebaugh improved his mental health, lost 65 pounds and can finally say he’s happy. One of his most treasured memories is celebrating his J.P. Morgan job offer with his closest friends and professors who believed in him when he was at his lowest. 

“I don’t think I would recognize the person I was three years ago both mentally and physically. Today, I am in the shape of my life and I know things will continue to get better if I keep believing,” Hinebaugh said. “Logan three years ago was extremely pessimistic, narcissistic, and he was a person who made bad choices. I finally started making decisions for myself and found a friend group that motivates me to be better each day. I love the person I have become. I would just like to say thank you to Delta Sigma Pi for always believing in me."

Sophia Boothby 

Sophia Boothby

Major: Environmental Biology

Sophia Boothby is disappointed she can’t have the last moments every Bobcat looks forward to, such as graduation photos with friends and walking across the stage at graduation. However, the communities she’s involved with have made memorable sendoffs for her, and for that, she’s forever grateful.

“It's hard leaving a community I have been a part of for four (and some) years, but I know I will always have a home to return to,” said Boothby, who will earn her bachelor’s degree in environmental biology this month.  

It’s almost impossible for her to pick just one favorite memory out of the many organizations she’s been a part of, but she’ll always cherish being reunited with her field hockey family.

“I think one of my favorite memories was coming back for preseason my sophomore year and reuniting with all my friends in James Hall,” Boothby said. “You build such close friendships your first year that a summer away from them feels like such a long time and it's such a great feeling to come back and catch up with everyone.”

Q: What’s next for Sophia?

My next step is to work as a legal assistant for the next year in Cincinnati, take care of my new dog and apply to law school! After law school, I want to work in environmental law.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and why?

It's hard to narrow it down to even a top five because I've had the opportunity to have so many fantastic professors and each of them have influenced me in different ways. I think my favorite professors have been Dr. Nancy Manring, Dr. Jerry Miller, Professor McCosker, and Dr. Michelle O'Malley. Each of them taught me valuable lessons in the classroom, but also how to be an effective, powerful, and kind leader in any setting. What they taught me will follow me forever and because of the Ohio network. I know they are people I can continue to reach out to as I grow.

Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb at OHIO?

I have never been the greatest test taker and I struggle with imposter syndrome a lot. I really struggled my first year with finding my path and finding a community I fit into. Without the mentors and friends I made, I don't think I would be graduating with any accomplishments. I needed people to believe in me, and that helped me get involved with the extracurriculars and internships that I are available at Ohio.

Q: What is your favorite place on campus or in Athens?

My favorite place on campus is Pruitt Field. I spent the majority of my time there with my very best friends and have made some of my favorite memories there. I will never forget my first night field hockey practice, freshmen year,  looking up at the Convo, West Green and The Ridges and just being so happy that I had finally made it to the college level and was able to play my favorite sport in such a beautiful place.

Q: What was your favorite course?

Field Ecology with Dr. Kelly Williams. It was a challenging course for me, but it was so much fun because of the small class size, and we were able to go outside most classes and catch fun critters to learn more about. Dr. Williams is a fantastic professor, and I learned a lot from her.

Q. What was the coolest thing you participated in at OHIO?

The coolest thing I was able to participate in is the Margaret Boyd Scholars Program. The mentors and friends I've gained from this program are tremendous.  It's the one thing I mention to all prospective female students as a tour guide, and it’s the program I can thank for all of my success. Patti McSteen, Dean of Students, is a genius woman and possibly the greatest human I have ever met.

Nicole Albers 

Nicole Albers

Major: Outdoor Recreation and Education

Outdoor Recreation graduate discovered passion for a field that energizes individuals and communities

Like many students, Outdoor Recreation and Education graduate Nicole Albers, changed her major after finding her passion. 

A native of Dublin, Ohio, Albers got a job working at a summer camp. Realizing she had a passion for outdoor recreation, she decided to pursue a degree in the field and transferred into The Patton College’s Recreation and Sport Pedagogy Department. 

“I am proud of myself for making the decision to change my major,” said Albers. “I was able to find a field that I see an immense amount of value in as far as what it can offer to individuals and communities alike.”
This past summer, Albers’ goal was to find work in the Athens area with an organization that emphasizes local recreation and values adventure within the local community. She found the ideal environment as an intern for Rising Appalachia Warriors, an Athens day camp for ages 6-17. The camp aims to connect kids with nature through environmental and sustainability-based programs. Rising Appalachia Warriors also offers overnight camping trips and backpacking trips. 

“Throughout my time with this organization, I was able to implement programs, co-lead trips and overnights, as well as help develop program plans and educational resources for the camp to use in the future.” 

While pursuing her degree, Albers has also worked as an afterschool program team leader at Trimble Elementary, a supervisor at Bird Ice Arena, a volunteer health coach with Live Healthy Appalachia, and an intern at West Elementary implementing activities with students in gym classes.  

“Nicole approaches her coursework and the parks, recreation, and leisure profession with a great deal of passion and intention,” said Andy Szolosi, associate professor and program coordinator. “She is the type of student who truly will be a lifelong learner in that she constantly strives to refine her craft. Nicole is destined to do great things, and we are lucky to have had her in our program.”
Albers is still in the process of looking for the right job and hopes to work in a position that allows her to do recreational programming or environmental education with youth, whether that be in a school setting, a camp setting, or with an organization that runs youth programs. 

