Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Upcoming OU-C event features comedienne Natasha Neal and various musical performances

Comedienne Natasha Neal, a former OU-C student, will present an evening of comedic theater featuring her original material, “Ghettonoudidnt,” during Comedy Night at 8 p.m. on April 25 in the Bennett Hall auditorium at Ohio University-Chillicothe.

The upcoming star-studded program will also include performances by Rosalyn Cross of Chillicothe singing gospel hymns; pianist Robb Feldhaus of Cincinnati; and jazz vocalist Margaret Breidenbaugh of Cincinnati.

Tickets are available at the OU-C Box Office on the evening of the performance. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and free for OU-C students. Proceeds will benefit the Dr. Jean Kerney Scholarship endowment.

Neal was active in OU-C’s theater program while a student on campus, and she has since performed hundreds of times during a 15-year career as a stand-up comic.

Neal’s career as a comedienne has been a natural evolution of experiences and passions.

“My whole life is stand-up comedy. I went through a lot of bad times, and the only way to get over them is to laugh about it,” said Neal, a graduate of Westerville South High School. “I love theater and I love comedy. When I was getting started, I called Dr. (OU-C theater director Ken) Breidenbaugh, and he said why not fuse comedy and theater together and combine them.”

“It makes sense since theater and comedy are the same, but are also different in many ways. In theater, the audience goes to see the performance of a story. In comedy, they go to hear people tell jokes; more of the ‘knock, knock, who is there?’ kind of thing.”

The comedy skits leave Neal more vulnerable to the audience’s reaction.

“In theater, you have the ability to bring a character to life, which will then be accepted by the audience. In comedy, it is just you. Also, in theater, even if you miss a joke, you can go forward and you are still in that performance. It is not so easy with comedy. In comedy, you have to catch jokes. Being funny has to be natural.”

However, whenever on stage, there are common themes.

“Performing is addictive,” she said. “It is a different world.”

The upcoming performance will blend her acting and humor skills.

“This particular show is a fusion of comedy and theater for the first time in my career,” Neal said. “Instead of just me, I will take on the role of characters during the act. It transcends the characters and incorporates them into the comedy routine.”

Her son Daquan, 18, may join her onstage for a cameo spot.

Breidenbaugh knew Neal had a bright future the first time he met her during her time as an OU-C student.

“The second I met Natasha, I knew she was a natural performer,” Breidenbaugh said. “She came to observe an acting class I was teaching, and I asked her to read with us. It was evident she had great timing and great delivery.”

As an OU-C student-actor, Neal performed in the productions of Hat Tricks and The Butter and Egg Man.

“It is great to be back at OU-C. Once in a while, you meet people you never want to let go of, and that is how I feel about many of the people on campus, especially in the theater program,” Neal said.

Neal earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies while a Chillicothe Campus student, and she is completing her master’s degree in organizational communication from Ohio University this spring.

More background material is available on her web site: www.tashanneal.com.

The OU-C theater program has a busy slate of performances this spring. Upcoming productions include:

•    The Belle of Amherst on May 9 and May 10. OU-C student Gwenndolyn Aume, a post-secondary high school student from Logan Elm, is the featured performer in this one-person play. The Tony Award-winning production is based on the life of poet Emily Dickinson. A dinner will be held prior to the performance. For more information, call 774-7732.

•    I Ought to Be in Pictures on May 30 and May 31. This comedy-drama was written by Neil Simon. A reception celebrating theater performances of the past will be held at 7 p.m. on May 31.

Aaron Chaney’s college career mirrors the mission of the Chillicothe Campus


Serving others has been a common theme of Aaron Chaney’s OU-C career and one he looks to continue after graduation. Chaney, a military veteran, has been selected to deliver the Pledge of Allegiance during the campus’ Recognition of Graduation ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on May 2 in the Shoemaker Center.

That evening, he will receive his diploma for having earned an associate degree in human services technology. He will then enroll in the campus’ social work bachelor’s degree program in the fall.

In many ways, Chaney exemplifies the essence of the Chillicothe Campus experience. The campus was founded in 1946, largely to provide World War II veterans the opportunity to use their GI Bill benefits to pursue their college dreams.

Likewise, Chaney is using the GI Bill to pursue his college aspirations.

Further, an important tenet of OU-C’s mission is service to the region. Chaney, as co-president of the Human Services Association (HSA) student club, has been heavily involved in community-service pursuits. Thanks in large part to his leadership, the club earned an inaugural Heritage Community Service Award last fall. (A related story is available online at http://www.oucnewsblog.com/2013/11/community-service-award-recipients-will.html)

After graduating from Chillicothe High School in 1990, Chaney joined the Navy and saw the world, visiting every continent except South America and Antarctica during his 22-year military career. He found his focus in the HST program.

