6-minute read

How it started vs. how it’s going

Class of 2024 ready to take on new challenges
Ohio State graduating senior Liddie Ainsworth poses on campus.
Ohio State graduating senior Lydia "Liddie" Ainsworth had a rich college experience that included multiple internships, research experiences and time spent mentoring other students and helping them succeed. She'll be starting a position with Abbott Nutrition after graduation. (Photo by Logan Wallace)

For the Class of 2024, many graduates are buying special outfits and steaming gowns for the first time. COVID-19 did not come at a great time for this bunch — not only did they miss out on a high school graduation, but many started college with social restrictions and online courses.

More than 12,000 degrees will be awarded May 5 during Ohio State’s spring commencement. While the Class of 2024 faced challenges, the following graduates show the resilience that many possessed to make the most of their time and opportunities at Ohio State.

Nigel Becker

Ohio State graduate Nigel Becker as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Strongsville, Ohio

Majors: Strategic Communication; Political Science; History

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA): served as secretary
  • The PRactice: took part in the student-run PR firm at Ohio State, including stints as an account associate and account lead
  • American Marketing Association: served three years on its executive board as vice president of events, vice president of communication and external vice president
  • AROUSE (Amateur Radio Organization for Undergraduate Student Entertainment): broadcasted a weekly show,  “Collage Radio,” for two years
  • Law and Society Scholars: chaired the Service and Advocacy Committee
  • An internship with a winning Congressional campaign
  • Marketing internship with Spotivity, a Chicago-based app that helps kids find after-school activities
  • Social media internship with Ohio State’s Sports and Society Initiative

What’s next after graduation: Three days after commencement, I'll be starting my full-time job as an account associate at Slide Nine, a Columbus public relations agency. I also plan to be active in PRSA to pay it forward for all the wonderful opportunities PRSSA afforded me.

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: I started college as a political science major taking all my classes on Zoom, and I'm wrapping up my college career as a triple-major with a job lined up at a public relations firm. I came into college confident that I knew what I wanted in my career. Coming out, I'm confident too, but with a recognition that I should always expect more change! I'm grateful to all my professors, as well as my supportive parents, for steering me in the direction of my true passion.

David Cassady

Ohio State graduate David Cassady as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Silver Spring, Md.

Major: Film Studies

Minor: Screenwriting

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Boxing coach
  • Boxing Club: served as treasurer
  • The Female Gaze Screening Club: served as secretary
  • Conversion crew associate for the Schottenstein Center
  • Warehouse manager intern for Amazon

Your thoughts on how college started and how it's going: College was definitely a personal journey for me. I come from a family of Ohio State alumni and was always encouraged to attend Ohio State.

My freshman year was in 2020 at the height of COVID-19, and it was a struggle to create unique experiences as a college student. It felt like I was experiencing a watered-down version of what I thought college would be. I also started school as a mechanical engineering major and ended up switching to film studies after realizing I was not happy with what I was doing.

It was at this time that I found my happiness in film and the boxing club, and became a leader and developed all my friendships that I am going to keep for the rest of my life. In the past year, I've broken even further out of my shell and have had so many memorable experiences with a variety of friends, and I've never been happier. Although I came into college a little skeptical of what I was doing, I found my passions, my friends and my path in life.

Lydia "Liddie" Ainsworth

Ohio State graduate Liddie Ainsworth as a freshman with her parents and as a senior.

Hometown: Dublin, Ohio

Major: Food Business Management

Minors: Business; Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Undergraduate research assistant studying the effects of soy-based protein on muscle recovery
  • Front office assistant in the Parker Food Science and Technology Building
  • Marketing and sales intern for Spritz Tea, a local sparkling tea startup that sells zero-sugar, healthy canned teas
  • Retail sales intern for Abbott Nutrition, creating a health and wellness promotion for Abbott products that aligned with a food-as-medicine strategy
  • Member of Delta Zeta Sorority, serving as health and wellness chair
  • Peer mentor for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) for three years
  • CFAES Distinguished Senior, which is awarded to the top graduating seniors in CFAES

What’s next after graduation: After graduation, I will be working full-time at Abbott Nutrition in Columbus as a retail development specialist. I plan to gain deeper marketing and sales experience while still fostering my passion for food science and nutrition. I plan to continue at Abbott either in Columbus or Chicago and eventually go back to school to earn an MBA.

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: I started college as a Food Science and Technology major but switched to Food Business Management when I discovered my passion for shopper marketing and retail sales. Even with a steady path and some level of direction, college was initially an overwhelming array of emotions, consisting of lots of second-guessing, wondering if this major would set me on a path for success. However, I quickly learned that the incredible set of resources in CFAES and at Ohio State kept me on track every step of the way.