After a bit of a break, she may also look into pursuing an environmental science-based graduate program.

Albers says she has collected many memories as she became familiar with the campus and university. But her work with recreation and the community made the biggest impact.

“What I will miss the most,” said Albers, “is how I have gotten the opportunity to know the city and the beautiful places, experiences, and people that make Athens, Ohio, the gem that it is.”

Claire Harr 

Claire Harr

Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders

CHSP senior Claire Harr looks back on OHIO memories, experiences she’ll remember forever

When asked to distill her time at OHIO into a single word, Claire Harr, a senior Communication Sciences and Disorders major within the College of Health Sciences and Professions’ School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences, didn’t hesitate.

“Metaphoric,” Harr said. “Because Ohio University, and the people whom I have encountered throughout these last four years, have shaped me into the person I am today.”

Harr noted that, although she’s disappointed that she won’t be able to experience a normal graduation due to the ongoing pandemic, she’ll forever carry her favorite OHIO memories and experiences with her wherever she goes. 

“OHIO has challenged me and helped me learn more about myself,” Harr said.

Harr said she plans to begin working on a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology soon after graduating. Her long-term professional goal is to become a Speech-Language Pathologist working in a hospital setting with aphasia and dementia patients. 

Q: Why’d you choose Ohio University?

The atmosphere at Ohio University is what initially sold me. The campus is beautiful and felt like home.  Everyone I met on my campus tour was friendly and passionate about furthering their education. I am so happy with my choice!

Q: What’s your favorite OHIO memory?

My favorite Ohio University memory was having the opportunity to sign the National Anthem with my American Sign Language (ASL) VI class at an OHIO men’s basketball game.  

Q: Favorite campus or community organization/club you’ve been part of during your time at OHIO?

Definitely Creative Expressions (CE)! CE has given me the opportunity to work with both typically and atypically developing children in a school setting. It is the best feeling watching children’s faces when we walk into their classroom to present a lesson plan.  

Q: What is your favorite place on campus or in Athens?

Athens is the most beautiful town, so it is hard to choose a favorite place. I would say College Green is the best place on campus, because it is gorgeous during all seasons.

Q: What’s your favorite course you took at OHIO? 

My favorite course I have taken at OHIO has been American Sign Language VI with Lori Woods.  The passion for ASL and Deaf Culture in the classroom were evident from both the teacher and students alike – This made learning a more advanced ASL all the more enjoyable. 

Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

The hardest challenge I have faced at OHIO is juggling a rigorous course load, while working an on-campus job, and serving as a teaching assistant for two classes.  I have been successful at managing this workload, because I have figured out how to manage my time (and also with the help of a lot of Donkey Coffee).

Q: If you could share a piece of advice to an incoming CHSP student, what would it be?

Soak it all in! Try to experience everything OHIO has to offer. Pursue as many opportunities as you can. Join clubs, get involved, participate in class.   

Ndemazea Ndobegang


Carrie Hawthorn 

Carrie Hawthorn

Major: Psychology 

Hawthorn Powers through Work, Motherhood and Online Degree

Carrie Hawthorn '20 is graduating in December with a bachelor's degree—an accomplishment made possible by her tenacity and passion and Ohio University's online psychology degree.

"It feels like it has been a long journey to get to this point, but I am so excited that I will, at least, have my bachelor's now!" says Hawthorn, a working mother.

"As every semester has gone by and I have proven to myself that I can do it, my confidence has grown! I was a big ball of doubt when I started college, but as time passed my confidence has grown. Just working hard at my classes, figuring out what does and does not work when it comes to studying, has all helped me to build myself up and realize that I can succeed."

Q: Did you start on campus and then finish online? How did the online option help you?

I received my associate's from Southern State and then started attending the OHIO Chillicothe Campus in 2017. However, being a working mother, it ended up being difficult to fit some of my required classes in on days that would work with my schedule. The e-campus program has been amazing in that it offers flexibility and has really been a blessing. I cannot say enough good things about the online program and classes!

Q: What stands out in your mind as you think about graduating despite COVID?

I know that things are hard for everyone right now. These are difficult times to adjust to, and it makes me realize how unpredictable life can be. However, I have been fortunate that I have been able to continue working through the pandemic, as well as continuing with my education. I am incredibly grateful that, although times are trying, that I still have so much to be thankful for.

Q: What are your next steps/future plans?

Right now I am exploring my options, and that includes looking at some of the graduate schools in the area. I am really interested in learning more about mental health and have for a while thought that pursuing a degree in clinical counseling would be a good way to open doors for me. I feel that this could eventually lead to me being able to help people and make a difference in their lives.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

I have had so many great professors that it is hard to pinpoint just a couple, without feeling like I am cheating the others! One of the things that I have most appreciated about many of my teachers was their passion and willingness to assist their students! I love when I can tell a teacher really believes in what they are teaching, and really wants to help their students to succeed. This is a valuable lesson because, although I know they are working hard, they love what they do—and how much more can you ask of life? This really instills in me the need to find out what I am passionate about and then pursue it. When you love your job, others can tell.

