Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Graduating Chillicothe Campus learner Sue Colley makes most of her ‘second act’ as a college student

Sue Colley’s college experience has been a journey that has spanned nearly 20 years and will culminate with Ohio University-Chillicothe’s Recognition of Graduation ceremony on June 8. As a student who has been actively involved in OU-C’s vibrant theater program, it seems appropriate that Colley’s college career would include a second act.

Colley first enrolled at OU-C in 1993, then left after one quarter to pursue various other opportunities and finally a professional career as a political director while working in variety of positions and organizations. She returned to campus in 2008 and has been able to apply the real-world experience she gained in her academic pursuits. Fittingly, Colley is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a minor in theater.

“I am more focused now,” Colley said in discussing her second time in the college classroom. “When I was working on campaigns, it seemed like everyone but I had a college degree, and they made more money, even though I was training them. I came back to school largely to get that piece of paper (diploma), and I now I feel as if that missing link is no longer missing.”

Making the transition from the workplace to a college setting had its challenges.

“As a non-traditional student coming back, it was interesting at first. I was not sure where I would fit in,” said Colley, who graduated from Chillicothe High School and Pickaway-Ross Technology and Career Center in 1981. “In the beginning, it was tough adjusting to the classroom after being in the professional world.”

However, her years in the workplace instilled a passion in Colley to make the most of her college experience.

“I am more focused now, and I want to gain all of the knowledge that I can and to get every piece of information that the faculty members are looking to give.”

She has enjoyed the opportunity to attend class with younger students.

“That’s an interesting aspect of the OU-C experience, and it has been a real transformation,” Colley said of the melding of students of various ages and with diverse life experiences. “I learned that the younger students can see the benefit from interacting with older students. Over time, it has been a relationship that has blossomed, and the age barrier disappeared to the point where I have become just another student.”

Colley found her footing largely through her participation in OU-C’s vibrant theater program, where she has assisted director Ken Breidenbaugh as a student assistant. In this role, Colley has been involved with theater management, stage managing, operating lights, building sets and had her acting debut in The Fox on the Fairway.

The theater involvement began with little fanfare or long-term expectations.

“I wanted to take a class that was a little different and took a class in prop-building,” Colley explained. “Ken then talked me into pursuing a theater minor. I originally planned to take just one class, but I got hooked.”

Her political background has been beneficial to her stage pursuits. “You would think that theater and politics do not have much in common, but they actually do. They are both about people getting in front of others and expressing a thought or a cause. What better theater is there than politics,” Colley said.

“The exposure of theater has broadened my horizons and has given me the opportunity to work with people from other departments on campus. Plus, participating in theater offers an opportunity to be involved in something bigger than you are and to see how things come together in putting together the entire production, from the selection of a script to the building of the set and the rehearsal process. We are just like family, and I cannot express the sense of belonging I feel from interacting with others in our theater productions.

For her contributions to the campus’ theater program, Colley has earned the Jayne Stone Brown Theater Scholarship.

“Sue is one of the most dedicated students I have ever known,” Breidenbaugh said. “She has a great work ethic and is an integral part of the theater program. I hate to see her leave, but I wish her the best. Sue has brought so much to the theater program and the campus community.”

OU-C will salute students who earned their associate, bachelor’s and advanced degrees from Ohio University during the 2011-12 academic year while pursuing their college careers on the Chillicothe Campus during its Recognition of Graduation event at 7:30 p.m. on June 8 in the Shoemaker Center.

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