Alumni Life

Spring 2017
Mildred Dixon '44 photographed by Melanie Nesteruk ’18Mildred Dixon, DPM ’44

Mildred Dixon, DPM ’44, Tuskegee, Ala., celebrated her 100th birthday on September 7, 2016, the same day Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine (KSUCPM) celebrated its 100th anniversary. At the celebration, Dixon was presented with the Centennial Award in recognition of her many years of service to the field of podiatric medicine and her support of KSUPCPM. 

She blazed the trail for women and minorities in podiatric medicine in the post-war South. After being denied access to state and national associations of chiropodists, Dixon petitioned the national association and was given membership in 1949, which allowed her to practice podiatry in Alabama. 

In 1956, she was appointed as the first full-time female, African-American podiatrist at the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital, where she created the first podiatric residency in Alabama and established podiatry clinics at VA hospitals throughout Alabama. 

She was inducted into KSUCPM Hall of Fame in 2008, and she and her daughter, Denise, created The Dr. Mildred Dixon Endowed Scholarship for Podiatric Medicine in April 2016. For more information see

Photo courtesy of Jon Ridinger
Jon Ridinger, BS ’08, MA ’09

Singing the national anthem in a packed stadium is nothing new for Jon Ridinger, BS ’08, MA ’09, a Kent native who performed at the first game of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field for the Cleveland Indians against the Boston Red Sox in October. 

“It was absolutely exhilarating,” he says. “Being at Progressive Field when it was not only full, but full of emotion, was something else.”

Ridinger, who is a substitute teacher and works in guest services for the Cleveland Browns, began publicly singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1998 as a student at Kent Roosevelt High School. He then went on to sing at many Kent State athletic events.

“My education at Kent State gave me excellent vocal training and lots of experience,” says Ridinger. He had his major league debut in April 2011 after he had sent the Cleveland Indians a recording of a previous anthem performance and a month later was asked to sing at a game.

Since then, he’s been asked back to perform many times, and he also has sung the national anthem for other professional and minor league sports teams, including the Akron RubberDucks and the Cleveland Monsters. 

Ridinger says when he sings the anthem he feels a deep sense of patriotism and tries to perform the difficult song to the best of his ability.

We asked him to give those of us in the stands a few pointers so we can participate: 

It’s okay to sing along. If you want to sing, feel free to do so, whether the anthem is being played instrumentally or sung. As a performer, when I hear people singing along, that means they are comfortable with how I’m singing it. 

Check the scoreboard for the lyrics. While I believe we all should know the words to our national anthem by heart, I realize not everyone does, for a variety of reasons. If that is the case, usually the lyrics will be displayed on the main scoreboard or an auxiliary one. 

It’s okay to hum, too. If you just don’t feel like singing, there’s nothing wrong with humming along either. Of course, you can also apply that if you happen to forget the words!

Do your best. Don’t let the range of the notes deter you. While “The Star-Spangled Banner” is certainly not the easiest song in the world to sing, it is well within most people’s ranges. 

Adapted from an article by Kate Schwanke ’17 that first appeared in e-Flash. 


Connect with alumni online! The Kent State Alumni Association is debuting a new alumni speaker series, FlashChats, this spring. You can watch each 30-minute interactive storytelling session with an alum through Facebook Live video on your computer, phone or tablet ( Featured speakers will touch on their time at Kent State University, talk about their career and personal accomplishments, offer professional advice and answer your questions.

April 11, 2017 
Lauren Lee, BS ’02 

Associate Producer, CNN, Atlanta, GA

April 25, 2017 
Todd Mesek, BS ’90

Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, OH

FlashChats series run from 12:30 to 1 p.m. EST. See for more information.

Kent State alumni and friends pack boxes of food at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in 2016.Alumni Day of Service

More than 300 Kent State alumni and friends helped communities across the country in 2016. They prepared almost 20,000 meals, created activities for nursing home residents, relocated plants at a zoo, walked dogs at shelters and much more.

Eric Zupansky, BBA ’03, Cleveland alumni area representative, coordinated a “Day of Service” event at the Greater Cleveland Foodbank’s community food distribution center. He and his team of 15 other Golden Flashes and friends were part of an assembly line to build, weigh and gather together boxes of food for around 900 families. 

“It was awesome seeing how many generations of Kent State alumni came together to make a difference in the greater Cleveland area,” Zupansky says. “Everyone was sharing stories!” 

The group is coming together again at this year’s Alumni Day of Service on Saturday, April 29, and they welcome more area alumni to take part in the fun.

In addition to Cleveland, service sites are planned throughout Ohio, as well as across the country—and, for the first time, around the globe, with a site in Jordan.

Service sites include:

Akron, OH (3 locations) Akron Canton Regional Food Bank, Haven of Rest, Akron Zoo
Amman, Jordan Mother Teresa Amman Center
Beachwood, OH The Gathering Place
Cleveland, OH (3 locations) Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland and Association of African American Cultural Gardens
Columbus, OH Camp Mary Orton
Canton, OH (2 locations) Save a Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue and Stark Parks
Kent, OH Habitat for Humanity Restore
Los Angeles, CA Amigos de Los Rios
Newbury, OH Lake-Geauga Habit for Humanity Restore
New Philadelphia, OH Friends of the Homeless/Pathways to Wellness
Painesville, OH Lake County Historical Society
Phoenix, AZ Phoenix Zoo
Pittsburgh, PA Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium
Raleigh, NC Neighbor to Neighbor 
Ravenna, OH Loaves and Fishes
San Francisco, CA San Francisco Food Bank
Washington, DC Food & Friends
Wooster, OH Habitat for Humanity Restore 

Join Us!

To volunteer for the Alumni Day of Service on April 29, call 888-320-5368 or visit for a complete list of service sites. 

Send Us Your Class Note

We’d love to hear from you! 

To share your news, complete the form at (you may include an image in JPEG, GIF or PNG format) or write Kent State University Alumni Association, Center for Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242.

Limit your notes to 100 words or less and include your class year, city, state and degree(s). Notes may be edited for length or clarity and published as space allows.

Deadlines for submissions:
Fall: March 31
Winter: July 31
Spring: November 30

Back to Spring 2017

Updated: Friday, August 2, 2019 10:54 AM