Q:  What was the hardest hill you had to climb at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

The hardest hill for me has been balancing life and sometimes unexpected obstacles while pursuing a degree. I am a working mother, and that alone can provide some challenges. You never want to feel that you are not giving your best to your child, and school takes time and energy. But when I think about why I am pursuing my education, to be a good example to her, then it puts things in perspective. I also have asthma, which has caused a lot of issues with lack of sleep and my health at times, and last year at this time I was hospitalized with pneumonia. I had Thanksgiving from a hospital bed! But my stubbornness, paired with the best teachers who worked with me during that difficult time, really helped me to stay on track.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

Some of my favorite memories were when I attended class on the campus, and I would sometimes stay after class and talk with some of my teachers. Some of my teachers were such an inspiration and wealth of knowledge. I liked getting to know them better, I have met so many good examples. Especially for me as a woman, I have met a lot of women who were good role models that I admire.

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss? 

One piece of advice is to be in the moment and enjoy your classes! Do not take this opportunity of learning for granted, learn all that you can and really apply yourself. I know that most students are obviously going to college to find a better job or to do something that they are passionate about, but enjoy the journey getting there.

My second thing I would tell someone is that if you are struggling or just have questions, reach out! Reach out to your teachers, advisers, or even the tutoring program. There is no shame in asking for help! OHIO has some of the best advisers. I do not know what I would have done if I had not had the wonderful advisers to answer questions and give advice while trying to adjust to online learning and figuring out my next steps. They were so encouraging and helpful!


Sarah Highlander 

Sarah Highlander

Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders

CHSP senior’s experiences at OHIO provide solid foundation for the future

When Sarah Highlander reflects on her time at Ohio University, a pastime she finds herself increasingly engaging in as graduation quickly approaches, there’s no singular moment or memory that always comes to mind first. 

It’s not because she doesn’t have any OHIO memories worth recalling; in fact, the reason is quite the opposite – there are simply too many available in her memory bank to focus on just one.

For Highlander, it was the summation of years of campus experiences, from her supportive professors and friends to her participation in student organizations, extracurricular activities and more, that built the foundation for who she is today and prepared her for what comes next. 

“I knew I was going to get a great academic experience when I came to OHIO,” Highlander said. “What really set the University apart was its great community that offered all of the experiences of college life while providing the support structure needed for someone to succeed right out of high school – It felt like home.” 

Highlander, a senior majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) within the College of Health Sciences and Professions’ School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences, noted that her participation in student organizations like Creative Expressions played a large role throughout her college career. 

Creative Expressions (CE) is a faculty supported, student-led organization at OHIO that focuses on working with children with developmental disabilities across the Athens community. 

Highlander joined CE during her sophomore year and has served as the organization’s vice president since last spring – a period that’s been unlike any other due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and also raised numerous questions regarding how CE could safely connect with the community in a socially distant world.

“For a student organization like CE that is so used to planning and being a part of in-person community events and outreach, there was definitely some initial concern about how we’d continue to meet our mission,” Highlander said. “We knew we’d have to come together and change how we’d been doing things.”

For CE, such change came in the form of a sweeping transition to a virtual environment:  

  • Kidfest, an annual event typically hosted in Grover Center, transitioned to a remote environment that offered numerous digital activities and engaging moments for community children and parents.
  • Art gallery events, typically hosted in person with the Kennedy Museum, became virtual learning and networking opportunities. 
  • In-person outreach events at Athens-area schools were repurposed to identify ways to provide support to area teachers, who were equally tasked with carrying out their educational mission in a remote environment, via the creation of unique signage that could be used to encourage their class and remind students to mute/unmute themselves when speaking.

And – it worked.  

In a world focused on social distance, Creative Expressions was receiving kudos for making connections. 

During a time in which online meetings make it easy for people to turn off or tune out, Creative Expressions’ student engagement was peaking, and their membership numbers were increasing. 

Highlander wasn’t surprised. 

“CE’s members are very dedicated, and they’re not afraid to volunteer their time,” she said.

Highlander was also quick to point out that CE’s membership is not only comprised of students within CHSP, but from all over OHIO; she noted that such diversity enabled them to think differently, more creatively.

“Those cross-campus interactions and collaborations really served as an area of strength for us, especially during the early stages of the pandemic,” she said. “It helped us change our thinking from ‘what are we going to do now’ to ‘how can we use this situation to our advantage?’”

Creative Expressions plans to leverage what they’ve learned by planning and hosting virtual engagement opportunities even after the pandemic is over. Next year’s executive board is already creating content for a new CE YouTube channel that will provide short informational and educational clips for teachers, children and others. 

“Our new exec board already has a lot of great ideas,” Highlander said. “I can’t wait to see what else they come up with next year.” 

For Highlander, next year will consist of attending graduate school (the school is TBD) to begin working on a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. And, although she’ll no longer physically be at OHIO, she said she’ll forever cherish the campus opportunities, experiences and friendships she was afforded in Athens that made her a more adventurous person. 

“Almost every college out there says something like ‘this place offers a little bit of everything,’” Highlander said. “The big difference is, while everyone else just says it, OHIO does it.”

Alexander Lovelace 

Alexander Lovelace

Ph.D. in History; Certificate in Contemporary History

Lovelace Earns Doctorate, Keeps Writing During Pandemic

A prolific writer, Alexander Lovelace earns his doctorate in history with a host of peer-reviewed articles behind him—and a book project and more in his near future.

