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Members of the Class of 2021 stand on the OHIO football field, spelling out 2021 together
Celebrating OHIO's Class of 2021

Fall 2021 Student Features

Fall 2021 Student Features

Congrats, grads! 

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

Alisha Rivera Aquino  

Alisha Rivera Aquino

Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Minor: Spanish

Certificate: Diversity Certificate

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

I plan on continuing my education by going to grad school. My next step is to study to become a bilingual speech language pathologist because Spanish is my native language.

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

My “ah-ha” moment was after I had a conversation with my Spanish linguistics professor about my aspirations and goals. She helped to reaffirm that I can do this, and that my hard work will pay off.

Why did you choose OHIO? 

I chose Ohio University because of its amazing campus. Aside from that, I have always found OHIO to be welcoming and accepting.

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

My Spanish linguistics professor made an impact on me because she took the time to make sure I understood the material. She also talked to me about how she believes in me and the goals that I want to achieve. This is important to hear because sometimes, we as students doubt ourselves and our capabilities.

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?

One of the hardest hills I had to climb was the loss of my dad during the pandemic. I considered dropping out of all my classes that semester. I couldn’t have made it through it without the help and support of my friends and family. My professors were understanding of my situation and offered their support as well.

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

One of my favorite memories was going to the Club Fair with my friends and meeting new people while learning about the different clubs.

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

I would say try not to miss the events that OHIO hosts throughout the year for students. It’s always fun to go and meet new people who may become your friends. Joining a club or an organization is another thing I’d recommend because you can always try new things and interact with people from different walks of life.

Lillie Clepper  

Lillie Clepper  

Majors: Global Studies- War and Peace, Political Science 

Hometown: Loveland, Ohio 

Minor: Spanish 

What are your next steps or plans for the future? 

I am currently in the process of trying to join the Peace Corps, and I am looking into AmeriCorps as well during this waiting period. 

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

Probably when I realized I could graduate a semester early, not because I was eager to leave OU faster, but because it showed my hard work paying off. I figured if I can set myself up to graduate college early, there are a lot of other things I should be able to do, no problem.  

Why did you choose OHIO?  

I was really interested in the War and Peace program, and other schools I was looking at did not seem to have a program like it. Also, my oldest brother went to OU and still lives in Athens today, I always enjoyed visiting him and now he’s within walking distance of me.  

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

I have always enjoyed working with Dr. Cutcher, the first faculty member I met here at OU when I was a senior in high school. I do not think I would be where I am in my undergraduate career without her. She has always been very supportive. Dr. Sandal, Dr. Manring, Dr. Mosher, and Dr. Gilliom were also great to take classes and work with. It is always nice to feel like your professors want nothing but success for you.  

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? 

Figuring out how to manage my time between classes, work, and a social life. I got essentially two jobs on campus at the beginning of my sophomore year, and it took some getting used to, but I am glad I did it. It was challenging at first but I have worked my way up to being a student coordinator in Culinary Services and have really expanded my leadership experience. 

What are your favorite OHIO memories? 

Probably everything about my first year! I made a lot of friends who are still my friends. I did a lot of fun things and met a lot of cool people. I am so glad I was active my first year trying to have new experiences because I did not have as much of an opportunity to do that the following two years with COVID. 

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

Do not be afraid to do stuff alone. Go to the social events your RA hosts, go to your Learning Community events, go to that study session with people in your class, go to that hockey game. There are so many ways to experience OU and meet new people, it just might take a little trial and error to find the things you really like.  

Jane Dreher  

Jane Dreher

Major:  History Pre-Law

Jane Dreher came to OHIO from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and will earn her bachelor of arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences. She  She leaves OHIO with a major in History Pre-Law, a minor in World Religions, and certificates in European Studies and War and Peace. 

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

My next step is working as an assistant general manager at Dewey's Pizza in Columbus. I'm really excited about this opportunity, and I can't wait to see where it takes me. This next step was not exactly what I had envisioned after college, but I also really wasn't sure what I was going to do. This decision is one I feel confident in, and I believe it will lead me to a successful future.

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

My ah-ha moment at OHIO would have to be around the time that I studied abroad. OHIO gave me the opportunity to study in Berlin and learn a new culture while also giving me the ability to grow on a personal level. Studying in Germany gave me a new perspective of the world and of the United States as well. Along with this, my professors at OHIO taught me so much about the world, the communities we live in, and how to build a better future.

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

This is a hard question for me because every professor I have had in the History and Classics & Religious Studies departments has been phenomenal. Each professor in these two departments is intelligent, kind and talented. I have had the pleasure of having Dr. Jaclyn Maxwell for class as well as working with her for the History Learning Community. I have seen how devoted she is to her students and her work; she strives to make everyone feel welcome and always shows how much she cares.

