The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Career Management is proud to recognize successful and outstanding alumni from all walks of life.

Mary Frances Litzler

Assistant Professor of English, Universidad de Alcalá, Madrid, Spain
(B.A. French, 1985, College of Arts and Science)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I am from Ohio and started out at a smaller private university but decided that I wanted something bigger with a larger offering of courses and activities. By transferring to OSU I was able to select from a number of classes for French majors, many of which were related to language and culture, the aspect that interested me. The fact that OSU is so big also meant that I could meet all sorts of people from different walks of life, and without realizing it, I stepped into a situation where there were numerous opportunities to work and/or socialize with people from other countries, something I had always wanted to do. Of the different universities that I have studied or worked at, OSU is the one that brings out my greatest feelings of happiness, pride and appreciation.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

First of all, I have to mention the great classes that I took both in the Department of French and Italian and in the other departments, particularly a class in historical linguistics recommended by my advisor. I had no idea what linguistics was and, thanks to his advice, I discovered my future course of study. In addition, when I learned of the possibility to teach English as a Foreign/Second Language and wanted to change my major to the School of Education, the advisor I spoke with there gave me the wise advice to do an M.A. instead of changing at that point since I would be able to have two degrees in the same time that I would have taken to do the new major in Education. That advice to do the M.A., which I later did in Applied Linguistics at another university, opened many professional doors overseas afterwards. Over the years I have remembered with great appreciation both of these advisors whose names I do not remember and have never been able to thank. Finally, the chance to work part-time at what was then referred to as the Office for International Students and Scholars and the possibility to volunteer at a number of conversation programs for non-native speakers of English who were learning the language enabled me to feed my curiosity for other cultures.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

Assuming that this question refers to working overseas as opposed to working as a university professor, I would offer several pieces of advice. First of all, take advantage of all the opportunities that you have now because they are a step to something else even if you cannot see it at the time. My time at a job at McDonalds during high school actually come in handy when working as a business translator in Spain thanks to direct experience in the fast food sector and the vocabulary it involves. Second, be active. Volunteer and join an organization or club. The different volunteer activities that I did on campus with the international students were part of what helped me to later obtain admission to do an M.A. and a teaching assistantship to fund it. The next piece of advice is a fundamental one. Find a way to study abroad no matter how short it is. You need to prove to potential employers and also to see for yourself that you can adjust to being overseas before you can be hired for a longer period of time somewhere outside the country. Finally, be humble because no one has all the answers; there is always something to learn. I see many Americans come to Spain on study abroad and internship programs thinking that this country needs to change, but when you live overseas you need to adjust to the host country. When you do that, you will discover many things that are just as good if not better than what you have known to date.

Cam Williams

Operations Director, Hot Chicken Takeover
(MPA, 2014 The John Glenn College)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I have been involved with Ohio State since an early age. My mom used to bring me to football games, arriving early so we could see Herbstreit and Corso on GameDay. Along with having a number of family members who worked for OSU, we would volunteer here on a regular basis. I attended Ohio University as an undergraduate in order to allow myself to grow beyond Columbus and experience life on my own. Upon graduating, I knew that I wanted to make meaningful change in the world and felt the Glenn School, now the Glenn College of Public Affairs, was the best route to achieve my goals. I enrolled in the MPA program and officially became a Buckeye.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

The Glenn College have a great community of faculty and people who genuinely care about students and the community as a whole. Throughout my studies, current topics and events were introduced into the curriculum and classroom discussions. Particularly rewarding were discussions and projects which directly impacted social change. During the early portion of my MPA programs, I worked on campaigns, but soon realized my true calling was working with business enterprises which promoted the greater good. While taking a class on Social Entrepreneurship with Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover, I knew I had found my mission in life. After the class, I went up to him and said “I have to work for you”. I started in the kitchen washing dishes and ultimately landed in my current role as Operations Director.

