​​​​​​​Supporting, Guiding and Inspiring Our Students​

College is one of the most exciting times in a young person's life.  It is also one of the most challenging. We get that.  


That is why our faculty and staff are here. To challenge our students to be their best. To inspire them to go farther than they ever thought they could. To help them find their path to a meaningful life and productive career. And to be there to encourage them along the way.


Below is a collection of stories directly from our faculty and staff about moments in their time at UF that they know they made a difference for a student. These are just a few examples of what students can expect from the supportive community at UF. Our talented, dedicated and caring faculty and staff are why Findlay is known as one of the best universities in the Midwest.  



Jill Harmon

A Bright Spot

Submitted by Jill Harmon, Administrative Assistant in the Office of Accommodation and Inclusion

​​​​Every day I attempt to be a bright spot in all the lives of students who stop by the office to sign up for tutoring or testing. ​

A New Idea

Submitted by Joyce Lammers, Assistant Professor & Associate Chair of the Weekend Physical Therapy Program

​​Working with undergraduates who did not meet the criteria to make it into PT school. I have had many conversations with them to discuss what it is about PT that drew them to the career, then I have guided them to other careers with similar emphasis. For example, the person who wanted to work with athletes, I directed to SCON and Wellness, those who really enjoyed the elderly, I directed to gerontology minor. Helping students understand that there are many different ways to make a difference in peoples lives the way that PT does.

Pm Cochran

A New Point of View

Pam Cochran, Experiential Education Specialist, College of Pharmacy

​​ Oftentimes, showing students another point of view makes a difference. One time in particular, a student was struggling with communication with his parents. I listened to his complaints, but then offered him a possible argument from his parents' POV. It hadn't occurred to him that his parents' POV was one of love and concern. I think this helped him, and as I've seen him on campus and in the community, he always converses with me and seems better adjusted.

Liz Trevino

Always that Smiling Face

Submitted by Liz Trevino

​​​Here in the College of Pharmacy, the three Administrative Assistants feel like we have a large part in our students' lives. We are here to help them with anything - finding a class the first week of school, telling them where to find things on campus, directing them to the health clinic on campus if they are not feeling well, encouraging them with some chocolate if they are heading into an exam, providing them with a mint if they are going into a class presentation, here as a listening ear for anything as their Mom's away from home. We take pride in our job and love them as our own.

Diana Montague

Be Their Advocate

Submitted by Diana Montague, professor & chair of communication

​​​​About eight years ago I was advising a first-year pre-vet student, Abbey Nickel, who was struggling to tell her mother that she didn't want to be a vet, that she really wanted to study journalism. But her mother, who had been a journalist herself, said she didn't want to pay UF's high tuition for anything but pre-vet school. We talked through how to gradually switch majors and how to discuss the situation with her mother to allow Abbey to stay at UF. Abbey went on to be one of our strongest journalism majors, one of our most dedicated Pulse editors, and one of our best alumni representatives of the Communication Department and UF as a whole. She has been a professional journalist in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and a Public Relations practitioner in Indiana. I think Abbey will tell you she has been living a meaningful life and a productive career, and her time at UF helped her build that foundation.​​

Behind the Scenes

Submitted by Jessica Leszkowicz, Department of Visual and Performing Arts

​​​​​​My position is behind scenes, and many of the most memorable and teachable moments for a theatre person also occur behind the scenes. The one that captures my attention the most is the student who was assigned to my crew. I knew of what she had going on in her personal and extracurricular activities, in addition to her many University responsibilities and my crew. As her supervisor, I called her up to say I was thinking of her and hoping she was getting everything done, and how could I help her. Her response humbled me. She thought I had called with a work assignment, but she was touched by the fact someone we care about her life beyond the arch. Since she graduated, I have been able to stay in touch with her and support her in by attending the productions she has directed as well as encouraging both her and her students in various speech competitions. A moment of kindness can last forever - we never know where that seed will grow.​​

