OSU graduate reflects on Buckeye experience

For the better part of a decade, Megan Rutledge has identified herself as a Buckeye. On May 10, when she joined 10,000 other graduates for the pomp and circumstance that is an Ohio State graduation in the Ohio Stadium, this connection she has to the state's No. 1 public university in the state only strengthened.

"Being a Buckeye means a thousand things to me, but I think the number one thing is family," said Rutledge, who completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Ohio State Lima in 2011 and received her Doctorate of Optometry from Ohio State this spring.

Rutledge, a Wapakoneta High School graduate, began her college career like so many students at Ohio State Lima. Faced the reality that she would be fiscally responsible for her own college education, Rutledge began searching for extra sources of student aid. She found one of those sources in the form of a donor-funded scholarship that provided her with full-tuition to Ohio State Lima for four years.

“I will never forget the day I was awarded the Arthur and Marian Rudd Scholarship,” said Rutledge. “This scholarship meant the chance for me to go to college. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that were opened up to me as a result of being named a Rudd Scholar. I was able to begin graduate school with a zero balance. What a great feeling!”

Ohio State Lima awards more than $450,000 in scholarships each year and nearly 90 percent of its students apply for financial aid. For students like Rutledge, scholarships are what allow them to thrive and take advantage of the full array of opportunities available on a regional campus like Ohio State Lima.

“I had direct interaction with faculty members every day at Ohio State Lima. Class sizes were small and it wasn’t uncommon for me to even stop in and eat lunch with my Biology professors in the lab room,” said Rutledge, who worked on undergraduate research with one of these professors during her senior year in Lima. “Not many students get to say that about their undergraduate college instructors. That’s what makes studying on a regional campus such a perfect blend of a small campus with large resources and opportunities.”

By being one of just a handful of students at a time working directly with a tenure-line professor, Rutledge gained the experience, connections and knowledge that ultimately aided in her successful application to optometry school. When Rutledge arrived on the Columbus campus for her first year of optometry school, she felt more than prepared for the task at hand.

“I was comfortable interacting with my professors thanks to my past experience in the research labs in Lima, and was familiar with the layout of research documents and how to interpret those results.”

Having already passed all three of her national board exams, Rutledge is ready to focus on her future as an optometrist while never losing sight of her Buckeye roots.

“It’s great to know that no matter what, I’ll always be able to turn to my OSU family for anything throughout my career and beyond.”

Rutledge’s next step is a year-long ocular disease residency at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center.