The Ohio State University Alumni Association

The Oxford effect

A look at Ohio State’s past Rhodes scholars.

Jessica Hanzlik

Jessica Hanzlik teaches her charter school students on the University of Chicago campus.

Jessica Hanzlik: At the head of a class

Ohio State’s first female Rhodes Scholar turned her attention from the laboratory to the classroom midway through her two years at Oxford.

Jessica Hanzlik switched her course of study from particle physics to comparative social policy in anticipation of a teaching career. She’s now in her fifth year as a middle school math and science teacher in Chicago.

“Teaching was always something I wanted to do, but my time in England really clarified my thinking because I was around these incredible people committed to social justice,” says the Pickerington, Ohio, native. “I thought the best way to contribute to the world was through education.”

Not surprisingly, Hanzlik’s own education is quite impressive. Before earning her master’s at Oxford, she graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree with honors — her majors were physics and French, her minor was math — as well as with research distinction in French.

She began her teaching career in Chicago in 2011 with Teach for America, moved on to another school (where she earned Teacher of the Year honors) and in 2014 joined the faculty of a charter school on the University of Chicago campus.

“Sometimes I think about whether I am living up to my potential [as a Rhodes Scholar]. But anytime I consider another profession, I have to ask myself, ‘Would I make enough of a difference compared to teaching?’ I don’t think so.”

Mike Lanese

Mike Lanese’s tech firm helps organizations manage and market their events.

Mike Lanese: In tech territory

A cliché often applied to team athletes — What have you done lately? — seems relevant to Rhodes Scholar Mike Lanese 30 years after he captained the Ohio State football team.

His status as a Rhodes Scholar “really doesn’t come up that much,” says Lanese, a businessman, Navy veteran and Army Reservist. “In the business world and in the military, it’s all about ‘Can you do the job?’ What I did a long time ago is not as important as what I am doing now.”

Lanese headed to Oxford in 1986 after earning a bachelor’s degree at Ohio State, where he majored in English and political science. He left England two years later with a second bachelor’s degree (in philosophy, politics and economics), served four years in the U.S. Navy and worked for several firms in technology and finance before applying an entrepreneurial spirit to the burgeoning dot-com world.

Today, he continues to serve as a civil affairs officer in the Army Reserves and is co-founder and managing partner of SmartCrowdz LLC, a Columbus-area tech company that helps organizations manage, market and monetize special events.

Looking back, he says, he is grateful for his two years at Oxford because they helped prepare him for the demands of entrepreneurship.

With its emphasis on independent study and small-group discussion, “the tutorial system there is very similar to what we have to do in the tech world,” says Lanese, who lives in Grove City, Ohio, with his wife, Laura, and their three children.

In the early days

Shirley Townshend Wing

Shirley Townshend Wing, 1907

Ohio State’s first Rhodes Scholar was awarded the French Medal of Honor for his service as a liaison officer in the U.S. Army during World War I. He returned to Columbus and became the first trust officer at First National Bank. Townshend Hall is named for his maternal grandfather, Norton S. Townshend, one of Ohio State’s first faculty members.

Francis L. Patton

Francis L. Patton, 1918

Patton became a noted economics professor. His 100-page essay, “Diminishing Returns in Agriculture” (Columbia University Press, 1926), remained in print until 1968. Sixteen editions were published, and the book was held in 252 libraries worldwide.

Ferdinand F. Stone

Ferdinand F. Stone, 1930

The former senior class president at Ohio State became a leading authority on comparative law and authored the first textbook on American law to be published in French. He spent most of his career as a faculty member with Tulane University School of Law.