Student experiences part of learning

Professor Ozeas Costa helps research student Stephanie Brokaw collect a soil  sample from a vernal pool on the Mansfield campus.

Professor Ozeas Costa helps research student Stephanie Brokaw collect a soil
sample from a vernal pool on the Mansfield campus.

The Ohio State University at Mansfield believes that student experiences outside the classroom are just as important as the learning that goes on within. From research to internships, arts to athletics, and from studying abroad to leadership opportunities in campus clubs, students can choose the experiences that will provide personal development and prepare them for careers.

“Getting involved in activities outside the classroom gives them a sense of community and place,” says Donna Hight, Chief Student Life and Retention Officer. “They begin to realize college is a good fit for them. It’s where they belong.”

Stephanie Brokaw, a sophomore at Ohio State Mansfield, was selected for an Undergraduate Education Summer Research Fellowship. With mentoring from Earth Sciences Professor Ozeas Costa, the Pharmaceutical Sciences major is analyzing the wetlands and vernal pools on campus to identify the organic matter and carbonate content.

“It’s nice that we have a campus that already has wetlands and a professor who wanted to do the research,” Brokaw said. “The experience of gathering information, seeing what other researchers are doing and learning to use the computer programs that are involved for research and data collection has been invaluable.”

Two other current students will use their leadership skills to form a women’s support group on campus this fall, inspired by several speakers from a recent conference.

Senior Tiffany Tilley and sophomore Maris Bucci attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the University of Maryland in June. It was the first time students from the Mansfield campus participated in the conference, according to Donna Hight, Chief Student Life and Retention Officer.

“The women there were phenomenal. They were so high-spirited, outspoken strong women,” Bucci said. “It was awesome being a part of that and sharing it with other people who had similar interests as me.” Bucci is a self-described “involvement activist.” She is a Buckeye Ambassador, Campus Activity Board secretary, member of the Mansfield Mavericks volleyball team, president of Student Government, Camp Hetuck facilitator and is working at Buckeye Village as a leasing consultant.

Tilley is also training to be a Junior Admissions Counselor in the fall. She has been part of the Haiti Empowerment Project study-abroad for two years and was a Buckeye Ambassador.

Ohio State Mansfield connects students with paid internships in surrounding communities, too. Jessica Luna, an Accounting major, is a Human Resources Intern at OhioHealth MedCentral this summer. She provides a variety of duties for the director and vice president as well as participating in project development related to MedCentral’s integration with OhioHealth.

“I think it’s unique that our students have the opportunity to intern locally with a Fortune 100 company like OhioHealth MedCentral (ranked in the top 100 Best Companies to Work For by Fortune),” said Tracy Bond, Internship Program coordinator.

“Jessica’s internship is a road she’s taken to test the waters in key areas of her interests in the business field that may lead her to pursue specific paths in her academics and career.  The company culture and experiences she is having are invaluable and may open up doors for her in the future.”

Susan Delagrange: Digital Pioneer and Professor

SONY DSC

Her path to premier scholarship is not what one might call a traditional one. After earning her MFA in English, from Akron in 1971, Susan Delagrange went on to pursue a career as an architectural painter. A chance phone call almost 20 years later, would take her from painter to pioneer in an emerging field.

“Interestingly enough, I came to Ohio State Mansfield by accident,” laughs Dr. Susan Delagrange, “A friend called to say that the campus needed somebody to teach a first year writing course.” Dr. Delagrange joined the staff at Ohio State Mansfield in  1994 as Writing Center Director and Administrator of the First Year Writing program in 1996. Shortly after she began, she made a choice that would change everything. She took a course.

“It had been almost 30 years since I had done University teaching and I thought I would go back and take a course or two to refresh me on new ways of looking at and teaching of writing and rhetoric.” She notes, “And I’m afraid I was hooked. I applied to a graduate program and received my Ph.D. in 2005.”

Dr. Delagrange achieved a Ph. D. in English with specialization in rhetoric and composition. She moved from an instructor to become a member of Ohio State’s tenure track faculty and began to explore the area of digital rhetoric, which is writing created and distributed in digital mediums.

Shortly after joining Ohio State’s faculty, Dr. Delagrange set out on a unique project. The project was focused on rhetoric and the digital “I wrote it off and on for four years.” she notes, “As I was writing it, I knew that it was different from other things that I had read on the topic of visual of visual inquiry and argument. When I became a faculty member, I decided that I was not going to put off this digital project – this idea that we can use visual argument in a way that is as rigorous and valid as we argue with words.”

The study was new, and, in fact, the newly minted professor feared it might be too new.  Delagrange explains, “One of the problems images have always had is people think, ‘Well, it is an emotional argument, and therefore’ And yet it is. It can be and that is what I set out to prove.”

That apprehension was not to last long. Portions of work were presented as conference papers and were met with widespread enthusiasm. When her research was compiled into a digital book entitled Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World,  it was not just good by the field’s standards, it considered by many to be ground-breaking. “This is a rich, smart text and a delightful read;” reviewed Dànielle DeVoss, professor of rhetoric at Michigan State University, “It will offer much for us to wrestle with, consider, and attempt to enact in the coming years, as the field’s understandings of and approaches to visual rhetoric become ever more nuanced.”

Experts in the field have also taken notice. The book received Computers and Composition’s 2012 Distinguished Book Award, and The Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award from The Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. In March, the book earned the 2013 Conference on College Composition and Communication Outstanding Book Award, which is considered the top award for scholarship.

In addition to her research, Dr. Delagrange also teaches students to produce visual arguments and how to analyze them. Her students on the Mansfield campus enjoy courses that are, in part, studio courses. In addition to writing essays and research papers, students find themselves producing public service announcements, and digital documentaries, and other digital projects.

When asked about the best part of her work. Dr. Delagrange is quick to respond. “ It may be cliché to say ‘the people,’ but I love the students at Mansfield. It’s one of the reasons that I stayed when I earned my Ph.D. I decided that the student population had been such fun to work with for the previous 15 years that I wanted to stay. Ohio State Mansfield is a great place to teach young men and women.”