Feature Story

From OWU Mentee to OSU Mentor

February 26, 2018 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan Alumna Wins 2018 Outstanding First-Year Advocate Award

“After making it through my freshman year, I wanted to help other Ohio Wesleyan students feel like they mattered and that they could be successful,” says Amy Collins-Warfield ’05, reflecting on her years as an orientation leader and a residential assistant at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Collins-Warfield, now the coordinator of first-year programs at The Ohio State University, recently received OSU’s 2018 Outstanding First-Year Advocate Award. 

Through her transition into college, Collins-Warfield says, she found a support system of academic and faculty mentors who pushed her to be a better student and leader.

“I started at OWU as a straight-A student who never had to study,” recalls Collins-Warfield, who majored in history and minored in zoology. “I vividly remember receiving a very low grade on my first-ever college exam, in Professor Sally Waterhouse’s zoology course. I suddenly realized I had no idea how to succeed in college. 

“I approached Professor Waterhouse for assistance and she patiently suggested study tactics, while reminding me that I was admitted to OWU because I was a capable student,” Collins-Warfield says. “Over this first semester, my grade improved, but more importantly, I gained skills for college success and beyond. I used some of those study tactics even through my graduate school career!” 

Of her caring faculty mentors and OWU connections, she says: “They regularly asked how I was doing, and remembered personal details about my life, which made me feel like I mattered. There were moments in my first year when I talked about transferring colleges or even leaving college altogether. These professors kept me at OWU by boosting my confidence and helping me feel valued. And there were many others who played a role, even down to the housekeeping staff and the food service staff who knew my name and asked how I was doing." 

In turn, Collins-Warfield says, she wanted to be a mentor to new Bishops during her OWU days.

“I’m not sure I could have articulated this at the time, but I was intentionally seeking opportunities to help ease students’ transition to college,” she says.

Collins-Warfield credits OWU staff member Nancy Bihl Rutkowski, a former director of orientation, with teaching her skills that helped her earn the OSU recognition.

“She inspired my confidence and creativity,” Collins-Warfield says of Rutkowski, who now serves as OWU’s director of student leadership and first-year foundations. “She also taught me so much about problem-solving, being a good listener, and viewing students as complete and dynamic individuals. ...  

“Under Nancy’s guidance, my involvement with the orientation office provided my first opportunities to encourage students as they transition to college,” Collins-Warfield says. “It is fitting that I have come full circle and am now leading orientation programming once again.”

Ohio Wesleyan also has contacts and programs to support first-year students in their college transition. Learn more here.