ACEL Distinguished Senior: Allyson Irwin

Ally Irwin is a senior studying community leadership with a minor in organizational communication. Hailing from Wheelersburg, Ohio, Ally is a graduate of Jackson High School. She is one of 14 seniors from the Department of Agricultural Communication, Educational, and Leadership to be named an ACEL Distinguished Senior.

Why did you choose the major of community leadership?
It took me a few tries before I got my major right. I was really struggling with my course load and wasn’t interested in the content of the classes I was taking at the time. After browsing the CFAES website, and numerous advising appointments, I found community leadership and knew it was right for me. I was always involved in organizations, clubs, and leadership in high school. It’s the one consistent thing I have been passionate about since I started my educational journey. I love learning theories about change, development, and leadership, and putting them into action.

Why did you choose to become a Buckeye?
I had only ever imagined going to Ohio State growing up. I applied to several colleges as a high school senior but stopped opening admissions letter after finding out I was accepted to Ohio State! My brother is a year older than me and also chose to attend OSU. He’s in the marching band.

What have been some of your favorite courses at Ohio State?
I truly enjoyed all of my core classes for my major. Some of those included: Foundations in Personal and Professional Leadership, Leading Teams and Organizations, Community Development in Practice, and Leadership for Community Change.

What have you been involved with as a student on campus?
Throughout my time at Ohio State, I have volunteered for the OWL program (Ohio State Welcome Leader), Empower Sports, and BuckeyeThon. I also became a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).

The Ohio StateWelcome Leader (OWL) program provides opportunities for residence hall students who value leadership and helping others to participate in the residence hall move in process. Empower Sports aims to harness the power of competition and teamwork in sports to build self-confidence and interpersonal skills of children with autism. The mission of BuckeyeThon is to create awareness and raise funds for children with cancer. The society is an organization that helps people discover and achieve their goals. It serves as a powerful force of good in the greater community by encouraging organizing action to better the world.

Share your internship and outside education experiences.
I have been an academic coach at Ohio State’s Dennis Learning Center (DLC). Being an academic coach at the DLC has proven to be the second most pivotal decision I have made at Ohio State, right behind changing my major to community leadership. I struggled immensely as an incoming freshman. I was taking too many credit hours and the wrong combination of classes. Luckily, I was enrolled in a DLC sponsored course on self-regulated learning and study strategies. The instructor noticed how well I was doing in the class and asked me if I’d be interested in coaching. I have held this job for almost three years. I help consult with students on their test taking, motivation, academic stress, study skills, and more. This job has encouraged me to pursue a career in higher education as well as other positions with consulting roles.

I’m currently a communication and programs fellow with Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. This is my newest job. Because of my upbringing and other experiences, I’ve become super passionate about advocating for education and leadership opportunities for those within Appalachian Communities. FAO serves 32 counties in Ohio and their mission is to bridge the philanthropic gap by supporting nonprofits.

I was also a premium experience intern for the Columbus Blue Jackets and a campus ambassador for the National Society of Leadership and Success.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to further my education and get a master’s in business administration. I would also like to get another advanced degree in either organizational development, psychology, or leadership. Eventually, I would like to come back and work in higher education.

Why should someone consider your major?
Someone else should consider my major because it is extremely versatile and informative no matter the context in which it’s used. ACEL also provides exceptional resources and even better support systems. My advisor, Dr. Rodriguez, became the best role model, mentor, and teacher.

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