I also really enjoyed taking Dr. Loren Lybarger's religion courses. He challenged my understanding of certain topics and encouraged me to ask questions that I hadn't previously considered. Through the coursework and the questions he had us consider, I sharpened my analyzing skills and understanding of religion in relation to society. His animated teaching made online learning so much easier and fun.

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?

The hardest hill I've had to climb at OHIO was definitely fall semester of my sophomore year. I had a lot going on in my personal life, and I wasn't focused enough on my future and on my schoolwork. That is why I chose to study abroad in the spring because I felt like I needed a change of pace in order to get back on track. This ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made.

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

One of my favorite memories would have to be my freshman year when I met my roommates. We had so much fun and grew to become best friends. We still live together now as seniors. Another one of my favorite memories was working at the Ping Center and Golf and Tennis Center over the summer of 2021. I had so many laughs and great memories from my shifts, and I grew really close to my coworkers and the pro-staff I worked with.

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

I would tell a new Ohio student to step out of the comfort zone no matter how scared they are. Join an organization that you might be intimidated by or take a class that might be out of your comfort zone! Even the smallest steps can make a big difference in someone's experience. I truly believe that if you continue to put yourself out there you will find what is right for you. The best decisions I made here at OHIO were scary and intimidating but they also ended with me learning something new.

Duncan Farquhar  

Duncan Farquhar

Major:  Information and Telecommunication Systems

Duncan Farquhar came to OHIO from Marietta, Georgia and leaves OHIO with a degree in information and telecommunication systems from the Scripps College of Communication, along with a business minor and a certificate in project management. He was a member of the Ohio University Marching 110 and Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Service Fraternity.         

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

My next steps are moving out to Colorado this summer to start my career with Progressive Insurance as a Systems Engineer.

What memory stands out from your time at OHIO?

Getting connected with the Information Technology Systems alumni network really stands out as a great memory. I have been able to create so many fantastic opportunities from those connections and learn a lot about the industry I’m so passionate about.

Why did you choose OHIO? 

I had some friends in the drum and bugle corps I marched with out of Atlanta, and they went to OHIO. I came to visit them after our summer tour and was really impressed with the campus and how pretty it was. I found out about the Information Technology Systems program and decided to give it a shot. It was one of my best decisions!

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

Julio Arauz, Brandon Saunders, and Trevor Roycroft are all fantastic professors. Saunders taught my first Information Technology Systems classes that initially got me excited about computer networking. Dr. Arauz taught an Urban Technology for Social Good class that really changed the way I thought about using technology and how it could help bring positive change to communities. Dr. Roycroft has taught some of my favorite classes which were Strategy and Privacy. Privacy in today’s world has always been something that has interested me and to learn from someone so knowledgeable was just awesome.

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?

The hardest hill I had to climb happened before I even got here. I was denied from Ohio University my senior year, but I appealed. I knew I wanted to go here, and I knew they were wrong about me. Ever since I have gotten past that huddle, I’ve been thankful to be here and focused on getting the most out of my experience while being successful.

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

A lot of my favorite memories come from the Marching 110. All of the football games and performances are a major highlight for me. Beyond that living in the special place that is Athens is my biggest highlight. Being able to go running around Dow Lake at Strouds Run and enjoying this great town and community are really special.

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

GET INVOLVED!! There is so much to do and see besides your major classes. Try to get out of your comfort zone and grow. Look for professional opportunities early and build a great network of people!

Lauren Gaines  

Lauren Gaines

Degrees: M.A., Art History, M.A., Arts Administration

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Certificate: Museum Studies

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

I have finished my internship and am now on the job search! I would love to work in the arts in any communications or curation capacity, as I really developed a love for those specialties during my coursework at OHIO and during my internship at the Cincinnati Art Museum. I am also open to communications and marketing work outside of the arts, as my coursework for my administration degree really perfected those skills. I don’t have a preference for where I go after graduation, but I’ll hopefully be able to come back for homecoming!  

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

I worked closely with Ed Pauley at the Kennedy Museum of Art while working toward my museum studies certificate, and the first day he gave me a tour of the museum is when everything clicked together. My classes were going well, and I got along well with my cohort, but the first time I worked in the Kennedy was really when I realized “I’ve got this.” I was able to process and condition historical and art objects for an upcoming exhibit at the Kennedy, and when I was setting up the exhibit I knew I was in the right field of work. I am so thankful OHIO gave me the chance to experience museum work firsthand, as it really was an ah-ha moment for me.

Why did you choose OHIO? 

My undergraduate university was very small (under 5,000 students in total), so I knew I wanted a university with a good sense of community and dedication to student learning and experience. As soon as I toured OHIO, I knew it was the school for me. Even though it was much larger than what I was used to, I instantly felt the connection between campus and the Athens community and how positive it was. Everyone I spoke to was not only helpful and supportive, but proud to be a Bobcat. Anyone who steps on campus can tell how dedicated the university is to serving its students and the Athens community. When I was at OHIO, I felt like I was home.

