Alumni Spotlight – Mindy Derr

Hello there Buckeyes!  It’s time to feature another wonderful alumnus from your ranks for this quarter’s Alumni Spotlight!

This time our spotlight is Mindy Derr, an avid philanthropist who founded and now serves as advisor for OhioHealth Fore Hope.  Fore Hope is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that uses golf as an instrument for therapy designed to improve the lives of persons living with neurological and cognitive disorders.  Through this organization, which Mindy founded in 1989, countless numbers of patrons have reaped the therapeutic benefits of golf and had their lives forever changed by Mindy’s vision.

Mindy Derr – Community Advocate and Founder/Consultant, Fore Hope (OhioHealth Fore Hope) (1981 – BA, Communications)

 

My advice for anyone, regardless of their career path, would be to follow their dreams and their mission. Go for it, give it all you’ve got, and don’t refuse the calling on your life. Don’t stomp on anyone else’s dreams along the way, either. Be wise about everything. Specifically, if you would like to begin a career in the world of community advocacy and nonprofit, make sure that you surround yourself with people who can support your mission. Be sure that you have a circle that include people who know about taxes and accounting, that you’re building a succession plan, and more. Begin with the end in mind, and be smart enough to know that you cannot possibly know everything.

 

Alumni Spotlight – Meet Kwame Christian

Hey there Buckeyes! It’s time again for a new Alumni Spotlight!  This time around, we are featuring attorney, author, podcast extraordinaire, and all-around great guy, Kwame Christian.  Check out his information below, and get to know this one of a kind Buckeye.

Kwame Christian, Esq.
Best-Selling Author and Director of the American Negotiation Institute
(2010, BA – Psychology; 2013, MA – Public Administration; 2013 – Juris Doctorate)

What brought you to Ohio State?

I actually chose Ohio State because I am from a really small town, and I decided that when I went to college, I wanted to experience something different from what I was used to.  I’m from Tippin, OH which has a population of about 20,000 people, and Ohio State has a population of more than twice that.  Even though the thought process wasn’t all that great, I am glad that I chose OSU, because it was the best experience for me.

How did your experiences at OSU help shape your career path?

I had a lot of great mentors coming through school, which is something that I have always found to be very beneficial.  I got a great education, and also was positioned around people who were willing to invest in me.  My best mentor was a woman named Patty Cunningham, who made a huge impact on me because she would not accept my excuses – she would always push me to do better.  The fact that there were people here who cared enough about me to help shape the path after I left was instrumental for me.

What advice do you have for any students or alumni who may be considering your career path?

My career path is a bit unorthodox – I started out in psychology, and then went into law, where I practiced for a few years prior to starting The American Negotiation Institute.  Really, negotiation is a way for me to get back to my love of psychology.   So what I would suggest to others is to pursue their passion and follow their interests.  When I was doing law, my clients were happy and I was doing well, but I wasn’t very interested in the material – I was always interested in psychology.  So, looking back at my career, it is very much me taking incremental steps back to what I love doing.  The benefit is that, when you’re doing what you really, really love doing, you can tap into boundless energy. Now I am able to create great content and work on awesome presentations because I really just love what I do.  

Alumni Spotlight – Colonel Ken Kmetz

Hey all!  We are back again to spotlight another one of our distinguished Buckeye alumni.  Our newest feature is Colonel Kenneth Kmetz, a 1998 graduate of the MAnsfield Campus of The Ohio State.   Colonel Kmetz graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, while serving in the Air National Guard.  He has now ascended the ranks to the position of Maintenance Group Commander of the 179th Airlift Wing, and he remains a proud Buckeye, through and through!

