Alumni Spotlight

Derek Lewis

Gaming & Simulation | Class of 2010

"I'm still in contact with a lot of faculty members. They care about my success." - Derek Lewis, Class of 2010

Knowing he wanted a career in video game design, Derek Lewis was only in junior high when Shawnee State University announced the addition of its two gaming programs. With the university being close to his hometown, Lewis received an academic scholarship and the opportunity to play basketball for the Bears that sealed his decision.

Balancing academics and athletics was not always easy, but Lewis found it easier to do with the support of his coaches and teammates. As he dove further into his work in the classroom, the individualized attention from his faculty throughout projects really stood out to him.

"Shawnee offered a lot of one-on-one help in the classroom - which is huge," said Lewis. "Greg Lyons (Professor of Gaming & Simulation) ran our classes very similar to how a game studio does. It really prepared me for a job."

Currently, Lewis is working at Insomniac Games in Durham, North Carolina. While on the design team, Lewis worked on the newest Spider-Man release.

"It was really one of my favorite projects to bring to life," said Lewis who always dreamed of working at Insomniac Games. "It's amazing to be able to have other people enjoy what you've been working on for so long."

Sharing his experiences now, Lewis does not hesitate to encourage students to pursue Shawnee State's gaming program.

"The faculty are really willing to work with you," he said. "As long as you're willing to put in the effort and dedication to the program, SSU will set you up for success."

Shawnee State's gaming programs have been ranked on the Princeton Review's site for nine consecutive years, ranking in the Top 20 in 2019. Learn more about the gaming programs by visiting gaming.shawnee.edu.

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Faculty Spotlight

Mariah Woodward ('06) | Dental Hygiene

Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene

"There are endless opportunities as a Dental Hygienist and we are a part of helping students find their opportunity." - Mariah Woodward, Class of 2006

When Mariah Woodward (SSU 2006) was going through the Dental Hygiene program on campus, she always knew one day she wanted to return to teach in her field. In 2009, she did just that by becoming an adjunct faculty member and then becoming a full-time professor in 2015.

"Barb Duncan was one of my professors when I went through the program," she said. "She was very invested in her students and I always told her that one day I wanted to do her job. When Barb retired, it just worked out that I was hired on to replace the position."

Woodward splits her time with students between the classroom and the Dental Clinic, taking the time to get to know each of her students in the program.

"It's important to me that these students see me as someone they can come to," said Woodward. "I have the opportunity to share with them that I was once them, going through the same program. So it helps build that relationship and allows me the opportunity to see how to help them succeed."

As part of a Dental Clinic serving the immediate tri-state area, the Dental Hygiene program allows students the opportunity to work with many different patients and different field experiences.

"Our graduates see more hours in the clinic than most other universities," said Woodward. "That means they have more time with patients, more time developing their skills, and more time becoming better dental hygienists."

This fall, the Dental Hygiene program will be hosting their annual Alumni Day on October 12, during Homecoming Weekend. The event offers alumni the opportunity to earn part of their continuing education hours on campus while meeting with current students and connecting with past friends and professors.

"Alumni Day is one of my favorite days," said Woodward, who presented at last year's event. "It gives alumni the opportunity to see this area again, while also supporting the future of the program and its growth."

More information on Dental Hygiene Alumni Day is available at ssuhomecoming.com along with a full schedule of the weekend's activities.

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Event Recap

Alumni Association Awards | April 2019

The 2019 Alumni Awards were presented at this year's President's Gala in April.
The 2019 Alumni Award recipients with SSU President Dr. Jeffrey Bauer. From left to right: Matthew Purcell, Eric D. Goodman, and Heather Cantrell. Not pictured: Anna Purpero, Megan VanBuskirk, and Anthony Cappel II.

The Shawnee State University Alumni Association recognizes six individuals for their achievements in their career fields and their communities with the presentation of this year’s Alumni Association Awards.