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

It’s so hard to choose favorites because at OHIO the professors really care and are hands-on about your learning and experience in their classroom; they really want you to succeed! That said, Marilyn Bradshaw and Jennie Klein always took extra time out of their busy schedules to listen to any concerns or help me with work I was struggling on. Their doors were always open, and they were always understanding. Even though she was not my professor, I also have to give out a shoutout to Dr. Shelley Gruendler, whose office was next to mine. She was always willing to lend an ear and I got frequent visits from her dog, Ed, who came to office hours with her and often came into my office looking for head rubs.

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?

Honestly, other than getting last-minute papers finished before deadlines, I did not encounter a lot of difficult obstacles at OHIO. If I had to pick, one struggle I faced at the beginning of my time at OHIO was navigating everything OHIO had to offer. Compared to my smaller undergraduate university, everything on campus seemed massive. I couldn’t believe the size of the library or that there were multiple greens! I made sure to pick a new study spot each day so I could explore different parts of campus and what the university had to offer. I’ve come to the conclusion that a spot by the window in Alden on the 6th-floor stacks overlooking College Green is the best study spot on campus (especially in the fall).

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

Some of my favorite memories are just times walking around campus, to classes, etc. with friends I made at OHIO. There are so many wonderful opportunities to meet new people at the university that become lifelong friends. One of my favorite memories as a new student was Homecoming. The parade, tailgating, and watching the game with my roommate and friends really made OHIO feel like home. More specifically, one of my favorite memories was going to the School of Art + Design’s Open Studios where graduate students open their studios to the public to share their research and current works in progress.

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

Homecoming Week events! Especially if you’re a new student, there’s no better way to get involved on campus and really get into the spirit of OHIO than going to Homecoming events (and sometimes there’s free food!). From pep rallies on the lawn, to trivia nights, to drag shows, and special movie screenings with guest directors, there really is something for everyone. The parade is a can’t miss for sure! Being able to see all of the campus and community organizations marching through town spreading OHIO spirit and watching the marching bands play throughout the parade is amazing. As far as the town of Athens goes, you can’t miss coffee at Donkey or a bagel from Bagel Street Deli (and for those over 21, a drink at the Union). My advice for new students: just go everywhere, try everything. You’ll miss it sooner than you realize!

Jordan Graham  

Jordan Graham

Major: Recreation Management

Jordan Graham earns his Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Management with minors in Economics and Psychology this semester. From Barnesville, Ohio, Graham has been hired as Head Esports Coach at West Virginia University Potomac State College.

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

My first semester at Ohio University when I realized that going to classes, engaging with the material, and turning in all my assignments would allow me to be successful in my classes. Once I figured that out, I was able to focus more on extracurricular activities, such as clubs and socializing. 

Why did you choose OHIO?: 

I chose OHIO because of the beauty of the campus and it was far enough from my hometown to feel like I went away for college but still close enough to be with family if I had to be there. 

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

One of my favorite professors was Richard Vedder. I took his Economic History of the United States course and was entertained by his storytelling, as well as how knowledgeable he was on the subject. Another professor that has had an impact on my life is Professor Andrew Szolosi. His courses for me have been directly applicable to my work experiences, and I feel that he has helped me prepare for life after college the most. 

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? 

The hardest hill I have had to climb at OHIO is making the decision of what I wanted to study. I changed my major five times since I came to OHIO to eventually land at the current program I am in now. To overcome my challenges in my path, I would seek help from those around me. If I needed academic help, I would stop in and see my professors during their office hours. If it was a personal challenge I would ask for advice from my family. 

What are your favorite OHIO memories? 

One of my favorite OHIO memories was having my first event with the Ohio University Rocket League Club. It was a tournament held in the Copeland Labs.

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

Don’t miss out on being involved on campus outside of classes. OHIO offers so many activities and clubs you can be a part of! I have met some of my closest friends through clubs at OHIO, as well as making my favorite memories at college.

Brooke Kelley  

Brooke Kelley 

Major: Early Childhood Education 

Brooke Kelley is an Ohio University Southern student from Ironton, Ohio. She is earning her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education this fall. While at OHIO Southern she served as Vice President of The Education Club. She is the recipient of the Spirit of Southern Award.

Linda Mann, assistant professor of instruction, nominated Brooke for the award saying, “Brooke is always willing to give assistance whenever asked. This might include helping new students register for classes or giving assistance to fellow classmates about assignments in the class. She often provided materials for students to use when working on projects in class.”  

What are your next steps or plans for the future? 

I plan to spend the next few months spending time with my family and searching for my first teaching position. 

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

Sometime in my first year of college, I had my first observation experience in a fourth grade classroom. During that time, I was feeling overwhelmed, and I started questioning my choice of major. Linda Mann found me in the hallway at Southern that day. We talked and she assured me that I was where I was meant to be. We decided that changing my major to early childhood may change my experience and she was right. I never looked back after that day, and I absolutely love teaching and look forward to when I have a classroom of my own. 

Why did you choose OHIO Southern and your major? 

