CELINA — A local campus head spoke to a networking group about her rise to her current career position during the group’s monthly meeting.
Bonnie Mathies, the dean of Wright State University Lake Campus, spoke to members of the Auglaize/Mercer Women in Business Networking Association and members of the Lake Campus’ Women Supporting Women group.
Mathies’ speech was titled “Who Knew” — and she described her journey from her college graduation to being named dean of the Lake Campus in May.
“I was born and raised in Toledo,” Mathies said, noting she and her husband went to high school and college together. “After graduation from college, I moved to Oberlin, Ohio.”
Mathies said she spend approximately 18 months in Oberlin, before she moved back to Toledo. That summer, she got married and also attended a six-week workshop.
“I became a part of an experimental group of teachers from Toledo and Cleveland,” Mathies said, noting the 40-person group was made up of an equal group of whites, blacks, males and females. “We were housed for about six weeks at Bowling Green State University.”
The teachers were split up, Mathies said.
“If we were going to be teaching in Toledo, they sent us to Cleveland and vice versa,” she said. “All of that was to prepare us for working in inner-city schools.”
Mathies’ high school career, she noted, was based in working in inner-city schools.
“Those stories have made an impression on my life,” she said of her experience as part of the workshop. “I think it shaped my life and it changed my life.”
Mathies noted she didn’t always want to teach — she had originally wanted to be an engineer like her father, and after experiencing the engineering classes in college, she switched to become a vet. After experiencing those courses, and learning there was more involved with being a vet, Mathies decided to go into teaching, becoming a high school biology teacher.
While being a teacher, Mathies said she found her niche to interact with her students.
“Where I found a place, a niche, was in the use of technology,” she said. “It would engage the learner and at least for a few moments where it would give them an opportunity to step outside themselves.”
Mathies said she incorporated technology into her classroom by also involving the students in projects, such as creating animated films, puppets and various artifacts.
“I was fortunate I was able to be at the beginning of a new phase of our life — the technology,” she said. “It allowed me to have a direction, and who knew that would actually become something that would affect my whole life.”
From there, Mathies obtained her master’s degree, and her family moved to Dayton, where she began teaching at Wright State.
“I was teaching other teachers about the things I had found successful,” Mathies said.
She eventually retired from Wright State in June 2007, and that November, Lake Campus Dean Jim Sayer invited her to come to the Lake Campus to be the associate dean. Sayer, she noted, had worked with her when she was at Wright State. She was named dean in May.
Mathies also gave some lessons for the group gathered in the Dicke Auditorium Thursday — be flexible because you never know where your life is going, be good to the people that you’re with because you never know when you’ll be working with them, listen to those around you and laugh as much as you can.
“There’s a whole lot in the world to be sad about, but there’s a whole lot more to be happy and to be excited about,” she said.