Alumni awards: Ohio State Lima changes lives
Despite the years separating their graduation dates, the three honorees at the 2022 Alumni Awards have a lot in common. Foremost is a deep understanding of the power of education and what attending The Ohio State University at Lima made possible for each of them.
“This is the highest honor that we have received and we are humbled to have been selected,” said Rebecca Niedecken Ansley, who earned a BS in mathematics in 1974 and an MS in computer and information science in 1979. “Ohio State Lima is changing the lives of not only the students that come here but also their families and communities.”
Rebecca Ansley and her husband Charles were jointly named to the Alumni Hall of Fame. Both are first-generation college students and self-described “nerds” who took everything they learned then and since and made the most of it as people, employees and volunteers. They met in chemistry class on campus.
By the time she retired, Rebecca Ansley had been part of major IT software projects that required her to lead teams in 20 different countries.
“The Lima branch, very simply opened up the world to me,” she said. “When I was in high school, girls were not supposed to be smart, especially in math or science. No one in my immediate family had ever gone to college and there was a great deal of uncertainty about whether college for girls made sense either from a financial perspective or from a time investment perspective.”
Beyond room and board, Charles Ansley was on his own to start college. He knew what he wanted to do and having a campus of Ohio State in his hometown made his dream possible.
“Ever since elementary school, I wanted to be involved with health care. Everything I have done with my education, occupations and volunteer work have been healthcare related. For me, health care has been the vehicle to be of service,” said Ansley, who earned a BS in medical technology in 1975 and a master of health administration in 1981. “How would I have been able to serve without the first stepping stone? The second, third and fourth stepping stones would have not been possible without the first. What did ‘The Branch’ mean to me? Everything.”
When Collin Palmer was admitted to Ohio State Lima instead of the Columbus campus, he was disappointed as only a 17 year old can be. In hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened to him and helped him become the person and professional he is today.
“Ohio State Lima changes the lives of its students, the community, and the world,” said Palmer, who earned a BA in history and political science in 2012. “I believe in the transformational experience of higher education. I believe in public education, which is why I am here today, and I made a career out of it.”
Palmer and his nominator for the Early Achievement Award, Dr. Charlene D. Gilbert, bonded over a shared admiration of the Ohio State Lima experience. She had been the dean and director at Ohio State Lima and he a graduate when they began working together at the University of Toledo, she as the dean of the college of arts and letters and he in enrollment. Palmer exhibited a level of deep integrity and leadership courage that impressed Gilbert.
“He is well on his way to an incredible career, and I know he will have an impact on students and families long past this moment,” said Gilbert, senior vice provost of student academic excellence at Ohio State. “His commitment to access, his commitment to creating a seat at the table for first-generation students and all those who are seeking opportunity, I think that was born here at the Ohio State Lima campus.”