The Ohio State University Alumni Association

2021 Alumni Awards

Suzanne Scharer ’06 — Josephine Sitterle Failer Award

Awarded to those whose voluntary personal involvement has enhanced the quality of student life at the university beyond the call of business or professional duty.

headshot of Suzanne Scharer

Advising Buckeye leaders of today and tomorrow

Mentor, coach, guide. That’s how people describe Suzanne Scharer ’06, who has helped hundreds of students and alumni of the Buckeye Leadership Fellows program find their way.

For eight years, Scharer has served on the advisory board for this highly selective undergraduate program. Not only is she its youngest board member, she’s also the one who students request most frequently when they reach out for advice. And the relationships don’t end after a phone call. She’s known for creating lasting bonds.

While Scharer has a busy career as a Principal at Qualtrics, a software company in Salt Lake City, she is committed to being a Buckeye for life.

Why is it important for you to pay forward?

I had incredible support to pursue higher education. First, I earned scholarships for undergraduate and graduate school at Ohio State and Duke University, respectively. I’ve supported both schools financially so future students have access to great opportunities. Secondly, I had incredible mentors at Ohio State who helped guide me. Since graduating, I’ve shared my time and experiences, including mistakes I’ve made, and opened up my network to many students.

What are some ways you’ve interacted with students in the Buckeye Leadership Fellows program?

I’ve met students for coffee chats on campus and hosted students and alumni at my home. I’ve done mock case interviews for students interested in consulting, and I’ve helped students secure internships and job offers. Each year, I present a seminar on professional communications, and I get to know a lot of students that way. I’ve even attended comedy shows of students-turned-stand-up-comics.

What is your biggest accomplishment as a board member?

I think it’s my reputation for being approachable. Networking can be scary. I’m often one of the first board members students interact with, and I make sure it’s a safe and comfortable conversation. I give them confidence to continue our relationship, and I make recommendations of other board members or alumni to connect with.

What’s a tip for connecting easily with people?

When meeting someone new, I always try to do research on who I’m meeting, and I also try to find an area of commonality so that we can build trust.

See all 2021 Alumni Award honorees