Alumni Notes | Honors College | Kent State University

Alumni Notes

1960s

Gerald "Jerry" Smith, BS ’61, MEd ’69 (Mathematics). In addition to my 40 years in public education I have become very active in the Lions Club International.  I have held officers at the club, state, and international level.  I was elected as an International Director of the 1.3 million member Lions Clubs International in Minneapolis, MN in July 2009 and served a two year term.  I was chairperson of the Service Activities Committee from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. My position allowed me to travel to many locations in the U.S. as a motivational speaker and to several foreign countries to attend Board of Directors meetings.

Chris Tirpak, BA ’68 (French). The conventional curriculum at Kent State only served to convince me that it was an extension of high school back in 1963-64. I was disappointed and sought out the American Youth Hostels for travel on a student budget in 1965. My "aha" moment at the PRADO museum in Madrid precipitated my return to Kent. I worked part time in Kent's International Studies Office where I found that it would cost me less to do a Junior Year Abroad than to stay at Kent.  I went to Basel in 1966-67 and lived with Swiss families (The Matters and the Hurters). When I returned to Kent in 1968, I opened the course catalog for the first time to find the quickest route to graduation, selected French as my major and Political Science as my minor. Applied for a teaching assistantship after graduation at Southern Illinois University -- got it and repeated my educational pattern, leaving after the first year classrooms, working at the United Nations (1969) in New York, eloping to France and returning to SIU. Got an Instructorship at Penn State (1973), became interested in applied political science aka Public Administration (thanks to Prof. Robert Mowitz), worked in the Division of Man-Environment Relations (1974) for a year and completed requirements for an MPA. Alternating office work with classroom study widened my perspective on learning. Went to work in Boston in 1976 at GTE International (technology transfer) until the contract ran out. I applied to the Federal Government, inspired by President Kennedy's words "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". Finally started my government "career" in 1977 in both the Executive and Legislative (The Hill) Branches of federal government. Computers didn't appear on the desks of civil servants until the 1980s and changed the way things worked at the office.  I often mentored student interns -- took them on field trips. Chaired a series of Community Involvement Conferences and convened Division Directors meetings all over the country for the US-EPA. Looking back since I retired in 2014, one of my most memorable moments was being sworn in as Vice President of Executive Women in Government (EWG) by first-woman Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the year before she retired.  I co-chaired 9 annual women's summits for EWG. One of my final projects at US-EPA was a lecture series called  Transformational Leadership Conversations (TLCs) which were videotaped and stored in the Agency archives.  At this point in my life, my mission is to get to know the earth before my time is up. So, after living in Reston, Virginia for 40 years, my husband and I are busy building a house in Virginia's beautiful wine and horse country.  I would be delighted to chat with Kent State students anytime by email tirpak.chris@gmail.com. Thank you for this opportunity to reminisce!

1970s

Evan Meyer, BA ’71 (English). After 25 years of service with the City of Philadelphia, I retired in 2013. In 2015, I began a new career working with disabled individuals experiencing homelessness, assisting them in applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Jonathan (Jon) Secaur, BS ’72 (Comprehensive Science), PhD  ’94 (Cultural Foundations). The Honors College is a real jewel!!

Toomas Tubalkain, BA ’73 (Sociology). I am currently participating in the Senior Guest program and have taken creative writing and poetry classes. I worked in IT most of my career and became a certified Project Management Professional.  I developed the Audited Financial Statements for DoD and managed some high profile projects for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.  I also designed, developed and managed the Health, Environmental and Regulatory system for Sherwin Williams during my years working as a consultant for Logica Inc.

Ralph Watkins, BA ’74 (General Studies). I am retired and hold a volunteer position with the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

Nancy McManus, BSN ’75 (Nursing). In 2015, I received induction into the Dorothy Cornelius Leadership Congress of the Ohio Nurses Association and was a finalist for Ohio March of Dimes Nurse of the Year in Nursing Education.

Ann Driscoll, BA ’76 (English). Deciding to go back to school for my Master's degree did take some time, but I do not regret that. For many years I studied Tai Ji, then spent two years, 1994 to 1996, teaching English at The Beijing University of Science and Technology in Beijing, China. After receiving my Master's in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in 2001, I was Licensed in Massachusetts, but returned to Ohio to set up a private practice in 2002. Since that time I have maintained my private practice as well as working at The Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine for five years as an acupuncturist and then three years at University Hospitals. What I prefer is private practice though, and I intend to keep that up full time until at least age 70. This field provides a blend of intellectual stimulation along with people contact that keeps work very fresh.

Claudia Dulmage, BA ’76 (Psychology). I retired from the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, on February 29, 2016, after 33-1/2 years!

