MANSFIELD – Jeremy Secrist was the first in his family to go to college. Now he’s overseeing the next generation of scholars as the superintendent of Lexington Local Schools.
While receiving an alumni award Monday night, Secrist credited OSU Mansfield for providing him the support he needed to find and follow his dreams.
“I wish I could go back to see my 18-year-old self because I think I would have told him, ‘You’re going to be OK. You made the right choice,” Secrist said.
Secrist earned his degree in English at Ohio State Mansfield. Upon graduation, he took a one-year position as a high school teacher and coach with plans to return to college, get his master’s degree and become a college professor.
Instead, he found a passion for education. Secrist continued teaching, then completed his master’s and began his career in education administration. He became Lexington’s superintendent in the fall of 2020.
Secrist urged fellow OSU Mansfield alumni to share their stories.
“People need to know that here in Mansfield, there’s an institution where affordable tuition is not an oxymoron and where amazing professors are researching or writing or creating beautiful works of art,” he said. “(They) are literally making the leaders of tomorrow, we’re all living proof of that.
Marcella Smith and Kelly Anne Christiansen were also honored as distinguished alumni during Monday’s annual alumni banquet.
Smith has held senior human resource positions at companies throughout Ohio and is currently the Chief Administrative Officer at Ohio Mutual Insurance Group. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from The Ohio State University, followed by an MBA from Ashland.
Smith recently joined the board of OSU’s Fisher College of Business Center for Operational Excellence. The Shelby native urged current OSU students to be open to the possibilities available after graduation.
“Anything is possible with your Ohio State University Mansfield education,” she said. “It will open new doors for you. Please be open and take risks because anything is possible.”
Christiansen was a single mother of two children when she started college. She graduated with her bachelor’s after several years of balancing parenting, a career and education. Upon graduation, she was named head of human resources for the Richland County, where she works with employees from all public offices and departments of Richland County.
Christiansen praised OSU Mansfield for the opportunities available to students in all walks of life.
“I am humbled by this honor,” Christiansen said. “This wouldn’t be possible if this branch campus didn’t exist.
“I was the most non-traditional student, facing a lot of challenges,” she added. “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for that opportunity.”
The campus also recognized Brooke Miller with the emerging alumni award. While raising a family and pursuing a career in banking, Miller completed her degree in English at the Mansfield campus in 2019 and her master’s in business from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Miller serves the community through her involvement with Harmony House, the Doug Castle Legacy Project, Richland Young Professionals, Leader Richland and Mansfield Rotary. This year, she was invited to serve as Guest Servant Leader at Youngstown State University’s Jim Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork.
“Ohio State has meant everything to me,” Miller said while videoconferencing in from a Disney trip with her family.
“It’s been my support system. It has taught me that I can do so much more than I thought I ever could and I’m not done yet.