Ohio University Southern provides the opportunity to have a more intimate college experience. You get the opportunity to create lasting relationships with your fellow classmates and professors, because these will be the people that see you through to graduation. I am so thankful for my experience at Southern and all of the amazing people I met along the way. 

Teaching has never been a question for me. I remember being asked in Mrs. Leiths’ Kindergarten classroom, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I still have the book we made that year that shows, even way back then, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. This college experience was just me following through with my dreams. 

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

I have a few professors that made my experience at Southern special. 

Linda Mann has gone above and beyond for me and everyone in the education program. She is a teacher that continues to do what she does because she cares about her students and wants us to be successful in the classroom. Most of my favorite memories from Southern happened in one of her classes. I am beyond thankful for her and know I wouldn’t have made it to where I am without her. 

The two professors I think of when I remember classes where I learned while having fun areProfessor Mayo and Professor Belcher. They know their stuff and know how to teach the information in a way that sticks with you. They are fantastic professors and while their classes were challenging, I appreciate their passion for teaching. 

Any advice for future students? 

It’s never too late to chase your dreams! While this statement sounds cliché, it’s true. Don’t let anything ever stand in the way of your education and fulfilling your passion. 

Alexandria Madry  

Alexandria Madry

Major: Nursing

Alexandria Madry came to Ohio University from Dublin, Ohio and will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Diabetes Certificate. 

What are your next steps or plans for the future:

To work in an ICU for a couple of years and then go to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) school.

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

When I took my first nursing exam, I was so nervous! I was in awe when I saw my grade and I had passed my exam with flying colors! It was at that moment that I knew I would get through nursing school successfully.

Why did you choose OHIO?

What first caught my attention was the high NCLEX (the premier Nurse licensure exam) passing rate and the reputation of the School of Nursing. Once I visited the campus, I was blown away by the architecture and the wildlife.

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

My favorite professor is Dr. Terri Hood-Brown because she always supports her students and is very relatable. She is one of the advisors for the Multicultural Student Nurses Assocation and has really helped support minority students in the School of Nursing. My favorite clinical instructor is Jennifer Saunders. She is very knowledgeable, great at explaining things, and is one of the best nurses I have ever met!

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?

The hardest hill I had to climb online learning. I had started my first year of the program in person, so it was a very difficult adjustment. I was able to overcome this by making sure that I had a designated study area and making myself a schedule to stick to.

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

My favorite OHIO memory has been creating my own organization on campus. It is always my goal to leave things better than I found them. The Multicultural Student Nurses Association has helped make minority nursing students feel connected and interact with faculty in an informal setting.

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

Make sure that you explore Ohio University for all that it offers! There are a lot of resources and people that are willing to help you. Never hesitate to ask for help!

Jakob McElhany

Jakob McElhaney

Major: Education

Jakob McElhaney, a resident of Duncan Falls, Ohio, is earning his Bachelor of Science in Education from the Patton College of Education at Ohio University Zanesville.  

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

My plans for the near future are to obtain my licensure so I can substitute for the remainder of the school year, then hopefully find a full-time teaching position at the beginning of the next school year. Further on down the road, I plan to obtain my Master's degree in Educational Administration, and maybe even move south in hopes of teaching somewhere that is a little warmer!

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

My “ah-ha” moment came to me at the end of Spring Semester of my sophomore year. I had signed up to take 20 credit hours worth of classes, which is the maximum the school would let me take. Some of these classes involved me doing observation hours which required me to go to other schools and observe classrooms. I was working 30-35 hours a week, and also playing for the college's men's basketball team. I did not have much time for anything other than schoolwork, observing classrooms, basketball, and work. At the end of the semester, I was named to the Dean’s List for the first time ever. I was also named First Team All-Conference for my efforts on the basketball team, along with Academic All-Conference in the Ohio Regional Campus Conference (ORCC). It was at that point where I thought, “I’ve got this!” I told myself that if I could balance all that I did for 15 straight weeks, then I would not have any problems with whatever else may come my way.

Why did you choose Ohio University Zanesville? 

I chose Ohio University Zanesville because I wanted to be able to work while attending school, and graduate debt free.  The affordability of Ohio University Zanesville made it hard to beat. I was able to commute to the campus, take my classes, and have a job which made paying for my schooling really easy. Ohio University Zanesville also gave me that  feeling of home, which was also something I was looking for.

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

One of my favorite professors was one of my history professors, Dr. Korcaighe Hale. She really made me more passionate about teaching social studies and history. I have taken many classes with her, and not only has she helped me out with world history, but she has also been extremely helpful in giving advice regarding the transition to college, along with just giving me someone to come to for help. 

Another professor would be Jon Carroll. Even though Jon has recently retired, he was the main reason I decided to stay as an education major. I have had Jon for a handful of classes, and he was that one teacher who always made me excited to come to class. In my first-year education class, Jon told me, “you must reach them, before you teach them.”  Jon has made a big impact in my life, and I plan to take many of his sayings and teaching strategies into my future classroom with me.

