DRIVEN: From the Test Track to the Autobahn

Scott DeVault ’09 paints a vivid picture: it was only a few months into his internship at Atlanta-based Porsche Cars North America, and he had all eyes of senior management staring at him expectantly.
An intern with the marketing department of the iconic brand, Scott was participating in a strategy session for future marketing tactics. He had just been asked his opinion for which strategy he thought would best reach the company’s target market. He had an opinion, but certainly didn’t expect the experts at the famous automaker to ask for it. However, this was a familiar scenario; Scott had experienced it many times during his classes at Oglethorpe. That gave him the confidence to speak up and deliver an intelligent, thoughtful response that he was proud to contribute.
Scott is not alone in that internship scenario, or at Porsche. Ryanne Arola ’10, who in 2010 was the first Oglethorpe student to secure an internship with Porsche Cars North America, had helped Scott get his foot in the door by suggesting that he apply for an open internship. He impressed his supervisors and was hired as a marketing analyst, and is now one of 10 Oglethorpe alumni working at Porsche, six of whom started out as interns. That’s no coincidence. Porsche’s corporate culture and Oglethorpe’s education seem to complement one another perfectly—and the word is out.
Perhaps one reason that Oglethorpe students fit in well at Porsche is because the two share a similar philosophy. “Internally at Porsche, we use the term ‘entrepreneurial spirit’,” Scott says, “and to me that sounds a lot like what Oglethorpe wants their students to possess upon graduation.” At Porsche, everyone’s opinion is considered and every student and employee is expected to share their unique thoughts. “At Oglethorpe,” Scott says, “it’s not just the curriculum that’s different, but how you are asked to learn it. It’s not about taking notes and regurgitating it on a test—you are asked questions and are expected to provide intelligent answers.”
“(At Porsche) everyone is very interested in what interns bring to the table,” agrees Alexandra (Lexi) Vassell , a 2013 graduate and new permanent hire at Porsche Financial Services. “From day one you are at meetings, they are asking you questions and they want your input. I was never once referred to as an intern; I was always referred to as someone’s colleague.
For Lexi, being a former OU soccer player was the key to helping her land her internship with Porsche just before she graduated. “I received an email notification about an open position in the COO’s office from the career services department at Oglethorpe,” Lexi says, “and I recognized the name of the person who posted the listing as a former teammate from OU.” Lexi reached out (via text message!) to Jamie Dillon ’08, an event marketing specialist at Porsche Cars North America, and soon landed the position. In fact, seven of the ten OU alumni working at Porsche were Stormy Petrel soccer players.
Lexi, now a remarketing advisor for Porsche Financial Services, says that she is confident in recommending Oglethorpe students for open internship positions with her employers, sometimes even when she doesn’t know them all that well. “A student I was familiar with through playing soccer at OU contacted me about an internship position, and the first thing I did was contact Dr. (Lynn) Guhde at Oglethorpe.” After receiving a good reference for the student from her former business professor, Lexi felt comfortable suggesting him for the position. “I’m putting myself out on a limb, recommending someone I don’t really know,” she admits, “but I can trust that since he attended Oglethorpe he clearly has the work ethic that we are looking for.” Lexi has been responsible for the hiring of four Oglethorpe students, whether as interns, contractors or full-time employees.
For Scott, one of the most important aspects of an Oglethorpe education is the close relationships that students form with their professors. “They know the name of everyone in the class and about their career goals and can present opportunities when they arise.”
Scott and Lexi have seen the value of the liberal arts and sciences and Oglethorpe’s Core curriculum in action. Scott transferred to Oglethorpe from a large university, and says, “all I had been studying for three years was business and marketing, and all of the sudden I’m thrown into the Core classes, reading things I never thought I would read and having discussions I never thought I would have.” Those discussions proved to be valuable in his workplace experiences, both as an intern and as an employee at Porsche. “After completing the Core curriculum you likely have a base knowledge about whatever topic is being discussed, and if you don’t, you feel confident that you can learn it because you’ve been in that position before. Knowing a little bit about art, music, business and economics has helped me relate to a wide array of people that I have met while representing Porsche at trade shows.”
“When I was a freshman,” adds Lexi, “some of my friends were at big colleges just sitting in the back of the classroom and felt like they were just a number. Meanwhile, I was presenting to my class a 20-page paper that I wrote about a philosopher or space travel, and my major was in behavioral science and HR! Because of that experience, I was able to walk into my internship with the mindset that whatever they throw at me I’ll be able to conquer.”
At the same time, having a group of fellow Petrels in the workplace has also been helpful for new interns and employees at Porsche. “It’s nice to have several people who know your background that you can go to and not have to feel embarrassed asking ‘dumb’ questions. They will often understand because they had the same questions when they were interns” Scott says. He laughs that new hires from Oglethorpe sometimes get good-natured razzing from other employees: “They say, ‘who the hell are you, and how do you know everyone already?’”
“My boss teases me and has asked if I’m trying to start a ‘cult,’” Lexi says with a smile. “He says that I should work in HR, because anytime there is an open position, I bring him a stack of resumes. Then when someone gets hired and the email announcement goes out, everyone replies with ‘another one from Oglethorpe? How many of you are there?’”
Scott is no longer surprised when asked for his opinion in meetings. Porsche is a good fit for him, and it seems as though his superiors agree. When a position recently opened up in his department, Scott’s supervisor asked him to bring in five résumés. When Scott asked why, the answer was simple: ‘because I want more people like you.’

