A group of TOPS Students with TOPS Mentors Caroline G. and Lindsey O., volunteered last week to put together lunch box kits for community events for Columbus school age students!

Rave reviews from our COSI Contacts: PROUD OF OUR Buckeyes  – WAY TO REPRESESNT!

Quote from one of the supervisors: “They built boxes for the DEA, PNC grant kits for preschools, and  mini kits that are going to community events. They worked really hard and were energized!”

Student Spotlight-Meet John

John is a 1st year student enrolled in the 4 year TOPS program. 

He is really interested in becoming a first responder.

He currently works as an information desk intern at McCampbell Hall where he screens people in, gives them masks, and greets them. His favorite part about his job is that he gets to talk with people from all different backgrounds and brighten their day.

John is part of the first class of TOPS students to live on campus. He really likes living on campus and it has taught him to always be aware of his surroundings and to gain independent living skills.

His favorite class he’s taken so far is Intro to Criminal Justice and he’s enjoyed learning a lot about different histories of court cases and the criminal justice system.

He likes OSU and the TOPS program because it’s a very diverse atmosphere where he gets to meet a wide variety of people. He loves meeting people from different cultures and getting to experience new things

He likes to journal a lot and listen to music (specifically country and broadway) in his free time.

He’s a second generation buckeye and he was born in Kien Giang, Vietnam!

John on the right with fellow first year student and roommate Quinn.

TOPS Social Event: Pixar Trivia Night at Ten Pin Alley in Hilliard, OH

Last Tuesday on March 30th, TOPS students Zach, Timmy, Finn, Griffin, Matthew, and Dylan participated in Pixar Trivia night at Ten Pin Alley. Ten Pin Alley is an entertainment center in Hilliard complete with bowling, laser tag, and arcade games. Mentors Allie and James, and ed coach Jacob attended the event as well. Some of the students also played some arcade games along with participating in trivia.

Zach Watts was one of the TOPS student planners who helped plan the event with mentor Ally Tefft. Some of the students ordered food, and some just came for the trivia. A good time was had by all and the event was definitely a success!

Thank you to students Zach Watts and mentors Ally and James for helping plan the event!

Here are some photos:

TOPS student Dylan with mentor James

Students and mentors having a good time!

TOPS student Griffin winning a prize from the arcade!

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Natalie

Natalie Davis is an alumni of the TOPS program at the Ohio State University, and graduated in 2018.

Since graduating, she has worked at Barks and Rec which is a business in Columbus that provides doggy daycare, boarding, and washing for man’s best friend. Barks and Rec is committed to creating positive social change within the community and providing employment opportunities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Natalie’s job duties consist of playing with the dogs, cleaning up after them, and cleaning/bathing them.

A fun fact about Natalie is that she loves to horseback ride for fun!

TOPS Employer Testimonial-BistrOH!

  • Nutrition Services runs the food service operations at the Wexner Medical Center, both retail food service and patient food service as well as clinical nutrition.
  • We have hired 3 Tops student, 2 of them currently still work for us and we have had numerous interns as well.
  • Food service is historically a business that has always had a labor shortage so having TOPS students successfully fill some positions has been a huge value for Nutrition Services.  There are so many different jobs to do in our large operation which makes it is easy for us to find a fit for many TOPS students.  Also, TOPS students have always fit in very well with our team as the other staff members take pride in mentoring them and growing their skill sets to be successful.
  • Paul Kim first came to us as an unpaid TOPS intern, now he is a full time employee and one of our most consistent and reliable team members.  Paul began his internship cleaning tables and stocking condiments but he quickly felt comfortable doing more things.  Now he works in the kitchen assisting the chefs doing all kinds of kitchen prep work including cooking pizza and hot subs.  Paul’s eagerness to learn more tasks and do more has exceeded our expectations.
  • I would tell other employers that I also was unsure about hiring people with disabilities as I had no experience with it and that is understandable.  However, the TOPS program provides so much support you don’t need to have experience and you don’t need to be unsure.  The TOPS program provides on-site trainers, they help with anything and everything including paperwork, schedules….whatever needs to be done.  Helping people with disabilities succeed, learn new skills, and become independent is very rewarding on a personal level as well as good business.