What was the toughest obstacle you had to overcome at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

The toughest obstacle I had to overcome dealt with the transition from high school to college. This was quite different for me, and I did struggle with my first semester of college. It took me a while to get used to the routine, and the amount of studying that came with my classes. It was just not what I expected. I was able to overcome this challenge by reaching out and asking for help. I reached out to advisors, classmates, and even some of my professors.  They were all very understanding of my struggles, and they did what they could to help me have a smooth transition into my college courses. 

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

One of my favorite memories at Ohio University Zanesville would be getting to play for their Men's Basketball Team. By playing on their team, I was able to create new friendships, and meet new people. Win or lose, I was able to bond, and play the sport I love with a group of guys that I would now call my brothers. I will forever be thankful for “Tracer Nation,” and all the memories that came with it.

Another memory that comes to mind at Ohio University Zanesville would be with the Spring Fest and Fall Fest. It was nice to be able to be around all my friends, and fellow classmates and experience the music, festivities, and food with all of them.

What’s the one thing you would tell a new Ohio University Zanesville student not to miss?

I would tell a student not to miss the fests that are held on campus, whether that be Spring Fest, or Fall Fest. These festivals allow you to kick back and relax from school. They offer many games/activities, along with food, and a good music selection. At these festivals, you can also expect to see certain clubs stationed around outside, with information about each club. Not only do you get to hang out with your peers, you also gain insight into what else Ohio University Zanesville has to offer. 

What advice do you have for a future Ohio University student?

Work on time management and give yourself time for errors. Technology does not always work in our favor. Waiting until the last minute to submit an assignment is not always the best idea. Another piece of advice I would give them would be to create those connections when you first get to the college, and do not wait. Everyone at Ohio University Zanesville is there to help you, and everyone is a part of one big family. Do not hesitate to reach out and ask for help, whether that be from classmates, or faculty.   

Paola García Morales

Paola García Morales

Major: Industrial and Systems Engineering

Not without its challenges, Paola García Morales’ undergraduate experience was best defined by feeling supported and welcomed both at Ohio University and in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department.

“I can count on one hand (or finger) the places in Appalachian Ohio where a Puerto Rican, curly-headed woman can be herself and feel at home, and that place is OHIO,” remarked García Morales.

While many students felt their education interrupted by the pandemic, García Morales was beginning her journey with motherhood. Becoming a new mother during a global pandemic presented its challenges, but García Morales made it a point to continue to excel in her studies.

“I made the Dean’s List this past spring [and it was] the first time being back at school full time after having my daughter,” said García Morales. “Never underestimate the power of caffeinated beverages and organizational skills!” 

She said that her greatest challenge as a student was resuming her degree after giving birth to her daughter in March 2020. It was the overwhelming support she felt from professors Dr. Dale Masel and Dr. Dusan Sormaz who helped her persevere and succeed.

“I could not graduate without thanking and recognizing Dr. Dale Masel and Dr. Dusan Sormaz from my ISE department. Dr. Masel, our department chair, has led our department through these tough times without losing focus on the students,” said García Morales. She continued with, “When I eventually took classes with Dr. Sormaz, not only did I take his Lean Manufacturing course, but I also did an independent study with him and he was my Senior Capstone advisor! Let’s just say we spent a lot of time together that semester, but it turned out to be my favorite semester at OHIO because of him.”

After graduation, García Morales will use the skills she learned in her Industrial and Systems Engineering degree as a Technology Analyst for Nationwide.

Liz Myers  

Liz Myers

Major: Civil Engineering

Minor: Environmental and Plant Biology

Liz Myers never let an opportunity to learn slip through her fingers. As a student leader in the American Society of Civil Engineers, an undergraduate researcher and an ice-skating enthusiast, Myers made sure that she experienced hands-on opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom.

Myers realized her potential during her sophomore year as the captain of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) environmental team. She was nervous to lead a group of students, some of whom were older than her, but persevered as a leader through careful planning and thoughtful leadership.

“That first year in charge was tougher than ever,” she said. “When we got to competition though, everything fell into place. The judges loved what we built. We won first place that day. I remember in that moment I couldn’t stop smiling because I felt that maybe I could be a leader.”

Myers proved to be a leader beyond ASCE, as she embraced undergraduate research opportunities with Dr. Guy Riefler, Dr. Ben Sperry and Dr. Daniel Che.

“Dr. Riefler allowed me to explore and find my own way through engineering, while providing me projects and tools to do so, Dr. Sperry and I completed several different projects that were often out of my comfort zone, and Dr Che provided me the opportunity for my first publication,” reflected Myers.

Because her experience beyond the classroom was key to Myers’ undergraduate career, the impact of the pandemic was devastating to her. The closure of campus reduced her opportunity to be involved in-person.

