Date: June 25, 2001
Sweet Taste Of College Success
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photo by: Colleen Kelley
Archive: Profile Archive
Despite some who didn't think it possible, Vandalia native Andy Pentenburg is enjoying the sweetness of college success - graduating this month from the University of Cincinnati with the Most Outstanding Co-op Student Award in marketing on his way to a job with Hershey Foods.
Andy was diagnosed in first grade at St. Christopher Elementary School with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). At the time, some at the school told his family he might be fortunate to make it through high school.
"It was kind of like being an outcast," Andy recalls. "I had to go to a special class for reading, and it just made me feel a little odd. I had to go somewhere else, and the other kids, when I came back, were always curious about what I was doing, and I never wanted to tell them."
Andy's difficulties would never leave him, but he learned to manage them. "It's still more difficult, I can't sit down for more than an hour to read something, so I just take short breaks. That's how I've dealt with it in college. It's worked out in the end," he says.
In fact, his personal experience turned out to be extremely valuable during one of his co-op assignments. A co-worker was upset after learning that her son was diagnosed with ADD. "I told her I had it, and she just about fell over. I told her you just have to work with it. It's not that big of a deal."
UC's co-op programs - where students alternate quarters of classroom study and work in their chosen field - made UC the only choice for Andy after graduation from Vandalia Butler High School.
An older sister, Angie, had experienced co-op through UC's graphic design program, and it helped her land a job with LPK, Inc., the nation's top independently owned brand-identity firm. UC became the only four-year school to which Andy applied for admission.
"I am probably co-op's best spokesperson," Andy says. "I will talk your ear off about it."
Despite his enthusiasm, it looked doubtful at first that Andy would be accepted by UC's College of Business Administration. His math performance was solid, but his ADD made his English scores borderline.
Fortunately, he appealed to Scott Gregory, the college's director of enrollment management. Andy convinced Gregory that he deserved a chance.
Time has shown it was an excellent gamble. Andy graduates UC with a 3.0 grade point average, and has participated in several activities, including coordination of the UC Homecoming Parade for the Alumni Association. But he really showed his stuff in the workplace on co-op assignments with Fifth Third Bancorp, Communicare Health Services and, on his first co-op assignment, Click Camera and Video, where he was well known as an accomplished amateur photographer.
He received an excellent rating from his employers through each of the six quarters he spent on co-op. Communicare suggested he take management courses as well because "Andrew possesses outstanding abilities and will quickly become management material," they wrote. Fifth Third praised his thoroughness and software ability and - in a testament to how well he has handled his ADD problems - his "excellent" verbal and written communication skills.
"He was a pretty mature student from the start," says John Hattendorf, an associate professor in professional practice and Andy's co-op advisor. "He didn't always know exactly where he was going, but he was always looking to move ahead."
Andy's new job came about because of the same kind of excellent people skills he demonstrated through his co-op assignments. Last fall, he was working as a teaching assistant in a management skills practicum course for freshmen that brought in a series of guest professionals as speakers.
One guest was from Hershey, and he and Andy hit it off talking before and after class. He asked if Andy had a job lined up, which he didn't. Andy called him back this spring, went through the interview process, and now will be Hershey's sales representative for the Toledo market.
"(Pentenburg) knew how to use the co-op program very effectively," Hattendorf praises. "He got practical experience and it paid off with him getting the job he wanted at the end."
To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.