Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ‘Post Picks’ special issue where The Post profiles some of Athens’ most notable people and businesses. Read the rest of the stories here.
Kendra Lutes only applied to one college her senior year of high school: Ohio University.
Lutes is a member of Student Alumni Board and president of the philanthropic dance marathon BobcaThon.
“I am so surprised and excited,” Lutes said. “It’s natural for me to have a lot of excitement for people who know and love OU.”
Lutes, a senior studying communication studies, is originally from Cleveland and began her freshman year in 2013. She applied for SAB her freshman year and was accepted and inducted in the fall. Her sophomore year, she became SAB’s vice president of philanthropy and accepted a job as an intern for the Alumni Association.
As part of her position as vice president of philanthropy, she wanted to start a dance marathon. She discovered a group already working on BobcaThon and invited them to team up with SAB for the annual fundraiser to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio. The year-long fundraiser culminates in a 12-hour dance marathon in February. Lutes served as the president of SAB her junior year. This year, she is taking charge of BobcaThon as the project’s president.
“My favorite memories have been both of the dance marathons,” Lutes said. “They’re so exhausting, but it’s such a beautiful day.”
Throughout her time at OU, Lutes has changed her major three times. She began her freshman year in media arts, switched to business and ultimately decided on communication studies.
“You have the chance to explore things,” Lutes said. “When I first came in, I thought I had to do video production because that’s what I did in high school. … I found some mentors on campus to guide me through that decision and identify my skills.”
One of her mentors is Katrina Heilmeier, the advisor of BobcaThon and SAB when Lutes served as president as well as Lutes’ boss in the Alumni Association.
“Kendra has had a really unique experience where she’s been able to see lots of different sides of the university,” Heilmeier said. “When she was (SAB) president, Kendra worked with our Board of Directors, and she also worked with alumni. She really saw that your four years are just the beginning of your Bobcat journey.”
Heilmeier has known Lutes since her freshman year.
“My first impression of Kendra is that she is extremely competent. She is responsible and dedicated,” she said. “Being able to see her grow, develop and blossom into the leader she is now has been personally rewarding to me.”
Emily Schumacher, a senior studying restaurant, hotel, and tourism, is a friend of Lutes’, and the two met through SAB.
“Kendra is one of the most involved people I’ve ever met,” Schumacher said. “Her love for OU is so apparent. You can tell through her work and events that’s she’s pulled off flawlessly.”
Lutes applied to OU’s graduate school in hopes of pursuing higher education in student affairs, and her ultimate goal is to work at a university.
“She would be a great in student affairs,” Schumacher said. “She really gets how to mentor people … She truly wants to spread happiness.”
Although Lutes is sad she is graduating soon, she knows her journey as a Bobcat is far from over.
“I love the Bobcat Family,” Lutes said. “As much as it’s corny to say, it’s accurate.”
Originally published for The Post on December 1, 2016. Appeared in print on December 1, 2016.