From staff reports
Editor's note: In this essay, seven graduating seniors, all student workers at Ohio University Communications and Marketing, write about their experiences at Ohio University and their plans for the future.
Our paths crossed repeatedly along Athens' brick streets. Seven different beginnings to a college career at Ohio University that later converged in classes, extracurricular activities and finally, working at Ohio University Communications and Marketing in a variety of roles, from public relations and marketing, to reporting. Throughout our four years together we have shared common experiences and on June 13 we will walk across a stage, receive a diploma and claim a new title together: Ohio University alumnae.
In our own words, we'd like to tell you about what Ohio University has meant to us, what our experiences here have taught us and what prospective and current students should know.
Lindsey Burrows, journalism, magazine sequence
In high school, I shouldered a lot of responsibility in various leadership roles. It was something I prided myself on and knew I'd eventually pursue in college.
Being a journalism student and getting involved with the Society of Professional Journalists was an easy choice. Its large membership and flexible attendance policy allowed me to pursue other extracurricular outlets while still feeling included in a nationally prominent organization. Within weeks of joining, I impulsively ran for an officer position and sealed a yearlong commitment as secretary of Ohio University's SPJ chapter. It was an amazing experience. I flexed my leadership skills more than ever, especially when our president and vice president were alternately absent for whole quarters as a result of internships. I found myself running meetings, rather than just taking the minutes. One of the best college experiences I have is of the SPJ National Convention in Washington, D.C., that I attended as an officer. It beautifully illustrated how my seemingly small role fit into this great organization, a crucial cog in a nationwide machine. I also had the chance to network with journalism professionals, and it was there that I first met my future employer.
For current students, that's a story to take to heart. Put yourself out there, and get involved!
Katie Ronske, journalism, public relations sequence
Four years ago I was at the kitchen table writing down the pros and cons to becoming either a Bobcat or a Buckeye.
I wish I had saved my list because I cannot fathom what cons I could have pegged to Ohio University. In my four years here, I have gained so much more than a degree. I have worked with professors whose achievements and successes astound me and students who have driven me to go above and beyond my capabilities and have encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone. I have also had the opportunity to work with professionals at UCM who have equipped me with the tools to become a successful professional.
More than anything else, when I reflect on my time at Ohio University I cherish the friends I have made, the memories I can share and the person that I have become in my time as a Bobcat.
Stephanie Gogul, communication studies, communication and public advocacy
Coming into the university as a communication and public advocacy major, I knew I wanted to make a difference by getting involved in the political process.
I figured out quickly that this campus is full of student activism and I quickly dove in, becoming a leader in the Students for Barack Obama organization. After working an exhausting 10 hours on Election Day, I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride and accomplishment. The outcome, and a group trip to Washington D.C., made the hard work worthwhile. In addition to this hands-on experience, I've had the opportunity to learn from some of the most experienced professors in the field of political communication. In a class taught by J.W. Smith, associate professor of communication studies, I had the opportunity to work on a campaign for a local politician, test communication theories and knowledge and gain practical applications.
As I move on from Ohio University, I am well prepared for the future and my first post-graduation job working for U.S. Public Interest Research Group. I know my experience at Ohio University will help be a confident and effective leader.
Annemarie Steffes, English
To prospective Bobcats, here's a piece of advice: While you think you may know everything, you know absolutely nothing.
At least, this is the sentiment that was expressed -- verbally or implicitly -- in every English class I took during my college career. Daunting? Oh, yes. Exhilarating? You bet. No doubt if I have to pick an single aspect about Ohio University that has left the greatest impression on me, it is certainly this one: Each time I took a class in the English department I felt as if I had to start learning all over again, dispel any preconceived notions I had about the subject, and begin writing as if I never have before.
During my four years, I have encountered professors who consistently demanded my best, peers who always challenged me to think outside the box, and friends who always supported me in everything I did. As I go out into the "real world," I really couldn't feel more prepared for whatever my future will bring, thanks to the academic commitment present in Ohio University's English Department.
Layne Palmer, journalism, public relations sequence
In the past four years, I've been nurtured both personally and academically. The classes in the journalism school have provided me with the tools I need to be successful, and outside organizations, such as PRSSA and ImPRessions, have helped me to sharpen my skills and gain confidence. I've had professors who genuinely care about students and who infuse us with knowledge and a motivation to succeed. My talented, passionate peers with whom I've made so many amazing memories have also inspired me. I loved everything about Ohio University, but the people have made the place worthwhile
Gina Beach, Honors Tutorial College, journalism, visual communications
Being a member of the Ohio University community does not necessitate that you live completely enclosed within it.
One way to enhance your Ohio University experience is to walk outside the confines of campus and share your discoveries with the world. There are myriad talented, devoted, beautiful people in Athens inside and outside the college and you will benefit immensely from interacting with as many people from as many disciplines and walks of life as possible.
This might mean sometimes going to see the band of the kid who lives down the hall instead of studying for a quiz, or taking a class that's not required because the material sounds interesting. Do it without hesitation: Life is too short to spend every waking moment preparing for the future.
To become a well-rounded individual with interests outside of classes and friends outside of your field should be a primary goal of your college experience. To become an expert in your field should be a secondary goal. The first will come with humility, honesty and genuine interest in the lives of those around you. The second will come with hard work, organization and plain old time.
Jeanna Packard, journalism, magazine sequence
My time at Ohio University has not produced a finished product, but it has taught me to embrace the process of becoming.
Professors tested my knowledge and improved my time management skills, work efficiency and ability to prioritize. Peers challenged my views and opinions and stretched me intellectually and emotionally. Co-workers at UCM supported my future endeavors and provided a professional network of communicators. Friends sustained me through personal hardships and served as a source of unconditional love.
Leaving Athens and life in academia where is it admittedly easier to explore new ideas, opinions and perspectives, I don't want to become complacent about intellectual and personal development. I want to continue becoming the person I want to be through interacting with people who inspire me to push through my comfort zone and help me see the world and myself though a different lens. My adviser, Professor Patricia Westfall, constantly reminded me that no one has all the answers, even a college graduate, so I will keep asking questions and seeking answers.
Above all I hope I never stop becoming.
Updated June 15, 2009.