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Scholars lend advice to new BGSU students

Whether donning their caps and gowns leads to graduate school or stepping out as young professionals, the five graduating Alumni Laureate Scholars are looking forward to remarkable opportunities.

Each year, several high-achieving high school students receive full-tuition and book scholarships as Alumni Laureate Scholars at Bowling Green State University. Funded by the generosity of BGSU alumni and founded in 2002, the program shapes students into leaders.

“The ALS program is not just a scholarship, but a way of life,” said Montique Cotton Kelly ’94, ’04, executive director of the BGSU Alumni Association. “As someone who has seen these students begin as 17-year-olds, it is amazing the transformation that has happened. Each one of our graduating scholars truly found their passion while attending BGSU, and each made a unique impact on campus.”

Tyler Gombash, of Delta, Ohio, will apply his biology major and chemistry minor to pursue a career in medicine.

Gombash didn’t wait to get involved at BGSU. As a first-year student in the Alumni Laureate Scholarship program, he participated in a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic that involved scrubbing in on surgeries and working in rural areas.

“I was in the field in a small village, and I liked the field work a lot. It kind of led me to want to be a family doctor,” Gombash said. “You got to see a lot. And there really was appreciation for what you’re doing for these very deserving patients.”

Being involved helped define his college career at BGSU, Gombash said.

“My advice is to get involved,” Gombash said. “Don’t be scared to try something new.”

Rob Furia, of Cincinnati, was recruited for a job as an actuary at Cincinnati Financial months ago. He completed so many of his course requirements early, so that he could spend his senior year in the Alumni Laureate Scholarship program taking electives and concentrating on his job search. It was at a job fair in October that he first secured a job interview there, and knew by November that he had the job.

He delayed the start of his job until September, which will give him the opportunity to spend his summer as an intern at a program in Colorado operated by H20 Church.  He has been active in the religious program throughout college, and will become the mentor that he looked up to as a younger member. He has also been active in the intramural spots program at BGSU, and the Student Alumni Connection.

“I’m not anxious to graduate,” Furia said. “I’m excited for the next stage of my life, but I’m not leaping for joy about leaving this place.”

He hopes the students that follow him at BGSU won’t count the days to graduation, either.

“Don’t just go to class. Go to college. That’s the best advice I’ve received,” Furia said. “You come here to get your degree, but it has so much more to offer. Get involved, find things you enjoy. Don’t just go to resume builders, don’t leave here feeling like you wasted a minute.”

Maggie Long, of Kenton, Ohio, plans to enter the law program at Washington and Lee University. Her experience in the Alumni Laureate Scholarship program and an internship through the Council for Advancement and Support of Education piqued her interest in raising much-needed funds for higher education. Building on her bachelor’s degree in political science, Long expects to specialize in estate planning and tax law in order to work in development and fundraising for a university.

Her interest in fundraising was enhanced by the positive relationships she developed with donors to her scholarship, especially Ed and Lynn Limbach, who she calls “surrogate grandparents.”

Maggie started as a music education major, and said she changed her mind about the career just two weeks after entering BGSU. Now, she’s sharing wisdom with her younger sister who will enter BGSU in the fall. The key — find an activity that represents your passion, but don’t over schedule yourself.

“I’ve just been on the phone with her, telling her to relax and enjoy the rest of your senior year,” Long said of her sister. “But I definitely recommend trying something you’ve never done before. Get involved, but know your limits.”

Chris Dyer, of Toledo, will soon wrap up his student teaching placement at a nearby high school and continue his job search for a classroom position in integrated social studies. His goal is to teach and coach hockey at his alma mater, St. Francis de Sales High School in Toledo. At BGSU, he has served as team captain and president of the club hockey organization, was active at St. Thomas More University Parish, coached youth hockey and skating at the BGSU Ice Arena, and participated in the Honors Program.

He said he’s grateful that his experience in the Alumni Laureate Scholarship program allowed he and his cohort to collaborate with high-ranking faculty and staff at BGSU as well as successful alumni. He hopes that incoming first-year students won’t forget their roots as they find ways to make the most of their time at BGSU.

“So many people want to come to college and try new things, which is fine within reason. But don’t throw away everything you’ve built yourself upon. Be you,” Dyer said. “It’s been a very good experience for me. I’m very glad I participated in the program and came to BGSU.”

Jake West, of Dayton, will take his business administration specialization in marketing to Chicago for a sales internship at MSDS Online this summer. He has applied for fifth-year funding through the Alumni Laureate Scholarship program, and expects to continue his study toward his bachelor’s degree next year.

As part of the program, this Alumni Laureate Scholar has joined the other four students in his cohort to host alumni in the President’s Suite at Falcon football games, volunteer at special events through the BGSU Alumni Association, and receive close mentorship from professionals at the BGSU Alumni Association. In college, he has been involved in Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and Undergraduate Student Government.

He hopes incoming first-year students at BGSU follow his lead, and get involved in student life on campus.

“My advice for freshmen would be to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves,” West said. “Don’t regret not doing something, but at the same time don’t regret doing something. Make the most of every opportunity you have.”

To learn more about the Alumni Laureate Scholarship program, click here.