“I initially was going to pursue a nursing degree, but a career in social work made more sense to me,” Chaney explained. “It was a good fit. During the tail end of my Navy career, I was a Chief Petty Officer in the Washington, D. C., area. In that position, I spent a lot of time helping junior Sailors work out issues. If they had a problem, we would need to come up with a plan to help them. That seems a lot like what HST does in that you sit down with a person, try to comprehend that individual’s issues and help come up with a plan to help them out.”

A common theme in Chaney’s pursuits has been an emphasis on making a difference.

“I like to be helpful and to make situations better than when I first encountered them,” he said.

“Whoever you work with, hopefully you made their lives a little better. Sometimes, it just takes an opportunity to sit down, take a deep breath and talk out the situation. I look to help people realize they can fix their problems with a little bit of help and can take steps to help themselves out.”

He also has a deep appreciation for the value of teamwork.

“In regards to community service, the HST program and HSA club are bigger than I am. As co-president with Brandy Diehl, I happen to be the person who was elected to stand out front. When I accepted the community service award, it was a group effort. A lot of people earned that award with their efforts. The greatest benefit is knowing you did a job well done.”

Transitioning from a military career to life as a college student had its challenges.

“It had its own learning curve,” Chaney said. “I had to go from working in a department with 300 people to a whole different situation. I had to learn how to interact with traditional-aged students and process the way they see things while still viewing the world through my own lens.”

Chaney is making his mark on campus.

“Aaron is an outstanding student leader. As co-president of the Human Services Association Club, he has a great working relationship with the other students,” said Barb Mahaffey, HST program coordinator. “Because of his 22 year-year veteran experiences, he has skills that he uses that create wonderfully orchestrated activities. He is intuitive and understands how to help people in many ways. I will miss his expertise and commitment to this program when he graduates this term.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Chaney may toss his hat in the political ring.

“I have not ruled out running for local office,” he said. “I am always looking to find ways I think the city could best manage time and money. It would be another way to help the city and county and to make the area where I grew up a little better. That is what motivates most of my actions.”

Further, faculty marshals for the Recognition of Graduation event have been named. They are Professor Mahaffey, associate degrees; Dywayne Nicely, bachelor’s degrees; and Barbara Trube, master’s degrees.

A nursing pinning ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on May 1 in the Shoemaker Center. Formal commencement exercises are held on the Athens campus May 2 and May 3.


OU-C Distinguished Alumnus Julia Lyddon Gourley to speak on U.S. concerns in the Arctic region

Ohio University-Chillicothe alumnus Julia Lyddon Gourley will speak on “Why Should the United States Care about the Arctic?” at noon on May 1 in the campus’ Stevenson Center Learning Commons. The talk is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. Reservations are requested by calling 774-7732.

Gourley earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from Ohio University in 1984, and she has since embarked on a distinguished career on the national and international levels and has held positions with the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Her main responsibilities include leading development of U.S. foreign policy in the Arctic region and representing the United States on the Arctic Council.

She is currently the Senior Arctic Official (SAO) of the United States and the U.S. representative to the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic countries.  In addition to the eight countries, six Arctic indigenous people’s organizations sit at the table and provide advice on all issues.

In a previous position, she led U.S. delegations in meetings of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and the Waste Management Policy Group of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She was also the State Department representative on the U.S. delegation to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management.

Gourley was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Chillicothe Campus in 2011.

The lunch is sponsored by OU-C and the Ohio University Alumni Association.

OU-C student shares experience of relocating to the Athens campus

“It feels like this home that you search for your whole life and then you finally find it, and you never want to leave,” says student Chelci Borland of her experiences with relocating to Ohio University’s Athens campus.

Borland, a Huntington High School graduate, relocated from OU-C and is currently a senior studying communication sciences and disorders (CSD). In this video, she speaks about the benefits of relocating as well as the positive experiences she has had on both campuses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDeUQ5P2ccU&list=UUz3G19qPK9MujodCWfjYiVw

Taking advantage of the option to relocate gave Borland time to gain her footing in the college setting while knocking out some of the generally required courses and deciding which career path she would pursue on the Athens campus. The affordable tuition and familiar atmosphere made the transition much less intimidating and relieved some of the financial burden.

After realizing that she wanted to earn a degree in CSD, which is not currently offered at OU-C, Borland decided to take advantage of the excellent program on the Athens campus.

Not only has Chelci had positive academic experiences, but she has also found her comfort zone in her social life on the Athens campus. Starting at a smaller campus gives students the opportunity to transition into college life at their own pace.