Dublin Villager

OSU program links college, high school students

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A group of Dublin High School graduates had a new experience last week, serving as educators rather than students.

Through the Ohio State University Hometown Ambassador Program, 14 Dublin graduates visited Coffman, Jerome and Scioto high schools last week, giving students a peek at an education in engineering.

During a visit to Scioto High School, four grads talked about college to more than 40 students, covering extra-curricular activities, potential careers and internships.

A 2011 Scioto graduate told students about his work with Buckeye Interactive and TechColumbus.

Kimberly Clavin, Dublin City School's manager of STEM initiatives, also got into the act, laying out her own engineering career from designing hard drives and RVs to working in acoustic engineering at Honda.

The OSU Hometown Ambassador program is one more way for students to get information from people in the field.

Several classes have already hosted speakers from many STEM fields.

"Hearing about college and careers from a student that is close to their own age and from their own school reinforces opportunities available to them in the very near future," Clavin said.

The program was developed after receiving several speaker requests from high schools, said Howard Greene, director of K-12 educational outreach for OSU's College of Engineering.

"They've done research, internships and have had a lot of rather interesting experience that relate to engineering," he said of the OSU students that volunteer for the program.

"And these students are only a few years removed from (high school students) themselves."

OSU did a pilot program last fall with three schools and this year expanded to 28 schools.

The program is unique to the College of Engineering, Greene said, because many people may know what doctors and lawyers do, but don't know the many careers that can come from an engineering degree.

"Engineering is a unique space right now, especially in respect to the relationship with K-12," Greene said.

"The reason is there are very few individuals that are trained in engineering that are trained in K-12," he said.

"There's a desire to get an authentic experience."

The reaction from OSU students to the volunteer program has been strong, Greene said.

Anirudh Damughatla, a 2011 Coffman graduate, said he wished there had been such a program when he was in high school.

"I always wanted to give back to the community," he said. "I'm kind of jealous.

"I wish I had some of these classes. Some are (college) freshman year classes."

The International Baccalaureatte Diploma program did help prepare Damughatla for college, though.

"There was extended essay and you had to do a research project," he said.

"It was like a mini research project," he said. "It was a starting point for me."

Giving students a starting point for college is the exact aim for OSU's Hometown Ambassador program.

"To see them all going back to their school and getting letters back from participants saying 'This is so fun. I want to do this again,' it's really encouraging," Greene said.

"These students are asking (college kids) questions they don't have anyone to ask."