Employee Recognition Luncheon Honors Staff and Faculty

President Larry Schall and Montrey Jackson, winner of the Staff Member of the Year Award.

President Larry Schall and Montrey Jackson, winner of the Staff Member of the Year Award.

The inaugural Employee Recognition Luncheon was held on Monday in the new Turner Lynch Campus Center, and a number of staff and faculty members were recognized for their exceptional service to Oglethorpe.

Oglethorpe staff members were invited to nominate their peers for six new staff awards that recognized individuals who have gone “beyond the call of duty.” All awards included a monetary prize. A total of 21 nominations were submitted for this year’s awards.

The top Staff Member of the Year Award for the 2012-13 academic year went to Montrey Jackson, systems & communications analyst in IT Services. His award was presented by coworker and nominator Al Fuller, who highlighted Montrey’s willingness to always stop what he’s doing to help anyone in the OU community. Montrey personally took it upon himself to research and implement the necessary steps for a gaming network on campus and has been integral in researching and implementing cost saving measures. When OU recently lost power across the entire campus, Montrey came to work even though employees were told to stay at home, in order to ensure that Oglethorpe’s network became functional. He is a consummate professional and has exemplified being a team player through his conduct, generosity, and service-oriented approach. 

Winners of staff awards, Katie Paden, Judy Zahn, Montrey Jackson, Suzy Lane, Laura Sinclair and Heather Staniszewski.

Staff award winners: Katie Paden, Judy Zahn, Montrey Jackson, Suzy Lane, Laura Sinclair and Heather Staniszewski.

Additional awards were presented to staff members who exhibited exemplary conduct during the past year in specific categories.
The winners of these awards are:
Professionalism Award: Suzy Lane, accounts receivable specialist, Business Office
Customer Service Award: Judy Zahn, circulation manager, Philip Weltner Library
Quality Award: Katie Paden, assistant director, Admission Office
Teamwork Award: Heather Staniszewski, assistant director, Center for Civic Engagement
Creativity Award: Laura Sinclair, reference librarian, Philip Weltner Library

The Staff Recognition Committee was responsible for reviewing and evaluating all of the nominations to determine the winners. This year’s committee included Melissa Briley, Becky Hall, George Kopec, Wayne Phipps, Renee Vary Keele and Toni Zimmerman. This year’s six award winners will form the Staff Recognition Committee for the upcoming academic year.

Staff and faculty that received pins commemorating years of service to Oglethorpe: Alan Woods, Cindy Vaios, Al Fuller, Wayne Phipps, Dan Giordano, Phil Ponder, Jon Akin, Stacia Kingston, Judy Zahn, Chris Summers, James Jones and Mike Rulison.

Staff and faculty who received pins commemorating years of service to Oglethorpe: Alan Woods, Cindy Vaios, Al Fuller, Wayne Phipps, Dan Giordano, Phil Ponder, Jon Akin, Stacia Kingston, Judy Zahn, Chris Summers, James Jones, Mike Rulison.

Additionally, pins were presented to employees who celebrated notable work anniversaries at Oglethorpe. Celebrating 5 years of service were Al Fuller, Leanne Henry-Miller, James Jones, Stacia Kingston, Wayne Phipps, Cindy Vaios and Alan Woods. Celebrating 10 years of service were Jon Akin, Dr. Lynn Gieger, Dan Giordano, Dr. Peter Kower, Dr. Seema Shrikhande, Chris Summers and Judy Zahn. Celebrating 15 years of service were Phil Ponder and Dr. Anne Rosenthal. Drs. Brad Smith and Dean Tucker celebrated 20 and 25 years, respectively. The awards with the most years of service went to Dr. Mike Rulison and Dr. Brad Stone, both whom celebrated 30 years of service with Oglethorpe this year.

Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees, and thank you to everyone who dedicates their professional lives to benefit Oglethorpe University!

Staff members from Admission, including David Dixon, Ryan Edwards, Katie Paden, Lucy Leusch, Alex Richey, Rebecca Secula.

Admission staff David Dixon, Ryan Edwards, Katie Paden, Lucy Leusch, Alex Richey, Rebecca Secula.

Development and Alumni Relations staff Sarah Minge, Heather Main, Barb Henry and Tess Beals.

