Accent Stories

Marie Southerland

Alumna

Class of 2012

Marie Southerland ’12 earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Ashland University and has since dedicated her career to student development as an academic program specialist, advisor and teacher at The Ohio State University’s (OSU) main campus in Columbus, Ohio. While what she learned in the classrooms at Ashland helped prepare her for earning her doctorate, a campus job and the lifelong connections she made as an Eagle have made all the difference in her success.

“Junior and senior year, I worked as a campus tour guide,” Southerland says. While such a job would’ve seemed alien to her high school self, when the opportunity arose, she seized it.

“Laura Kruger interviewed me for the tour guide position,” Southerland says.  “I remember I got out of that meeting and I was like, I talked so much, but it was so fun. I thought, is this me? Is this who I really am? That was the moment I realized, yeah, maybe it’s okay–here in this environment, on this campus–to break out of my shell and just show everybody who I am.”

Remembering her own tour as a high school senior, her approach was the same with each prospective student and their family. She says: “I made sure to get to know them a little before we started. If they weren’t interested in business, for example, then I’d show them the building, but then we’d move quickly on to what they were interested in.” This approach, she says, set the groundwork for how she’d later teach and advise biochemistry students. “Figure out what they need to know, combine it with things I think they’ll want to know and help them stay engaged and focused on their goals. That’s the formula.”

She also formed valuable connections and mentorships at Ashland. Notable figures like Dr. Rebecca Corbin, Dr. Perry Corbin, and Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer played crucial roles in her development. Dr. Weidenhamer, in particular, taught her how to tackle difficult problems and work towards practical solutions.

“When I first took general chemistry,” she says,  “I struggled with stoichiometry and felt overwhelmed. Dr. Weidenhamer encouraged me to stick with it and reassured me that understanding would come with effort. His support helped me persevere, and I now use this story to motivate my own students. Persistence through challenges is a big key to success.”

She is also thankful for the generosity of those who came before her and made it possible for her to have the experiences she did at Ashland.

“Affording an education at Ashland can seem daunting,” she says. “Scholarships from Ashland and external sources were crucial for me to stay. Without them, I would have had to attend a larger school, where I don’t believe I would have thrived.”

Southerland remains deeply grateful for the experiences and opportunities she had at Ashland University. She credits the supportive environment and rigorous academics for her success. The mentorship and small class sizes at Ashland were particularly impactful, providing her with the personalized attention and support she needed to thrive. “I try to bring that small class size approach to my teaching duties at OSU.”

Marie emphasizes the key experiences that directed her towards a career in higher education. She remains committed to contributing to the growth and success of Ashland University, expressing her gratitude for the lasting relationship she maintains with her alma mater.

“Every time I hear or see something about Ashland,” she says,  “I feel it’s still a place I can call home. Despite changes in buildings and people, I know I would feel comfortable on campus. Ashland remains a special place with a great community that helped me grow into who I am today.”

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