What makes the OU experience YOUnique?

As you write your college essays and ask your teachers for college recommendations, you picture what your life will be like. You picture your classes, your new friend group and your living arrangements. Once you pick where you want to go to school you have this crazy idea of what it is going to be like. You watch college movies and dream of your first semester, but you really have no idea what is actually ahead of you.

So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love.” At Ohio University, this quote can be found on College Gate as you walk into College Green. This quote explains our college experience in one sentence. We grow with this university every day. Whether it is gaining knowledge through our classes, wisdom through our experiences or love through our relationships, we are growing every day. We are not the same people the first day of our freshman year as we are the last day of our senior year. Ohio University changes us, but is it really Ohio University that changes us or is it just the time period in our lives?

Every year a new group of students joins in to experience the madness, the wonder and the beauty that is Ohio University. However, what these students don’t know is that they are about to be taken on the wildest ride of their life. Just as the seasons change, every semester brings something new. But how does Ohio University change us? Is it just “the college experience” or is it something bigger than that?

Theresa Ianni, a strategic communication major and 2014 graduate of Ohio University, thought she was going to get involved, go to every football game and join a sorority when she went away to college. However, unlike many other OU students, Ianni was not in love with OU before coming here.

“It wasn’t my top choice, but it was the best choice since I got accepted to Scripps,” said Ianni. “I wanted to attend Ohio State University. I went to an all girls high school, so the idea of a Big Ten school (football games, tailgating, etc.) was really appealing. However, I was extremely excited to start college and stayed optimistic because I had tons of alumni and current students telling me how amazing OU actually is.”

As soon as Ianni started school at OU she fell in love with the campus and knew she was in the right place. She didn’t go to every football game and didn’t join a sorority, but she was right in her assumption that she would get involved. Coming to OU alone, she didn’t realize how easy it would be to make friends. Within her first quarter of attending OU, she knew that she was going to have a busy, eventful and exciting four years.

Since her freshman year she has grown immensely, both personally and professionally. “I remember being terrified to public speak freshman year of college, and now I’m presenting at companywide meetings and leading my superiors in different groups,” said Ianni. “Socially, I see myself adapting to situations easier than I used to be able to. I’ve grown fond of putting myself in situations where I don’t know anyone. Freshman year, I never went anywhere without a friend.”

You can now find Ianni working as a media relations specialist at Walker Sands in Chicago. She was hired in September 2014 after completing a post-grad internship with Walker Sands over the summer. The biggest change for her was “going out” during the week. “Weekends are the same. I don’t go out as much as I did on weekdays, but yeah I still have no money and no dignity at the end of the weekend.”

During Ianni’s four years at Ohio University OU did nothing but improve as a university, she said. “The website, marketing strategies, and even a bit of the vision evolved and I think that’s great. OU demonstrated throughout my four years that students were the priority,” said Ianni. “I don’t know if that changed over my four years, but it was very evident. Court Street was perfect all four years, but I definitely feel like it changed. More food establishments moved in and really showed that the college town has room to grow. The bars got both less and more classy but all in all it’s still the amazing street it always was.”

Mark Wilcox, a 1984 graduate of Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, said his time at OU bridged the years between his childhood and adulthood. “I discovered real academics, learned to interact with people from different backgrounds, made great friends learned how to manage time and during those four years grew into an adult.” Wilcox reminisced about his years at OU and said that he used to go jogging with the men in his fraternity (Delta Tau Delta) and they would end with Jeff Hill. Although he said he could never do this now, he thought it built character and really kept him in shape.

Some things that changed at OU were that Jeff Hall used to be a freshman all-girls dorm and that the drinking age was 18 when he was in school. Wilcox stated that the bars were crazy back then because everyone could be there legally. He has so many great memories, including Halloween, uptown bar parties at The Phase (now Pawpurrs) and CI, homecoming parades, football games, Stroud’s Run and hitting golf balls off the back porch of the Delt house (now the Athletes in Action house next to Alpha Gamma Delta) over Jeff Hall. Wilcox is now a retired Navy commander and currently an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton.

Mark Kuhar graduated from Ohio University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in creative writing. He is the editor of Rock Products and Cement Americas magazine. When asked how his experience at OU shaped where he is now, Kuhar said, “At OU, I was exposed to wide variety of different people from all over the world, which was a far cry from the narrow demographic I grew up around in the rural Hinckley, Ohio, of the 1970s. I made it a point to get a well-rounded education, so every class I took offered me something new, something memorable and some experience I was able to tuck away for future reference. All of this has served me well in a career in business journalism that often requires critical thinking, open-mindedness and personal interaction with people from all walks of life.”

Without Ohio University, Nicole Spears thinks she would be a different person. “OU pushed me to be a more tolerant, more open-minded person while also helping me break out of my shell. I left knowing how to appreciate the little things in life, and learning how important it could be to cherish the daily happenings and ritual you grow accustomed to,” said Spears. “Academically, I learned the importance of a holistic approach and gained the confidence that my unique career path had to offer me.” Spears graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor of science in journalism and a major in strategic communication in 2014. She is currently working at Launch Squad in New York City as an account associate with tech startups and a Brit + Co. freelance editor.

Ianni agreed with Spears and said being a Bobcat makes you humble, yet proud, passionate and determined. She thinks part of this is due to the people she was surrounded by. “These people were unlike any other university. They motivated me to be the best I could be in all aspects. Whether it was PR, being on the executive board of organizations, or even drinking!”

Ianni said that her biggest motivator was her boss at Ohio University Intramural Sports, Nick Brigati. “He always challenged me to think one step ahead of my plans, and helped me step out of my comfort zone with new opportunities,” said Ianni. “For example, he made me attend flag football’s officiating workshop. I’ve never done anything like that before, so it was terrifying. But the workshop taught me a lot about managing others and poise.”

“I feel like sometimes OU is so underrated as far as education goes, and that’s not fair. I know people who have done amazing things, and I know I got a great education. It’s all about what you make of it,” said Ianni. “I want to say that coming back for homecoming this year, it felt like nothing changed. I still felt at home, and I think I was will at OU. That’s the magic of Athens.”

Even though Ohio University may be changing physically and culturally, it is all about what you make it. The magic of Athens is the people and the experiences you have. No other school has the students Ohio University has and that is special. However, this is also what makes other universities unique too. To be honest your college experience at Ohio University won’t be that unique. Where you tell people you went to drink and the places that you went will be unique, but the overall experience of college isn’t. Every university’s purpose is to develop their students professionally and socially and to give them an excellent education. While not every university student may be as passionate about their school as Ohio University students are, we all have the same experiences. By making Ohio University your hOUme, you allow yourself to be opened up to new experiences and to let yourself change. Finding the person that will be your mentor and finding your group of friends is important no matter where you go. Cherish your experiences and remember that OU is unique for its location, its students and its specific memories.

***

Marisa FioreMarisa Fiore is a junior majoring in strategic communication with a focus in public relations, minoring in business administration and is obtaining a global leadership certificate and a social media certificate at Ohio University. Her passions include travel, competitive Irish dance and writing. Visit www.marisafiore.com or follow her on Twitter @MarisaFiore1 to connect with Marisa.