University Community

Overcoming challenges with resilience, community support

Robert Elkins’ educational journey showcases his resilience, dedication and the power of community support. His achievements on this journey have led to recognition as an Ohio University Southern Outstanding Graduate.

Elkins, a Portsmouth native, has earned the distinction for his achievements during his pursuit of an Associate in Arts Social Sciences Emphasis and Bachelor of Social Work.

"I chose Ohio University because many of my colleagues have graduated from here and speak highly of the social work program,” said Elkins. “I can say now that I agree with them.”

A moment of connection fueled Elkins’ confidence and determination while solidifying his sense of belonging with the Ohio University community.

"My 'ah-ha' moment came junior year when I connected with my cohorts, who motivated and encouraged one another," he said. 

Elkins has fond memories of his time as the vice president and president of the Student Social Work Association, as well as a class trip to Washington, D.C., that enriched his education and helped form long-lasting relationships – but he also faced challenges on his academic journey.

"I experienced a major illness at the beginning of my junior year. I was defeated and ready to give up,” he said. "My peers and teachers checked on me often and motivated me to finish what I had started. I am extremely grateful for my cohorts and will stay in contact with them throughout my career."

Elkins plans to continue his employment at The Counseling Center in Portsmouth, practicing as a newly licensed social worker while pursing a graduate degree through an accelerated curriculum option available only to highly qualified graduates.

"After graduation, I will continue my education in the Advanced Standing Social Work program at Ohio University in Athens,” said Elkins. His future aspirations also include service to his community through working for the Department of Veterans Affairs, providing services to veterans and their families and playing a crucial role in supporting and honoring the service and sacrifices of military veterans. 

The professors who had the most impact on Elkins were Dr. Glenn Abraham and Dr. Joy Shytle.

"They are the embodiment of social work professionals. They both have made the college experience fun and educational,” he said. “Their belief in me when I was unsure of myself helped me to become confident in my ability to be a professional."

As Ohio University Southern prepares to honor its fall 2023 and spring 2024 graduates during the Graduation Recognition Ceremony scheduled for Thursday, May 2 at 7 p.m., Elkins will serve as an example of the values of perseverance, dedication and community engagement.

To qualify as an Outstanding Graduate, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5, actively participate in university activities, engage in community service and demonstrate notable accomplishments such as receiving awards or contributing to research projects. Additionally, candidates are recommended by esteemed faculty members, further validating their exceptional academic and personal qualities.

April 19, 2024
Staff reports