“I felt so lost and confused, but I had to keep going. I kept my student orgs alive remotely. I got back into my research lab as soon as I was allowed. I added projects and was even published twice. I kept in touch with my friends and leaned on my support system. I missed out on a lot of really important opportunities because of Covid, but due to the incredible support of my department faculty, I was able to keep achieving,” said Myers.

Myers enjoyed her experience at OHIO so much that she plans to continue her education as a Bobcat. She is starting graduate school at Ohio University in Spring 2021 and plans to specialize in environmental engineering.

She is maximizing her time on campus and recommends that future and current OHIO students do the same.

“Be present on campus as much as possible. Go to events whenever they come. Go to concerts, craft night, free food events and take your friends. You are only here for so long,” said Myers.

Devin Pall  

Devin Pall

Major: Engineering Technology and Management

Devin Pall majored in Engineering Technology and Management in the Russ College of Engineering while preparing for a career in the United States Air Force as a member of the Air Force ROTC at OHIO. He earned a minor in Business Administration and certificates for Lean Six Sigma and Project Management. A member of the Marching 110, Pall comes from Twinsburg, Ohio.

Q: What are your next steps or plans for the future?

As a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program, I will be commissioning upon graduation and awaiting my first assignment as an Air Force officer.

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

Just like most students, I had difficulty finding motivation during the fully online semesters last year. In addition to recently changing majors and catching “senioritis”, it was tough to stay focused. It wasn’t until the spring of this year as I enrolled in my final courses when I started to see the end. I was able to shift my focus and mentally prepare myself for the fall.

 Q: Why did you choose OHIO?

A big deciding factor for college selection was being able to play in a marching band. Being a saxophonist, my options were somewhat limited. I came across videos of the Marching 110 online and immediately fell in love. I also found that OU has a great engineering school and an Air Force ROTC program. OHIO really checked all the boxes of what I was looking for in the perfect college.

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

Jesus Pagan is one of my ETM professors who teaches a few different courses. He made a great adjustment to the online environment and really takes the time to help students understand the course material. I remember days during the spring of 2020 when I would be on a Teams call with him individually so he could assist me with an assignment I had trouble with.

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?

One of my hardest moments as a student here was when I was not initially selected for AFROTC Field Training with the rest of my class. Cadets are supposed to go through Field Training in the summer between sophomore and junior year, and it is a very competitive process. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to extend my program timeline and compete for the next summer, but it was difficult to see everyone in my class go through and progress to the next level as I had to be an “underclassman” for another year. The cadets in the class below mine took me in so I did not feel so out of place. I was determined to be successful in this program, so I made it my mission to improve and earn a spot the following year.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

Performing at my first OHIO football game with the Marching 110 was amazing. I will never forget the feeling of standing on the sidelines for the very first time, feeling the goosebumps and adrenaline kick in as the crowd roared before drive-on.

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

I would highly recommend every student go to at least one sporting event at Ohio University. Even if you aren’t a huge fan, grabbing some friends and going out to an event is truly an amazing experience. Seeing Peden or the Convo packed is a lot of fun and really brings the student body together

Bailie Ray  

Bailie Ray

Major: Early Childhood Education

Bailie Ray, from Cadiz, Ohio, is completing her OHIO degree at Ohio University Eastern and has accepted a position as a special education teacher at the Harrison County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

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

My “ah-ha” moment came my sophomore year when my mentor teacher at my placement told the principal of the school to keep my resume on file and to hire me as soon as I graduated. It was such a small but meaningful gesture that showed me that someone really believed in me as a teacher.

Why did you choose OHIO?

Ohio University Eastern was not my original plan, but I realized that if I want to live and teach in this area, it makes so much sense for me to be learning and doing my placements here. The education program here allowed me to be in a classroom immediately after entering the program which gave me experience that I would never get at another university in another program.

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

Dr. Paula and Mrs. Ciroli are two of the most amazing women I have ever met. They are incredible role models for any educator. Those two taught me not only in academics, but in lessons on compassion, patience, and grace.

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 to climb during my college career was balancing stress while still completing all of my work. I kept having to remind myself that I am doing well and that while school is important, it isn’t everything. Taking time for myself definitely helped.

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

My favorite memories from OHIO Eastern were all of the lunch study dates with my friends at Talaquepaque and Osaka where we laughed, cried, and never got any actual studying done.

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

Don’t skip the events! Everyone at OHIO Eastern works so hard to put on fun career fairs, lunches, and events for us. You can use them to make friends, build connections, and de-stress after a long day.

Bridget Selotlegeng  

Bridget Selotlegeng

Major: Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism

Bridget Selotlegeng earns her Bachelor of Science degree in Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism with a minor in Business this semester. From Gaborone, Botswana, Selotlegeng was offered a permanent job after her culinary internship with Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Vail Valley, Colorado. She is currently running the market and taking and delivering in-room dining orders because they are currently in their slow season. But once the season picks up, she will also be working in the kitchen. 

Why did you choose OHIO?  

