Student Spotlight: Kristen

Our Student Spotlight today is Kristen, a 2nd year in the TOPS Program. Kristen’s career interests include advocating for individuals with disabilities, inclusion, and marketing. On campus, she is involved with Young Life College, and she has also made friends in other faith-based organizations on campus. Her favorite class that she’s taken so far is Foundations of Personal and Professional Leadership.

“My favorite part of the TOPS program is that I get to interact with variety of students and that the TOPS staff sees our disabilities as a good thing. It’s a really positive environment,” she said. She continued, “I just feel really cared for, because they help you find job opportunities that interest you. They take your input into consideration, and I feel heard in this program.”

Kristen’s secret to college success is to reach out to your friends. “It’s not like high school where it’s easy and you see your friends all of the time. You have to advocate to see people.” Her other tip was, “if you commute from off-campus, get to your classes before rush hour so you aren’t stuck in traffic!”

Kristen’s favorite part about being an Ohio State student is seeing people around campus. She said she sees people she knows several times a day from Young Life and her hometown. She has several favorite TOPS memories, including working with her Educational Coaches and going to the Multiple Perspectives Conference, where she enjoyed spending time with TOPS students from other cohorts.

If she could travel anywhere, she said she would choose to go to Malibu Club (a Young Life camp in British Columbia), to Bitty & Beau’s coffee shop, or to meet Bob Goff. When asked whether she would want to scuba dive, skydive, or bungee jump, she said she’d definitely choose bungee jumping!

The TOPS Staff want to recognize Kristen for her positive outlook and outgoing personality. Keep up the great work, Kristen!

World Kindness Day


Today is World Kindness Day! We encourage you to engage in a random act of kindness. Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggestions from

  • Send someone an encouraging text to let them know you are thinking about them
  • Surprise a friend with coffee (or hot chocolate!)
  • Compliment three people
  • FaceTime a relative or friend you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Write a thank you note to someone who has helped you recently
  • Donate a book you’ve finished to the Little Free Library (
  • Ask to purchase the food/coffee of someone behind you in the drive-thru line
  • Donate old blankets (or tennis balls!) to the local animal shelter
  • Get CPR certified
  • Make dinner for your parents or friends
  • Leave an encouraging note on the bathroom mirror
  • Take your spare change jar to a Coinstar and donate the amount you’ve collected to a cause that is important to you

Every small act of kindness counts – make a difference today!

Volunteer Spotlight: Abbey

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is Abbey, who has been volunteering as an Educational Coach for three semesters now. When she isn’t spending time with TOPS, she is studying Health Sciences and Disability Studies. She is also involved with Kappa Alpha Theta, CHAARG, Future Buckeye Physician Assistants, and Campus Outreach. Abbey loves Ohio State football and is an enthusiastic Buckeye fan. She first got involved with TOPS because she has a passion for working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. So far, her favorite class that she has helped with as an educational coach is Theatre.  She said, “It was so fun to watch all of the students perform and also it was very interesting to learn about, too!”

Abbey’s favorite part about her college experience has been volunteering with TOPS, explaining that it has had a positive impact on her. “It is also such a unique program, so it is fun to explain it to other students/non-OSU people who don’t know what it is,” she said. She also enjoys the inclusive atmosphere that TOPS provides, saying that she always finds herself smiling when at events.

“TOPS has impacted my life in a multitude of positive ways- from lifelong friends, to new educational skills, but must importantly it has taught me how to make the most of each day.  When I go to class with TOPS students, they are always so eager to learn whether they are extremely invested in the subject or not, and that has opened my eyes to learning in so many different ways.  It is so awesome to be so excited about learning, and it helps with retaining the information as well.”

Abbey, thank you for your commitment to helping students succeed in the classroom – we appreciate you!

Volunteer Spotlight: Mia

As we move into the end of October, we wanted to continue to recognize some of our awesome volunteers! Our Volunteer Spotlight this week is Mia, who has volunteered with TOPS for three semesters now. During her involvement so far, she has served as an academic tutor, an educational coach, and she also attends social events.

Mia first learned about TOPS through a friend. “It was something I really wanted to get involved with because I have an older sister with disabilities, so I try to help wherever I can in the community.” If she could tell prospective volunteers one thing, she would emphasize that it’s “a once in a lifetime experience.”

When asked how TOPS has impacted her, Mia said, “volunteering with TOPS has impacted my life in so many good ways…I know that in the future I will have some of the best hands-on experience in peer-mentoring and assisting others.” Her favorite memory with the program so far has been working in the academic center and “listening to everyone enjoy each other’s company and make new friends.” She has also loved getting to know TOPS students and catching up with them about their classes and activities.

Mia is majoring in neuroscience and plans to continue on to medical school. She is involved in OUAB and Tri Delta. She also works as a lab aide and in a research lab that studies spinal cord injuries. Mia says the best food combination in the world is a Wendy’s frosty with anything – French fries, chicken nuggets, etc.!

We appreciate your enthusiastic attitude and all that you do for TOPS. Thanks, Mia!

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

It’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month! NDEAM, held annually in October, encourages conversation about employing individuals with disabilities and highlights their positive impact on the workforce.

This month, we are featuring current and former students on The Ohio State University Nisonger Center Facebook page. We encourage you to like the page to follow along and learn more about our awesome students!

Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council’s Five-Year State Plan Survey

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council has published a survey to gather information about the needs of Ohioans with disabilities. The data gathered from this survey will inform the development of a Five-Year State Plan, which aims to “improve independence, productivity and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities and their families in community life.” The Five-Year State Plan will be developed by a council selected by the governor and will create grant proposals for identified problem areas. The survey, which is available here, is open until January 31, 2020. If you are an individual with a disability, a parent or guardian of an individual with a disability, or a related stakeholder, consider completing this survey to voice your opinion about priority areas that are important to you.

For more information, click here.