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.

Upcoming Recognition of Graduation event emphasizes campus’ student-centered approach

While features have been added over the years to enhance the event, the spirit that defines the Chillicothe Campus’ “Recognition of Graduation” event continues to flourish.

“The focus is on the graduating students,” said OU-C staff member Jaime Lowe, chairperson of the graduation committee. “This is their day and an opportunity for faculty and staff members to show their support of the graduates for all of their hard work.”

Fellow graduation committee member Megan Carpenter said, “This is a chance for the community to see what our students have accomplished. The focus is on the students. This is their school and where they attended their college classes.”

The 11th annual Recognition of Graduation event will be held at 7:30 p.m. on June 8 in the Shoemaker Center. The event, which is free and open to the public, will honor Chillicothe Campus students who have earned associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Ohio University during the 2011-12 academic year.

A pinning ceremony for graduates of OU-C’s nursing program will be held at 6 p.m. on June 7 in the Shoemaker Center. Formal commencement ceremonies are held on the Athens campus.

The OU-C event offers an opportunity for students who pursued their Ohio University diplomas on the Chillicothe Campus to mark the occasion with those who were a part of their experience, especially campus and family members.

As former OU-C students, Lowe and Carpenter have a special understanding of the event’s significance and have helped to ensure the ceremony retains its student-centered focus.

“We want to make this a special occasion for the students and their family members and ensure that it is tailored to meet the students’ needs,” Lowe said. “For example, we look to keep it fairly brief so that the students have time to celebrate with their families afterward. Without the support of these family members, many of the students would not have been able to realize their success.”

Carpenter has an insider’s perspective on the event. “I walked in the first Recognition of Graduation ceremony, and it is refreshing to see how it has grown over the years. We have added features such as the Bebee Leadership Award and recognition of Distinguished Alumni, as well as providing graduates with certificates and gifts to make it more special for the students. However, with the changes, we have made sure to keep the focus on the students. We want to make sure we emphasize the individualized approach that marked their college careers.”

The choice of the speaker for the event is intended to support the ceremony’s student-centered theme, and that is certainly true this year.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown will deliver the keynote address.

Justice McGee Brown has been a trailblazer throughout her career. She became the first African-American woman to serve as a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, joining the court in January 2011. She was previously the first African-American woman elected to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. She is also a former Ohio University Board of Trustees member and candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio.

More than just star power, Justice McGee Brown brings an important perspective to share with the graduates as they embark on their professional careers. A common theme throughout her professional and community work is her advocacy for children and families, so she brings the perspective of utilizing her education and talents to “pay forward” and help others, which is an important point of emphasis of the OU-C educational experience. Further, as an Ohio University alumnus, it seems appropriate she would offer words of advice to her fellow Bobcats as they depart OU-C to pursue their promise.

Quality higher education is an affordable proposition

Martin Tuck, dean of the Chillicothe Campus, shared his thoughts about OU-C’s ability to offer a quality, well-rounded educational experience at an affordable price in an interview on WBEX Radio’s ‘Sounding Board’ program as well as op-ed piece in the Chillicothe Gazette. With much discussion about student debt, the campus’ affordable price to earning a respected Ohio University diploma is of particular emphasis. Following are a link to the Sounding Board podcast and a copy of the op-ed article.

In light of the debt many college graduates face in terms of student loans, there has been much discussion lately, by elected officials and the general public, about the value of higher education. As a long-time educator, I appreciate both the tangible and intangible benefits of a college education and consider the experience invaluable in many aspects. However, as a parent with a monthly mortgage payment, I also understand the practical aspect of family budgets and the importance of avoiding overwhelming debt, especially for college graduates.

During my time at Ohio University-Chillicothe (OU-C), I have recognized that a quality education can be an affordable proposition. I am continuously struck by the ability of a campus such as OU-C to take a cost-efficient approach to higher education that mirrors the common-sense attitude of those in the region it serves.

At its core, Ohio University-Chillicothe is a place of opportunity. The campus reflects this value, first and foremost, by offering a quality education at an affordable price. On the Chillicothe Campus, we provide students an opportunity to earn a highly-respected Ohio University diploma for approximately $5,000 per academic year for a full-time student. This is a fraction of the cost faced by students and their parents at most residential campuses, and it is accomplished without compromising the quality of the academic or campus life experience.

The Chillicothe Campus is able to achieve this value largely because of a focused approach toward higher education. We offer associate, bachelor’s and a limited number of master’s degree programs that are aligned with student interest and emerging career fields in the region. In keeping with the Ohio University tradition, a sound liberal arts education is at its foundation, with an emphasis on developing students who can think critically and have the abilities to adjust to a changing job market.

Further, as a commuter campus, our students do not face room and board charges. Many are able to live at home and drive to campus, which helps to alleviate expenses. Also, because OU-C is a commuter campus, several of our students are able to hold part-time jobs to help pay for college.

Although we are not a residential campus, OU-C is not lacking when it comes to campus life. Our students enjoy a well-rounded experience outside of the classroom with activities such as student organizations, athletics teams, a health and wellness center, cultural activities and a beautiful, small-campus setting. Since most of our students are from this region, OU-C’s enriching campus culture reflects the same hometown qualities that make this region such a great place to live and raise a family.

OU-C was founded as the first regional campus in the state in 1946, largely so that military veterans returning from World War II could utilize the GI Bill benefits they earned. Since that time, we have remained a campus with a clear vision of our purpose and whom we serve. As we have been proving for more than 65 years, higher education can be both invaluable and affordable with a no-frills approach that upholds the academic and campus life experience.

All-Conference Golfers

OU-C finished runner-up behind OSU-Lima in the recent Ohio Regional Campus Conference golf tournament. The first round was held at Cooks Creek Golf Club in Pickaway County, and the final round in Lancaster. OU-C golfers Brayden Stocklin (left) and Clint Brown earned first team all-conference, and Ryan Welch earned second team All-ORCC recognition. Stocklin and Brown tied for so co-players of the year.