My mum Beatrice Selotlegeng had been working for OHIO for 10 years. By then I had decided that I wanted to go to culinary school, so I enrolled at Hocking College, and after my first year there, I decided to also enroll at OHIO and get a bachelor's degree in Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism. 

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

Without a doubt, my mentor is Chef Thom Stevenson. From the first day I walked into the test kitchen and shook Chef Thom's hand, I knew that he was going to play a very integral part in my journey to becoming a chef. Chef Thom has impacted my life in so many ways it would be impossible to note them all. He believed in me right from the beginning. In situations where I would retreat and become timid, he would be right there to pull my hand and push me forward because he knew I could do anything I put my mind to. Even though he had an incredibly busy schedule, he always made the time to sit down with me and talk to me, see how I was doing. He was and still is a shoulder I can cry on without hesitation or judgement. He always wanted to make sure I was on the right path, and when he felt I was veering off that path he would guide me and make sure I was back on track. Chef Thom always has a positive attitude, and I try to have that same attitude even in times when positivity is nowhere in sight. I truly appreciate Chef Thom, and I know he will be in my life forever, during times of celebration or during times when I need a listening ear and some guidance. 

Professor Donald Brown, or as he preferred to be called, Donnie. He was a very fun Professor. He always wanted students to learn about different cultures and food from around the world, not just from the U.S. This impacted me greatly because he asked me to give a couple of presentations about my country in his Food and Culture class, and it was interesting to see how so many students did not know anything about my country or other countries in Africa. But after hearing what I had to say, it changed their perception and instead of them thinking of Africa as a country, they now viewed it as a beautiful continent with 54 different countries, that all had different rulers, laws, cultures, food. So, I make it a point not only to introduce myself but to also talk about my country and try to remove the stigma that surrounds Africa. Donnie showed me that, and I truly appreciate it. 

As international students, we are assigned international student advisors, staff members who make sure that we are doing things according to immigration and abiding by the law. Abby Conder was my international advisor. Abby was a light in my life. Even though she didn't always have good news for me, she always assured me that we would figure things out and everything would be fine. 

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? 

I would say the hardest hill apart from Jeff Hill, which was excruciating, is that I was a mature student, which made me the oldest in my classes. Because I had quite a bit of experience under my belt and was focused and knew what I wanted my career to be as opposed to the first years who weren't really sure, I found that they were not as motivated and driven like I was. So, I ended up taking up the role of “leader” in my classes with the intention to motivate but also lead by example. And in doing this I would like to think that I got the respect of not only my classmates, but my professors as well. 

What are your favorite OHIO memories? 

Graduating, of course!

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

Don't miss African Student Union Dinner. It’s a dinner event where all African students come to showcase their culture and food from their respective countries. It's a wonderful and fun event. 

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

I wouldn't say I had specific ah-ha moments. I think every time I went into an accounting exam, or astronomy or economics exams, before the exam would start I would say to myself,  “I've got this” not only for encouragement but because I truly believed it. I always thought to myself, seeing as I decided to leave home and sell my car to come to school, then “I've definitely got this.”

Sydnee Stephenson  

Sydnee Stephenson

Major: Applied Management and Communications

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

Hopefully my future holds employment where I can learn and grown within my position.

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

My ah-ha moment at Ohio University Zanesville was the moment when I got a high grade on an exam where I walked out of the classroom in tears because I thought that I had failed the exam. I felt so defeated and like a failure but was lifted back up to a place where I knew I could do this and graduate. 

Why did you choose Ohio University Zanesville? 

I chose to attend Ohio University Zanesville because both my brother and sister attended OHIO Zanesville. I wanted to keep the tradition alive of being the third child to graduate from Ohio University. I chose the Zanesville campus because it is located in my hometown.

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

While I have had many amazing professors throughout my college career my favorite professors here at Ohio University Zanesville are Liesta Walker and Dr. Rita Ng. The professor that ultimately had the most impact on me is Darci Wagner. Darci Wagner took me under her wing and pushed me to be the best student I could be! Without her guidance I would have never had the opportunity of winning the 2020 Ohio University Eastern Shark Tank Challenge and participating in the 2021 competition.

What was the toughest obstacle you had to overcome at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

The toughest obstacle I have had to overcome at Ohio University Zanesville is a combination of the Coronavirus and my internship. With Coronavirus, I struggled to balance work and school life because I was working over 40 hours at my place of employment on top of being a full-time student. In addition to trying to balance work and school during the pandemic I also had to postpone my graduation date due to the lack of organizations hiring interns.

I overcame these obstacles was communication and having the correct mindset. I overcame the obstacle of balancing work and school during the pandemic by buckling down to get through that busy summer and communicating with my family and friends of how busy I was when it came to events and invites. I was initially upset that my graduation date was delayed but I worked hard to communicate with more businesses to be able to locate an internship that was the right fit for me. With a positive mindset I can now see that this delay allowed me to have a great summer break and I was able find a better internship.