At HCT we are very intentional in our process; I want good managers to become great mangers, we want our employees to succeed. We provide opportunities for our employees to grow inside and outside of the organization by providing stability and benefits which impact their lives on a day-to-day basis. We also make it clear that we are not a charity. That message is one we foster throughout the community. Understanding the balance required to navigate social business enterprises’ like Hot Chicken Takeover was developed during my time at the Glenn College.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

Be open to feedback, remain humble and open to learning. I was a cocky kid when I graduated thinking I could do any job, anywhere. Many of us use our education to prove our intelligence or show what we know. What I quickly learned was how much I didn’t know. It has been amazing how much I’ve grown not only in the last two years, but even the last two months working at HCT. Being around people who have experienced life from a completely different perspective has added to my life both personally and professionally. Regardless of one’s station in life, I encourage you to find a mentor. Connecting with someone who has lived it can never be replaced, those interactions provide the best opportunity to grow. As Buckeyes, I have seen that The Ohio State University and Columbus provide an extensive network of people that want to help others succeed.

Damon Frost

Director, Information Technology, Procter and Gamble
(BS, 1996 Fisher School of Business, Management Information Systems)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I was born and raised in Cincinnati and always aspired to go to college. I attended several schools growing up, including one beyond my immediate neighborhood. At that time, being in an unfamiliar environment was a dual edged sword for me: it challenged me on a day to day basis to navigate my way to success in circumstances that were not always ideal, but it also exposed me a number of things I otherwise may not have experienced. Initially, I had thoughts of going to law school, but through a program called INROADS, I developed a better understanding of my capability and career goals. Among other things, I discovered I enjoyed math and computers. I chose OSU for a number of reasons. They had a very good engineering program and due to my advance placement curriculum in high school, I received a scholarship and entered the engineering program immediately. My first impression here was it was a very large campus with so many options for its students. The campus environment allowed me to explore and discover how I “fit”…and I’ve been a Buckeye ever since.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

During the last year of high school and my college years, I interned at Procter and Gamble through the INROADS program and I learned about the IT and business operations of organizations like P&G. After my first quarter at OSU, I realized that I enjoyed doing the type of IT work that I experienced at P&G, however, this was not what I was learning about in the Engineering school so I changed my major to Management Information Systems in the College of Business. Through my class work, I began to see the correlation between what I learned in the classroom and the practical application of that knowledge in the professional world. During my time at OSU, I was president of CBSA, I was named a PaceSetter and was involved in other organizations and activities. I realized that every engagement afforded me the opportunity learn, grow and evolve. That lesson has shaped my personal and professional life to this day. Well into my career at P&G, which is now 20 years, I was presented with the opportunity to live and work in Mumbai, India for three and half years as the CIO for P&G’s Indian business unit. Based upon the philosophy I established at OSU, one of exploring and recognizing opportunities when they presented themselves, I was able to have a unique experience for both myself and my family. Without question, that experience made me a citizen of the world.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

As a new student entering college, there are so many changes you experience in a relatively short time. Challenging classes, new friends, new environment and often being responsible for yourself for the first time. Take advantage of all the resources Ohio State has to offer…it is a truly unique environment that fosters growth. Throwing all your energy into activities, organizations and causes that speak to you will help you grow in both the short and long term. In terms of career, position yourself to meet with a range of companies during recruiting season. While my career has been great, my one regret is that I didn’t have a broader range of interviews and explore the possibilities. Specific to my field, IT, learn as much as you can about the craft, as the IT field changes so quickly. Attend workshops, engage with like-minded individuals, and learn the ins and outs of coding and applications. It will make a difference in the long run. Finally, be a lifelong learner…knowledge is and always will be the key to growth.

Katherine Borst Jones

Professor and Area Head Orchestral Instruments, The Ohio State University Member of the Columbus Symphony; founding member ProMusica Chamber Orchestra (1972, MM, Music)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I’m originally from New Jersey, received my BA in music from the University of New Hampshire, after which I received my master's in music in flute performance at Ohio State. The connection between my UNH band director, Stanley D. Hettinger, an Ohio State alum, and his mentor/teacher, Ohio State Professor Donald E. McGinnis, was what made all the difference for me. Hettinger visited Dr. McGinnis for lunch in Columbus. McGinnis related to Hettinger that the School of Music was seeking a flute performance student for their newly established graduate assistantship. I was recommended, auditioned and received the assistantship. I fell in love with Columbus, quickly. The energy around campus was amazing and the faculty in the School of Music were incredible. I received a first class education and many special opportunities. It was the alumni connection that got me to Ohio State all the way from New Hampshire and New Jersey…and here I am 31 years later.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

