Tag Archives: family

OU Homecoming

Brittany Hesson

Brittany Hesson,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 13 October 2019

My favorite part about fall in Athens is Homecoming. Homecoming brings lots of alumni back to campus to celebrate Ohio University. The town is packed with people who come back to connect with friends and enjoy all the things they left in Athens when they graduated.

During Homecoming Weekend, the university puts on a variety of events for the students, alumni, and locals. These events include the Homecoming Parade and pep rally. My favorite event that happens is the football game.

My parents and my sister come down and we tailgate before the game. I really enjoy this time with my family because we just sit around, eat food, and talk. It is the perfect time to celebrate the Bobcats while spending time with my family.

Another exciting part of Homecoming and having the alumni in town is watching the alumni 110 marching band. The band plays in the Homecoming Parade as well as at halftime during the football game. It is so exciting to see the alumni members on the field having a blast like they did when they were students.

Seeing the band happy to be back in Athens makes me think about when I will become an alumna and what I will do when I come back. I look forward to coming back to visit my friends, the beautiful campus, and enjoying the football game with my family.

Spring Semester Wrapping Up

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 22 April 2019

As the semester winds down and graduation approaches, I am trying to make the most of my weekends left as a college student. In a month’s time I will be moving into my apartment in Ontario, Ohio to start my first full-time engineering position. I am very excited about this, but I will miss all the friends I made in Athens as well as back home in Pennsylvania. So, the last few weekends, I balanced my engineering projects with enjoying time with friends and family.

My mom came up to visit me a couple weekends ago, all the way from Texas where she and my dad have recently moved. On her last day in Athens, we strolled along the bike path on the Hocking River. The cherry blossom trees were in full bloom and lined the river as far as the eye could see. The pretty pink blossoms were perfect for a mother daughter selfie.

Athens Cherry Blossoms

Last weekend, I went home to Pittsburgh and stayed with my close friend from high school. We attended Tekko, put on by the Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society. The event featured a ramen bar, panels with topics like origami and voice acting, art by local artists, and arcade games such as Street Fighter and Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).


This was a moment of self-discovery for me as I realized that I have no rhythm and consistently made a fool of myself playing DDR. Regardless, I had an awesome time and the convention was definitely worth the three hour drive.

Donkey Coffee

This weekend, I am at Donkey Coffee, a favorite Athens haunt, with my roommate. She’s just a junior so it is only the end of a semester for her. I’m trying to take in every detail, so I will have these fond memories to look back on. I photograph the milk heart in my latte while I research metallic corrosion. I am still a student, after all, at least for right now.

“Moving” to Texas

Veronica Ammer

Veronica Ammer,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 10 March 2019

When I left my home state of Pennsylvania and went off to college, I made my parents “empty-nesters.” It was tough in the beginning. My first semester, I cried when my parents dropped me off and again when the they left after a weekend visit halfway through the semester.

When I finally went home for the first time for Thanksgiving, I was so relieved to see that home had stayed the same. We had the same orange couch with the down feathers and the Pittsburgh Penguins playing on the television. I thought that while college was a new experience and I was growing into a new person, home would always be home: constant and unchanging. This has not been the case.

Looking back, it seems silly that I expected life in Pennsylvania wouldn’t move on without me. Amid all the changes, the biggest has been my parents’ relocation to Texas. This spring break, instead of returning to the familiar, I got to adventure to the unknown.

Dallas, Texas

When I landed in Dallas, my parents knew they would need to feed and water their daughter. I expected them to take me to a burger joint or maybe a steakhouse, because, well, it’s Texas. I was pleasantly surprised, albeit a little confused, when they took me to get sushi instead.


At this restaurant, the sushi passed by our table on a conveyor belt. I was entirely too amused and ate far too much.



After dinner, we went to a Japanese supermarket featuring Hello Kitty udon and some tasty free samples. Visiting Texas astonishingly came with a brief tour of Japan.

