Grace Gillen


Next step: senior analyst at Cardinal Health

During her time at Ohio Northern University, Grace Gillen formed lasting relationships and became an award-winning student with premiere internship opportunities. 

Gillen majored in pharmaceutical and health care business with a concentration in business analytics and minor in management. She said the help and encouragement from Dicke College of Business Administration faculty helped her succeed.

And the college's leadership, which offers personalized attention, is one of its strong suits, she added.

“The dean and assistant dean know everyone’s names walking around the school,” she said.

Gillen decided on her business analytics concentration “pretty late in the game.” She feared she wouldn’t be able to complete the concentration by the end of her senior year because of class timeline constraints, but an independent study with her advisor Matt Kutch, Ph.D., allowed her to do so.

The care and attention students receive continues outside the classroom walls, Gillen said. Faculty help students with capstones, internships and additional trips, too. She has taken advantage of many of these opportunities.

As a junior, Gillen was a management intern at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio. The following year, she served as a global health services intern with Cardinal Health, where she also performed her capstone project.

She said conversations with Director of Experiential Learning and Adjunct Instructor of Leadership Studies Matt Lambdin, Ph.D., about what to expect and how to prepare for real-world professional scenarios, helped her be prepared for the internships. Dicke College of Business Administration Dean John Navin, Ph.D. and Kutch helped improve her resume and interview skills.

“I really loved that (Cardinal Health) internship,” Gillen said. “I got to do exactly what I pictured myself doing with my degree, and then I ended up with a job a month after my internship ended.”

Gillen applied for Cardinal Health’s early career development program, “Embark,” and was hired to be a senior analyst for at least a year, and will then explore other possible roles with the company.

She deeply cherishes the relationships she’s made that have helped form her into who she is.

“There are amazing people all over campus, but I think the people within Dicke are something special,” she said. “All the professors are outstanding, with so many of them having real-world experience as well as experiences through their master's and doctorate degrees. They are so dedicated to our success and want us to succeed.”

Additional out-of-classroom experiences for Gillen included a trip to Chicago with Executive Classroom taught by Lambdin, which focuses on making connections and learning about executive leadership. While in Chicago, students met with companies, including the Chicago Bears and Chicago Board of Ethics, and met with ONU alumni.

Gillen said one her favorite experiences from the trip was interacting with the alumni who all were inviting, and who encouraged students to reach out if they ever need industry tips or tricks.

“I have multiple alumni on LinkedIn who all are available to help me if I ever have any questions or anything,” she said.


While a business student, Gillen became a member of multiple professional groups, including Healthcare Business Association, where she served as vice president and president. She was also president of the Dean’s Advisory Council, a member of Peer Mentors, Women in Business, Beta Gamma Sigma, Alpha Xi Delta, President’s Club, Student Senate, Omicron Delta Kappa and Order of Omega.

Gillen received the DeBow Freed Award for Outstanding Leadership – Third-year Female and the first place Taffy Howard – Brenda Johnson Service and Leadership Award nominated by her business college peers and voted on by Dicke faculty and staff.

At graduation, she said the connections she made with fellow students and ONU faculty and staff are the culmination of how she felt years ago when enrolling at ONU.

Gillen first stepped foot on Ohio Northern University’s campus after her sophomore year of high school for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar in 2017. She immediately felt safe and at home.

“I really liked the campus and the area, and I thought it was a good distance from home,” she said.

Gillen always kept ONU in mind when deciding what colleges and universities to visit.

“When I started visiting colleges, ONU was the first college I visited, because I did have that connection with it,” she said. “All the professors, tour guides, admissions counselors, everyone was just so friendly and I could tell they all, especially the professors, really want you to succeed here.”

She said meeting Associate Professor of Management Jaume Franquesa, Ph.D., and discussing capstone projects and internship opportunities at ONU, and how they would set her up for future success, were all things that stood out to her while deciding what institution she would attend.

Gillen considered ONU’s size to be an asset.

“The (smaller) size (of ONU) never worried me because I came from a super small high school, graduating with about 40 kids,” she said. “So, I was a little stressed, because to me even ONU seemed big.”

She said what did surprise her regarding ONU’s size was the University’s approximately 200 student clubs and organizations, which allowed her to overcome her fears of being alone on campus.

“I cried at summer orientation because I was so worried that I wouldn’t make any friends, but now, and even looking back at the first months of my freshman year, I saw the people here are what make it so special, along with the ability to make so many meaningful connections with other students and professors,” she said.

Gillen encourages prospective students to visit campus and get to know the people. She recommends that current students be active members of the ONU community, make personal connections and experiences with their peers, and help others.