After my degree I made a point to stay in touch with my OSU mentors and colleagues. I went on to teach in Kansas and then back here in Ohio. Making connections, getting yourself out there, and staying positive and friendly is so very important. As musicians, we are athletes of the small muscles…music requires discipline, determination and focus much like any athletic endeavor. Our students practice 2-4 hours a day and must have that intrinsic drive…internal motivation. I am passionate about music education and believe music should be in the lives of everyone. Legacy is important to all of us. My teachers passed on their knowledge of our craft and I have done the same. That’s the nature of music…the current generation learning from the preceding one then imparting their knowledge to the next generation. Music deals with the human condition…it’s essential to life. Last spring a former student established the Katherine Borst Jones Scholarship Fund (fund #482692) with the goal of providing funds for future flutists to attend Ohio State. Via this scholarship, a new generation of musicians can study music at the Ohio State University of which I am most proud.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

It’s about people and making those connections and staying in touch is so important. When you are in school, get to know as many of your colleagues as possible. Work your hardest at your studies, volunteer, attend conferences and other events to further expand your network. Through staying connected to my mentors and colleagues, I have been given many opportunities including touring and performing throughout the world including Europe, China and Japan. Involvement in professional organizations such as the National Flute Association has led to tremendous opportunities not only for myself but many of my students as well. Being ready for an opportunity is critical. If you’re doing your work, developing unique skills that make you who you are, then there will be opportunities for you to get where you wish to be.

Meredith Kozak

Preventative Health Educator in Peace Corps Senegal/International Affairs
(2012 BA Development Economics and International Development)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

Growing up outside of Cincinnati, I was interested in being in an environment that would broaden my horizons, literally and figuratively. Initially I had designs on leaving Ohio as I was not sure I could gain the type of experience I envisioned for myself. However, after visiting the campus and seeing the diverse people and opportunities that existed, I decided to apply and ultimately attend Ohio State. I always possessed an interest in world events and international affairs, and upon becoming a Buckeye, I got involved with a number of international student organizations with people who were like minded. That inspired me to study in France and set the table for my path to live and work abroad. There is no question Ohio State was the right choice for me.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

While a student at OSU, I served as a Resident Advisor with the International Affairs Scholars Program (IA-Scholars). That program allows students to gain insight and an understanding of the global landscape, foreign countries and international affairs. Open to students of any major, my role was to foster a sense of community among the group through events and workshops including programs on health, current events and cultural awareness. This experience had a direct effect on my desire to join the Peace Corps. It put me on a unique path and broadened my global perspective.

I have been involved with assisting refugees transitioning to the United States, teaching English and everyday life skills as they embark on their new life. Being familiar with that process, I realize just how much of that foundation was established while a student. My career horizon has expanded exponentially as I am currently enrolled in a graduate program at The London School of Economics, with the goal of exploring how an enhanced educational system can improve a country's ability to develop economically and politically. The seeds regarding my ability to interact with different cultures and fulfill my vision were nurtured at Ohio State.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

Remain open to every experience and follow your own path. In Senegal a family “adopted” me and became vested in my experience there. I was fully embraced and learned lessons that will carry me throughout my lifetime. But along the way, it was imperairative that I gained their trust and show I could adapt to their customs while sharing some of my own. Had I not remained open to doing things a different way, I would not have gained nearly as much from my Peace Corps tenure as I did. Additionally, my parents had the opportunity to visit and being able to share my life in Senegal with them made it even more cherished.

Following your path is often a cliché, but it is very true. When something speaks to you, you must heed it. There are so many wonderful opportunities to explore and discover your path at Ohio State. If you remain open and embrace all this wonderful institution has to offer, rest assured your path will find you.

Rosemary Riley

Senior Manager Abbott Nutrition (retired)
Community Health Activist
Ohio State (MA Exercise Science ‘86, PhD Nutrition ‘86)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I was an Analytical Chemist at Abbott Nutrition and after a few years I realized I wasn’t going to make significant headway without a graduate degree. I always wanted be a Forensic Toxicologist and needed specific training so I applied to the Ohio State University School of Pharmacology and got accepted. A few months before we were scheduled to begin, we were informed our graduate assistantships were no longer available. As often is the case, that setback became the best thing that happened to me. Through a job I landed at University College, I discovered the joy of teaching and coaching undergraduate students. As I was helping them with their respective career paths, I began to ask myself the same question I was asking the students: is standing in front of a lab instrument all day the career I want? A friend mentioned studying Nutrition calling it” a great combination of science and people”. I researched it and like many students, changed my major.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