Ron Tulley

Difference Makers

Submitted by Ronald Tulley, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

​​​​​About 10 years back, I had a student in one of my English 272 classes online. She was having difficulty with a research proposal and came in to see me during office hours. After a few minutes of talking about her project, she said she understood the assignment better, but I could see tears welling in her eyes. I asked her if everything else was ok, and she broke down sobbing. After a few minutes of consoling her, she told me she was terribly homesick and was not happy here. We talked a great deal about her family, and I shared a few family stories with her too. In a little bit, we were laughing. Before she left, I said, "I know it hurts to be apart from your family, but if you think about why you​'re sad, it's actually a wonderful thing. You have an amazing family, one I learned a little about today. One you look to for support and love. You're very blessed to have people whom you care about that much and who love you back." She smiled and agreed. She did well in 272 and went on to complete her DPT at UF. After graduating, she was applying for a position at a hospital, and she asked me for a reference. I thought, I only had her in English 272 years back, and although we kept in touch, I told her there had to be folks that could better speak to her qualifications. 

​She told me that I was one of the main reasons she stayed at UF, and my words inspired her to see things differently. She said I really knew what she was capable of. “It was a defining point for me," she said. “I needed help and someone to care, but I also needed someone to provide some perspective. I want them to understand the kind of education I received at UF went beyond my field...and it has made all the difference in how I treat others." I'm sure I had very little to do with her academic success, but I'm proud that I could be there at a key moment in the early stages of her academic career to listen and guide her as she continued on her path to success. ​

Don't Give Up

Submitting by Tracey Thacker, Administrative Assistant, Mathematics Department

​​​​I talked to a student about not dropping Calculus II as they were struggling. I gave them suggestions and encouraged them to continue the course since they only had a few weeks to go.​​

Bart Welte

Finding a Different Path

Submitted by Bart Welte, Assistant Professor and Director of the Athletic Training Program

​​I met with a student, as an advisor, who did not get into his program of choice and was very down on his future. I explained that while it is fine to be upset, how can he turn the situation into something positive?

I asked some questions and he explained that he was always interested in working with sports and athletes. He ended up applying and being accepted into the Master of Athletic Training Program. After two years he graduated and has been working with athletes and physically active patients since. For him, he was merely following his passion and I was in the right place to help him turn a negative into a positive.

Megan Prettyman

From the Beginning

Submitted by Megan Prettyman, Director of International Admissions & Immigration Services

​ I have the pleasure of making a difference in the life of a student each and every day. In fact, my difference enables all other employees at UF to also make a difference - I help bring students here. My job is devoted to helping students not only navigate the admissions process but to help them with their immigration documents and visa applications. Then, once they're on campus, I help make sure they are compliant with their visas and remain in status. Our international students play such an important part on campus and bring so much richness to our student body, and it's such a pleasure to work with some of the best and brightest students from around the world. There's nothing more rewarding than meeting a student overseas who has never heard of the university and then to see them check in at orientation later on. Being there through every step of the process - from first telling them about the university to then welcoming them on campus - is a true honor.

Giving My Very Best

Submitted by Chris Brooks, Adjunct Faculty Member

​​I try to give each student I serve my best. I consistently affirm them to build relationships with them. This past year, I was invited to two graduation parties and a wedding of a former student. The gestures extended to me by each of these students who expressed gratitude to me for my efforts was very humbling. Priceless moments.

Donald Elswick

Guiding Choices that Change Futures

Submitted by Donald Elswick, Assistant Professor of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability

​​​The best mentoring advice was given to a senior that had several job opportunities and could not decide on the best possible career choice. He had first started to choose based on compensation. We then compared the salaries and he realized each had its benefit. The next was location. Once again all had merits. The last advice was to list his positives and negatives for each opportunity and then to ask five of his most trusted advisors to help decide. I was his fifth person and I broke a 2-2 tie. He is now very happy with our choice at Pepsi in Chicago. 