  1. What brought you to OSU?

Upon enlistment in the Ohio Air National Guard and at my swearing in – where you take an oath to the President of the United States and the Governor of Ohio that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United State and the state of Ohio – I immediately became eligible for a full scholarship to state based institutions.  This is a state of Ohio benefit, as the state realizes the value of having and supporting their “home town/state Air Force and Army National Guard.”  Airmen and soldiers are also eligible for federal benefits that augment the state benefits.  Essentially, we have the opportunity to graduate from college debt free, better for having been a part of something bigger than ourselves, and ready to contribute as a Citizen-Airman.  Knowing this, I chose The Ohio State University because, in my opinion, it is the best university.  OSU provided great traditions, academic excellence, and for me, a regional campus that would allow me to work full time while earning my education.  I graduated from OSU-Mansfield and received the same great education as if I were at main campus.  Go Bucks!

  1. How did your experience at OSU shape your career path?

OSU taught me to learn, to research, and to challenge myself. My time there provided me with the opportunity to compete for a commission (or, become an officer) in the Ohio National Guard.  The things I learned at Ohio State enabled me to grow in the profession of arms.  That profession happens to be as an Ohio Guardsman where I am surrounded by other “Buckeyes.”  I could be in a formation anywhere in the state and hear an “O-H!” followed by an “I-O!”  Ohio State is a part of the culture of Ohio.  I am one Buckeye – a small part of a much larger whole.  Being a part of the National Guard gives me that same feeling, but on a much larger scale.  Here, I serve as a small piece of something so much bigger than myself, and yet somehow, I am not lost in it. I feel valued and realize that what I do is critical to the big picture — defending our nation, our neighbors, and freedom loving people across the globe.

  1. What advice or insight do you have for OSU alumni and students who are interested in your career field?

I have touched on a couple points already that make my career path special, especially as a “Buckeye” working as an Ohio Guardsman.  I am proud to serve and it is an honor and a privilege to serve our great state and nation.  The military has a public trust that is unmatched across career paths.  If you are in uniform in public, people routinely come up to you and thank you for your service.  It is very humbling to say the least; I typically respond by thanking them for their support as well, and recognizing that we cannot do what we do without them.  One of my former commanders pointed out how citizens in some countries run from the military — here, they run to the military.  Less than one percent of the US population is in the military — an all-volunteer force that has been at war for decades.  It is a special place to be with a special mission and opportunities to grow, advance, learn, and provide something back to your community.  If you have the desire to join, you will need to be diligent, ready for a challenge, and give your best — your country deserves nothing less.

Alumni Spotlight – Meet Helen Swank

Helen Swank

Eventually I came to realize that I wanted to build upon my undergraduate degree. When I returned to Ohio State, my supervisor allowed me to design my own unique graduate program. I turned to the departments of physics, speech and hearing science and the medical school to study acoustics, anatomy, engineering and more. I was a teaching assistant in the performance division and my advisor provided great freedom as I developed my thesis. The department of music asked me to stay on as a faculty member, but there was a lot to consider. I was married while I was in college and, by graduate school, had three small children at home. I wasn’t able to accept the opportunity right away. I continued my choral work, private teaching and cared for my mother for a year before the university offered the faculty role once more, on the schedule of my choosing. I taught in music education, in the performance division and chaired the voice performance area.

Go outside the box. The degree programs are wonderful, as is the option of independent study. Choose your academic courses judiciously and learn what you might not be getting in a regular program because it’s going to be important to you! I tell my grandchildren and great grandchildren that if the door opens, stick your foot in. Things happen unexpectedly and there’s a reason sometimes that they do. That opportunity is the opening to the next step, and the next. You won’t know where you’re going to end up, but it doesn’t matter. It will be all right, and very exciting.

The Helen Swank Research and Teaching Lab in the department of vocal music is a world-renowned learning center for Ohio State’s Specialization in Singing Health and voice pedagogy programs. She served as president of Phi Kappa Phi and as head of the voice performance area for 13 of the 25 years that she taught on campus. As two time recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award and recipient of the School of Music’s Distinguished Service Award, she has made a distinct mark on The Ohio State University and the field of voice science and research.