Ohio University

Alumnus Spotlight - Tony Sylvester, BSC ’11, MA ’14

Alumnus Spotlight - Tony Sylvester, BSC ’11, MA ’14

Hometown: Louisville, Ohio

Year Graduated: 2011 (BSC) and 2014 (MA)

School: School of Communication Studies

Major: Communication Studies; Organizational Communication

Current job title and location: Associate director, admission communication and marketing at the University of Rhode Island

What do you do? I oversee all of the communication, marketing, and CRM operations for the Office of Admission at URI.

What made you come to Ohio University? I came to Ohio University because I was recruited to compete on the Forensics (Speech and Debate) team. It was an activity that I had been involved in high school and knew many people who attended OHIO to specifically compete. 

Were there other places you considered? No.

How did the Scripps College of Communication equip you with the skills you needed to succeed? The education I received from the Scripps College of Communication shows up often in my professional and personal life. I am consistently utilizing the skills I learned in and outside of the classroom. Whether it’s being a better manager or having the language to articulate the communication between two people.

What about your experiences here was so memorable? I was always supported. Dean Titsworth was my academic advisor, and, in our meetings, he asked questions about the forensics team and he’d offer advice on my course schedule. Moreover, he connected with other faculty to participate in research opportunities. 

Tell us about your career path. After graduation from OHIO, I accepted a position within the Undergraduate Admissions office there. I worked on the communication and technical operations team and served OHIO for five years. I gained valuable experience, earned a promotion, and was supported to develop my professional skills in professional organizations like OACAC. OHIO is where I fell in love with working in college admissions and enrollment management. Often, it’s a short-lived career for some, but for me, I’m a lifer! 

After a while I was seeking to more responsibility and ready to learn from a different institution in a different part of the country. That’s when I landed at the University of Rhode Island in 2016 as a senior assistant director and then was promoted to associate director a couple of years later. I also got involved quickly with New England Association for College Admission Counseling (NEACAC), a professional association in the college admission industry. I was able to make connections and excel in my role now because of the education and professional experience I earned while at OHIO. 

How has your work life and or focus changed due to the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and resulting precautionary measures? COVID-19 has required all of us working in college admissions to pivot our efforts on all fronts. We cancelled all of our in-person campus events. The spring is a critical time of year for college admission offices because that is when admitted students visit before selecting the college that they’ll eventually attend. 

We regrouped, replanned and got to work. We offered more than 100 virtual events online for students and families and did more personalized outreach. We are still recruiting the class of 2021 virtually by offering individual appointments, online chats, and reaching out to high schools to plan virtual visits as well. In addition to not seeing students in person, the staff have been working remotely. We are not sure when we’ll welcome visitors back to campus, but if we do, we will adjust our safety practices.

What advice do you have for current students? My advice to students is to be patient and flexible. All colleges and universities want you to be safe, happy, and healthy. If that means offering you your education virtually for the time being, it’s okay. You’re still earning your OHIO degree. Use the resources provided by the University. They are there to help and want to see you succeed. Hang in there. We’re all in this together!