Distinguished Alumnus

Eric D. Goodman | Class of 1995

Distinguished Alumni Ambassador

Heather Cantrell | Class of 2003

Medal of Merit

Matthew Purcell | Class of 2000

Alumni Community Service

Anna Purpero | Class of 2011

Megan VanBuskirk | Class of 2010

Outstanding Recent Graduate

Anthony Cappell | Class of 2015

Read the full press release of the 2019 Alumni Association Awards online.

Chillicothe Paints Night | June 2019

Over 100 alumni and friends attended Shawnee State Night at the Chillicothe Paints.

In June, the Alumni Association hosted Shawnee State Night at the Chillicothe Paints. Over 100 alumni and friends gathered together for a pre-game social and cookout before the Chillicothe Paints took on Terre Haute REX.

President Jeffrey Bauer threw out the first pitch, while Eric Putnam (Senior Admissions Associate, Head Coach of Men's Cross Country and Track & Field) sang the National Anthem before the game.

View more photos from the event online or on the SSU Alumni Association Facebook Page.

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Shawnee Fund Spotlight

President's Gala raises $40,000 for SSUDF Grant Awards

The annual SSU President's Gala benefitted the SSUDF Grants program.

The annual SSU President's Gala brought together faculty, staff, partners, and friends of the university for an annual fundraiser hosted by the SSU Development Foundation. Over $40,000 was raised at this year's event to benefit the SSUDF Grants Program.

The SSUDF Grants Program is part of The Shawnee Fund. In the 2018-19 academic year alone, the program awarded over $25,000 in support of projects that impact recruitment, retention, green initiatives, campus safety, entrepreneurship, and more.

View photos from this year's President's Gala online. Learn more about the SSUDF Grants Program by visiting givetossu.com.

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Upcoming Events

Homecoming Weekend | October 11 & 12, 2019

The annual Homecoming, Alumni & Family Weekend will be held October 11 & 12, 2019.

Homecoming, Alumni & Family Weekend | October 11 & 12, 2019

The annual Homecoming, Alumni & Family Weekend will be held October 11 & 12, 2019 and this year the university invites you to come back and Party Like It's 1999! Reconnect with your past classmates and friends while reliving your favorite SSU traditions in a weekend full of events for all ages.

Stop by the annual Homecoming Parade, join in on Shawnee State Pub Quiz, watch the Bears compete on the volleyball court and soccer field, and enjoy games and refreshments for all at the annual SSU Tailgate.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Women's Basketball team clinching SSU's first-ever team National Championship. Welcoming the team and coaches as the Grand Marshals for the parade, the team will be honored in a reception during the weekend.

SSU also welcomes back all members of SSU Greek Organizations for a chartering recognition ceremony for the national organizations presently on campus: Tau Kappa Epsilon, Theta Phi Alpha, Delta Phi Epsilon, and Phi Mu Delta.

Learn more about Homecoming, Alumni & Family Weekend by visiting ssuhomecoming.com for a list of the full activities and events happening throughout the weekend.

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Campus Spotlight

Alumni Ambassadors & First-Gen Mentors

The Shawnee State Alumni Association is looking for alumni to help give back in meaningful way as it launches the Alumni Ambassador Program and expands the I Am First-Gen Mentorship Program.

The Alumni Ambassador Program is asking alumni to help in recruitment efforts. If you are interested in being an Alumni Ambassador you will work hand-in-hand with the Shawnee State Office of Admissions for college fairs, visiting high schools, or following up with potential students that are interested in Shawnee State.

The I Am First-Gen Mentorship Program will begin its third year on campus this year serving over 70 first-generation college students. Beginning this fall, Shawnee State is expanding the program and seeking alumni to become first-gen mentors. Interested alumni will be partnered with a Shawnee State student to help them navigate the transition to college life or the transition to post-graduate life. Mentors are asked to communicate with students twice a semester via email, in person, or text messaging.

If you are interested in becoming an Alumni Ambassador or First-Gen mentor fill out the form online or contact the Alumni Association at alumni@shawnee.edu.

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Shawnee State University Alumni Association