Lovelace earned a Ph.D. in History and a Certificate in Contemporary History from Ohio University, graduating in August 2020.

His focus was on American and military history, with a dissertation on Total Coverage: How the Media Shaped Command Decisions During World War II.

Q: What stands out in your mind as you think about graduating despite COVID?

Frankly, I never imagined ending my doctorate in the situation like that created by the pandemic. It was disappointing to not be able to defend my dissertation or graduate in person. I am grateful, however, for both my dissertation committee and to the university for being flexible enough to find a way to finish in 2020. As always, the History Department and the Contemporary History Institute have been really helpful.

Q: What are your next steps/future plans?

Currently, I am looking for a job teaching history at the college level. Since employment opportunities are limited due to the pandemic, I am also working on having my dissertation published. The manuscript titled, The Media Offensive: How Real News, Fake News, and Public Opinion Shaped Allied Strategy during World War II is currently under peer review at an academic press. I have also started researching my second book, which will be a biography of Major General Everett S. Hughes, who was Eisenhower’s troubleshooter during World War II.

I likewise have a book chapter and article under review. The book chapter titled “‘A Major Readjustment’: Omar Bradley’s War Against The Stars and Stripes” tells the never before told story of General Bradley’s campaign to clampdown on stories he considered harmful to discipline in the U.S. military’s publication The Stars and Stripes. This is part of an edited collection for Fordham University Press on World War II reporting edited by G. Kurt Piehler and Ingo Trauschweizer. I also have an article under review titled “Meade and the Media: Civil War Journalism and the New History of War Reporting.” In it, I attempt to apply the argument and methodology I used in my dissertation to analyze the influence of the press on command decisions during World War II to a case study of the U.S. Civil War General George G. Meade who had a difficult relationship with the press.

Q: Can you provide some details on what you’ve published and your in progress book manuscript?

While earning my doctorate, I have been blessed with successfully publishing five peer reviewed articles in the journals of Parameters, Journalism History, The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, and the International Bibliography of Military History. These articles include topics on media-military relations such as the rise and fall of George S. Patton Jr. in the press and the attempted recruitment of journalists as spies. I also have published on a range of topics such as the changing understanding of shell shock in the U.S. Army, the historical memory of lend lease aid to the Soviet Union during World War II, and a literature review on the U.S. Military’s occupation of Nazi Germany.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? Was it coursework or a life lesson that they passed on? And how did you apply that knowledge?

The outstanding faculty of the History Department and the Contemporary History Institute is one of the great blessings of studying at Ohio University. Their excellence in scholarship, teaching, and attention to graduate students is a truly rare combination. Though I could list several more, I have worked closely with three faculty members whose help was exceptional. The first was my dissertation adviser, Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer, whose excellence in teaching and editing suggestions were matched only by his continual patience and kindness. Dr. John Brobst's unmatched knowledge of his subject and dedication to graduate students made my time at Ohio University much more enjoyable.

Finally, Dr. Robert Ingram allowed me to serve as his teaching assistant for six semesters and provided much useful advice on academia. While working with him, I was awarded the “Graduate Associate Outstanding Teaching Award” in the 2015-2016 academic year by the Graduate College of Ohio University.

Bri McFee 

Bri McFee

Major: Middle Childhood Education

Teacher Education graduate Bri McFee is CALLED to Lead and Leading the Way!

Middle Childhood Education graduate Brianna (Bri) McFee always wanted to be a teacher—like her father—so when she got to Ohio University, she soaked up every opportunity to learn how to connect with and inspire others. 

As part of The Patton College of Education’s CARE (Creative, Active, and Reflective Educators) program, McFee completed more than 1,000 hours teaching in the classroom. With math and science as her favorite subjects, McFee said she hopes to teach pre-algebra and make math more relatable for students.

“I honestly want students to be better prepared for higher levels of math and to appreciate the subject,” said McFee. “Math is commonly seen as the worst subject, but I hope that I can show students how math connects to many aspects of their lives.”

McFee, who was born and raised in Athens, also took a leadership role in the OHIO Mentor program. In this program, a few CARE students meet with a small group of Federal Hocking students twice a week at lunch to help them with assignments and provide emotional support and encouragement. McFee coordinated with Federal Hocking guidance counselors, teachers, and students to organize the mentoring sessions. 

When Federal Hocking Local Schools went virtual during the pandemic, McFee worked with school administrators to ensure the program continued. She and the other three mentors continued to meet with their mentees online. To keep the program engaging, McFee developed an online book club. 

On weekends, McFee volunteers at Christ Community Wesleyan Church teaching preschoolers in the morning and fourth graders in the evening.

“Bri is an exceptional, responsible, mature, forward-thinking educator that gives 110%,” said Dr. Julie Francis, director of the Steven’s Literacy Center. “Bri is just one of those future educators who was born to teach, mentor, and lead. She is one of The Patton College’s brightest stars lighting and leading the way!”

With her extensive experience in and out of the classroom, McFee said she has learned that the most important thing is to build relationships with those around you. 

“Being close with the teachers and staff will provide support on the hard days,” said McFee, “and being close with one's students will make every day worth the hardships.”