-Chris Basmagy (Assistant Director, Hospital Nutrition Service)

TOPS student Paul Kim making a pizza

TOPS student Timmy Clary preparing bacon

TOPS Faculty Spotlight-Dr. Kelly George

Currently, I am an Assistant Professor – Professional Practice in the Department of Animal Sciences and Co-Director of the CFAES Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research & Education (CHAIRE). I obtained all of my degrees from OSU and have been working for the university since 2006.

I serve as an instructor to TOPS students interested in my field of work – the human-animal interaction.

I have had several TOPS students over the years, some of the students have taken more than one class with me.

I find that TOPS students are very engaged in the classroom. They often ask the best questions and help others to feel comfortable asking questions.

Professors should not be hesitant to have TOPS students in their classes. The support from your office has been great and I have not experienced any additional workload as a result of having TOPS students in my classroom. I believe this program provides a great service to a great group of students.

-Dr. George

Dr. George with her youngest grandson Ian and a baby Otter




Student Spotlight: Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a 1st year student enrolled in the 4-year program with TOPS at OSU.

Her current career interests include Animal Care and Art.

She is currently an intern with Glass Axis in downtown Columbus. Glass axis is an art studio that is dedicated to helping artists, students, and members of the community to create innovative glass artwork. Her job duties include cleaning restrooms, sweeping, organizing, and even occasionally helping out with the glass making process. Elizabeth has had the opportunity to make multiple pieces of glass, including a glass pumpkin! She says glass making is her favorite part of the job.

Elizabeth’s favorite class that she has taken so far is Ceramics. She is very artistic so this class goes right along with her interests and talents. Her favorite animal is an Elephant, and she was able to make an elephant sculpture that also serves as a plant holder in her Ceramics class!

Throughout her first year, she says she has learned a lot from just living on her own and having to navigate around campus. She really enjoys the independence of living in a dorm on campus at OSU. It’s worth noting that Elizabeth is part of the first group of TOPS students to live in the campus dorms!

She loves getting to know more about herself and her interests through the TOPS program. She loves being able to meet new people, have new experiences, and have new surroundings while attending Ohio State.

In her free time, Elizabeth loves going to the zoo and being outside. More specifically, she loves going to the Cleveland Zoo and seeing all the animals. Elizabeth also enjoys building stuff with legos and doing artwork in her free time.

Some fun facts about Elizabeth include that she is a swimmer and has swam in the Special Olympics competitions at OSU. She is also a cancer survivor! Keep up the good work Elizabeth!






Meet Mary-Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Student

I am from Canfield, OH.

I am a third-year OTD student, graduating this May 2021!

I love working with the IDD/DD population, and particularly have a heart for increasing the independence and quality of life for individuals who are in stages of transition. The TOPS program fosters each of these areas in students who have graduated from high school and are looking to further their education and add to their resumes and life skills. I find employment incredibly valuable and appreciate that the TOPS program takes the time to place students in settings that they are interested and capable in, but that still encourage growth and edification. Additionally, the TOPS program not only focuses on employment skills, but also addresses everyday life functions and problem-solving which completely align with the vision of occupational therapy. I knew that for my Capstone project I wanted to emphasize increased employability in life skills among this population, and knew that TOPS would be a perfect place to learn about that!

I love to swing dance, play the guitar, bake, spend time in the great outdoors and hang out with friends and family.

I’ve gone sledding down an active volcano, I am the youngest of 5 and the only girl, I raised pigs and cows while I was growing up and I’ve spent 6 weeks in Nicaragua!


FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program; Please View If Pell Eligible!

FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

A household is eligible if one member of the household:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program;
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers’ existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

The program has been authorized by the FCC, but the start date has not yet been established. The FCC is working to make the benefit available as quickly as possible. Please continue to check the program webpage for updates.