The experience I had at OSU was invaluable and I was well prepared for my professional life because of it. It was an excellent program from both an academic and teaching /coaching perspective. After teaching classes of 300 hundred students, I could easily present an idea or justify a point of view to decision makers at Abbott. People will challenge you professionally, they challenge you in the classroom, but the time spent as a student at the Ohio State University prepares you for the rigors of your field and ultimately your life. If you are working 50 or 60 hours a week, your work has to fulfill you on many levels and OSU helped me discover that passion.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

Discover what’s important to you, and as best you can, find a balance. It’s not always easy, but when you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll find a way to make it work. The field of nutrition like many professions is always changing. Get the best foundation you can but be prepared to constantly update your knowledge and skills. Receiving my credentials from OSU has provided countless opportunities…from traveling the world to, most importantly, helping people live better lives. That makes it all worth it.

Jonathan Baker

Associate Professor & Program Specialist, Department of Statistics, The Ohio State University Ohio State (1996 M.S. Statistics, 2009 Ph.D. Mathematics Education)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

When I was exploring graduate programs in Statistics, I was interested in a program that would both expand my knowledge of my chosen academic discipline from a Masters and Ph.D. level andprovide co-curricular activities. At that time, I was the president of the undergraduate chapter of my Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and wanted to not only maintain that affiliation, but explore a new and unique environment. Being from Chicago, I had never been to Columbus until the Department of Statistics invited me for a tour and I quickly found it to be an inviting community. Everyone in the Department was genuinely interested in my success and very supportive. From a social perspective, I discovered a strong community of African American graduate students who shared a similar vision. In a word, Ohio State made me feel “welcome”.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

Ohio State University is the flagship university in Ohio and a premiere institution that is globally recognized. I knew that the reputation of the University, along with the outstanding education I received, would serve me well. My first job was working in the Mathematics Department at Columbus State Community College. Many of my colleagues were also alumni of Ohio State and, given the collaborative relationship between the two institutions, we had a very dynamic department. As my role evolved at Columbus State, the knowledge and skills I developed during my matriculation served me well. Upon completing my Ph.D., my abilities were enhanced well beyond Mathematics. The expansion of my critical thinking, writing and communication skills had a direct effect upon my ascension to Chair of the Mathematics Department at Columbus State. As a math guy who would shudder at the thought of writing a three page paper, completing and defending a dissertation gave me the confidence to submit grants, perform management reviews and communicate with my team in an effective and articulate manner.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

I would share two things…1) You never know where your path will lead and 2) Everything you do counts. As a Doctoral student, I was interested in exploring a little known technology called distance learning. My advisor was very supportive and encouraged me to do some research on the topic. Mathematics is often a discipline that evokes fear in many, I sought to find a means to not only demystify it, but expand the learning paradigm. When I returned to Ohio State as a faculty member in the Department of Statistics in 2013, the opportunity to shepherd the first online statistics course became available. Due to the research I began a decades earlier, I was presented the opportunity to develop, teach and guide the online curriculum. Everything counts.

Two years ago, I made a significant career change, leaving a comfortable, well-established leadership position at Columbus State and accepting an associated faculty position at Ohio State. While it was not an easy decision and certainly not one I made alone, I knew it was the right one. We all reach a point in our career where we have done all we can do with our current organization. There is great value in receiving a fresh wind and gaining a new perspective. It allows you to use different muscles, explore new vistas and can propel you in ways you have yet to discover. In my case, it proves how life truly comes full circle.

Being the first point of contact, it is imperative to understand that you represent the entire organization. People may not always notice when you do things well, but will certainly take note when you do not. So understand that your appreciation may only come from those around you. But always put forth your most sincere effort and know that what you do does matter.

