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Spreading Light

ONU’s philanthropic culture nurtures a student’s love for serving others

Recent graduate Sam Inbody, BSME ’18, always had the heart to serve; ONU connected him with the opportunities to do so.

Inbody, a McComb, Ohio, native, began serving others almost from the moment he arrived on campus as a freshman mechanical engineering major. Using both his physical capabilities and innate talents, he served all over the world, from building a school in a third-world country to sharing music with foreign cultures. No matter where he’s been or what he’s been doing, he’s found ways to bless the hearts of others.

But his life wasn’t always that way. You could say choosing Ohio Northern was the catalyst, a game-changer in his life, because while it may be a remote campus in a small community, he learned there is nothing small or remote about the potential to serve others through ONU.

The love was definitely there, and the willingness to serve was definitely there when I was in high school, but there just wasn’t much opportunity available, coming from a very small school,” he says. “But coming to ONU, where there’s just a ton of opportunities to serve, it helped me blossom and gave me a lot of avenues in which I could do that.

Sam Inbody is recognized by Ohio Northern University Provost Maria Cronley for winning the 2017-18 ONU PLACE Award.Inbody recently received the 2017-18 ONU PLACE Award, which each year recognizes a senior who has made outstanding contributions to professional programs, the liberal arts and/or civic engagement. His award submission, an essay titled “The Higher Calling,” detailed his contributions in various humanitarian projects, including three Habitat for Humanity trips to the South, a trip to the Dominican Republic with Northern Engineers Without Borders, and several service opportunities through Greek organizations and musical ensembles.

The recognition was nice, for sure, but that’s not what it’s about for Inbody. It’s about the people he’s helped, the lives he’s touched, and the lasting impact his actions have had on communities near and far. That impact has come in many forms, but the fulfillment he receives in return is always the same.

“My favorite part is just seeing the expression of gratitude in someone’s eyes and in their face and knowing that I’m making a deep impact in the people of that community,” he says. “That’s the driving motivator. That’s what keeps you going back: knowing that you really are helping people that really do care.”

He credits his affinity for service, in part, to Ohio Northern’s warm and caring culture. From the first time he stepped foot on campus, he could tell where ONU’s true priorities lie – making people’s lives better. The wealth of service opportunities available to students, faculty and staff speaks for itself and is a natural result of, as he puts it, “the personality of the school and a genuine love for giving back.”

But there was something else that ONU taught him about service. Being a Polar Bear helped him become a man of action, making him a living example of one of the most important life lessons anyone can learn.

It’s so easy to talk about service, but you have to put it into action, and you have to follow through,” he says. “You can talk more with your actions than you can with your words. At ONU, I feel like that love for helping people is said through action, by students who go here and alumni who have been here. ONU’s commitment to service is not generic.

Inbody wrote in his PLACE essay, as coined by American novelist Edith Wharton, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” He holds this quote close to his heart and has made it his life’s mission. The world’s a little brighter because of Polar Bears like Inbody, and he certainly won’t be the last.