Ted Moore, BA ’76 (Political Science). Visit my profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/windriverassociates

Linda Brown, BA ’77, MA ’00 (Psychology). My MA/PhD is in I/O psychology, which I earned after 20 years in industry in HR in individual contributor to executive roles. I've taught undergraduate as well as graduate students at Kent State Geauga, main campus and at the University of Akron. I own a consulting practice in Chagrin Falls that offers: Executive coaching, organizational assessment and change management, succession planning, team development, individual assessment for selection or career development, talent management and employee engagement. 

Nancy Grim, BA ’77. The Honors College seminar versions of introductory classes were very important to my first two years at KSU. My impression was that we had opportunity for far more interaction with professors, creative thinking.  Later, I was able to take upper division classes, including classes cross listed as graduate classes.  A major factor in not completing my honors project was my political involvement, including the May 4 "Move the Gym" movement.  I don't regret that. After my graduation, I worked for a year with an Akron organizing campaign called People Power, then went to law school. Since 1984, I used my lawyer skills to fight for employee rights.  Since 1994, I have practiced from my office in Kent, Ohio.

Kevina Vulinec, BA ’78 (Biology). Professor of Wildlife Ecology; Fulbright Faculty Fellowship to Brazil 2011; >30 Peer-reviewed publications; Working with non-profit Operation Wallacea in Honduras 2015-2016; Excellence in Teaching Award DSU 2008.

Elaine Faye, BFA ’79 (Art History). I have worked in the graphic design field since graduating in 1979 for firms located in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. For the past 15 years I have been the principal of E-Lane Studio, which specializes in print, web and exhibit design. The Studio has won several DESI awards and awards for exhibit design.

1980s

David Jaspers, BS ’81 (Mathematics). Though my field of study was Mathematics, my career has been as a college professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken. When I started at Kent, I had no idea that I would choose teaching as a career. But the Professors I had in the Honors College, especially Dr. Donald Dykes in Mathematics, showed a love of teaching that I inherited. My experience at Kent, especially in the Honors College, changed my life.

Pamela Hoch, BFA ’82 (Graphic Design). I designed packaging, advertising, marketing and corporate materials for a high-end cookware company for 19 years with a focus on food styling. I contributed to the success and rapid expansion of the company by having a major impact on the brand identity. My work has been seen across the nation and worldwide. I art directed 3 cookbooks utilizing the best food photographers and stylists in the country. My most important accomplishments have been the raising of my two children with my husband. My daughter is in a Cognitive Neuroscience PhD program at NYU. My son is in his second year of medical school at the Mayo Medical School.

James Rohrer, BA ’82 (History). I have been a Professor of History at UNK since 2005. I previously taught History and Religion at Northwestern College (Iowa) and Yushan Theological College in Hualien, Taiwan. My area of expertise is American religion and culture and world Christianity.

Pamela Jensen, BBA ’83 (Accounting), BA ’83 (Political Science). I worked for an international accounting firm for 18 years including two years in an overseas office. I continued working until my children said, "Mommy, stay home." I started a consulting business in which I set up and monitor accounting systems for small businesses. I would be willing to be a resource for anyone needing to have that family/office balance.

Saundra Brown, BA ’84 (Psychology). I now am the content coordinator for disasterlegalaid.org, the legal disaster webpage, and because of this I am on a group of disaster advisers to provide support for legal professionals helping in this area. I was the content support for a group of Georgetown Law Students who won their computer Iron Man competition with a disaster application called DART, to help people understand what help is available after disasters. I was the union president here at my work and am now the Chair of the Texas Gulf Coast Region Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters. Kent gave me great teachers, a good education, and lifelong friends/acquaintances. The Honors College is/was a gem.  I'm just sorry that I live too far away to enjoy life there as an alumna. Hugs.

Mary Cabot, BA ’84 (News Journalism). I have been writing for The Plain Dealer for 25 years, have been on local and national television and am one of the only female NFL beatwriters in the country. I am also one of two or three females with a Pro Football Hall of Fame vote.

Kathleen Gorman-Gard, BS, MA ’84 (Speech Pathology and Audiology). I have worked as a Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) for the Broward County Public School System for the past 31 years. I have ASHA CCC (Certificate of Clinical Competence), Florida License, and am a Mentor Teacher. I currently work at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida. My oldest daughter is an English Teacher in Fort Myers, Florida and my youngest daughter is a sophomore majoring in Music Therapy at the University of Miami. My days at Kent State are some of the fondest memories I have. I credit my great education for the long, successful career I have enjoyed, while raising my two daughters.

Beth Ann Earle, BA ’86 (Journalism). My son, who is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati, was home over the weekend and was telling me how much he was enjoying reading The Ascent of Man and how fascinating he found the ideas in the book, which was one of the pieces we read in my freshman colloquium with Dr. Diana Culbertson. I loved it then and kept it and have re-read it many times. Now, thanks to the Honors College, I'm sharing a wonderful, wonderful treasure with my son.