Mallory Mitchell

Executive Assistant to the President/CEO, The Ohio State University Alumni Association
Ohio State (2006 BA International Affairs/Latin America)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

Growing up in Lorain, I come from a family of AVID Ohio State fans, particularly my brother. So being a true younger sibling, I became a fan of another university just to annoy him. On game days I would run around the house wearing their gear and making sure that it bothered my brother to no end. I was a student-athlete in high school and my senior year; I decided to try out for the Ohio State Cheerleading team. There were 75 people trying out for six openings. I made the team and then thought it best to trade in my former university allegiance for the Scarlet and Gray. I have been a Buckeye ever since.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

After being accepted at The Ohio State University, I was a little concerned about how big it was and my ability to have an impact. I quickly learned that one of the best things about being here is that you can make it as big or small was you wish. Being a student-athlete, I learned the development of time management skills were a premium. The demands of being a cheerleader included travel, appearances, lifting, events, practice, study tables and games were quite significant. Additionally, given the rigorous academic standards at a school like Ohio State, the ability to use my time efficiently has benefited me throughout my career. Working with high profile individuals such as former Ohio State President Dr. Gee, Columbus Mayor The Honorable Michael B. Coleman and now President and CEO of The Ohio State University Alumni Association Archie Griffin, the skills I acquired as student have served me very well. When I began working at the Alumni Association, it was truly a like coming home.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

There is always room for growth, and learning opportunities. I equate my professional roles in terms of receiving a degree, that is, each opportunity prepared me for the next one. While working with Dr. Gee, I viewed that as being an undergraduate student…learning the ropes, discovering how to be a professional. Under Mayor Coleman, it was akin to being in graduate school…expanding my skills, learning to juggle task simultaneously and the growth of my critical thinking abilities. My current position is much like a Ph.D. or professional degree program…the culmination of all that I have learned throughout my career and becoming a content expert. Staying engaged in your craft, being responsive and anticipating the needs of your team will serve you well in any endeavor. Whether it’s simply returning a call in a timely fashion or ensuring that your department is up to date on new initiatives, fulfilling your duties efficiently builds trust with your team.

Being the first point of contact, it is imperative to understand that you represent the entire organization. People may not always notice when you do things well, but will certainly take note when you do not. So understand that your appreciation may only come from those around you. But always put forth your most sincere effort and know that what you do does matter.

Janet Pae

Operations Engineer, Whirlpool Corporation
Ohio State (BS Industrial and Systems Engineering, BA Korean 2011)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I initially intended to enroll in a small Liberal Arts college, but some of my extended family attended here. I recall walking through the Shoe and then proceeding to the Student Involvement Fair during Freshman Orientation. My first impression was that in spite of being one of the largest universities in the country, the campus became familiar rather quickly.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

I was undecided as a freshman, with interests in medicine, physics and education, so I became involved with the First Education Experience Program (FEEP). Through that program, I focused on education and engineering and ultimately majored in Industrial Engineering as it incorporated the entire engineering process…materials, people and machines. Additionally, I determined that once I learned my craft and gained practical experience, I could educate others about the engineering field. I landed my first co-op through the Engineering Career Fair…and it was a game changer.

Additionally, I experienced the highs and lows of the US economy over the course of my co-ops and internships, and this showed me how organizations conduct themselves in both circumstances. That has been an invaluable lesson which has served me well throughout my career. And it all began with attending the career fair.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

One of the best things I did was discovering the Engineering Career Services Office and asking them what I needed to do to gain an opportunity in the Engineering field. They reviewed my resume, assisted me with my interviewing skills and “elevator speech” and developed a career plan. They mentioned their upcoming career fair, where I landed my initial co-op. I strongly recommend visiting your Career Services office early in your academic career.

One on-campus group I became actively involved in was the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE). It is a professional organization that helped develop my personal and professional skills and founded friendships through social events. As an IIE officer, I had the opportunity to coordinate company tours, travel internationally to the Annual Conference, and network with engineering academia, professionals, and students from around the world.

By remaining open and presenting the right attitude, there’s nothing you can’t achieve as a Buckeye. Developing a plan, asking questions and determining your values will carry you a long way in whatever field you chose.

Rosemary Riley

Senior Manager Abbott Nutrition (retired)
Community Health Activist
Ohio State (MA Exercise Science ‘86, PhD Nutrition ‘86)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I was an Analytical Chemist at Abbott Nutrition and after a few years I realized I wasn’t going to make significant headway without a graduate degree. I always wanted be a Forensic Toxicologist and needed specific training so I applied to the Ohio State University School of Pharmacology and got accepted. A few months before we were scheduled to begin, we were informed our graduate assistantships were no longer available. As often is the case, that setback became the best thing that happened to me. Through a job I landed at University College, I discovered the joy of teaching and coaching undergraduate students. As I was helping them with their respective career paths, I began to ask myself the same question I was asking the students: is standing in front of a lab instrument all day the career I want? A friend mentioned studying Nutrition calling it” a great combination of science and people”. I researched it and like many students, changed my major.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

