For National Grandparents Day in September, we featured several legacy students whose grandparents attended Ohio Northern University. We asked the students: “what’s the best advice you’ve received from your grandparents?”
“Have fun. Embrace every moment.”
Three years ago, Donald Wentzel, Jr., BSPh ’66 and Mary Alice (Stuart) Wentzel, BSEd ’68, received a wrapped present from their granddaughter, Elizabeth “Liz” Shockney. Inside were two ONU mugs.
“We were puzzled, but said ‘thank you,’” said Grandma Mary Alice. “Then Liz’s mother said: ‘Do you get it? Elizabeth has been accepted to Ohio Northern!’ And we screamed!”
Liz is now a senior at ONU majoring in biology with a minor in communication, much to the ongoing delight of her Polar Bear grandparents.
Liz said: “ONU is just such a great fit, and the stories from my grandparents’ days make this place even more special.”
Growing up, Liz witnessed the incredible impact ONU had on her grandparents. Their time at the University resulted in a lifelong loving relationship and rewarding careers.
“I saw my grandpa continue working after retirement because he loved being a pharmacist. My grandma would bring me to her first grade classroom, and I got to see how happy she made all the kids. That was just amazing. Knowing that ONU gave them this happiness is what sealed the deal in my decision to become a Polar Bear,” she said.
The Wentzels acknowledge the tremendous changes on campus since their college days. “Co-ed dorms are the biggest change,” said Grandma Mary Alice. “I lived in Clark, Stambaugh and Lima Halls, and boys were not allowed past the lobby.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, the three agree, is the welcoming community.
“ONU still brings a smile to the face of every person who steps on campus,” said Liz.
She added that her grandparents gave her important advice for college: have fun.
“Sometimes I get too wrapped up in my studies and they do a good job of reminding me that these days and nights in college are limited, and I should live it up. They tell me to have fun, meet as many people as possible, and just embrace every moment.”
“Buy warm clothes. Take advantage of all the opportunities ONU offers.”
Thirteen is a lucky number for Mason Meyer. The Ohio Northern pharmacy student is the 13th member of the Meyer family to attend ONU.
Best of all, Mason’s beloved grandfather, Gerald Meyer, BSEd ’65, JD ’68, is a Polar Bear. Now retired, Grandpa Meyer enjoyed a successful career as a private practice attorney, assistant prosecutor, and Seneca County (Ohio) Juvenile and Probate Judge.
Grandpa Meyer said: “I have always promoted ONU as the ‘Harvard of the Midwest.’ ONU is a welcoming environment that offers multiple life choices within its many colleges.”
He noted that his parents attended ONU in the 1930s and his son, The Honorable Jay Meyer, BSBA ’93, JD ’96, is an ONU graduate. Additionally, he has two other grandchildren currently attending ONU—Jay’s children, Zoe Meyer, a pharmacy student, and Keegan Meyer, a business student.
However, Grandpa Meyer did warn Mason about the cold winters on the Tundra. “He would always tell me the story of how his freshman year he bought a military winter jacket and boots just to withstand the whipping winds,” said Mason.
Grandpa Meyer’s advice to Mason before he left for ONU: “Buy warm clothes!”
Mason said walking on the same campus paths that his relatives traversed years ago gives him a good feeling.
“It is truly something special,” he said. “I think ONU’s culture has remained the same through the years. We are a tight-knit community of Polar Bears. I know most people when I walk around campus and it truly does feel like home.”
Grandpa Meyer added: “My advice to my grandchildren is to take advantage of all the opportunities that ONU has to offer. The University provided our family with the foundation for living successful and rewarding lives.”
“Live life to the fullest.”
Lindsey Spofford couldn’t decide between attending Kent State University or Ohio Northern University. Then, she discovered that her , Eunice Krouksop, BSEd ’70, was a Polar Bear.
“To me, if my great-great grandma loves something, that means it’s gotta be good!” says Lindsey, a sophomore majoring in graphic design.
Great-Great Grandma Eunice was a non-traditional student who attended ONU in the 1960s in order to become a teacher. At the time, she was 35 years old and married with two children. She then taught elementary school children at Indian Lake Schools in Huntsville, Ohio, for 28 years.
“I am currently 96 years old and I still teach my grandkids things,” she said.
Her favorite ONU memories center around the lunch table, where she heard “inside jokes that I still remember to this day.”
Lindsey also loves chit chatting with friends during lunch at McIntosh Center. Additionally, she enjoys studying at Heterick Library and she’s on the Dean’s List–just like her great-great grandma.
“My great-great grandma is so special to me, so having this honor to carry on her legacy at ONU means a lot to me,” she says.
Lindsey looks forward to her future career in graphic design and “making a big impact on this world.” Her great-great grandma is her guiding light.
“A lesson I will always take to heart from my great-great grandma is to live your life to the fullest. Never let anyone push you down or stand in your way because you are someone to be proud of, and you are gonna show the world your worth!”
