University Community

Commencement Spotlight: Jessica Grey

Jessica Grey chose OHIO Chillicothe for its proximity to her Chillicothe home and for its affordability. She has been selected as an Outstanding Program Graduate as she graduates this spring with her associate in arts degree, with an arts and humanities emphasis. 

What are your next steps or plans for the future?
I plan on taking a break from school to focus on my art and to build a career around it. As a Queer artist, I hope that my work will inspire those like me to create and be creative. I have always been passionate about the arts and being an Appalachian, I feel that art is deeply rooted within my culture. I want to help keep that passion alive, especially within this community.

What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO Chillicothe - that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this”?
My ah-ha moment was when I was nearing the end of the introduction to wheel throwing class my freshman year and realized that I had to find a way to keep working with clay. I believe that if I hadn’t taken the class or continued my work that the trajectory of my life would be vastly different. Before taking ceramics, I was getting burned out in art and questioning my major because of a lack of time and motivation to push forward. Like a fire, I needed a spark, that experience, to ignite my passion and further my desire to create. Suddenly I was ablaze. After taking the class, I knew what I wanted and began working hard to achieve it. That was when I knew that “I’ve got this!” I had to pursue a career making art.

Why did you choose OHIO Chillicothe?
I chose OHIO Chillicothe because it was close to home and more affordable than other colleges.

Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life?
My favorite professors here at OHIO Chillicothe are Debra Nickles, Dennis Deane, and Marguerite Hernandez. As a first-generation college student, I did not know what I was getting myself into, and at times I felt I was alone in my educational journey. Often, I felt like another number or face in the crowd, but connecting with these professors made me feel like more than that. There are people who care here at OHIO Chillicothe. Nickles, Deane, and Hernandez show a desire to see their students succeed and connect with them beyond the scope of their classes. Each of these professors has motivated me to keep pushing forward and follow my dreams. I cannot possibly thank them enough for everything they have done. Their efforts and greatness far exceed anything I could attempt to write here.

What are your favorite OHIO Chillicothe memories?
One of my favorite memories was the salon that was held for my English class with Debra Nickles to showcase the work we had done over the semester. Having helped plan this for weeks, I felt especially connected to the event. At the salon I had the opportunity to talk with local artists I looked up to and share experiences with my fellow peers. We got to talk about our culture and diversity as Appalachians and as artists. Each story was unique and worth listening to. I'll never forget that class or the many connections I’ve made because of it. Another very fond memory of mine goes back to my first time taking ceramics. Throughout the semester, Dennis Deane would play classical and jazz music loudly over the classroom speakers while we worked. You knew when he was in the studio because you could hear the music as soon as you got to the bottom of the stairs. My classmates and I enjoyed knowing he was there and working to get the clay ready for us to use. It’s the little things that make that class memorable.

What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO Chillicothe student not to miss?
Do not miss out on the opportunity to have fun. I strongly recommend students not miss out on the ceramics program. Ceramics is meditative and allows for an escape from the stresses of other classes and life. It provides an environment where students can relax and be themselves in addition to helping develop problem-solving skills, improving fine motor skills, and creating a better connection between the mind and hands. Working with clay has nothing but benefits for students. If you have the opportunity, take the class!

April 26, 2023
Staff reports