McFee said that because of her great professors and experiences at OHIO, she is ready to graduate and lead her own classroom. She plans to substitute teach for the rest of this year while she looks for teaching jobs in and around Athens…and with any luck…in the Federal Hocking School District.

She did however lament on how quickly her time at OHIO flew by. 

“I can’t believe I am graduating,” she said. “I will miss learning new things and gaining new perspectives. But most of all, I will miss the friends I have made in my CARE cohort and The Patton College.”

Dylan Moore 

Dylan Moore

Majors: Communication Studies, History; Minor: English

Moore Says Graduate School is Next Step

When COVID hit last spring, Dylan Moore knew he was going to stay on plan to graduate from Ohio University in December.

He's a dual degree student, with a B.S. in Communication Studies and a B.A. in History, not to mention a minor in English. And though algebra class loomed, he soon discovered he was going to easily crest that hill.

"I suppose the moment that this happened to me was last semester during the shutdown when in-person classes were suspended. I was taking college algebra that term and had to continue along on my own for the most part, and I ended up with a good grade. Considering math is the most challenging subject for me, it really gave me a sense of accomplishment that I was basically able to do that on my own."

The Zanesville student says he has a lot of folks to thank—including faculty who inspired him to pursue his passion in history and the accessibility services coordinator who helped him find solutions along his journey.

Q: What stands out in your mind as you think about graduating despite COVID?

What stands out to me as I'm graduating despite the pandemic is that for a lot of individuals like myself it was a big transition, and I think a lot of gratitude has to be extended to the faculty and staff for doing their best and trying times to ensure that we receive a quality education despite the disruption.

Q: What are your next steps/future plans?

Right now, my future plans include applying to Ohio University for graduate study in history or East Asian studies or possibly communication. My long-term goal, however, is to eventually earn my doctorate in philosophy and become an East Asian history professor specializing in either Japan or China. My uncle's mother was from Japan, and she had a profound impact on my interest in that corner of the world.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

This one is a tough question since there have been so many professors that have had an impact on my life as my career at the university progressed. I really appreciate Dr. Korcaighe Hale And Dr. Morten Bach (history professors at the Zanesville campus) for their endless amount of patience and knowledge concerning the graduate school process. I would also like to extend a particular thanks to Professor Michael McTeague, who has mentored me in the area of East Asian history and really went above and beyond the call of duty even offering to tutor me in independent studies.

He's the one in fact that really cemented my pursuing East Asian history as a specialty. Dr. Rita Ng deserves recognition for her outstanding advising and support. Finally, I would like to extend my appreciation to Dr. Lisa Haven for encouraging me to pursue my English minor and develop my analytical skills.

Q:  What was the hardest hill you had to climb at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

The biggest obstacle that I've had to overcome in my time at the university was simply overcoming a physical disability. I have spastic cerebral palsy, which is a neurological condition. And that presents its own set of challenges such as having to arrange your class schedule around it. I overcame those challenges with a lot of support from my friends as well as faculty members and especially Ms. Nina Henderson, the accessibility services coordinator for the Zanesville campus, which I attend. She worked tirelessly to make sure that I got the accommodations I needed to be successful.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

I enjoyed all of the campus events that we had; one of my favorite memories is starting a history club at OUZ to promote history. I also enjoyed being a member of the communications club.  International week was always a highlight for me since I got to learn about different cultures from around the world. And I enjoy seeing how happy everybody is around spring fest and fall fest as the semester is under way.

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

The biggest thing that I would tell other OHIO students is to utilize the faculty members of the program that you're interested in and build a relationship with them so that they can help you find careers or prepare for graduate school. This was really a key thing for me since  I wanted to be an education major, but I got to establish a good relationship with some of the history faculty like Dr. Hale and that put me on my current path.

Lexi Murray 

Lexi Murray

Majors: Strategic Communication, Music Production

If you knew Lexi Murray growing up, you probably saw her putting pen to paper on more than a few occasions. She was always writing things down, whether it was a song, poem, or journal entry. You probably also saw — or more likely, heard — her passion for creating music, too. 

That little girl would be proud of present-day Lexi. Proud she combined her music and writing passions, and proud she overcame obstacles to graduate with two bachelor’s degrees in three-and-a-half years.

In just a few days, Murray will officially become a graduate of Ohio University with a dual degree in journalism and communication from OHIO’s Scripps College of Communication; double majoring in music production and strategic communication.

“Scripps does an excellent job with advising and educating students on opportunities they can pursue. My advisors and professors were always willing to sit down and speak with me about my work or potential opportunities I’m interested in,” Murray explained. “After all the reference letters, connections and support I have received from the faculty and administration at Scripps, I know that they all have truly wanted to help me achieve as much as I possibly could during and after my time here. I believe that the support I received from the Scripps community at OHIO is what really helped me flourish.”

In her time at OHIO, she learned flexibility is key. Nothing ever goes as planned, and it’s essential to be adaptive to new situations in life. 

Whether it was adjusting to a dorm, then an apartment, and then a house; or living in New York City for a summer internship at a PR entertainment agency; or studying abroad in Spain; or graduating from college during a global pandemic, knowing how to adapt quickly and efficiently is essential. 