I knew he liked the organization and his supervisor. When I watched his video helping to shape the safety culture of Pepsi, I knew I helped him make a meaningful life and productive career choice. ​

Lori Colchagoff

Ongoing Impact

Submitted by Lori Colchagoff, Experiential Education Specialist, College of Pharmacy

​​​​After I changed positions on campus from an office I was at for 15 years, I still get students asking me to meet them for coffee...they want to tell me how they are having meaningful lives and about their future productive career plans​​

Tricia Valasek

Opening Doors

Submitted by Tricia Valasek, Grants Manager

​​Sometimes, pointing students toward meaningful lives and productive careers occurs indirectly, especially through grant-funded activities. Because of the grants UF receives, students are more able to complete their education, participate in study abroad, work with community members, and complete their research.​​

Matt Stolick

Reaching One, Reaches Many

Submitted by Matt Stolick, Professor of Philosophy & Chair of Religion and Philosophy

One particular theater student in a few of my philosophy classes kept pushing and pushing to defend a postmodern ethic, very nihilistic and I suspect this student was suicidal during some of the lower points of our work together. But I stuck with him and consistently explored the implications of his nihilistic position, showing him that I did not accept it but that I understood it and had lived it before myself. . . I heard from this student last week and many years later, and he is positive, service-oriented, and making a huge difference in the world as an educator of children. I happily wrote a letter of recommendation for him to get into graduate school to continue to develop his "meaningful life and productive career."

Carole Luke

Right Place. Right Time.

Submitted by Carole Luke, Administrative Assistant, Physician Assistant Program

​​​​​​​​​I have had many students that I could talk about.....one in particular that comes to mind is a student that I saw on a bench, sobbing, alone. She had just failed a test and had called her parents and they had expressed their disappointment. I sat and talked with her, allowing her to voice her concerns and "vent". I then talked with her a while, and walked her over to our counseling services since she felt that she would benefit from talking to someone on a regular more professional basis who would help her to gain perspective and manage her course load and the expectations that she and her parents put on her in regard to her schooling. This student would frequently return to let me know how much that meant to her and how grateful she was that I took the time to listen and encourage her and help her seek the counseling that made a difference for her.​

Taking the Time to Help

William Stewart, Assistant HBAC Technician, Physical Plant

​​I saw an entire family standing at one of our campus map kiosks. None were smiling and seemed not to be enjoying the visit. I turned my golf cart around and smiled, whatever I was going to fix could wait. After cheerfully helping them get their bearings centered on the bell tower in front of Mazza and find their destination they seemed to relax and smile. I hope that young lady chose to be a UF student and her little brothers also.​​

The Path to Grad School

Submitted by Dr. Nikki Diederich, Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program

​​While I do believe the final determination lies with the student, I would say that I knew I was making a difference in the life of a student when I was helping one of my majors apply to graduate school. We  (this "we" includes another professor as well) discussed grad school options, went on grad school visits with her, and wrote letters of recommendation. She is now a Ph.D. candidate in English at a research institution, so I guess that means the two of us pointed her toward a career. We're going through the same process now with another former student who currently is in her master's program and applying to Ph.D. programs.

The Wearer of Many Hats

Submitted by Shelly Gilbert, Adjunct Faculty in the College of Education

​As an adjunct, I wear many hats. I am fortunate to have a position where UF students can come into my classroom at Donnell and work beside me. Makenna Fox was my latest student-teacher. I was able to work side-by-side with her as she continued her journey. I stay in touch with her and know she is making a difference in the lives of Bluffton students. I am grateful for the small part I have played in her meaningful life.​​

Touching Lives

Submitted by Cindy Goodwin, Professor of Occupational Therapy

​​​I recently received a letter from a previous grad that stated: "You have touched my life, my thought process, and my future career as an OTR! You have challenged me, changed my way of thinking, and helped me rediscover the wonderful opportunities we have to positively affect the lives of our patients….and for that, I am truly grateful! " This is not the first time and I hope not the last that I have or will receive this kind of affirmation that my work in the classroom makes a difference.

​​​