The experience I had at OSU was invaluable and I was well prepared for my professional life because of it. It was an excellent program from both an academic and teaching /coaching perspective. After teaching classes of 300 hundred students, I could easily present an idea or justify a point of view to decision makers at Abbott. People will challenge you professionally, they challenge you in the classroom, but the time spent as a student at the Ohio State University prepares you for the rigors of your field and ultimately your life. If you are working 50 or 60 hours a week, your work has to fulfill you on many levels and OSU helped me discover that passion.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

Discover what’s important to you, and as best you can, find a balance. It’s not always easy, but when you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll find a way to make it work. The field of nutrition like many professions is always changing. Get the best foundation you can but be prepared to constantly update your knowledge and skills. Receiving my credentials from OSU has provided countless opportunities…from traveling the world to, most importantly, helping people live better lives. That makes it all worth it.

Deborah Johnson

“DJ The Sports Mom”
Professional Training & Coaching
Author of Coaching the Dream
Founder of The Football Parents Association at Ohio State
BA, French Language and Literature, 1975

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

From an early age growing up on the Eastside of Cleveland, I always was a very curious person. I used to “teach” school to the other kids in my neighborhood and began learning French when I was 7 years old. I come from a family of high energy people and we were always involved in learning and doing new things. When it came time to go to college, I had applied to a number of schools on the East coast. Ultimately, I felt a strong pull to become a Buckeye in part because my brother was a professor here. A number of people told me “you’ll be a number down there, it’s so big”. I replied “I’ve never been a number anywhere”. As soon as I arrived in Columbus, I knew I had made the right choice.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

When I got here, I had a blast. I became involved in a number of activities in student life. I was the Vice President for the University College Council, the Director of Black Affairs for the Ohio-Drake Unions Student Activities Board and was a page for three years at the Ohio Senate. Additionally, I went on study tour to France the third quarter of my Freshman Year and realized that I only needed a few more classes to major in French. Upon graduation, I joined the Peace Corp and went to Niger where I taught English. I became a Presidential Intern and would asked people about their path. I have worked in Human Resources; served as a national spokesperson; been an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities; and started a not for profit organization. I felt if I can conquer the Ohio State University, I can conquer anything.

When I became a parent, my son was being recruited to play football and I realized just how overwhelming the process can be. He played for the Buckeyes and it was at the 2002 National Championship game, that I realized there were no activities or events for the football parents. So along with another parent, we formed The Football Parents Association at Ohio State. The organization’s role was to interact with parents on behalf of the football team, whether that was securing travel arrangements, helping them understand the recruiting process or developing portfolios of their child’s games and athletic experiences.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

I speak to people about finding their passion, dreams and goals. One piece of advice I would share is to have a “point of difference”…the ability to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Every time there was an opportunity…I took it. I created opportunities for myself by connecting the dots and being able to see what’s on the horizon. I’ve taken jobs which on the surface may have not appeared to match my skill set, but led to other opportunities which did. Try something out and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is feedback. Finally, explore your options and take advantage of your network. I have never taken my connections for granted. Follow up is the key. There’s pride in being a Buckeye, it’s truly something special. You only have one life…live it!

Jill Westerfeld

Assistant Director, Career Management & Corporate Relations
Fisher College of Business Office of Career Management
Ohio State (MHRM, Human Resources 2004)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I was working with a nonprofit organization and one of my main responsibilities included managing volunteer relations. As part of my duties, I was responsible for recruiting, interviewing and onboarding over 100 volunteers on a quarterly basis. Through this role, I discovered I had a passion for developing the professional skills of new employees and helping with their transition into a new organization. I quickly sought avenues to formalize this passion. I began to explore graduate programs and found the MHRM (formerly called the MLHR) program at the Fisher College of Business, to be a perfect fit. It had an outstanding reputation, excellent faculty and great career opportunities.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

While a graduate student at Fisher, I had a graduate assistantship advising prospective graduate students in the Graduate Programs Office for 2 years.. As I became more involved with assisting graduate students navigate through the admissions process, I learned how much I truly enjoyed the direct interaction with students on the collegiate level, and assisting them with the transition into graduate school As a result, upon graduation, I decided to pursue a career in higher education, continuing working with grad students on their graduate school search, job search and professional development skills. After working at a private institution for 8 ½ years, I decided to make the transition myself to a role which focuses more on professional development and career search strategies for graduate students. I currently provide individualized career consultation to Master of Finance (SMF) and Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) students at the Fisher College of Business. I love what I do!

