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March 10, 2004
These students stand out from the crowd
By Susan Green

Everyone has a story to tell.

Every year, more than 16,800 stories alone make their way to Ohio University, where they join the collective narrative of a University with a proud history and an even brighter future.

It just happens that these two stories are about two Ohio University students who hope to use their interest in people and their interactions to shape that future.

The following profiles represent the third in an ongoing Ohio in Focus series, "Finding Their Focus."

An animated life
Heather Ryerson is a people-watcher.

She notices how people walk, wait, sit and smile.

Good skills for a future animator with a love of drawing.

The second-year visual communications/interactive multimedia major and art minor from Chardon, Ohio, spent last summer working as a portrait artist at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure theme park in Cleveland.

"It was a good job for me," she says. "I improved my drawing skills and spent the day doing something I love." Typically, Ryerson drew 15-20 portraits per day. And she's quick to point out they weren't caricatures, but portraits. Each drawing took between 10 - 30 minutes, depending on whether they were full-face portraits or profiles.

Ryerson's first love is drawing, but she's also interested in writing and technology. Visual communications is a good fit because it allows her to combine the three.

"I believe that all art makes a statement," she says, "so I always try to make my projects meaningful in some way."

Continuing to broaden her experiences, Ryerson traveled to London on the art history study abroad program during winter intersession. The experience was so positive she's returning to London in June for a six-month stay.

"I enjoyed going to the museums, looking at art and seeing the sights," she says. "But one of the greatest advantages of going to London in December is getting to see the city at its most beautiful, it's decorated for Christmas and there are fewer tourists.

Ryerson plans to fulfill her visual communications internship with an art job in London.

She says she may end up with common work experience, but that would be a last resort.

The adventurous Ryerson isn't worried. She'd be just as happy working in a pub, absorbing the local culture, a sketchbook close at hand.

"My ultimate goal is to work for Pixar," she says. "I love how clever their movies are and I want to be part of that process. It's writing, drawing and everything creative all in one package."

And that pretty much describes Ryerson

The art of argument
What would you say if you had 30-minutes to prepare a 7-minute speech about whether the European Union has the stomach to punish fiscally irresponsible members?

Would you be persuasive?

If you're Will Miller and on your high school's speech and debate team, you would and it would be a snap - especially if your specialty is comparative politics and foreign extemporaneous speaking.

That experience gave the second-year political science major from Austintown, Ohio, an opportunity to study so many aspects of international politics and political economy that choosing his major was easy.

Enrolling in the Honors Tutorial College's combined BA/MA degree program was easy, too.

"I love that I have the freedom to create what I want to study," Miller says, "and participating in the combined degree program was a huge draw to Ohio University.

"Dean Fidler has made many wonderful changes - freshman seminars and evenings of excellence - and she works hard to create more unity in the college."

In spite of the demands of such an accelerated program, Miller makes time to play golf, a game that he feels goes hand-in-hand with politics. Luckily he lives in Hoover Hall, next to Ohio University's golf course.

He's also an avid reader who recommends "Paradox of American Power," by Joseph Nye and "The Lexus and the Olive Tree," by Thomas Friedman.

It's natural that with his public speaking experience and his interest in politics, Miller's immediate goal is to become a trial lawyer and ultimately a judge.

"The judicial system is where society can be best protected," he says. "Our laws don't just speak for themselves, they tell a great deal about what our society finds important and necessary. They speak of our culture."

It's clear that Miller enjoys the art of argument and persuasion.

Susan Green is a writer for University Communications and Marketing.


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