From a social standpoint, any student can agree that the transition to college is tough. Adding COVID on top of that was an entire other layer of difficulties that every incoming freshman in 2020 had to face.

However, as time went on and normalcy returned after the pandemic, Ohio State became the home away from home that I always knew it could be. Now, I can confidently say that the people I have met here and the friendships that I have made far exceeded the expectations that I had set when walking on campus four years ago. Ohio State and the experiences that I had here turned me from a timid and nervous freshman to a strong and eager senior willing to take on any challenge that comes her way.

Morgan Spry

Ohio State graduate Morgan Spry as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.

Majors: Public Management, Leadership, and Policy; Political Science

Minor: Spanish

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Clubs: International Affairs Scholars; Block O Hockey Committee; Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, including director of engagement; OSU Votes Ambassador; Buckeyes For Voting Rights, including digital engagement chair and vice president
  • Internships: Allison Russo for U.S. Congress, OH-15 campaign intern; Nan Whaley for Ohio Governor Campaign, finance intern; Tim Ryan for U.S. Senate, digital communications fellow; Office of Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), press intern; Brady United Against Gun Violence, senior communications intern and policy intern
  • Fellowship Programs: NEW Leadership Ohio, Ohio Government Internship Program, The Washington Academic Internship Program
  • Study Abroad: Madrid, Spain

What’s next after graduation: My future post-graduation is still a bit unclear, but I know that the experiences that Ohio State has provided have prepared me well for professional life. I hope to either join a national campaign election cycle working as a member of a communications team or continue to work in the gun violence prevention space, as this is the issue that inspired me to get involved in politics.

In the future, I hope to go to law school to study constitutional law, and 10 years from now, I would like to see myself working in the White House or the Department of Justice, focusing on issues important to me.

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: After applying to 18 schools, I toured Ohio State in February of 2020 and was very quickly drawn to the unique atmosphere on campus, the pride of the Buckeyes and the Glenn College's Washington Academic Internship Program. As soon as I committed, my family and I stocked up on Ohio State gear, incredibly excited to join the Buckeye community.

As we all know, a month later, the whole world began to shut down with the onset of COVID-19. My future, like the rest of my graduating peers, seemed incredibly uncertain, and although there would be no in-person football games my first year, I was so excited to be able to move onto campus in August. Ohio State helped me find myself and grow as a person, and has prepared me for the professional world. The amazing friends and faculty I’ve met throughout my college career have undoubtedly changed my life for the better and will continue to do so after graduation.

Through the International Affairs Scholars Program, Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, the Washington Academic Internship, and my study abroad, I have made lifelong friends who have defined my time in college. Leaving them in May will definitely be the hardest part of my college career. Yet, I feel this commonly quoted phrase by Winnie the Pooh truly summarizes how I feel moving on from my undergraduate career at what I believe has to be the greatest university, community, and people on the planet: “How lucky I am to have something which makes saying goodbye so hard."

Olivia Wilbur

Ohio State graduate Olivia Wilbur as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Major: Strategic Communications

Minor: Psychology

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Clubs: Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity
  • Media, Marketing and Communications Scholars Program
  • Omega Gamma Service Fraternity
  • Internships: Olami social media intern, KWGM (Keller Williams) content marketing intern
  • Study abroad: Gold Coast, Australia

What’s next after graduation: Teaching English in Italy for three months!

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: My college experience started during COVID, and it was difficult for me to meet new people and to find my place at Ohio State. Now I feel like Ohio State is my home. I am so comfortable here and sad to be leaving, but so excited to start the next chapter of my life.

Matt Ferguson

Ohio State graduate Matt Ferguson as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Pickerington, Ohio

Major: Finance

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Private bank intern at Huntington Private Bank
  • Buckeye Professional Advancement & Development (BPAD): Recruitment and Fundraising Committee member
  • Pen PALS (Peers Advancing Literacy in Students): Journal Committee Member
  • Underwater Robotics Team: lead financial analyst and professional development chair
  • Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP)

What’s next after graduation: After graduation, I will be staying in Columbus and working as a private bank analyst for Huntington Private Bank. I earned and accepted a return offer after my time as an intern last summer, and I am excited to make the transition into a full-time career using the experiences and skills I have developed during my time at Ohio State.