“COVID-19 stripped away many things from many people, so I feel like I’m not justified to complain about how it took away some opportunities I was excited about experiencing while in college,” Murray noted. “Although this hindered what I wanted by the end of my college education, I was able to graduate early and have an incredible internship opportunity I may not have gotten otherwise. As cliche as it sounds – one door closes, and another door opens.”

Many doors will open because of the hands-on experience Murray had at OHIO. To name a few: She was a trumpet player in the Marching 110, a member of the Ohio University Multimedia Society; the director of communication for the Ralph and Luci Schey Sales Center; treasurer for Turn it Gold OU; external relations chair for Women in the Music Industry; a Bobcathon participant; and she worked with Brick City Records, OHIO’s premier record label. She was also the first student inducted into Dean’s Leadership Circle.

“I am extremely grateful I have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from Ohio University. I made friends that turned into family and connections that will last a lifetime,” Murray said. “I love OHIO and I am really going to miss it, but I feel that I have learned what I needed to be excited about moving on to the next chapter in my life, which I’m thinking will be pursuing an MBA.”

If she had to describe Athens and Ohio University in three words, they’d be, “Feels like home.” That’s a feeling that will be with her forever. 


Maria Modayil

Maria Modayil

Individual Interdisciplinary Program, Ph.D.

The Ridges on a crisp autumn day, and College Green on a summer evening with sounds of the Music Under the Elms Concert Series. As Maria Modayil attends OHIO’s virtual commencement this weekend for her Ph.D. through Ohio University’s Individual Interdisciplinary program that she earned in August, those are the moments that will hold a special place in her heart forever.

“As an international student/employee, COVID and the national uncertainty has posed some interesting challenges, but despite that, I am incredibly grateful to be employed at OHIO, to use my research and scholarship to give back to the university’s vision for experiential education, to help students realize the opportunities through experiential learning, and to be a part of the Athens community,” Modayil explained.

Like most students, she isn’t happy with the circumstances that led to her graduation and the pandemic in general. However, it gave her the necessary momentum to complete the final steps of her dissertation, with a distraction-free, work from home environment.

“I had 13 individuals from around the country and the world attend my dissertation defense and I am certain that in pre-COVID times, this would have been practically impossible for folks to arrange,” Modayil noted. “I am grateful for the support of my committee and my network to be graduating during COVID, and for being able to do so healthy and safe.”

Graduating with a Ph.D. during a global pandemic is just another obstacle Modayil will be able to cross off her list on her path to success. For her, obtaining a doctoral degree is more about perseverance and less about smarts.

An Indian citizen who was born and raised in Kuwait, Modayil earned her bachelor’s degree in audiology and speech-language pathology in India, then secured an F-1 Student Visa to attend Baylor University. She graduated with a master’s degree in 2007.

When she moved to Ohio from a “real, adult-paying job,” she was taking an incredible risk with her professional career.

“I embraced the uncertainties and hunkered down to complete the requirements of my program in 3-4 years,” Modayil said. “While my journey has not been a clear, straight path, it has taught me so much and allowed me the opportunity to meet and learn from so many incredible mentors, teachers, friends, and advisers. In fact, I changed my areas of study more than once and graduated just shy of 10 years.

“This journey has been incredibly hard and gut-wrenching but also satisfying and I am not sure if I could have had anything as fulfilling if my journey had been anything else,” she continued. “It was hard to keep the end goal in sight many days but surrounding myself around folks who believed in me and my skills despite the circumstances is what got me through and, of course, my grit and perseverance.”

Q: Are you a first-generation student?

First-generation student has a different definition for an international student, in my opinion. While my mother has a bachelor’s degree (which she happened upon and did not really choose—she was recruited on a hockey scholarship that technically came with a BSN degree), and there are extended family members who had college level education, I would say being the oldest child I was left to figure our college in India all on my own (although I am an Indian citizen, I had never lived in India long-term until college). Later, when I moved to the US, I had to re-experience this all over again. Pursuing a doctoral degree given this background was even harder when trying to satisfy familial expectations.

Q: What has been your lifelong dream or goal?

A: Growing up I always wanted to pursue a service profession- teaching or medicine. I was raised in a very service-oriented family as well. Although I wanted to become a doctor and many family members thought I would go that direction, the educational system I was in did not make this a feasible option for me. I decided to settle for a para-medical profession in speech-language pathology and got to experience a lot of the perks of being in a medical field without the intense gory details. Higher education is a wildly stimulating environment where new knowledge can be constructed and I get to be of service to the community and incorporate my goals of imparting wisdom in an educational setting while being engaged in the community where I am placed.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and why?

I have quite a list but will call out a few, Dr. Natalie Pope who first inspired pursuing gerontology for an area of study; Dr. Pete Mather who encouraged the principles of transformative learning; Dr. Laura Harrison who passionately taught us how to teach, engage, and connect with students; Dr. Gillian Ice who demonstrated it really is possible to dream big and pushed me to do better; Dr. Deborah Meyer who believed I could achieve my goals; and Dr. Mario Grijalva who showed that care and commitment to communities really do make a difference in individual lives. But besides the aforementioned incredible professors, I am incredibly fortunate to have met indirect and informal advisers/mentors throughout my time at OHIO who have influenced my professional growth, development, and career trajectory - Ms. Beatrice Selotlegeng, Ms. Debra McBride, members of the executive leadership: President Nellis, VP Shaffer, Provost Sayrs, former VP Pina, VP Secuban, and VP Shields.

