Heather Ohs, 38
MSUB alumna, public relations
MSUB Alumni Association Board, president
October 30, 2015
By Cassie Winter, University Relations and Communications
What is your educational and professional background?
“I received my undergraduate from the University of Montana and my master’s in public relations from MSU Billings. For the last 13 years I’ve worked in the non-profit sector, primarily in resource and fund development raising money for non-profits in Montana with a primary focus in areas that impact children. I’ve worked for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which is a health-related organization. Then I opened the first-ever state office for the Make-A-Wish foundation. We were the last state to have a chapter office so a couple years ago I spearheaded that effort and opened an office here. As of lately, I am at the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation helping to fundraise and raise awareness for children’s mental health.”
What was valuable about your experience at MSUB?
“I think some of the best aspects of my time spent here on campus was my internship with University Relations. It was an opportunity to take what I was studying at the time and put it into a practical application and see if I really actually liked it. With them, I had an opportunity to do web development, marketing and event planning, which were all applicable to the career path that I chose, so it was really wonderful. I also had a lot of access to staff and faculty here. They were always available whether it was to be interviewed for a news article or for the “University Update” television program that used to be here. Twice a month I anchored in the programming for that show and that gave me experience employers found valuable. It also gave me an appreciation for what the staff and faculty are aiming and striving for in this community. It’s one of the reasons I am involved again as the president of the Alumni Association. I just feel this institution is one of the driving factors of a great community.”
How did your experience help shape you personally?
“I was fortunate to have great mentors when I was here, especially in the capacity of women. I was able to work alongside women who were raising families embarking on a fulfilling career, but also willing to take someone under their wing and show them ways to be successful at that. And in turn, I felt this pay-it-forward attitude of working with students here, whether it is to get them lined up with a non-profit or to introduce them through networking opportunities. I’ve continued to utilize interns through the Career Services department at MSUB to help with the non-profits in town.”
What do you think makes MSUB unique?
“I think there is a place and space for anybody here whether you’re a traditional student who is coming here straight out of high school, if you’re a single parent coming back to college, or you’re non-traditional in the sense you’re older and you’ve explored one career and want to try something new. I feel like this campus is really welcoming and inviting. The online component allows students to take classes in their pajamas from the comfort of their own home. There is such a robust offering of online courses and that is wonderful. With my public relations degree, I was taking course work here on campus but also trying to balance school in between my jobs so doing online courses were helpful. I think there is such a nice diversity and cultural climate here that attracts international students and MSUB does a great job of recognizing that not every student learns the same way. MSUB really has a cornerstone in reaching out to the uniqueness of college students.”
What are your goals with the Alumni Association?
“To collaborate and support the efforts of the foundation, bring forth the fundraising initiatives and direction that they are going. We like to invite our alumni back to campus, especially those who currently are online students, and encourage them to come to campus to see what there is to offer. We like to let our alumni with families know that this is a wonderful institution, that we have family opportunities, we continue to offer socials whether it is at the zoo, or bringing magicians and movies to Petro Theatre. We encourage having our alumni be able to mentor students—opening doors for students, providing job shadowing and internships.”
“MSUB is unique on the fact that once you graduate you’re automatically a member of the alumni association. For many places you have yearly dues, but here you’re automatically included in that. Then what we try to do is foster events and opportunities where alums can come together. For example, a service day where we can volunteer together. An important aspect of the Alumni Association is that we also like to inform our alumni of the challenges the university faces and how they can be of help. We like to celebrate people’s placements and marriages so we love to hear alumni news. We hope that your experience at MSUB was positive and you’ll want to stay in touch with others in your field and your graduating class. Being an alumnus is like an extension of family, and we like to keep you close to the university.”
Nominate an Outstanding Alumni!
The deadline for nominations is November 1, 2015.
Please consider nominating an alumna or alumnus who is deserving of recognition—there
are hundreds out there!! This year’s awards ceremony will be March 18, 2015.
For a description of the awards and the nomination process, please follow this link.
Past recipients of these awards have included persons who have exhibited unusual courage, creativity, perseverance, originality of competency in their chosen field; raised the quality of life for others; contributed to and promoted the advancement of higher education; or distinguished themselves as leaders in their profession or area of interest.
For more information on the MSU Billings Alumni Association please visit the MSUB website.