Long before cellphones caused a mass downward tilt of heads, the importance of looking a person in the eye and engaging in conversation became apparent to Evelyn Lundberg Stratton.
This doesn’t mean Stratton, a 1979 graduate of The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, is immune to the ways technology has changed her own life and society as a whole.
She, too, feels the constant lure of gazing into her phone’s small screen, as if she’s a teenager at age 65.
“I don’t even buy clothes that don’t have pockets now, because I have to have my phone on me. It’s crazy,” Stratton says. “Now with your smartphone, you’re checking it before you go to sleep, checking it when you get up in the morning. You’re so much more accessible, but I don’t know that it makes you more connected.”
For Stratton, the idea of making a true connection with someone remains rooted to in-person, one-on-one dialogue, and she says that Ohio State offers endless opportunities for all students to enjoy the benefits of such old-fashioned discourse.
It’s up to every Buckeye to pause, put down the phone, look around campus, and take advantage of all that Ohio State has to offer.
“Don’t just go to school,” Stratton says. “Get involved in your community. Get involved in Ohio State association programs and student associations right away. You’ll look like a doer. You’re taking more of an initiative, and that’ll make you more attractive to an employer.
“There are a lot of programs on campus and speakers that are offered voluntarily that you should go to. You never know what connection you’re going to make or what person you’re going to meet that is going to make a difference.”
Stratton learned that valuable lesson while earning her law degree from Moritz, and her appreciation for the power of connectivity served her well during seven years as a trial judge in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and her subsequent 16 years as a justice on the Supreme Court of Ohio.
“You have to get out there and build relationships and friendships,” says Stratton, now a part-time counselor for the Columbus law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease.
That suggestion is one of many tips Stratton regularly offers to Ohio State students and young professionals. Here are a few others:
• Set goals. Make small steps to meet short-term goals and develop a plan for five years and beyond.
• Find mentors to help you achieve your goals.
• When you get involved in organizations, move from subcommittee to co-chair to board. Go the extra mile.
• Take risks, and don’t be afraid to lose.
• Love every stage of life – not just tomorrow. Enjoy what you are doing right now.
• Treat everyone with respect and dignity. It’s the right thing to do.
• Leave good behind, wherever you go. Understand that you are blessed. Pay forward. Give to charity in time and money.
• Winning is not the most important thing. How you handle things along the way is.
• The best motto is last: Family first.
Ohio State offered Stratton a chance to find and develop a network beyond the love and support of her own family.
“I made a lot of friends at law school that have been lifetime friends,” she says.
Those relationships have been nurtured through more ways than texts or social media posts.
They’ve involved putting away the phone, looking a person in the eye, and listening to what they have to say.
“Connect in person,” Stratton says. “It makes a huge difference.”
Learn more about Eve's story in the latest edition of Ohio State Alumni Magazine.