Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Part-time student, part-time constituent aide, Steven Alexander pursues passions at Ohio Statehouse

Hands-on learning takes former OU-C student to the House floor

Working first hand with State Rep. Terry Johnson, and across the hall from his own state representative, Rep. Bob Peterson, Ohio University student Steven Alexander has taken his studies from the classroom to the House floor.

Alexander began his college career on the Chillicothe Campus before relocating to the Athens campus.

“It’s a work-study position that combines experience and learning,” said Alexander, talking about his job as a junior level staff member at the Ohio House of Representatives. “We have significant responsibilities and handle some crucial things, but a major aspect of the job is the value it has as a learning experience. Not only do we get to be in the place where decisions are being made, but we also get to see how things work and function in the official legislative body.”

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., three days a week, Alexander commutes to the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus for his job as a constituent aide for State Rep. Terry Johnson of the 89th House district.

“The main function of my role as a constituent aide is to help Rep. Johnson stay connected with the people in his community,” said Alexander. “A large part of my work is listening to the needs and concerns of constituents and corresponding with them on behalf of Rep. Johnson. This usually entails documenting their positions and categorizing them by area so that we have an understanding of what the people in the district want and where they stand on certain issues.”

Before being promoted to constituent aide, Alexander worked as a page at the Ohio Statehouse where he made deliveries, staffed committee and general assembly meetings and did database entry.

“I became aware of the opportunity to become a page while I was working for the Bob Peterson campaign. Through that experience, I networked with some individuals who informed me of the benefits of being a page. They told me about the immense number of people who started as pages and went on to do great things. I was intrigued by the educational opportunity it presented, as well as the opportunity for networking, so I applied and was offered a position.”

Alexander says that getting to know state representatives on a personal level and experiencing the entire legislative process unfold firsthand is what makes his job valuable.

“I get to watch our representatives create legislation, round up support and fight for its passage. I have seen a side of the representatives and lawmaking that few constituents get to see. This experience has been well worth the effort I put into my job and the long commute to work each week.”

Alexander is a Toronto, Ohio native. He is currently a senior majoring in political science, and he plans to graduate this winter. After graduation, Alexander hopes to pursue a career in politics.

“There are many different career paths I can pursue with my experience as a page,” said Alexander. “Many pages go on to become legislators, staffers for elected officials, and lobbyists. I am still unsure where I will ultimately end up, but I am confident that the knowledge I am gaining about the legislative process will benefit me in my future career — whatever it may be.”

By Rebecca Reif, Ohio University-Chillicothe Public Relations Assistant

OU-C mathematics faculty member Dywayne Nicely has manuscript accepted for academic publication

An article co-authored by OU-C faculty member Dywayne Nicely has been published in an academic journal. “Restarting the Nonsymmetric Lanczos Algorithm” is available in the online version of the Oct. 27, 2011, edition of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Journal on Scientific Computing at http://link.aip.org/link/?SCE/33/3037.

Ronald Morgan of Baylor University is the other co-author.

Nicely, assistant professor of mathematics, joined the Ohio University-Chillicothe faculty in 2010. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, each in mathematics, from Marshall and a doctoral degree from Baylor.

He is a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Nicely has delivered presentations at several professional conferences and has authored articles for scholarly publications.

Practical learning project benefits OU-C students, faculty and staff

Hear and listen to OU-C student Angela Conkel describe what practical lessons she gained from this project on the campus’ YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/ouchillicothe

Ohio University Chillicothe students in the Office Technology program are gaining relevant work experience while using their skills to help improve campus operations.

As part of an OTEC 268 Information System Design class project, students conducted ergonomics and process assessments that offered insights on how Chillicothe Campus employees can make time-saving, healthy and cost-effective adjustments to their workspaces. Ergonomics involves the study of designing equipment to fit human movement in a way that enhances health and productivity.

“This is part of an ongoing focus to offer our students opportunities to apply concepts and theories they learn in the classroom to real-life situations,” said Allison White, assistant professor and coordinator of the Office Technology (OTEC) program. “The fact that we can help colleagues on campus is an added benefit, and I appreciate the cooperation of individuals in helping with this learning experience.”

Many of the adjustments are of the subtle, yet effective, variety.

“The recommended changes have helped me to be more efficient and more comfortable,” Coordinator of Student Support Martha Tanedo said. “For example, the students suggested that I change the placement of my computer mouse and how I position the phone. These are common-sense adjustments that have made my days more time-effective. The professional manner in which the students presented themselves shows the substance of the OTEC program. I believe students graduating with this degree are very marketable.”

Equipping students with professional insights and communication skills, program participants believe that this experience is preparing them for their future careers.

Angela Conkel
“Not only am I learning about ergonomics and its positive effects in the office, but I am also learning about working in group settings,” said Angela Conkel, a graduate of Triad High School in North Lewisburg. “I have learned methods of getting results such as interviewing customers to determine their needs, the requirements of the current process being used and how to improve the flow of a process so that it works for everyone involved. I am also learning how to work in a team setting, how to create flow charts and how to work with higher-management team members.”

LeAnna Montgomery, a graduate of Piketon High School, said, “This experience will help me in my future career because it will help diversify my resume with business analyst skills and give me an edge over the competition.

OTEC students are gaining further professional insights by hearing from professionals in the field. Olivia Morris, a staffing consultant with Preferred Staffing of Ohio, recently spoke to an Office Technology class where she discussed temporary staffing opportunities and the advantages of this type of employment in a difficult economy. She offered tips to students on job interviewing, resume-writing guidelines and the importance of being prepared and making a good first impression.

“During her presentation, Olivia spoke to students about the ‘temp to hire’ method, which is growing in popularity among employers,” White said. “This was a great subject for her to mention because employers often choose to permanently employ temporary hires after a trial run. I’m glad my students are aware of this opportunity to gain experience and access the best positions; it’s an avenue I wouldn’t want them to disregard.”

Michael Lafreniere to deliver presentation at forum on the Athens campus

Ohio University-Chillicothe faculty member Michael Lafreniere will speak at 12:10 p.m. on Nov. 3 in the Faculty Commons (room 319) of Alden Library on the Athens Campus. Lafreniere will discuss the development of a collaboratory, which is designed to enhance the student learning experience. Details about his talk, which is part of the Fall Faculty Showcase, is available in Compass, the university’s newsletter, are available at:
http://www.ohio.edu/compass/stories/11-12/10/Lafreniere-showcase.cfm

A story about Lafreniere’s project to develop a collaboratory at OU-C, an effort that is supported by an Ohio University Foundation 1804 Grant, was recently featured in the Chillicothe Campus’ news blog:

http://www.oucnewsblog.com/search?q=Lafreniere.

Zumba Extravaganza to benefit United Way

A “Zumba Extravaganza” to benefit the United Way will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 12 in the Shoemaker Center gymnasium at Ohio University-Chillicothe. Cost is $10 at the door and $9 in advance, with advance tickets available at the Bennett Hall Information Desk during regular business hours. Instructors from Jackson, Pickaway, Pike and Ross counties will lead the session.

Hilltop Café to maintain holiday hours

Beginning Nov. 28, the Hilltop Café will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and will close Dec. 12 for training as well as the week between Christmas and New Years.