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Class of 2020 Success Stories: Hometown University opens up a world of possibilities for social work major

Rachel Suzor always wanted to attend BGSU — and so thankful she did

By Bob Cunningham ’18

Rachel Suzor always knew she would attend Bowling Green State University, but what surprised her was how much the University would impact her education and personal development.

“I chose Bowling Green because this is my hometown,” said Suzor, who is graduating with a 3.95 grade-point average and a Bachelor of Science in social work from the College of Health and Human Services. “I also chose BGSU because I’ve always wanted to go to college here. No matter what major I wanted to pursue, I knew that I wanted to attend the campus that is in my backyard.”

In addition to her degree, what BGSU ultimately gave her was “a confidence to reach for and achieve my goals. It bolstered my motivation to succeed in any direction I want to take my life.” Her social work cohort also have become lifelong friends because of “all of the experiences we have been through together.”

Suzor credited the social work program for being a big part of preparing her for the next step in her educational journey.

“They pushed us to do better every semester and continue to show success,” she said. “They were hard on us, but it was in preparation for graduate school and for the field of social work. All of the faculty in the program were helpful to me and encouraged me when I was overwhelmed and gave me the tools to become self-reliant.”

Even though BGSU was her dream school, she first enrolled at Owens Community College, and later transferred to Bowling Green through one of several transfer programs.

Upon enrolling at BGSU, Suzor became a Thompson Transfer Scholar.  

“The Thompson Scholarship helped me complete my bachelor’s degree. It offered me the financial stability to go to school full time instead of part time and complete my degree in two and a half years,” Suzor said of the scholarship provided by the generosity of Robert '55, '06 (Hon.) and Ellen Bowen '54, '06 (Hon.) Thompson.

Once she was a full-time student at Bowling Green, she found her passion by volunteering hundreds of hours with Wood County Hospital’s Ready Program.

“The Ready Program is a preschool setting to help children with autism become accustomed to a classroom setting and schedule,” Suzor said. “I was terrified at first. Yet, I grew to love the work and the progress and connection I made with the kids. I spent over five years with the Ready Program and my overall experience with them is joy at the opportunity that I had.

“I learned a lot about my leadership skills, and I learned about my skills with one-on-one instruction from the program. I can’t say enough good things about the program.”

She has been accepted into BGSU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program.

“I want to expand on and move into more micro skills with the program. I am also excited to approach my practice with a focused counseling perspective,” Suzor said.

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it's the value in selflessly caring for and working to understand our neighbors,” said Jason Nankivell, coordinator of Student Engagement and Programming for the Thompson Scholarship Programs. “Rachel exemplifies that without restraint. Her passion for academic success is outweighed only by her genuine care of others. I am so excited for her to continue her studies in a graduate program here at BGSU, where I know she will continue to demonstrate empathy, persistence and humility.”

Other career skills Suzor wants to develop in the program include building her research and writing skills as well as her networking skills — “and not being afraid to put myself in the limelight to highlight the accomplishments I’ve made for my community.”

Just like the University’s mission of creating public good, Suzor is intentional about making a difference in her community.

“I am firmly committed to making a difference in my local community and, in the future, in the world beyond Bowling Green,” she said. “Some might say I came into the social work profession by chance, but I do not believe that. I feel that I was directed to becoming a ‘helping professional’ because of the gifts and talents I already possess and have developed. I am highly motivated to continue this work in learning even more in the counseling program as I begin graduate school next semester.”

Media Contact | Colleen Rerucha | rerucha@bgsu.edu