Meet the 2021 TOPS Graduates

Griffin Kondracke- Griffin has received some good experience working as an aide in the gym teachers classroom and assisting with recess duty at St. Mary’s Catholic School. Previously he worked at the Jewish Community Center helping kids with snack time, crafts and supervising free play. He has also had internships at the RPAC, the James Cancer Hospital, H2O Recovery, and the Nisonger Dental Clinic. His favorite internship was working at the RPAC because he got to work with a lot of great kids that were his own age. During his time at OSU, Griffin took classes such as Astrology, Theatre, History, and Health. His favorite class was his theatre class because he enjoyed playing the roles that he was assigned. He also was involved in clubs such as Buckeye Olympics, and volunteered his time at community service organizations such as the food bank and the soup kitchen. Griffin has accepted a job working in Gahanna at a summer camp working with kids! He hopes to be a teacher’s aide for Pre-K children in the future. Griffin would like to thank all the members of the TOPS team as he will miss the staff and the friends that he made very much!

Zach Watts- Zach has had multiple internship experiences at OSU including working at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a PT/OT aide, working at the Early Child Learning program, and working at COSI as an outreach education/animal care specialist and Dino exhibit intern. Zach has been working for a couple of years at the National Veterans Memorial Museum as well. While at OSU, his favorite internship has been working at COSI because he loved interacting with the kids. Zach has taken classes such as American Jewish History, History of WW2, Solar System, and Planet Earth. His favorite class was his American Jewish History class because he liked the professor and loved how intricately she put all of the terms and phrases together from the class. He has been involved in multiple clubs at OSU including the Buckeyes Assemble, Marvel, and Disney Club. He has also been involved in community service events, and loved going to Chicago on a Buck-I-Serv trip to assist at risk kids with homework. He just accepted a paid position as a front desk associate at the National Veterans Memorial Museum! He is experienced in greeting visitors, assisting with tours and providing details about the history of the museum. His main areas of career interest lie in museum education, so this is a great fit for Zach!

LaMont Swift-LaMont has had multiple internship experiences while at OSU including working in the Nisonger Dental Clinic, working at the RPAC, the HRS (Health and Rehabilitation Sciences) building, the Habitat for Humanity Restore, OSU Air Force ROTC store, and Goodwill. He has been working for Goodwill for several years now as a paid employee. He helps in the donation center and is responsible for training new employees. His favorite internship experience was working with the Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) because he had an opportunity to learn how the cadets trained and prepared themselves. They were all very welcoming and took the time to train him as well. LaMont has taken multiple classes including Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Construction Management, Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, Art and Politics of Hip Hop, Construction Safety and Health, and Personal Finance. His favorite class was his Art and Politics of Hip-Hop because he loves music, loves making his own beats, and appreciated learning about the culture and the community building ability of hip-hop. LaMont has also been involved in clubs such as BuckeyeThon, African American Voices Gospel Choir, and Black Student Association. He specifically loved BuckeyeThon because of the dance marathon, and it warmed his heart to be able to raise money for kids with cancer and to see them dancing and having fun at the event. He also loved being able to serve the homeless at the Manna Cafe. LaMont will continue working as a paid employee at Goodwill for the immediate future. His ultimate goal is to work in the construction/construction management field.

Lena Meerman- Lena has several years of experience in sterilization and wants to continue in the field of dental or surgical sterilization after TOPS. Her most recent internship was at the Ohio State East Hospital in the Central Sterile Supply Department where she was responsible for unloading the instrument belt, scanning barcodes and putting away instrument trays based on surgery type, and putting sterilized case cart containers away. She recently interviewed for a position at Grandview Dental Care to perform tasks such as instrument sterilization, room turnover, tray preparation and patient interaction. Lena is a team player and loves working with other people and helping them out. She is currently still looking for work and would love to find a job in the dental or surgical sterilization field!


Griffin Kondracke

Zach Watts

LaMont Swift

Lena Meerman

Student Spotlight: Meet Quinn Young

Quinn is a freshman in the TOPS program at OSU. He is roommates with fellow first year John Wood, and lives on campus at Pennsylvania Place. He is part of the first class of TOPS students to live on campus!

Quinn has a lot of interest in Zoology, and anything dealing with working with animals. He specifically loves lions.

He currently works at Barks and Rec which is a doggy daycare business. His daily job consists of cleaning up after the dogs, helping feed them, bathing them, and playing ball with them. His favorite part of the job is giving the dogs baths because he is really good at it. He really enjoys working there because the people he works with are really nice.

Quinn’s favorite class that he has taken at OSU so far is his Human Animal Interaction class with Dr. George.

He says so far at OSU he has learned a lot about human health and gaining  independent living skills. He loves being part of a team and getting to know his classmates and teachers better.

 He loves watching movies and his favorite movie is Lion King (specifically the live version). He also likes to do artwork and color. 

Some interesting facts about Quinn are that he grew up on a farm in Colorado and his parents run their own winery. He loves to go to the zoo to see the lion exhibit, as well as the gorillas and elephants. Quinn even got to ride an elephant in Thailand a couple years ago!

Quinn riding an elephant with his younger brother!