Kevin Kern, BA ’86 (History, Anthropology), MA ’91 (Anthropology). I received tenure from the University of Akron History Department in 2007. Among my publications is Ohio: A History of the Buckeye State (2013) which has become the contemporary standard college textbook on Ohio History. I have also appeared on The History Channel.

Jyotsna Sreenivasan, BA ’86 (English). I am a published author, and would be happy to speak to students about this.

Elizabeth Labbe-Webb, BA ’89 (Theatre). I live in Georgia and run a statewide non-profit.

Mitch McKenney, BS ’89 (News), MBA ’89. I am an Honors College grad who now teaches at KSU -- and my oldest is now a freshman in the Honors College. So that gives me an interesting vantage point. I will say while I didn't have a study-abroad experience as an undergrad, I DID have one as a grad student and recommend it to everyone. In fact, I have been doing faculty-led study abroad in Journalism for six years now.

1990s

Amy Mark, BSEd ’92 (Elementary Education), MLS ’99. I am employed with Howland Local Schools in Warren, Ohio as the district library media specialist since 2002. I am married to Shawn Mark (1993 KSU graduate) and we have three daughters.

Eileen Kiley, BA ’95 (English). I oversee all marketing and communications efforts for my organization. I am active in the Society for Scholarly Publishing, recently having served on the Board of Directors. This organization provides travel grants for students to attend its annual meeting. It may be of interest to honors college students of publishing or information science.  As a former Kent State University Press intern I would have welcomed such an opportunity!

Heather Lenz, BA (Art History) & BFA (Sculpture) '95. After graduating from the Kent State University Honors College, I later earned my MFA in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California where I focused on documentary filmmaking. I just directed my first independent feature documentary, KUSAMA: INFINITY, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. The film is about artist Yayoi Kusama’s quest to overcome sexism, racism and mental illness while pursuing her dream of being an artist. During the making of the film, Kusama became the top selling living female artist in the world. The film will be included in the upcoming Cleveland International Film Festival in April. Later this year, from July through September, Kusama’s work will be the subject of an exhibition at the Cleveland Art Museum. Magnolia acquired the film and plans to release it theatrically this fall in the US. The film will also be released internationally. 

Petra Moran, BSEd ’96 (Elementary Education), Educational Specialist ’15 (Curriculum and Instruction). In a strange turn of events, I now work at Kent State University as adjunct faculty in the College of Education and have Honors students in my course.  It is funny how the world comes full circle!

Stephanie Oehler, BBA ’99 (Marketing). I am currently the area representative in Arizona for the Kent Alumni Association. 

2000s

Lisa Dunick, BA ’00 (English). I've had three books published in the last three years: Sweet Unrest (2014, Flux); Gathering Deep (2015, Flux); and Unhooked (2016, Simon Pulse) and one more scheduled for 2017. I am available for author visits and writing workshops.

Alan Kuznicki, BS ’01 (Aeronautical Systems Engineering Technology, Flight Technology). I was hired at PSA Airlines May 2001. I left PSA in December 2014 when I was hired by American Airlines; projected retirement August 2043.

Jaelithe Russ, BA ’01 (Anthropology, Psychology), MBA ’07. I decided to homeschool my two children and I launched my own business as a writer (I have a graphic design partner who has 20+ years experience in the business, and we work as a mini boutique ad agency).

Angela Jones, BA ’02, MA ’04, PhD ’09 (Psychology). My family has a rather rich connection to the KSU Honors College; my dad (Greg Canda) and uncle (Ed Canda) are also both graduates of the program.  Also, I'm thrilled to say that I am now the Honors Program Director at John Carroll University - I've had a rather interesting trip from receiving an Honors education to now administering one to other students.

Sarah Nikkel, BA ’01 (English), MA ’02 (Secondary Education). Since KSU, I have followed a winding path following opportunities in marketing, writing, and fundraising. I have had the good fortune of developing relationships with inspiring mentors. In my current role, I enjoy meeting with people to explore what motivates them to give to higher education. I also serve on two nonprofit boards.

Katherine Willis Pershey, BA ’02 (English). My strongest connection with KSU is with the Wick Poetry Center. I attended the 20th Anniversary celebration and was featured as a speaker. This summer, I will teach a weeklong writing workshop on Spiritual Memoir through the Outreach program at Wick. In addition to my work as a parish pastor, I am also a professional writer. I contribute to several publications, including the Christian Century. My first book, Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family came out in 2012. My second, Very Married: Field Notes on Love & Fidelity, will be published in September 2016. My studies as an English major - especially my poetry classes - were absolutely formative.

