Spring 2023 will mark the finale of Kris Hovsepian’s 43rd–and final–year of teaching at Ashland University.
And while the Assistant Professor of Marketing is certainly a familiar and beloved name around campus and the community, if life had unfolded even a little bit differently, she may never have become an educator at all.
After receiving her degree in Spanish history and literature from the Universidad de Sevilla in Seville, Spain, and trying her hand as an international sales representative for American Greetings, she and her father launched a book fair business that was successful enough to be bought out by Scholastic in the late 1970s. When a teaching position opened up at the college in her husband’s hometown of Ashland, Ohio, she decided to try her hand at education.
For the countless student lives she’s impacted since making the choice to share her time, expertise and experience both in the classroom and as the head of a number of student entrepreneurial organizations–including Students In Free Enterprise (now Enactus)–those early experiences were critical to what she has been able to pass on.
“In higher education, we push these students between the ages of 18 and 22 to choose what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives,” she says. “Which is crazy. I never thought for a moment I would go into teaching. The key to education, then, is to give them the knowledge, skills and mindset they need to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way.”
One way she has continued to support her students’ adaptive and critical thinking skills is her commitment to finding the right internship opportunities. The benefits of these experiences, though, sometimes unfold in surprising ways.
“I had a student–we’re still very close to this day–who was a marketing major at the time,” she says. “We found her a well-paid marketing internship in Cleveland. At the end of that summer, she came to me and said, ‘That was the perfect internship for me.’ When I asked why, she replied, ‘Because I hated every minute of it.’ She switched her major to finance and has had a successful career in the investment world since then.”
So, after 43 years of doing a job she once considered an unlikely path, what has kept Kris engaged in helping students discover their calling and find success moving forward?
“I fell in love with helping people,” she says. “It’s so much fun. It’s so exciting to look out across the classroom and realize they’re getting it. I push them to be brave, take chances. I try to prepare them for life, not just a job. I have a printout on my door, the gist of which is: stay with the people you love, ignore those you don’t, falling down is part of life and getting up is success.”