“Enjoy every minute. Follow your passions. Be kind.”
Mallory Orick’s grandparents, Jerry Johnson, BSEd ’71, JD ’75 and Barb (Ahl) Johnson, BSEd ’70, have played an outsized role in her life.
Mallory, a junior majoring in literature with a pre-law minor, said: “They get so excited to hear about my everyday college life and make me feel so loved and appreciated. They are the reason that I am me. They are, and have always been, the center of my life. I can never thank them enough for how much they impact my life every single day.”
Mallory is walking in her grandparent’s footsteps at ONU. She is studying literature, just like her grandmother, with plans to become an attorney, just like her grandfather. She is a member of her grandmother’s sorority, Alpha Xi Delta. And, she prefers to study in Heterick Memorial Library, just like her grandparents.
The Johnsons have the distinction of being the second couple to get married in ONU’s English Chapel. They recently celebration their 52nd wedding anniversary.
While their wedding is their best ONU memory, Grandma and Grandpa Johnson often share with Mallory another standout moment from their ONU days. They both had the honor of witnessing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “Hammer of Justice” speech in Taft Auditorium on January 11, 1968. In fact, Grandma Barb helped coordinate Dr. King’s historic visit to campus.
Grandma Barb said: “Ohio Northern taught me how to have an open mind and gave me an overall amazing education that allowed me to form my own opinions and open my mind to new ideas.”
Mallory is having an equally transformative experience at ONU. Her Polar Bear grandparents often remind her to “enjoy every minute, follow your dreams, and don’t be afraid to branch out and discover what you are passionate about.”
They also instilled in her the importance of kindness and a bright outlook.
According to Mallory, “They are two of the kindest people I know, and I have always strived to be like them and to make them proud.”
“Chase your dreams. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.”
Bryce Paul shares many traits with his grandfather, Marty Paul, BA ’65, BSBA ’06, and grandmother, Marilyn (McGinnis) Paul, BSEd ’66. One treasured similarity? All three are proud Polar Bears.
Bryce, a senior double major in construction management and technology education, said: “The Polar Bear tradition is very special and I am proud that I get to carry on the tradition and be the next generation of Polar Bears in my family.” Bryce’s brother, Brandon, is a sophomore at ONU, and his sister, Kendra (Paul) Foley, BS ’17 is a Polar Bear.
After graduating from ONU, Grandpa Marty enjoyed a successful business career and served for 35 years on ONU’s Board of Trustees. He and Marilyn’s son (Bryce’s dad) is Dean Paul, ONU’s football coach for the past 20 years.
Grandpa Marty has enjoyed watching the transformation of ONU’s physical campus over the years. “The ’61-’65 campus is hardly recognizable as compared to the outstanding beauty and appeal of our campus today,” he said.
One thing that hasn’t changed, he added, is the culture of care and engagement at Northern. “As well, over the many years, ONU has been blessed with amazing presidential and administrative leadership and with great continuity of extraordinary, high-quality faculty,” he said.
Bryce relayed that the greatest lesson he gleaned from Grandpa Marty is: “Do things right the first time so you don’t have to go back and do them again.”
Grandpa Marty added this tidbit: “Chase your dreams. Reach beyond your grasp. Never question if you can. And always be stepping outside your circle of comfort.”
“Put your heart and soul into the things you care about.”
If not for his grandpa, Drew Hurley never would have considered Ohio Northern University for his civil engineering degree. Now in his third year at ONU, he’s glad he heeded his grandfather’s recommendation.
“ONU has a superior engineering program,” said Drew, “and I’ve discovered how much ONU values their students.”
Drew’s grandpa, Allen Maurice, JD ’69, graduated from ONU’s Pettit College of Law. He fondly recalls daily class debates with his Constitutional Law professor and living in a purchased house trailer near campus before he married. After graduation, he and his wife, Sue, settled in Urbana, Ohio, where he became a law partner and served on the board of directors for local banks.
Grandpa Maurice instilled in Drew the importance of working hard throughout your life. Getting your degree, he said, “is not the end of the journey, it’s just the beginning.”
When Drew’s studies get challenging, Grandpa Maurice reminds him to keep going. “He told me any degree or education worth getting wouldn’t be easy, but would always be doable as long as I put my heart and soul into it,” said Drew.
ONU’s campus has changed drastically since Grandpa Maurice’s days as a student, but he and Drew share a deep faith and an affinity for ONU’s Chapel programs. Drew has participated in service projects for the Chapel that, he says, “have helped me understand the Chapel’s deep roots on campus.”
Drew added that throughout his life, his Grandma and Grandpa Maurice have supported his every interest and ambition, from aviation to outdoor recreation to civil engineering.
“My grandparents are some of the first people I go to when I need advice or have questions,” he said. “They have always supported me, and this is a debt I will never be able to repay.”