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

When considering a career or career transition, it is important to set goals and develop an action plan for achieving them. I’ve learned this from my background in sports. You simply can’t wish it true…develop a process which incorporates strategic thinking, has defined goals and features action steps. No matter how small those steps may be, hold yourself accountable for completing them. Ultimately our achievement is determined by consistent energy and effort. Being intentional can make all the difference.

Jacob Gayle

Vice President (Executive Director) Medtronic Philanthropy at Medtronic, Inc.
Ohio State (MSc, MA, PhD)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

Having an interest in Preventive Medicine, while considering colleges and universities, I discovered The Ohio State University had one of the few such medical school-based programs in North America at that time. OSU was also known then as the conveyor of more Ph.Ds. to people of African heritage or ancestry than any other university in the United States. OSU spoke to things that were and are important to me both personally and academically. Two other factors—one intellectual the other practical—made The Ohio State University the right choice. From an intellectual perspective, the university’s commitment to education as a means for the greater good resonated with me. From a practical one, the fact I received a graduate assistanceship made it a reality, as my bride and I were juggling graduate school costs and demands at the same time.

How did your experience at The Ohio State University shape your career path?

Undoubtedly the interaction and instruction I received while in graduate school were significant influences, not only regarding my career path, but they also helped me to refine my global perspective regarding health issues. Some of the professors I had are now mentors, colleagues and lifelong friends. The opportunity to learn under the tutelage of some the most accomplished and recognized leaders at The Ohio State University has directly influenced my career to the present day. Many of the critical-thinking abilities I use on a daily basis, in addition to the ability to apply them practically, were fine-tuned while a student at The Ohio State University.

What advice do you have for Ohio State Alumni and students interested in your career field?

The notion of personal health and public health as co-joined global policy/human rights issues is the social and spiritual crossroads of the world. It affects everyone and will remain the overriding issue going forward. "Health" may be, indeed, the universal message, but I encourage everyone to learn to speak it in more than one language. Our thoughts and actions are limited by the extent to which we can conceptualize and articulate them. So, whether it is a foreign tongue or different philosophy or discipline, build multiple options from which you view the world.

This field requires not only passion and commitment but the desire to serve. The practitioners in this field must have the belief that one person can make a difference, then they must set forth to be that difference-maker. Being open to and recognizing opportunities when they occur is also very important. While a graduate student working with the Ohio Department Health, I was entrusted to develop a program regarding AIDS in the minority community. My involvement in that project laid the foundation for much of the global health and diplomacy work I have done to date.

Nate DeMars

Founder and CEO PurSuit
Ohio State (MBA 2011)

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I worked for Whirlpool, and they sent me to Columbus in 2005 to work in sales, marketing and management jobs. After four years of working in the corporate world, I decided that I wanted to pursue my MBA. When Whirlpool wanted me to take a job at the corporate office and move to Michigan, I knew it was time to make my move. I had always admired The Ohio State University, and I lived in Grandview and was always around it. I applied to the Fisher College of Business MBA program—it was a top 25 program—and if they accepted me, it was a no-brainer. I studied real estate and real estate development. I wanted to work in the renovation of buildings in old neighborhoods, which is something I had done in my volunteer life, working with nonprofits.

How did your experience at Ohio State shape your career path?

My business is a direct offshoot of my time at Ohio State. I took an entrepreneurship class the winter quarter of my final year. What originally was to be an idea for a class project became a business plan, and after a quarter of working on it, that idea ultimately became Pur●Suit. I decided it had some potential and it was something I enjoyed. So I spent the next three months determining the feasibility of the business. I graduated in June 2011 and opened the business October of that year.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

I think when people want to become entrepreneurs, they automatically assume they need to start a business right after they graduate. Those four years I spent with a Fortune 500 company gave me invaluable experience—certainly training I would not have gotten if I went out directly on my own. There’s value in getting different experiences and not feeling you need to be locked into one career path simply because that’s where you started.