One family’s “But for Ohio State” story

News Release Date: 

Written by Wayne Rowe

Ohio State Marion Human Resource Manager, Maryjo Mundey knows first-hand the impact the university has made on her life, as well as that of her children, and celebrates the culmination of that impact at spring semester graduation with her master’s degree.

Maryjo Mundey grew up a small town girl from the northeast Ohio blue collar community of Shelby.  She followed in the footsteps that were laid before her in the mid 1970’s.  “Get married, work hard, and raise a family.”

Those values were instilled in her from a very early age and are part of her character today, explained Mundey.  But, in the back of her mind, something was missing.

“I always wanted to go to college,” said Mundey.  “In my household, my dad was a blue collar worker.  We just didn’t talk about it (going to college).  It wasn’t that my parents were opposed to education.  It just wasn’t a priority for their kids to go to college.”

“You got married, worked hard, and raised your family,” she explained.

And that is exactly what Mundey did, marrying a small town boy right out of high school and soon having two kids together.  The couple explored life and employment opportunities in different parts of the country; Biloxi, MS, and later in a suburb of Chicago Illinois.  They were intrinsically drawn back to Ohio and family.

With 13 years of marriage under their belt, two young children, bills, and responsibility in tow, the couple’s marriage soon ended.  Mundey was a single mother trying to make ends meet.

One thing was always in the back of her mind, her desire to go to college.

While Mundey was busy carving out a career as an administrative assistant for a Marion, Ohio hospital, raising two kids, and trying to make ends meet, she got a job offer that would soon change her life.   She was offered a position with The Ohio State University, more specifically, the Alber Enterprise Center, a workforce development center on the Marion campus.

According to Mundey, her supervisor, the late Greg Passewitz, mentored her and helped her realize her potential.  She soon tapped into a deep seeded thirst for knowledge.

“He really pushed me,” said Mundey.

With the support of her supervisor and two children looking to her for guidance and support, it didn’t take much to ignite a sense of urgency and fortitude to pursue her Ohio State degree, Mundey shared.

“I wanted to make a good life for my kids and set a good example about how important education is,” she added.

She began taking courses towards her undergraduate degree at Ohio State Marion in 1998.   For many years, she made the lengthy commute to the Columbus campus from Marion, all the while, holding down a full-time job and raising her children.

“It was extremely hard to go to school, work, and raise my kids.  I am proud to say that what they saw in me is what gave them the encouragement to fulfill their dreams.  Our life revolved around school.

“We would sit around the dinner table, all doing our homework,” Mundey fondly remembered.

Mundey sacrificed for her children throughout her college career so they could take part in after school activities.  She recalled dragging a book bag to soccer matches and choir recitals.   Wherever the family needed to be, Mundey had her book bag.

“It was kind of joke in my household,” shared Mundey.  “‘Mom don’t forget your book bag,’” her kids teased.  “Typically the mom says that to the kids.”

In winter 2005, her hard work paid dividends with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The Ohio State University.

“When I walked across that stage, it was one of the best moments of my life,” she said, “other than the birth of my children.”

Her supervisor and mentor Greg Passewitz was there beside her to award her diploma.

Her journey at Ohio State resulted in the realization that she really enjoyed the concept of lifelong learning and that prompted her to pursue master’s degree in 2011.

“I knew if I wanted to get ahead financially in today’s world,” she explained “I was going to have to have a graduate degree.”

Spring semester 2013, Maryjo Mundey will earn her Master of Business Administration from the prestigious Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

Because of her determination and putting such value on higher education, Mundey believes she has set an example and positively impacted the success of her children.  Hard work is still part of the family mantra, but a college education is now more than a fleeting thought, but an expectation.

“I supported them 100%,” she said. “I really encouraged them to continue their education,”

Mundey’s daughter Crystal graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009 and now serves as Medical Director at Rascal Animal Hospital, in Dublin, Ohio.

Mundey’s son Ryan graduated in 2010 from The Ohio State University College of Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.  Today he is a research biologist at Scotts Miracle Gro in Marysville, Ohio.

“I am so adamant about staying in school and getting your education,” Mundey stated. “No one can ever take your education away from you.”

During her educational journey, she also worked her way up through the professional ranks of the university, from administrative assistant to program manager, and most recently, she was promoted to human resource manager at Ohio State Marion.

She hopes to eventually work towards a director or vice president position at Ohio State or with another university, allowing her to utilize the skills and knowledge culminated through her MBA program and 40 year work history.

Thinking back to those days in Shelby, Ohio, Mundey had sound advice for anyone that feels a college education is not in the cards.

“Just keep plugging away,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.  Follow your dreams.”

>>> To read Lynda Ross' grad story click here.