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

My favorite Ohio University Zanesville memories are Liesta Walkers lectures and the winning the Ohio University Eastern Shark Tank Challenge. Liesta Walker always made her lectures interesting and engaging and she had an impact on how I view cultures and their communication.

What’s the one thing you would tell a new Ohio University student not to miss?

I would tell a new Ohio University Zanesville student not to miss is the opportunities that come their way. Take every opportunity that comes along because that will assist you in the long run with your career as well as connecting you with more individuals that can serve as mentors or colleagues.

What advice do you have for a future Ohio University student?

Be a part of the campus life. Participate in all the events that you are interested in. They will make great memories and may even connect you with individuals that can be friends, future professional connections, or mentors.

Karly Strong  

Karly Strong

Major: Early Childhood Education

Hometown: Laurelville, OH

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

My next step after graduating is to get a substitute teaching position until a full-time position comes available for the next school year.

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

After being in the wrong career field, I immediately changed and transferred to OHIO. My “ah-ha” moment at OHIO was when I was able to immediately be placed into an elementary classroom to gain hands on experience in my first few semesters. This made me realize that this career path was the right choice for me.

Why did you choose OHIO? 

I chose OHIO because it was close to home and I wanted that feeling of home as I was navigating through college.

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

It’s hard to choose my favorite. However, a few professors that had a great impact on me would be Mrs. Mary-Jo Flamm-Miller, Mrs. Jeanie Dalton, Mrs. Jenni Domo, and Mr. Robert Schumm. Professor Mary-Jo Flamm-Miller helped me put myself into the students’ shoes and reflect on their feelings. Mrs. Jeanie Dalton helped me navigate throughout my college career and was always there for me with my academic needs and just lending an ear to listen. Mrs. Jenni Domo always had the best ice breakers for us to use with our students and I still have those wrote down to use for my future classrooms as well. Mr. Robert Schumm always made learning fun. He allowed to be creative with lessons and always had a great story to tell.

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 that I had to climb at OHIO was finding that work, school and social life balance. I have always worked throughout my college career. Along with working through college, I planned a wedding and tried to keep up with my family’s activities. I definitely relied a lot on my husband, my family, and my amazing friends.

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

My favorite OHIO memories were how I met each of my friends in college. Not only that but navigating and working together during our education classes. It definitely made all of those night classes bearable.

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

One thing that I would tell a new OHIO student is that you miss every chance you don’t take. If you aren’t happy with your current career choice, it is never too late to find out what you love and switch your major. After all, this is your whole life we are talking about.

Brian Wolfe 

Brian Wolfe

Major: Law Enforcement Technology and Criminal Justice

Brian Wolfe earns his Associate of Applied Science degree from Ohio University this semester, but he’ll continue on to complete his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. A desire to serve and help others led Wolfe to military service, and then to study Law Enforcement Technology and Criminal Justice in University College at Ohio University’s Lancaster campus. He also has a minor in Communication Studies. Originally from the Athens area, Wolfe served in the United States Marine Corps from 2015 to 2019 with deployments to Australia and Syria while stationed in California. 

What are your next steps or plans for the future?

Now that I have obtained an associate degree in Law Enforcement Technology, I plan to pursue a Bachelor of Criminal Justice. My plans are tentative, but I would like to attend law school or work for the state of Ohio as a game warden. 

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

My ah-ha moment had to be when I finished spring semester of freshman year with straight As. At that point I realized college is the right place for me and that I could succeed if I continued to work hard.

Why did you choose OHIO? 

I chose OHIO because it is a perfect fit for me. My wife is a 2019 graduate and I grew up in Athens, so OHIO has always been part of my life. I am a first-generation student, as well as a student veteran, and Ohio University was so accommodating and helpful to me. Being a Bobcat is something I am extremely proud of.    

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

My favorite professors include Lisa Taylor, Dr. Sonja Rawn and Dr. Jennifer Steele. They are all so knowledgeable in their fields and bring real experiences with them to the classroom. Professor Taylor impacted my life by showing what public service really means. Whether through teaching, cleaning up campus or hosting community engagement events, Lisa embodies what being a true leader is about.      

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?

Being a student veteran and starting higher education later in my life was a huge challenge. I had been out of an academic environment for almost 5 years and needed to work hard to succeed my freshman year. I attribute my success to having a great support system at home and with my professors, as well as being part of a student veterans group. Strength in numbers is so important. Having people to lean on and a good work ethic made my transition so much easier.        

What are your favorite OHIO memories?

My favorite memories at Ohio are meeting lifetime friends and mentors. Whether it be during class for presentations or in student groups, engaging with the people at Ohio University has given me so much insight and valuable experience I take with me every day. Other favorite memories include watching OU football and eating late night Athens food!

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

Become engaged in your classes, student groups and community. The best way to learn is by putting yourself out there. Take all the experience you can get during your time at Ohio University, because it can really help you in the future.  

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