Development and Alumni Relations staff Sarah Minge, Heather Main, Barb Henry and Tess Beals.

Oglethorpe Helps Veterans Transition to College

“Challenges of Going from the War Zone to the Classroom”, a recent story on NPR News, addressed the challenges faced by former service members as they transition from military life to college life. Oglethorpe University is proud to be named to the 2013 list of Top Military Friendly Schools and to be a Yellow Ribbon institution. Oglethorpe has designed programs and services to help make veterans’ transition seamless and to help build a foundation for a successful education and career.

Oglethorpe’s Adult Degree Program is the perfect fit for returning service members. The flexibility of the Adult Degree Program allows veterans to pursue their education at their own pace. Classes are available during the day, evenings, and on weekends, with no minimum course-load required. Students may easily transfer college credit earned at other institutions.

Attending college as an adult and veteran can include a mixture of emotions and Oglethorpe’s family atmosphere allows students to form personal connections with their professors and their fellow students. Small class sizes provide the opportunity for adult students to benefit from thought-provoking discussion and have their voice heard. Adult students bring unique life experiences and skills to class, and they will find an atmosphere conducive to sharing and learning.Veterans can expect to share their class time with other adults who take their education seriously.

Oglethorpe’s Academic Success Center provides support services for all students, and its staff members are there to answer questions and help with any academic needs Services include academic advising, disability accommodations and writing assistance. An on-campus counseling center provides a variety of individual, group, emergency, and outreach services designed to meet the specific needs of every student.

Oglethorpe’s commitment to veterans extends beyond the classroom, and our student-veterans and their supporters are active on campus. Here are just a few examples:

  • During the week of Veterans’ Day, Oglethorpe is hosting a series of events called “Our Country, Our Voices: Oglethorpe Honors Our Veterans.” These events, including lectures, panel discussions and a movie screening, give veterans and the community the chance to learn more and share their personal experiences about serving.
  • The student-run OU Veterans’ Club is an active group that provides support and advocacy for former service members and sponsors numerous events to honor veterans. Recently the club constructed and installed huge yellow ribbons to display at Oglethorpe’s front gate during the period around Veteran’s Day.
  • The fall 2012 exhibition at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art is Burden of Proof: National Identity and the Legacy of War” which explores the juxtaposition of the American and Vietnamese experience of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.  Jef Palframan ’13, the founder and president of the OU Veterans’ Club and a veteran himself, discussed “Violence, War and Culture: One Soldier’s View” as part of the lecture series in conjunction with the exhibition.


  • “War, Peace and Security” a special topics course, was recently taught by politics professor Dr. John Orme.
  • Oglethorpe welcomed the family of fallen soldier U.S. Army Sargeant Lakeshia Bailey for the unveiling of her “hero portrait”, one of over 2500 oil paintings by Utah native Kaziah Hancock. In 2003, Hancock founded Project Compassion, a nonprofit devoted to helping families heal by offering them hand painted oil-on-canvas likenesses of their loved ones.
  • Oglethorpe is proud of alumna Carlissa Carson ’05 who earned a spot on Diplomatic Courier’s “Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders” list for her “creativity, determination, and passion in tackling the world’s critical global challenges.”

If you or a loved one has served our country, or are still serving, and would like to further your education, Oglethorpe has joined forces as a Yellow Ribbon institution. Get the support you need to succeed at one of the 2013 Top Military Friendly Schools. For information on admission, visit our website for adult students or call 404-364-8383.

Oglethorpe University Ranked Among Top 50 U.S. Liberal Arts Colleges

Independent news magazine Washington Monthly has released its annual list of Top 100 Liberal Arts Colleges in the nation, and Oglethorpe University comes in at #49!

The magazine rates and ranks colleges in three different categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs) and service (encouraging students to give something back to their community). Within the service category, OU was ranked #9 for providing a high number of staff supporting community service, the number of academic courses that incorporate service, and for providing scholarships for community service.

Members of the incoming class sort and pack book donations at Books for Africa.

Oglethorpe provides numerous volunteer opportunities for its students throughout the year. Most recently, 350  freshman and first-year students participated in the annual Orientation Day of Service alongside faculty, staff and community volunteers. The group was spread out across Atlanta, volunteering with nine different nonprofit organizations. Five groups’ efforts went to environmental stewardship, lending a hand to Grant Park Conservacy, TREES Atlanta, Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative, Crop Mob Atlanta and Park Pride. Three groups volunteered at nonprofits that focus on homelessness and hunger issues: Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta, Senior Citizen Services of Atlanta and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  And, one group of 80 students helped to sort and pack books at Books for Africa.

Oglethorpe freshmen assemble beds at the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta.

Earlier this month, Oglethorpe also was named to Forbes magazine’s list of top colleges in the nation, and for six consecutive years has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.