TOPS Pizza Night Recap (4/16/21)

For TOPS Pizza night that took place on April 16th, TOPS mentors and students were tasked with determining their favorite local pizza place! The decision was between Sicilia’s and Tommy’s pizza, both which have convenient locations that are close to campus. We sampled the cheese pizza from both locations, and we had a nearly unanimous decision in favor of Sicilia’s! It was the group’s verdict that Sicilia’s cheese pizza had an overall better flavor, and many seemed to be in favor of the Sicilian style crust. After some minor research, we found that what sets Sicilian pizza apart is the extra time given for the dough to rise which results in a softer and more flavorful crust!

Some differences between our two pizza’s was that Tommy’s cut their pizza in squares. Now, many may not be in favor of this technique, however an added benefit is the additional pieces that are available. This stands in contrast to Sicilia’s pizza, which is sliced into 8 pieces, no matter the size of pizza that is ordered. Also, as mentioned, Sicilia’s crust was more flavorful compared to the traditional thin crust of Tommy’s pizza. However, in all regards, both pizzas were spectacular! As a final note, because of its location, Sicilia’s pizza may be a pizza place that you have not seen or heard of before. For your reference, Sicilia’s is located just off north campus, on Frambes Ave. just a short walk off of high street. Overall, pizza night was a great time to meet some new people, socialize more with old friends, and try some really great pizza! Thank you for all that attended!

-TOPS mentor Lindsey Overmeyer

Leisure Participation Study for Adults with Autism

Recruitment Announcement:

Leisure participation is key in physical and mental wellbeing, social inclusion, independence, self-worth, and quality of life. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Temple University are recruiting adults with autism who live alone or independently with roommate(s). This study examines the types and frequency of leisure activities that individuals with autism do in their free time during the day. Those enrolled may be compensated up to $65 for participating in this study.

Study Flyer:

TOPS Community Service Event-Campus Clean Up

Last weekend (Sunday) Tops Mentor Sam Backiewicz hosted a Campus Clean up event for the TOPS students in honor of the upcoming Earth Day.

Most of the TOPS students really enjoyed it and they filled 60 garbage bags between the 9 people!

Great Job guys! This may just have to become a yearly event.

Nisonger Institute 2021 – Scarcity of Medical Resources: Racial and Disability Equity 5.21.21

Free Webinar!!

Good Morning all, Happy Monday! The image below is hyperlinked to the Zoom webinar registration but you can also find panelist bios and details at

TOPS Employer Testimonial-OSU Dining Services

At The Ohio State University, we are part of the Office of Student Life, Dining Services and we provide the Meal Plan for our Students who live in Campus Housing, Commute or need a place to eat on campus. Our mission is to support students’ and the university community’s educational experience by consistently delivering authentic service and extraordinary food. Students assist our Culinary team with food preparation and service. TOPS students have also learned how to assist with our convenience store and receiving deliveries, stocking of product and building student guests orders for pick-up.

This school year in 2020-2021, we have hired 6 TOPS students working in Traditions at Scott (3), Traditions at Kennedy (1), Connecting Grounds C-Store (1) and Traditions at Morrill C-Store (1)

We always need an extra set of hands in the busy service industry. They help us with daily food prep, stocking shelves and provide an opportunity for our Managers and Student employees to train and work with a diverse group of people.

Example of a TOPS student going above and beyond in the workplace:

“Matt Paulin is one of our TOPS students and I am always amazed by his great attitude and ability to make other student employees, line cooks, and guests alike laugh and dance together when he likes a song that is playing. It’s not a task that is quite related to work but it definitely keeps the mood positive at the station he is working at!”

 TOPS is a great program that has definitely added value to our team, and it has added resources and support to provide great service and food.

-Annette Misenko, Assistant Director of Operations, Student Life Dining Services

TOPS student Finn Gott bagging cookies at dining hall.

TOPS student Matthew Walsh unwrapping boxes.

TOPS student Matt Paulin serving up sandwiches.

TOPS Social Event: Paint Party Recap (4/13)

This semester TOPS has had a very good partnership with Dr. Walton’s Psych 4571 practicum students. They have worked with TOPS students on activities such as navigating the involvement fair to join organizations or clubs, being a workout buddy, doing 1 on 1 activities such as cooking lessons, planning social events, planning community service events, etc. We want to thank our practicum pair up volunteers for all they have done for the TOPS program this semester!

On Tuesday, practicum students from Dr. Walton’s Psych 4571 class Ellena Yohannes and Grace Stuart volunteered to set up a social event for the TOPS students.  TOPS student Finn Gott joined the event for a stress relieving paint party before the end of the semester.

It was a successful event that produced some good paintings and good conversation!

Finn with one of his paintings!

TOPS University Village (UV) OPEN House

Dear TOPS Families and Students –

University Village (UV) has been a housing partner with the OSU TOPS Program for several years!

Now is your opportunity to see it for yourself! Come join us at the University Village Open House on April 17, 2021 at 1pm.

Please see the attached flyer for the details and information on how to RSVP.

Even if apartment living is not your preference at this time, now is a chance to start exploring it.

I encourage you ALL to join us to learn more about University Village and what they have to offer.

For those of you joining the program, this may be a great opportunity to plan to meet roommates and see apartments.

So we can plan appropriately please RSVP on the Eventbrite link included in the flyer.

Too Far to travel?  Join us Via Zoom!

University Village is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: TOPS Open House!

Time: Apr 17, 2021 01:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 988 4033 5846