Gift of Education 2017: Support along the way important on path to graduation
Ryan Schmiesing had a tough act to follow as the keynote speaker at Ohio State Lima’s 2017 Gift of Education reception. Three scholarship winners had very effectively told their stories to the audience of scholarship donors and other university supporters.
Twenty-five years ago, it could have been Schmiesing thanking the people responsible for getting and keeping him at Ohio State until he found his path forward. Then he was an ag education major who hoped to return to his hometown of Fort Loramie and do something. He wasn’t sure what, but something.
“I still remember the people I met with on the first day that helped me get started again,” Schmiesing said of Ohio State Lima. “I have very, very fond memories of faculty on this campus who engaged with a young person at that time who was probably struggling more than they knew it in terms of what they wanted to do and whether they were going to stay in school.”
Today, Schmiesing is a vice provost at Ohio State. As a former student at both the Lima and Columbus campuses, he is in a unique position to know how important the regional campuses can be to students finding their ways forward to a positive future.
“Had it not been for Lima, my path would have been very different,” he said. “Had it not been for Lima, the path of the three individuals who spoke to you today would have been very different. Had it not been for your contributions to their success, their life would have been very, very different.”
Melissa Martinez, junior in Early Childhood Education of Paulding
Melissa Martinez moved to Paulding with her family at 15. She did not speak English, which made the transition to a high school student in the United States all that more difficult. She did everything she could to immerse herself in the language and culture, from taking remedial classes to joining every extracurricular activity to reading all the time, often with a dictionary in hand.
“I want to be a teacher because I know what it is like to be at the bottom even when you are doing your absolute best, and I know when it feels like the odds are against you – and I know how important it is to have teachers there to help you through,” Martinez said. “I want to be a teacher because I know that all of those obstacles are just that – obstacles. They are meant to be defeated and I know I can help others just as I was helped.”
Martinez will be passing on the positive attitude instilled in her by her parents and honed by the support she has received on her educational path.
“Knowing that donors invest money, time and effort on students that they may never meet warms my heart,” Martinez said. “That selfless act is what humanity should be about – and it is that kind of attitude that I hope to instill in my future students.”
Victoria Bradford, sophomore in psychology from Paulding
Victoria Bradford wants to earn a Bachelor degree in psychology with a final goal of a medical degree in psychiatry. She wants to establish her own practice and work with underprivileged people. When she does, she will have plenty of people to thank for helping her achieve her goals.
Bradford had discounted her chances of winning a full tuition scholarship to Ohio State Lima, but her mom intervened. Bradford filled out the application and earned a Rudd scholarship.
“I was given a green light. A sign that said, ‘Here is the open door, run through it and pursue. The scholarship told me that I was exactly where I was meant to be and without it my dreams may have remained just that – dreams,” Bradford said. "The thought of going to medical school would be far, far off without you. You are allowing individuals like me to serve our communities in ways they couldn’t before.”
Jonathan Fissel, senior in theatre with a minor in music of Kenton
As a freshman, Jonathon Fissel pursued an electrical engineering degree that very much pleased his parents and was less than interesting to him. In his words, “I was not into it at all.” His lack of passion for the subject was obvious when his grades for his first year came in. They were dismal. The only bright spot was choir. In the arts, he excelled. Fissel left the university.
Dr. Matthew Young, director of choral activities, and Dr. Margaret Young, associate professor of music, helped him find his way back to Ohio State Lima and encouraged him to apply to the School of Music. He was accepted but could not afford to stay.
Despite the disappointment, Fissel figured out what he wanted and how to get it.
“I worked in a factory in Ada to build up money to return to Ohio State Lima and finish my degree. I was determined to finish. I knew that college was my way into the world that I wanted to create for myself. To stand in front of audiences and be able to affect them in ways that would change lives.”
His work with the theatre department and Ohio State Lima’s award winning a capella group Carmony helped him earn scholarships that opened the financial path to completing his education.
“The scholarships that I have received have directly impacted me in the best of ways. The money I saw from my music and theatre scholarships reminded me that someone wanted me to succeed. This was one of the driving factors that I used every semester,” Fissel said.
Glossary of terms
The Gift of Education is an annual event at Ohio State Lima that brings together scholarship winners and the donors who have made their scholarships possible.
The Arthur and Marian Rudd Scholarship Fund provides full- and half-tuition scholarships each year to students for whom such an award will make a significant financial difference. The scholarships are made possible by a generous gift from the Rudd estate.