(Contributing Writers: UF Marketing and Communication interns Emilie Ehrman and Nicholas Thompson)
They’ve overcome hardships, succeeded academically and transcended the college experience. They’ve also, in turn, inspired others, and continue to do so.
The University of Findlay has many outstanding soon-to-be graduates. The nine on this list were nominated by faculty and staff, and agreed to be recognized in this manner. They span academic disciplines, represent a wide range of experiences and are already changing the world for the better.
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Ohio
Major: Journalism/digital media
The fact that Abbey Nickel is already an award-winning journalist is a testament to her reporting skills as well as to her drive and resiliency in the face of personal obstacles. This spring and in 2014 she won Ohio Newspaper Association and Society of Professional Journalists awards for her investigative reporting on campus sexual assaults and a Cryptosporidium outbreak. And, while carrying a full course load, co-editing The Pulse student newspaper and being an active member of UF’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, she began full-time work this semester as an education reporter for The Courier.
Amidst her work and studies, Abbey’s mother, who had a terminal illness, died in March. Abbey has six younger siblings, the youngest of which, an eight-year-old brother, she assumed legal custody of recently. Funeral and family financial responsibilities have also fallen on her shoulders. University professors have set up the Nickel Family Fund to assist her. Donations can be made at the business office in Old Main, or mailed to The University of Findlay in care of the Business Office, 1000 N. Main St., Findlay, OH 45840.
Abbey credits her mother with instilling in her a love for writing, and the people supporting her on campus and in the Findlay community with giving her the encouragement to move forward and to succeed. “My professors and the people around me here have made me into who I am,” she said. “Now, when I write, I think my Mom would be proud.”
Hometown: Findlay, Ohio
Major: Multi-age theater education and theater performance
Timothy Sherman became enamored with theater at age five, when he played a small role in “The King and I.” “It gives me a sense of wonderment and creation. I get to be someone new and go someplace different, and to create whole worlds of wonderment and incredibility for others,” he said. His four years at UF have been spent starring in numerous plays, as well as acting, directing, choreographing and stage designing for on- and off-campus productions. This semester, while working as shift manager at the local movie theater, he is choreographing and directing while maintaining a 20-hour course load and a 3.5 GPA.
In February, while rehearsing for the lead role in “Xanadu,” a fire significantly damaged his family’s Findlay home, where he was living. The blaze killed four pets. The family is working on repairs and hopes to return to it in July.
Success, Timothy believes, is all about making friends and contacts, and pursuing ideas, even the crazy ones. “Let whatever you love drive you, and don’t let a ‘no’ answer stop you. One person might say no but another might say yes,” he said. “All through my life I never was one to just let life pass me by.”
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Major: Physical therapy
Pamela Showman said she “tends to set expectations for myself which are pretty high.” That may be an understatement. She was a pre-vet major for four years before she realized that her true professional interests were different. “I love movement, the way the body works, physical fitness,” she said. So she changed her major to physical therapy and hasn’t looked back. In the fall she’ll be attending graduate school at The Ohio State University, and hopes to become a sports physical therapist.
Pamela’s studies make sense – she is one of UF’s two heptathletes. Her dedication to sports is so strong that her cross country coach during her freshman year suggested she consider adding other events to her repertoire. “I think if I did just one event I’d get bored,” she said. She has twice placed sixth in national heptathlons and continues to rigorously train; her latest fascination has been with CrossFit. She is also known for mentoring other UF athletes and classmates while maintaining a 3.89 GPA. “I love giving input when people want it,” she said.
“One of my goals has always been to look to God and give Him glory through everything I do. As long as I’m doing that, I feel like I’m succeeding and doing what He wants me to do,” she said. Pamela’s other piece of advice for attaining success: “Have fun.”
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Major: Computer science
Christopher Reaper has maintained a rigorous schedule during his time at The University of Findlay. As a senior athlete, Chris spends 20 to 30 hours each week of the season practicing for football, and another 10 hours at his internship. He has also managed to find time to help lead the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Association for Computing Machinery. Chris is also a 2015 inductee to the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi and a co-leader of the Hour of Code: LEGO Robots Team for 2014 and 2015.
Chris strives for excellence, earning a spot on the Dean’s List each semester, being a two-time All-GLIAC performer for football on the offensive line, and a three-time All-GLIAC excellence team performer. Chris has received four different scholarships during his time at the University, including: the Choose Ohio First Scholarship, the Richard Corner Scholarship, the Richard Couchot Scholarship, and The University of Findlay Trustee’s Scholarship.
Chris was nominated by his offensive line coach, Kory Allen. “When my two boys grow up, I would be proud if they turned out like him,” Allen says, “He doesn’t just participate in sports, he excels. He doesn’t just go to class, he gets all ‘A’s’. He doesn’t just walk campus, he is involved in it.” We wish Chris luck as he begins the pursuit of his Master of Business Administration degree at The University of Findlay this summer.
Hometown: North Baltimore, Ohio
Major: Environmental, safety and occupational health management
Emily Stewart has an impressive record, both on the softball field and in the classroom. Emily says she was recruited to play softball, but was also drawn to The University of Findlay by the Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Management program that aligned with her passion for the environment and goal of making a difference. She is the recipient of multiple scholarships, such as The University of Findlay’s Presidential Scholarship and the Ohio Environmental Services Industries Scholarship. Emily has maintained 16 or more credit hours each semester, and was named to the Dean’s List for three semesters. She is also a member of the student chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers.