Q: What was your favorite course?

Looking back, I think my favorite course of all time at OHIO was a special topics class that a few of my peers and I asked an associate dean, Dr. Jennifer Horner, to teach. It was on the ethics of research. Dr. Horner had a law degree and was exceptionally knowledgeable about the law but also pushed us beyond our limits to learn, read, discuss, and write. This was one of the first classes she taught outside of her job responsibilities as Associate Dean and she poured her wisdom into us in an awe-inspiring way. Our final individual class projects, which were individually written case studies using analyses from law, were compiled for publication the following semester and we were presented the Editor’s Award from the journal. Although the course was exceptionally hard, it was a such a rewarding class. We went as a group to the national convention to receive the award and it was one of the most honorable and cool experiences I have had so far.
Q. What was the coolest thing you did at OHIO?

For about the first 4-5 years I was at OHIO, I did not venture outside my comfort zone or engage in learning about the workings of the University. One day, totally on a whim, I applied to be a department representative for Graduate Student Senate, paying attention to the position rank because I was not comfortable with holding any leadership positions. Fast forward a year, I was elected President of Graduate Student Senate. I am grateful for the folks in my life who encouraged me to run for this position when I did not even believe in myself. This role challenged and grew me in ways I didn’t know were possible, and it happened during what I would call a broken time in my life. I am now confident in my skills as a leader and advocate than I ever was even aware of. This experience and self-realization have opened doors for me personally and helped me to explore the untapped potential within myself and the quest to take on challenges even when I think I might fail.
Q. What is your best memory from your time at OHIO?

During my tenure as President of Graduate Student Senate, President Nellis had his Investiture Ceremony in Fall 2017. Along with other leaders of the Senates, I was invited to represent the graduate students in welcoming the President to OHIO. I delivered a short welcome in front of dignitaries from all over the country and the world. It was a very momentous occasion for the university but for me as well. Delivering this message on behalf of all graduate and professional students at OHIO was a huge responsibility but challenged my communication and public speaking skills as well. After the ceremony, several members reached out to congratulate me on my message. I still cannot believe I was capable of this act!

Ashton Nichols 

Ashton Nichols

Majors: Journalism, Economics 

New graduate learned valuable lessons from unexpected obstacles

There were still several weeks left in the term. It was her junior year and Ashton Nichols, a double-major in journalism and economics, was soaking up the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a semester abroad. She and a new friend from Italy had gone camping on a beach, sleeping in a tent they rented from a mountainside stand. She was learning the language, acclimating to the cultural differences. She had eaten chicken feet for the first time in her life. And then she got news that her university was closing; she needed to get on the first flight back to Ohio. For the rest of the semester, all her classes would be held remotely. 

This story probably sounds familiar, except perhaps this last detail: Nichols took that flight on November 15, 2019. 

It wasn’t the coronavirus that forced her home—not that time, anyway. She was leaving Hong Kong after political protests caused her university to shut down and the region to be deemed unsafe for visiting students. She finished her classes at Hong Kong Baptist University online fall semester, synchronously for the most part, which meant she was sitting on video calls from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.—on Hong Kong time in her home town near Cincinnati.

Like most of the students graduating this December, Nichols has faced her fair share of obstacles on the road to commencement. But this self-described “curious spirit” has made the most of her Ohio University experience.

She is the president of the OHIO chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ); she’s been a writer for The Post since 2017; she’s won several awards, completed multiple exclusive internships (with bylines in The Dallas Morning News and The Columbus Dispatch to prove it), traveled abroad twice (Leipzig, Germany was the first trip—that one went off as planned in the summer of 2018), and worked as a Resident Advisor for three years. This year, Nichols is a Voinovich Research Scholar and a White House Correspondents’ Association Scholar.

“Ashton has wisdom and intellect far beyond her years,” said Nerissa Young, who serves as the adviser for SPJ. “She is organized, efficient, thoughtful and deliberate. I know I can count on her to do any assignment and do it well. I saw that when she was a student in my business reporting class and also on a study abroad experience to Germany. In all my experiences with Ashton, her participation has been essential for success.” 

Nichols said she chose OHIO after Bob Stewart, who retired as director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism this year, visited her high school’s journalism class and put her in touch with another member of the J-School’s faculty, Aimee Edmondson.

“I actually came up with my family on a weekend and Dr. Edmondson showed us around campus, which was really cool,” Nichols said of her original decision to attend OHIO. “She kind of hit the nail on the head and I was like, OK. I’m coming here.”

At first, Nichols expected to pursue political reporting, but a lifelong passion for travel, and an affinity for economics that she discovered her sophomore year, led her to change her focus to business journalism, with the ultimate “dream job” of foreign correspondent. 

“One of my favorite parts of journalism is talking to people and getting their stories,” she said. “I think it would be really cool to be able to make a documentary or something, or even just hang out with people and talk to them and hear about what it's like living in South America or living in Africa or Asia, because I don't think I would ever really get to do that in my life.”

