Social media connects Warren and Kent State grad


Rebecca Windover, Recruiting and Administration Coordinator of the Cleveland Clinic, visits Kent State University campus on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Windover aspires to follow in Beverly Warren’s footsteps and become a university president herself.

Ian Flickinger

Rebecca Windover sat on the edge of her seat, waiting for the ice-cold water to rush over her body, not knowing whether her father-in-law was still breathing.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge allowed her to not only honor him but also spread awareness for the cause. She saw no better person to call out but her new university president, who still in her early months, had become an active participant on social media.

“I was hoping she would respond. Dr. (Beverly) Warren was brand new and so this was like her first time with students really being on campus,” Windover said. “But I also knew she was very student-focused. She wanted to know about students, what they were doing, what they cared about and (she) wanted to help with everything, so I thought it was a great way to find out.”

The Ice Bucket Challenge provided a starting point for a relationship that continued to raise awareness for different causes, going beyond Windover’s graduation last May.

Windover brightens up when discussing three things: her passion for education, Kent State’s atmosphere and her social media savvy president — especially because her ultimate aspiration is to follow in Warren’s footsteps and become a university president herself.

Neither initially understood the depth of the request: Warren also has a personal connection to the disease — her brother’s best friend passed away after a battle with ALS —  and didn’t think twice about accepting.

“I remember it very explicitly: I was in the Listening Tour-months of my presidency and we were actually traveling back from a regional campus listening tour event and I looked at my (Twitter) account and it was Rebecca’s tweet inviting me to take on the Ice Bucket Challenge,” Warren said. “I just looked at my team and said ‘You know, we should do this. This is a moment where we can come together and we can kind of share that sense of community.’”

However, she initially accepted the challenge without knowing Windover’s story.

“Rebecca’s story was very compelling. I didn’t know it when I said yes, because I tweeted ‘You’re on,’ before I knew any of the details,” Warren said. “But then as I got to know Rebecca more than just that simple tweet, it was a special moment.”

Windover talks about Warren as if they’re life-long friends, when in fact Windover said their only face-to-face encounter was at the field for the challenge.

Their discussions take place on social media, with Windover reaching out to Warren with an idea, and Warren responding accordingly.

Warren’s willingness to listen to students’ concerns and then actually help to make a difference are characteristics Windover hopes to embody.

“It meant so much to me because, at the time, the reason why I challenged her was not only (because) the ALS Challenge going viral at the time, but my father-in-law was just put on hospice that week for ALS,” Windover said. “So, it was so important because even though I worked here as a graduate student, I was also a student. So, to know that Dr. Warren cared and was a part of that was huge.”

Windover was born in Lowville, N.Y. to John and Lori Windover and has one younger sibling, Kyle.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education (with a psychology concentration) from Alfred University, and her master’s in higher education administration while at Kent State.

Windover’s had the epitome of an active schedule while in college, playing soccer and participating in a Women’s Leadership Program. While at Kent State she worked as an assistant residence hall director.

Now 24 and working at the Cleveland Clinic as a recruiter, Windover recalls how her life changed while at Kent State. She said some of the best and worst moments of her life happened while she was a student at Kent State.

“I had more passion, and I identify more as Golden Flash than I do as an Alfred University Saxon. I met my fiancee, my life started here,” she said. “I went through some of the hardest things in my life as a grad student and I felt more supported here than I ever did as an undergrad. Because of that I’ll forever be thankful.”

Jennifer Enke, assistant athletic director at Alfred State University and Windover’s former soccer coach at Alfred University, said that while she hasn’t kept in close contact with Windover in recent years, it doesn’t surprise her at all to hear that she has made an impact at Kent State.

“I think it’s somewhat of an innate personality trait that she has: to be passionate about whatever cause is going on in her mind and in front of her,” Enke said. “She’s somebody that you remember her name; you remember what she was about; you remember why she was about it.”

However, Windover didn’t stop after the ALS Challenge. While attending classes and working she used her spare time to help bring  the “You Can Play” campaign to campus. She said she helped lay the groundwork, even delivering a 20-page portfolio to Ken Ditlevson, the director of LGBT Center.

“The day that I got here — May 18, 2013 — the day after I graduated from undergrad, probably the end of that week I met with Dr. (Alfreda) Brown (vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion) and said ‘We gotta do something. Let’s do it now. I’ve got two years.’”

From there she helped set up meetings, provided samples of other institutions videos and finally, just three months before graduating, sought out Warren once more.

Warren, in collaboration with Kent State’s LGBTQ Center and the athletic department, released the video in September, which promoted acceptance of student-athletes regardless of their sexual orientation.

Windover said she worked on the project nearly every week for her entire two-year stay at Kent State, and although she had already left after its creation, was so excited to see that Warren kept true to her promise and made the video.

One trait seemingly synonymous with Windover in all facets of her life, from sports to her professional career to her personal life, is passion.

Jill Church, director of Residence Services, said Windover often times went beyond the call to work with the 350-400 students in the Honor’s College and Living Learning Communities.

“She would work very closely with them (students), helping them see their ideas to fruition. Some would approach that as ‘Not down in the weeds’ and helping students tackle those challenges,” Church said. “I think you would only see that kind of work ethic through passion for what you are doing.”

Danielle Mastropierro, who met Windover through Alfred University’s Women’s Leadership Program and eventually became her roommate, said that attitude was apparent from the very beginning.

“She knows what she wants and goes after it in any aspect of her life. She’s very determined and she likes to relate to people and get their opinion and they get better throughout the situation,” Mastropierro said. “She wants to stay current and connected with the students. Whatever is going to make an impact for the students.”

Although she has strong-willed personality, Mastropierro said her friend’s disposition is no different when it goes from work to play.

“Her personality at work is very similar to her personality in day-to-day life, it’s who she is,” Mastropierro said. “It’s all or nothing — she’s not going to participate in something that she doesn’t believe in.”

Mastropierro said nothing better exemplifies her personality than one experience in college: when Windover was applying to grad schools, she made charts and lists of pros and cons for all the schools and applied everywhere, because she knew that’s what she wanted.

Mastropierro said working alongside Windover can be an adjustment for some.

“It’s definitely intense, but in a good way,” Mastropierro said. “It makes you want to give just as much and it makes you question if you want to be doing, because if she can give 100 percent and you can’t then maybe you need to think about if this is the right place for you.”

Warren said Windover’s ambition bodes well for her future.

“I actually never dreamed or aspired to be a university president, but I was open to opportunity and I think if you stay in the moment you really take advantage of where you are at a moment in time and you really work hard to make a difference where you are and those opportunities are going to come your way,” Warren said. “I would hope that Rebecca is able to experience that one day.”

Ian Flickinger is the administration reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]