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: In the beginning, college was about experiencing as many new things as possible and figuring out who I wanted to become. Over time, I found places where I not only felt I belonged but was able to make valuable contributions, paying it forward for current and future students alike. These uniquely different organizations and programs have shaped me into who I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful. With graduation just around the corner, I am proud of who I have become and hope to enjoy the rest of my time at Ohio State with my peers, celebrating all that we have accomplished.

Ariana Winbush

Ohio State graduate Ariana Winbush as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Newark, Ohio

Majors: English and Spanish

Minor: Public Policy

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Student Peer Leader
  • University Conduct Board
  • Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society
  • Member Services Supervisor at the RPAC
  • OSU Club Basketball team
  • Study abroad in Madrid, Spain. (Fun fact: I took a photo there that received first place in the Office of International Affairs photo competition!)

What’s next after graduation: I am currently in the final stages of a few fellowships that I am very excited about and will be working (hopefully) in one of these fellowships in what I deem a gap year. After that, I plan to attend law school and be a practicing lawyer for a few years. However, my ultimate goal is to become a judge where I can work toward reforming the prison system and help the vicious cycle of re-offenses.

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: If you had asked me four years ago how I saw my college career ending, I would have never guessed it would be like this. I did not have the best first-year college experience due to COVID, as I'm sure many in my year can attest to.

I worked as a Student Peer Leader, where I met my best friends and felt myself begin to thrive in higher education. I could feel the once overwhelming feelings of imposter syndrome melting away, and I finally felt that I had a place on this campus and that what I was doing mattered.

On a campus as big as Ohio State, I thought I would never find my place or make my mark. However, I have come to learn that there are endless ways to "leave your mark."

There was a quote from Pablo Picasso that I walked past every day on my way home while I studied abroad in Spain. It read: "Todo lo que puedes imaginar es real" — “Everything you can imagine is real.” The only limits to my potential are the ones I choose to acknowledge.

As I’m getting ready to graduate and stare life in the face, I look at how much I have done and I get giddy thinking about all the things I want to do. Is it scary? Sure. But so was my first year, and I made it through that just fine. And now I have so many new friends and people supporting me that I am more ready than ever before. I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Taylor Young

Ohio State graduate Taylor Young as a freshman and a senior.

Hometown: Marysville, Ohio

Major: Sports Industry

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Fisher College of Business Pathways Program scholar
  • Student Brand Ambassador
  • Trademark and Licensing intern
  • Block O football and marketing committees and marketing director
  • BuckeyeThon team member

What’s next after graduation: A job in digital media in sports.

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: College was an adjustment with class still being mostly online in fall of 2021, but after joining Block O, I was able to make friends and feel at home. Now three years later, I am able to say that the people and connections that I have made at Ohio State are ones that will stay with me long after graduation. To undergrads: Don’t take your time here for granted — it flies by!

Lena Dwidari

Ohio State graduate Lena Dwidari as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Major: Human Development and Family Science 

Minor: Art

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Young Scholars Program: scholar ambassador and peer mentor
  • Glass Club: served as president
  • 4PAWS for Ability: served as secondary volunteer trainer
  • Studied abroad in France and Morocco

What’s next after graduation: I will attend the University of Toledo in the fall to begin the Clinical Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program!

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: When I first started college, I was really excited to push myself out of my comfort zone and continue to challenge myself. However, as a first-generation college student I also experienced a lot of uncertainty with what I wanted to major in or what career I wanted to pursue. My main goal for myself was to say “yes” to all the good opportunities that came my way. I did just that!

One of my favorite involvements on campus has been working with the glass art department. I have been blowing glass for three years and am surrounded by the best community I could ever ask for. With graduation approaching, I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way and to see that all my hard work has paid off.

Susan Kim

Ohio State graduate Susan Kim as a freshman and as a senior.

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Major: Marketing

Out-of-class experiences:

  • Asian Business Student Association (ABSA): served as director of events
  • Columbus Fashion Council / Fashion Week Columbus: lead marketing coordinator
  • Nationwide summer and co-op marketing intern
  • Harvard Asian Business Conference
  • Student volunteer with the Happy Hearts Club and Ohio State’s middle school outreach program
  • Studied abroad in South Korea

What’s next after graduation: Traveling Europe and Asia!

Your thoughts on how college started and how it’s going: Starting college during the pandemic meant online classes and as smooth a transition from high school as it could have been thanks to familiar faces. But now, post-graduation feels like a much bigger leap and truly a pivotal moment. All I can do right now, though, is soak up time with friends I’ve met in college before everyone goes their separate ways. Despite all of the goodbyes I’ll have to give, I’m excited for what's next!

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