Mikes Family Establishes Endowed Scholarship in Memory of Their Son Timothy Mikes
CPH graduate student's legacy will live on through helping others.
Timothy Mikes was a CPH graduate student committed to public health, and a champion for the autistic community and students with learning disabilities. Future public health students will follow in his footsteps, thanks to a scholarship established in his honor. Mikes’ parents, Gerri and Tom, created an endowment to establish the Timothy Mikes College of Public Health Memorial Scholarship in memory of their son, who unexpectedly passed away in January 2023.
“Tim was a passionate advocate for learning disabled students, and he had an innate ability to connect with, understand, and support others. His career goal was to become a public health professional in epidemiology and work in research, designing programs to address the increasing public health issues in the general population. Tim’s happiest day was when he was accepted into the Master’s program in the College of Public Health. For this reason, my husband and I, along with our son, Thomas, created a memorial scholarship to keep his memory and his passion alive,” said Gerri Mikes.
Mikes, a 2010 graduate of Canfield High School, was drawn to Kent State University after meeting Lisa Audet, Ph.D., assistant professor in speech pathology and audiology at Kent State while she was presenting as the keynote speaker at a national conference on autism. Mikes originally came to Kent State Salem as a nursing student, but transferred to Kent campus after meeting Audet and changing his focus to public health which soon became his passion. He began advocating for enhanced resources on behalf of the autistic community while pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH).
While taking undergraduate classes, Mikes worked for his family’s business conducting data-driven research and other special projects. He graduated with his BSPH with honors in 2017. Following graduation, he worked as a counselor for autistic patients and as a ward clerk at Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital while attending graduate school. “Wherever he worked, he was acutely aware of other people’s feelings and made them feel at-ease and noticed. He had a personality that would light up a room and an off-the-wall sense of humor that would make people laugh. Everyone loved Timmy,” Gerri Mikes said.
“Tim was special. He was a high achieving, bright student who enjoyed discussing important public health topics, getting involved, and striving toward his career goals,” said Melissa Zullo, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and interim associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the College of Public Health, and Mikes’ former professor and advisor. “While in the MPH program, Tim volunteered with many COVID-19 events at KSU including testing and contact tracing. He embodied the Flashes Take Care of Flashes mantra,” said Zullo.
“Tim's enthusiasm for public health was unmatched. We would talk for hours and discuss the intricacies of public health. Tim asked question after question. His thoughtfulness in providing solutions to public health and improving quality of life was exceptional, and I learned so much from him," said Jeff Hallam, Ph.D., professor, associate dean for Research and Global Affairs at the College of Public Health, and director of the Healthy Communities Research Institute.
“With the establishment of the Timothy Mikes College of Public Health Memorial Scholarship, the Mikes family has created the largest student scholarship at the college, and I am deeply grateful. I look forward to meeting future Timothy Mikes scholars and seeing their impact on public health for decades to come,” said Sonia Alemagno, dean at the College of Public Health.
The Mikes family has deep ties to Kent State University. In fact, Gerri and Tom Mikes met at Kent State and got engaged at the Rock on front campus in 1972. They were both at Kent State during the May 4 demonstrations. After graduation, they got married and worked hard to establish their successful companies and a loving family, including their two sons, Timothy and Thomas.
“We are proud of Tim and his accomplishments, overcoming the many difficulties he faced throughout his life,” said Gerri Mikes. “He will be cherished as a loving, sensitive, selfless, and gentle soul who cared passionately for people and who worked to find solutions to better their lives. Bringing this scholarship to students in the College of Public Health is a perfect way to remember and memorialize him.”
Timothy Mikes passed away unexpectedly at the age of 31 on January 28, 2023. He was awarded a posthumous Master of Public Health in May 2023 with his family there to accept his degree. If you would like to support the Timothy Mikes College of Public Health Memorial Scholarship, donations can be made through our website.