Kristy O'Hara, BS ’04 (Magazine News). I love Kent State and was more actively involved as an alumna until I moved to Washington state three years ago. The president visited last year, and it was a delight to get to know her and hear her vision for the university. I hear they're starting an alumni chapter here, so I look forward to meeting more Flashes as that grows.

Grace Dobush, BS ’05 (News Journalism). Grace Dobush is a freelance journalist based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in the past year has been published in Wired, Quartz, the Washington Post and the Economist. Last summer she spent three months reporting from Germany.

Lindsay Thatcher, BS ’05, MA ’06 (Speech Language Pathology and Audiology). I worked for Akron Children's Hospital for 8 years, taught 2 graduate courses in SLP at KSU, supervised KSU SLP graduate students for 7 years. Recently moved to Charlotte, NC to work for Carolina's Heathcare System and also recently became engaged to a wonderful man whom I met after moving to Charlotte.

Heather Griesbach, BS ’07 (Public Relations). My maiden name was Heather Bing-- I got married to my high school sweetheart, Brian Griesbach, in 2013. We moved to the Greater Seattle area in 2015 for professional opportunities.

Abby Kruszynski, BS ’09 (Hospitality Management). I work in higher education and feel very committed to colleges and universities.  I lived out of state for four years but recently returned to Cleveland and would be happy to be more involved. 

2010s

Amanda Zelezniak, BA ’10 (Sociology). I am happy and fulfilled as a mom, and I use my sociology and counseling knowledge ALL THE TIME. I currently serve on the executive board of a local non-profit organization.

Patrick Ho, BS ’11 (Integrated Life Sciences). I am currently a member of the executive board of the New Hampshire Psychiatric Society, the social chair of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock psychiatry residency program, and a member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's GME Learning Environment Subcommittee. I have also been a group leader in the Geisel Medical School at Dartmouth's scientific basis of medicine course, teaching second year medical students how to conduct patient interviews.

Aasim Soomro, BS ’11 (Integrated Life Sciences). Currently I am a second year medical student at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Middletown, New York. I am expected to graduate in 2019.

Trevor Sprague, BA ’11 (Education, Sociology Minor). Named 2014 Top 5 Under 45 in Ashtabula County.                                                                                                                                            

Lyana Brown, BA ’12 (Fashion Design). My company is based in Cleveland and we make custom clothing for people working in dangerous environments.

Kathryn Coduto, BS ’13 (Electronic Media), MA ’14 (Journalism, Mass Communication). I am already currently an adjunct faculty member in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching Research and Measurement in the advertising and PR track.

Julie Marchi, BS ’13 (Fashion Merchandising). I got married last September to a man I met, Francesco, while studying abroad. If not for Kent State taking me abroad, I never would have met my husband or the three women who are my best friends to this day. I, and the three other women, all had different majors, but met and became friends while at KSU and still talk every day. I can't say enough good things about our study away opportunities, the Fashion School, or Kent State as a whole. I loved my time there and hope that once our lives settle down, I will be able to contribute to or create a scholarship in conjunction with the Fashion School's Florence Program.

Jordan Michael, BA ’13 (Architectural Studies). I work for the zoning department of the town I have lived in my whole life, and the experience has been incredible so far (1.5 years)! I love my job and am thrilled that I was able to stay in Portage County.

Christine Crane, BFA ’14 (Ceramics). I am an older student and it was difficult being accepted by students/faculty at Kent State.  However, I was welcomed at the Honors College and I really appreciated that! Presently, I am in college working on my MFA in sculpting.  Someday I would like to donate towards scholarship for older women in the Honors College.  

Caitlin Davin, BSPH ’14 (Public Health). After I graduated, I spent a year with AmeriCorps VISTA. It was a very challenging experience, but overall, I think I learned a lot. Now, I'm working 2 part-time jobs before I start graduate school in the fall. If there are any honors students considering a term with VISTA, or any of the AmeriCorps programs, I'd be happy to chat with them about my experience.

Heather Eubank, BSE ’14 (Integrated Language Arts). If I lived in the area, I would definitely be more involved! It's a bit difficult, though, seeing as I'm on the other side of the country. Still, I wouldn't have felt nearly as satisfied with my education at KSU if I hadn't been in the Honors College. I loved every one of my honors courses! I wish I could have taken more. KSU is definitely in my thoughts for graduate school, though!

Alisha Cope, BS ’15 (Biology). I will be earning a medical degree as a doctor of osteopathic medicine from Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine in 2020. I will practice medicine as a commissioned officer with the US Air Force.

Benjamin Neiger, BS ’15 (Electronic Media). Since graduating in May, I worked as a freelance Technical Director for Fox on Indians games, and accepted an offer from ESPN shortly after.  Here at ESPN I have primarily been working as a Technical Director on SportsCenter as well as leading the technical directing effort for the re-launch of Mike and Mike this past month.