Feature Story

September 18, 2023 | By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan’s fall OWU Connection Conference includes a Community Service Learning Involvement Fair on the JAYwalk. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

OWU Connection Conference

Fall Event Seeks to Inspire Students, Help Them Plan Their Academic Journeys

So much is happening at Ohio Wesleyan University’s second annual OWU Connection Conference that students are even able to “connect with the cosmos” during the Sept. 28 event.

No classes will be held during the daylong conference to ensure that students are able to spend the day attending presentations and panel discussions designed to help them “Think Big” (research complex issues from multiple academic disciplines and pursue independent, creative work), “Do Good” (volunteer to help others), “Go Global” (gain international perspective), and “Get Real” (translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning). As of this fall, incoming students are required to complete at least one OWU Connection experience before they graduate.

Oh-Wooo Opportunities

Megan Ellis, executive director of the OWU Connection, said the day is intended to be inspiring, informative, and eye-opening for the campus community.

“By experiencing the OWU Connection Conference, students hear about opportunities they may have never imagined, discover how they, too, can take part in those experiences, learn how the OWU Connection can help fund experiences they want to explore, and build community with others who share similar interests,” said Ellis, M.Ed., a 2005 OWU graduate. “They also have the opportunity to bond with faculty members who have open research opportunities and staff members who can serve as mentors and connectors to incredible alumni.”

Specifics and Surprises

Students who attended last year’s inaugural conference will see even more specific sessions and some fun surprises, too, Ellis said.

“This year, we’re bringing the cosmos to campus through sun-safe telescopes and hands-on lessons from Perkins Observatory,” she said. We’re hearing from leaders in the Public Health industry – and helping future leaders get involved in the new major. We’re excited to host a session on OWU’s upcoming Mock Convention – one of the country’s longest-standing political simulations. …

“New this year,” Ellis continued, “is a featured speaker. Our fall presenter is Tracy Gorham, a visionary entrepreneur and front-end developer who is deeply committed to transforming the lives of students through the power of human connection. Her story of perseverance and incredible triumph over challenges will inspire everyone who attends.” Gorham’s presentation, OWU’s Latham Bishop Ventures Lecture, will be held at 11 a.m. in Chappelear Drama Center.

Popular Favorites

Back again will be the Patricia Belt Conrades Summer Science Research Symposium, featuring poster presentations by more than 20 OWU students who participated in the University’s 10-week summer research experience; the Community Service Learning Involvement Fair, with local nonprofits setting up on the JAYwalk to share volunteer and additional opportunities for students to help others; and Black Wall Street, an opportunity for conference-goers and others to learn, network, and shop from local BIPOC-owned businesses and BIPOC student-entrepreneurs who will promote their businesses. Black Wall Street is sponsored by OWU’s Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship.

A full schedule for the Sept. 28 event, including detailed information about all presenters and presentations, is available online at owu.edu/ConnectionConference.

A Navigation Guide

Ellis said the OWU Connection team looks forward to receiving feedback from students about the annual event to ensure that it is meeting their needs and helping to prepare them for completing their OWU Connection requirement.

“The OWU Connection can feel a little overwhelming at times,” she said, “especially when you’re trying to decide what you’re going to do or how you’re going to do it. The OWU Connection Conference helps each student explore the variety of opportunities, learn which options they are most passionate about, and how to navigate the whole Connection.”