Afterwards, we went to my parents’ new apartment where we watched the Penguins at Bluejackets game. Overall, my first day in Texas was well spent and I am looking forward to some more new adventures this spring break. Go Pens!

Flying to Arizona

Julia Nebbia

Julia Nebbia,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 2 October 2018

My whole life I’ve only ever known vacation on the road. My father has driven our family to (and across) almost every one of the United States of America. From several mini-vacations to two full cross-country roadtrips, I’ve seen a lot of America from the car’s perspective. While it has been amazing, I’ve always wanted to see the country from 40,000 feet in the air.

Finally, the opportunity presented itself when my sister sent me a birthday card with the promise of flying me out to visit her in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was only four months earlier that my family drove across the country to move her in. Fast forward, to August 9th, 2018 and I am arriving at the Cleveland Hopkins Airport excited beyond belief to finally be above the clouds. Luckily, I had my sister’s friend with me to help navigate the airport and get to our boarding gate on time.

Waiting for the plane to take off is a moment I will never forget. I don’t think I broke my attention from the window for more than 10 minutes out of the four-hour flight. I couldn’t believe my eyes. As we got closer to Arizona, the view of the mountains and red rocks was spectacular.

Pink Jeep Tour

When we arrived in Scottsdale, my sister had a full agenda set for us for the next five days. We spent a whole first day in Sedona, hiking, and going on one of the famous Pink Jeep Tours. The last day, my mom treated my sister and I to a one night’s stay at an incredible resort.

It was the best vacation I could have asked for and I cannot thank my sister enough for treating me to my first ever flight.

I couldn’t wait to board the plane again for the flight home.

My Niece Leighton

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 15 April 2018


Why does a cute, innocent, little baby have to go through cancer? Why does it have to be the rarest kind of acute myeloid leukemia for children? Why have we found treatments for this rare type of leukemia, which is most commonly found in the elderly and those with Down syndrome, yet it is still not treatable in young kids like our Leighton? Why does every amazing treatment and therapy still seem to give hope and then throw a brick in our faces? Why do families get ripped apart and put in a hospital for over 6 months? Why does this monster called cancer even exist? All questions with no answers. Unanswered questions I have to live with every day. I have to find a place for those and move on. Our work is not done. Maybe, maybe I will ever find an answer, but for now unanswered and rest in peace…


…Even though this happened to my own family, to my beautiful baby cousin and princess Leighton Hailey van Leeuwen when 12 months old, we will never give up. For 6 months, Leighton smiled every day and never ever gave up. She always laughed and fought back. Now that she’s brought to sleep by a magical fairy, it’s up to us, her family and friends, to share her story and keep her alive!


You can help by telling and sharing her story on social media and be part of Team Leighton while this June I step in the life of Forrest Gump to run across America. Although our support could not beat Leighton’s monster, it might help beat that of someone else. This is partly the reason why I decided to run for her when I applied to be a 4K for Cancer runner 5 months ago: supporting my family from overseas while sharing her battle with cancer as a newborn.

Every day for 6 months I talked to the amazingly strong parents—my cousin and his wife—to give them support while they lived in a hospital and the Ronald McDonald house to do everything for their first little baby Leighton. To show her all their love as parents and in an attempt to keep her alive.


Now that she is the brightest star in heaven, I realized how much my support meant for my family… I am so proud of Leighton and the rest of my family! All I can say to all of you now is to please be aware and create awareness. Cancer could happen to everyone.

Please be aware of your surroundings, treat everyone with respect, and please support them when they are going through a rough time. I am proud to be part of my Mom’s “van Leeuwen” family and the family of the Ulman Cancer Fund.


I will always carry that pride with me. Please support me in my mission for Team Leighton and UCF:
         “We envision a world in which no young adult faces cancer alone”

and in which we keep Leighton Hailey van Leeuwen her story alive!

For more information: https://ulman.z2systems.com/illona-hartman