The Alumni Experience

Students that successfully complete the COLA program become a part of the Robert H. Schottenstein Alumni Network which provides continued connection and leadership development opportunities post our flagship program.  Named after a model Columbus Leader, Robert H. Schottenstein, the COLA Alumni Network was established to sustain the student relationships built during the program and provide a support system for each graduate as they continue to pursue their goals and grow as a leader.

As a member of the COLA Alumni Network, students are afforded rare opportunities to attend community events, received continued leadership development, participate in COLA driven initiatives, volunteer experiences, and more. Our programming partners for our Alumni Network include the New Albany Community Foundation and Harmony Project.

Over the years, COLA Alumni have taken on additional leadership roles and organized service projects in their high schools, college campuses, and broader communities. They often report that their COLA experience continues to positively influence their effectiveness as leaders in their communities and shape the paths they choose. 

COLA empowers great young leaders in Central Ohio to make a greater difference in their communities.

Cierra King, 2015 COLA alumna and Northland High School student was inspired to make a difference in her school by empowering her community to follow their passions and set high expectations for themselves and their school. As seen above, her COLA class and program supporters rallied behind her to turn her idea into reality. The success of the #whatsnextproject and impact statements are a testament to what our young people are capable of achieving. Below are more examples of how our COLA alumni continue to positively impact their communities: 

Jen Gomez, 2018 COLA Alumna, organized a “Toddler’s Play Date” in which children ages 1-3 were invited to attend Wendy’s Gymnastics and Fitness for Children ($10). All proceeds went towards the Homeless Families Foundation. In addition to this project, she collected gently used toys and games.

Tori Legg, 2018 COLA Alumna and Lena Halversen, 2019 COLA Alumna, created a mentorship program for middle school girls in their school district. They inspired the girls in their group to follow their passions and navigate the various challenges that come with being in middle school! Along with that, held several fundraisers to give and assist shelters for women and organizations that assist with sex trafficking recovery in Columbus. 

Tal Mars, 2018 COLA Alumna, hiked 100 miles in a week to raise money for Freedom For Immigrants – a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending immigration detention. All the donations she collected went to the National Bond Fund, which bails out immigrants who cannot pay their cash bonds while fighting their immigration cases. Tal was able to reach her goal and raise more than $2000 for Freedom For Immigrants. In addition to raising $2000, Tal and her family donated over $1000.

Stephanie Ogonuwe, 2018 COLA Alumna, partnered with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive in her community as a member of their youth leadership program. Through the blood donations received, she was able to help save over 90 lives in Ohio and around the country. 

Arpita Patel, 2019 COLA Alumna, organized a technology device drive to donate usable devices to students in need during the pandemic.