Founder’s Legacy Continues to Open Doors of Opportunity for Students at Ohio State Newark
Great leaders know that when you open the door for others, doors open for you. John Gilbert Reese, an extraordinary supporter of the Licking County community and a founding benefactor of the Newark campus, had a passion for philanthropy, community service and education.
His belief in the power of education opened real doors in 1957, when — with friends Howard LeFevre and Al Milliken — Reese advocated to establish a regional campus of The Ohio State University in Newark. Later, recognizing the need for a technical institute to meet both student and employer needs in Licking County, the three took the necessary steps to help establish Central Ohio Technical College (COTC). Throughout his lifetime, he continued to be a supporter of both colleges. One of many significant examples occurred in 2010 when Reese and his wife, Louella, called the community to action to support the campus with the Next Generation Challenge. A campaign that raised an astonishing and unparalleled $21 million in scholarship funds for Ohio State Newark and COTC. With this campaign, the doors of opportunity for countless individuals opened.
In November 2018, Mr. Reese died at age 93. To honor his extraordinary legacy and to inspire the next generation of community leaders, COTC, Ohio State Newark and the Newark Campus Development Fund established the Next Generation Community Leadership Award. Ashley Moore, a psychology major at Ohio State Newark from Pataskala, whose passion for community service echoes that of Reese, became the inaugural winner of the award for her exceptional campus leadership and passionate community involvement.
For Moore, helping others has always been second nature. Growing up, she was the kid who would bring home stray dogs and cats, share her lunch with the hungry kid at school who did not have enough to eat, and speak up for the classmate who could not find their voice. This inherent part of her nature created a passion for community service that she shares with Reese and brought with her when she enrolled at Ohio State Newark.
On campus, Moore works in the Office of Retention and Student Success Initiatives as an academic peer coach for engineering and first-generation college students. In her role, she tutors and supports students from diverse backgrounds as they navigate academic challenges. When she started the position in her sophomore year, she did not consider herself as someone others would look up to. Despite this, she developed into the role of lead coach and gained recognition as a campus leader.
“As a lead coach, I have opportunities to mentor first-generation and engineering students. As a fellow first-generation college student, I have been able to share my experiences with students, take initiatives to help guide them through any obstacles they face, and be there as a friend,” Moore said.
Moore’s leadership continues off-campus, where her passion for community service is opening doors for others. She volunteers at Together We Grow Gardens — an organization that provides fresh produce from community gardens to low-income areas in Newark. Moore developed a survey to collect valuable community data, which helped the organization secure critical grant funding through the United Way. For the last two years, she has also served as an ally for young girls and women of color through the global non-profit Women2Women. She said the experience, “opened her eyes to the injustice her friends of color face daily and made her a strong advocate for minorities.”
One of the most impactful volunteering experiences Moore had was at Hope Farm in Granville, a therapeutic equine facility that assists individuals with developmental disabilities. During her time as a volunteer, she worked with a young man who is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy. Moore enjoyed watching him improve his overall health and well-being while living his life to the fullest.
Being awarded the Next Generation Community Leadership Award is a great honor, but the most rewarding part for her is the experience of volunteering and the opportunity to be a positive influence on the lives of others. Moore said, “I am engaged in my community because I am passionate about helping people and I want to be a part of progressive change in their lives.”
To continue the legacy of Reese, Moore plans to stay committed to community involvement and encourage others to get involved. She believes that continuing to open doors for others is the best way to share and honor the enduring legacy established by Reese.
Photo caption: Fellow award-winner COTC student Adam Taylor, Sarah Reese-Wallace and Ashley Moore.
The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service-learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.