Being a Buckeye means being himself
To Brian Orefice, Ohio State offers comfort in diverse surroundings.
Being a Buckeye means many things to many people. To Brian Orefice, it meant being able to be himself in a very large, ethnically and culturally diverse community.
“For me, Ohio State was the first place where I felt comfortable being my authentic self,” said Orefice, who earned a master’s from Ohio State in 1999, a PhD in 2007 and now volunteers on the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Alumni Society Board of Governors. “Buckeyes have different experiences and identities, yet are unified in their love of their alma mater. Buckeyes embrace and respect differences, and are unapologetic about their pride.”
Continuing to share that Buckeye pride with others has become an important part of who he is and how he tries to make an impact.
“I want to give back to OSU in a way that helps students who may be experiencing the same challenges I did,” said Orefice, who previously helped with student recruitment when he lived in South Florida and is currently the senior associate director of the University Honors & Scholars Center. He also teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as an adjunct faculty member in the College of Education and Human Ecology.
“I want them to find their place and know there are current students, faculty, staff and alumni who accept them for who they are and celebrate how they contribute to our diverse community.”
Why did you choose Ohio State for your master’s and PhD?
The dean of students at Connecticut College, where I earned my undergraduate degree, did her PhD at Ohio State. When I decided to enter the field of higher education administration, she strongly encouraged me to apply. I also wanted to pursue my graduate degree at a place that was very different from my small, private, liberal arts undergraduate school. When I was admitted, I came out to visit the Ohio State campus and interview for graduate assistantships. I immediately felt welcomed by the staff, faculty and students I met and knew this was the best fit for me. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
When did you start volunteering?
When I was a graduate student working with University Housing [in the late ’90s], I helped start Pride, a student group for undergraduate GLBT students living in the residence halls. I also advised SpectrUM when I worked at the University of Miami (Florida), which was the GLBT student organization.
When I returned to Ohio State in 2012, I decided to get involved in a different way as part of the OSU GLBT Alumni Society. I wanted to help current students connect to GLBT alumni and to be more involved as an alum — not just in my capacity as an employee. My current job doesn’t have a direct involvement in the GLBT community, so that’s another reason why I sought that out.
Why is volunteering important to you?
I’ve always found it important to achieve balance in life outside of my chosen profession. My involvement with “Scarlet & Gay,” as members of the group like to call it, is a perfect blend of my love for Ohio State and my interest in higher education and working with the GLBT community.
If students or alumni asked you about volunteering, what would you say?
I’d tell them to find something that they really care about and connect to Ohio State in that capacity. Give their energy to an area of campus that’s meaningful to them and the experience will increase their connection to the university.
What is your favorite memory from your time as a student at Ohio State?
My most distinct memory was my first football game. Coming from Connecticut and attending a high school and undergraduate program with no football team, I was not prepared for Buckeye football. I remember sitting in Ohio Stadium for the first time and being so overwhelmed and amazed by the passion and tradition around me. Although I was initially unfamiliar with all of the cheers, songs and traditions, I now find myself practically in tears when I watch the dotting of the “i” on the field. I purchase season football tickets and typically travel to at least one away game each year. Nothing compares to Buckeye Nation no matter where you are!