Before she left Hong Kong, Nichols did get to do just that—exploring the ravaged streets and talking to protestors, she did what any aspiring foreign correspondent would: she reported on it. Her video of the upheaval is published on her YouTube channel. The timestamp: November 14, 2019—the day before she caught that emergency flight home to Ohio.

“I learned a lot about how I react in certain situations,” she said about her Hong Kong experience. “And I learned I'm definitely good at staying calm in crazy situations, and keeping my head on my shoulders. And, you know, being like: okay, I’m gonna do this.”

For students who are going through their own college search now, Nichols has this advice: “Challenge yourself and don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. College is the time to figure out what you like to do and what you don't like. I think some of my best memories and growth have come from when I've gone out of my comfort zone.” 


Haley Parker 

Haley Parker

Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders

CHSP senior Haley Parker reflects on a year unlike any other

For Haley Parker, graduating during a worldwide pandemic will be a “very different experience.” And, she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“I am glad about the experiences I had from this last semester despite being virtual,” Parker said. “It was amazing seeing how the clubs I was involved in and the professors I had class with were able to make each experience so memorable in my last semester.”

Parker, a senior Communication Sciences and Disorders major within the College of Health Sciences and Professions’ School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences, noted that the transition to a remote learning environment was one of the toughest experiences she faced during her time at OHIO, and that her campus support system played a vital role in helping her succeed.

“Reaching out to peers, professors, and having all the resources Ohio University had to offer, helped,” she said. “With the support from OHIO, the transition to online learning was seamless.”

Parker said she plans to begin working on a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology soon after graduating. Her long-term professional goal is to become a Speech-Language Pathologist and to continue helping others however she can. 

“I know I will be able to do that through what I learned at OHIO,” she said.

Q: Why’d you choose OHIO?

I chose OHIO because the sense of community and how beautiful the campus was. As I continued my education, I could see the I impact the community at OHIO had on me. Through meeting many people from the community, professors and students, I knew it was the right pick for me.

Q: What’s your favorite OHIO memory?

My favorite OHIO memory was Homecoming. It was super cool to see all the alumni returning and getting to meet all of them.

Q: What’s your favorite campus or community organization/club you’ve been part of during time at OHIO?

I was a part of Creative Expressions, which was a club that promoted inclusivity through the arts. We would visit schools and teach lessons surrounding speech and language skills. It was fun to visit all the schools and see progress among the children. 

Q: Favorite place on campus or in Athens?

My favorite place on campus is College Green. It is always so lively and beautiful, especially during the fall.

Q: What’s your favorite course you took at OHIO? 

Deaf Community! It is an amazing course taught by one of the best professors, and you really get immersed in learning about the Deaf community.

Q: If you could share a piece of advice to an incoming CHSP student, what would it be?

For all future CHSP students, I would tell them to not be afraid to ask professors for help. The professors are amazing people who want to help and see their students do well.

Q: If you could sum up your time at OHIO in one word, what would it be? Why? 

My time at OHIO could be described as home. Being surrounded by friends and amazing people from the community made Ohio University a second home. I would not want it any other way.




Amanda Anderson 

Amanda Anderson

Major: History; Minors: English, Psychology; Associate's Degree: Arts and Humanities

Anderson's Path to Bachelor's Runs through Zanesville

Amanda Anderson's pathway to a bachelor's degree ran through the Zanesville campus, around many obstacles, and with some guidance from a few special Ohio University professors.

Now she graduates in December with a bachelor’s degree in history, minors in English and psychology, and an associate's degree in arts and humanities—with plans for graduate school.

Q: What stands out in your mind as you think about graduating despite COVID?

I miss in-person classes and spending time with fellow students and professors. Though I understand the importance of online learning currently, it makes it harder to stay on task. I also really wanted my family to be able to see me graduate college since I did not go to my high school graduation.

Q: What are your next steps/future?

I plan to go on and get my master’s degree in English literature or creative writing.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? Was it coursework or a life lesson that they passed on? And how did you apply that knowledge?

I had many great professors, but I'd have to say my two favorite professors were Dr. Lisa Stein Haven (professor of English at Zanesville) and Dr. Korcaighe Patricia Hale (associate professor of history at Zanesville). These two women were always available if I needed help. They were encouraging and helped me get through my four years. They were always willing to help or give guidance.

Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?

Just now. I spent my whole time in college second-guessing myself, but I made it.

Q:  What was the hardest hill you had to climb at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

In my second year in college, my grandmother got sick and died, and I did not know if I was going to be able to finish my terms. The second would be the last year I had to put my dog down -- and he was my best friend, and again I questioned if I even wanted to finish. In the end, I pulled through, and now I am finishing.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

My favorite memories would be the new friends I made and the new cultures and people I was able to experience.

Q: What is the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

That is an easy one—class.

Cutler Hall Bobcats 2020 with cap flipping

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Bobcats for Life – Alumni Resources

  • Alumni Association

    Now that you're an alum, stay in touch through our Alumni Association. We’re your source for lifelong learning, volunteerism, career connections, travel opportunities, and more! 

  • Guarantee+ Lifelong Benefits

    As a graduate of Ohio University, you will have access to post-graduation career services, the Bobcat Mentorship Network, and alumni-only scholarships for select programs to continue your education.

  • Order Memorabilia

    Jostens has all you need to commemorate your College achievements and memories.