Emily made the softball travel roster as a freshman and played in the majority of the season’s games at third base. Her first hit of her college career was also her first homerun. She then became the designated hitter and started each game. Emily was named GLIAC All-Academic Team as well as the NFCA Academic All-American team for 2013 and 2014.
Emily has completed three internships, including with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Northwest District Office in the Division of Air Pollution Control; as the Emergency Preparedness intern for Marathon Petroleum’s corporate office in Findlay; and served an Industrial Hygiene Co-op at the BP Husky refinery in Oregon, Ohio. Emily now works a full-time position as a Safety Advisor at the BP refinery, and continues to work part-time during her final semester of college too while juggling 16 credit hours and playing softball.
Hometown: Millington, Michigan
Major: Occupational therapy
Lauren Snyder has endured more traumatic experiences at age 24 than most people experience their entire lives. Currently in the process of receiving her master’s degree in occupational therapy, Lauren’s career was influenced by a traumatic brain injury that occurred during the summer between her freshman and sophomore year of high school.
While on the “downhill day” of a bicycling trip, Lauren took a tumble and fell head first. Her parents received a call early that morning suggesting she may not recover, let alone survive. Lauren lost many abilities, from walking to swallowing on her own. She also developed epilepsy. She spent the summer in the hospital, and with significant healing and relearning, was miraculously able to return to her education in the fall as a sophomore. She graduated from high school with a 3.8 GPA, although she says she cannot recall those years.
Lauren’s goal as an occupational therapist is to change lives. “I just want the world to know when you face hard circumstances, you can still reach your goals,” she says. Lauren says The University of Findlay has been extraordinary in assisting with her education during her time here. She also mentioned that the support system of her parents and older brother was a huge determining factor in her success. Lauren is an optimistic student who encourages others, saying, “Don’t let the hard circumstances in your life hold you back because my parents got that call and I wasn’t supposed to make it, but here I am graduating with my master’s with a smile on my face.”
Hometown: Hilliard, Ohio
Major: Forensic science
Multiple professors named Seth Ervin as one of UF’s most outstanding students. While being a leader in the classroom and on campus, his internship last fall in Washington, D.C. with the Department of Forensics was the most influential for him in preparation for graduation.
“The relationships and the networks you create are the most important aspects of becoming a professional,” said Ervin. “These people you meet are willing to help you reach your goal, and reaching some goals are very difficult to do alone.”
This extremely competitive internship, which annually draws thousands of student applicants, highlights Ervin’s outstanding qualities. One of his professors, Dr. Philip Lucas, assistant professor of criminal justice and forensic science, expressed his appreciation for Ervin as a student.
“He has immense ability to draw on his own experience and observations to develop thoughtful opinions on a variety of subjects,” said Lucas. “His regular contributions to full-class discussions provided insight for his peers and for us as professors.”
Hometown: Findlay, Ohio
Major: Sport and event management
The most impactful decision that Serra Hutton made during her time at The University of Findlay was getting involved with Dance Marathon. Going to the event for her first time, she immediately felt the need to be apart of this great mission. In her junior year, she was the organization’s assistant director, and helped raised over $15,000 for the Toledo Mercy Children’s Hospital. This was a 587% growth rate from the previous three years of this event. This year, Hutton and her team of 15 students raised over $22,000.
“Dance Marathon it such a life changing experience that allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” Hutton said. It also taught her to appreciate the opportunity in her life and to make every second count, she said.
“It doesn’t matter what day it is or what went on the night before, because of Dance Marathon and the families I’ve met, I’m thankful for every single day,” Hutton said. “I live each day as if it’s my last and no matter what my goal is, I’m going to do what I can to make sure I reach it.”
Hutton has also been involved with numerous other organizations as well as creating a new organization on campus. She has sat on several committees, worked for many different offices and faculty members, and has done countless outreach projects and services throughout her time as an Oiler.
Hometown: Ridgeway, OH
Major: Creative writing and history
Miranda Roelher is the epitome of a student who made the most of their college experience to grow as a professional and a leader. For instance, she has had works published domestically and internationally, has acquired editing experience, plays flute in two UF bands and was 2014 Homecoming queen.
“I found my place, my confidence, and myself at UF,” said Roehler. “If it weren’t for the University and my amazing professors, I don’t know that I ever would have been courageous enough to send my writing to outside publications and be as involved as I am.”
One of the professors that Roehler had the opportunity to work with is assistant professor of English, Dr. Sarah Fedirka, who said Roehler has been nothing less of outstanding and a delight to know as an individual.
“In class, Miranda stood out among her peers,” said Fedirka. “She is among the top 10 percent of students I have taught in my entire career. Beyond all her accomplishments, Miranda is just a terrific young woman.”
Even though she will be graduating in a short few weeks, the past four years has undoubtedly impacted Roehler for the rest of her life.
“The knowledge and memories that I have obtained from UF will never leave me, even when I leave it,” said Roehler. “And most of all, I know that no matter where I may be, I will always be an Oiler.”