The Ohio State University Alumni Association

California to Columbus

2,400 miles apart, students and their parents share insights on a new adventure.

Olivia and Sterling

Sterling Winter and Olivia Righton

Ohio State’s strong academic reputation and a good dose of Midwestern hospitality convinced Californians Olivia Righton and Sterling Winter to make the Buckeye State their college home this fall.

“When I was on campus, it just felt right,” said Sterling, a Sacramento Valley Alumni Club scholarship winner who is now part of the SUSTAINS Learning Community in a new North Campus residence hall.

“The campus and the people I met really made me feel comfortable,” echoed Olivia, a National Merit Scholar and fellow alumni club scholarship winner.

Here, the two first-year students and their parents describe how they came to embrace Ohio State.

On sending a child so far away for college

Maureen Righton, Olivia’s mother: At first her dad and I were against her going so far and to such a big school. But as we have grown to learn more about Ohio State, we are excited for her. She really wanted to go there and seems so confident about it. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. I just could not believe it — especially since Ohio State is so large.

Mia Winter, Sterling’s mother: We got invited to the annual dinner for the Sac Valley Alumni Club and that night kind of sealed the deal for us. We could see all these generations of alumni who were so committed to the school. One alum even gave Sterling the phone number for a former Sac Valley Alumni Club president who now lives in Columbus. We had dinner in Columbus with them in June while we were there for orientation. They gave Sterling their cell phone numbers and told him, “If you need a ride or need a break from the dorm, give us a call.” Now I feel like I have somebody I can call, too. It’s just very comforting.

On the role of the local alumni club

Maureen Righton: Marsha Koopman [who chairs the Sacramento Valley Alumni Club scholarship committee] has been very, very helpful. She has been so positive about Ohio State, her experience there and the opportunities for Olivia and about being a Buckeye. But she has warned Olivia about dressing warm in winter!

Marsha Koopman: We tell them Ohio is known for the warmth and genuine spirit of Ohio residents. If the students have a question or concern, there will be assistance available. We tell parents, ‘”Encourage your students to ask questions and ask for help. Encourage your student to make friends with Ohio students. Most Ohioans are familiar with Columbus and can serve as guides or make recommendations.”

On affordability concerns

Mia Winter: Don’t rule out an out-of-state school just because you might have to pay out-of-state tuition. There are scholarship opportunities that may make it more affordable even though you’re coming from out of state. Sterling received pretty significant scholarships [including $1,600 from the Sacramento Valley Alumni Club]. In fact, the cost to attend Ohio State was less than for him to attend UC Berkeley even though we live in California. That was exciting.

Maureen Righton: We wanted Olivia to go to a highly rated academic university, but we did not want Olivia to come out of university with a lot of debt. Ohio State offered Olivia such a great academic scholarship. It really allowed us to send her to a great school with so many opportunities for her.

On the biggest selling points

Mia Winter: Ohio State was the one school that made us feel like they wanted us to come. I think Ohio State did a great job marketing its school and the programs. They also did a great job answering questions parents would want to know and [providing] information freshmen would want to know.

Olivia Righton: Education was the most important [factor] for me. I worked hard and was challenged in high school, so I wanted to continue that in college. Money was also a focus, and Ohio State was very generous with scholarships. I knew I wanted a big football school, and you can’t get much bigger than Ohio State. Finally, I wanted a chance to get involved in college life and try new things. Ohio State showed me that would all be possible.

On feeling secure far from home

Sterling Winter: I am not concerned about being so far from home. I've traveled internationally by myself and spent four weeks last summer interning for a company in India. My family travels a lot as well. These experiences have helped me become more independent.

Olivia Righton: I know I will get homesick, but that’s just a part of going away. No matter where I go, I’ll miss home. It is scary to be so far from home and my family, but leaving home is something everyone has to do.


In Memoriam


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