Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Jane Duffy ’02

Sarah Jane Duffy graduated in 2002 with a bachelor of science in agriculture. Her major, agricultural communication, prepared her for her career with the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) where she serves as a public information officer. 

[ACEL]: Hi Sarah! Tell us why did you select your major?

[Duffy]: It was important to me to have a bachelor of science. A degree in agricultural communication allowed me to pursue a communications and photojournalism focused curriculum while maintaining a science background.

Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?

When I was in 4th grade we took a field trip to the Ohio State farms on Sawmill Road – I was hooked. I immediately started telling anyone and everyone that I was going to study animal husbandry and breed horses when I grow up. In the end I chose Ohio State because it was the best fit for me educationally, athletically (I was on the cross country team my freshman year) and financially.

How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?

I always say I ended up at the other ODA. I had a strong interest in health and human sciences after abandoning my childhood dream of being a horse breeder. Between my major and my work with the Lantern, The Makio and Columbus Public Health (my internship) I was well prepared to enter the field of public information.

Share with us the student organizations and campus life activities in which you were involved.

It might be easier to list what the ones which I wasn’t involved. Sigma Alpha, FEAS Student Council, Saddle and Sirloin, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Beanie Drake Student Leader Endowment Fund, OSU cross country team, intramural hockey, Columbus Symphony Summer Series Board of Directors, photo editor of the Lantern, re-founding photo editor of the The Makio – Ohio State’s Yearbook, I worked at The Faculty Club, to name a few.

What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?

I enjoyed my laboratory class working on the Lantern the most. Rose Hume made a lasting impact on me. I also loved my fine art photography classes and spending time in the darkroom – back when we used to develop our own photos. Digital photography was just getting a foothold during my college years.

What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education?

Rose Hume, the Lantern staff advisor, and Dr. Sherrie Whaley, my advisor and professor, both made lasting impacts on my career development and guiding me along my education path. Dr. Zartman and Dean Moser also made a lasting impact on me and always made this city girl feel welcomed and appreciated.

What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State
How do you choose just one? Having my photos of Katy Smith’s number being retired picked up the AP. Showing my first heifer in the Little I. Jumping in Mirror Lake. The fear and excitement of cover the riots on campus that resulted in winning an award for our coverage and my images. My fondest memories are all the people with whom I connected and stay connect with to this day. How firm thy friendship isn’t just a line in my favorite song, it’s a very real way of life for us Buckeyes.

What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?

I have been with the Ohio Department of Aging since December 2002. When you are fortunate enough to make an impact on the lives of your fellow Ohioans and their communities, you just keep on doing what you love.

How have you stayed involved in your community outside of your career?
I am the president of the Young Buckeyes of Central Ohio. The social media chair for the Franklin County Alumni Club. I am still active with Sigma Alpha sorority and was named the Outstanding Sigma Alpha Alumna in 2015.

During your career, have you received any awards or honors? If so, what are those? Employee of the Quarter. We don’t participate in award competitions as it would not be a good use of taxpayer money. So, nothing of note to mention.

As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Meeting with and learning from the amazing older Ohioans I’ve had to pleasure to interact with throughout my career. I enjoy making a difference in lives of our elders as I work to empower them and strengthen our communities, by promoting active aging and positive attitudes toward aging.

What advice would you give to a current student?

Be engaged both in, and out of the the classroom. Many of the experiences and relationships I forged outside the classroom had the greatest impact on me and who I’ve become.

What did ACEL cultivate in you?

ACEL cultivated my ability to express myself not only visually, but in written and spoken word.

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