Arts and Letters Graduate is Embracing Every Opportunity

April 20, 2020 | Features, Graduate News, News, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Joe Bellfy

Standing on the main stage at Songfest 2019, where she was being inducted into the newest class of the Blue Key Honor Society’s chapter at The University of Toledo, Shelby Howard felt the full force of support she’s received during her college career.

As one of UToledo’s oldest traditions, Songfest draws hundreds to Savage Arena. In that moment when their attention was focused in her direction, she concentrated on the people in that crowd who supported her to achieving that milestone. Her parents, who had made a special trip to be there, and her Alpha Xi Delta sisters.

Graduation Cap

CELEBRATING SUCCESS: During this time when we cannot come together to celebrate our graduates, UToledo is recognizing the Class of 2020 with a series of feature stories on students who are receiving their degrees. Help us celebrate our newest UToledo alumni. Visit to share a message of support to graduates and come back online Saturday, May 9, to take part in the virtual commencement ceremony.

“My time at UToledo has been like an ice cream sundae,” Howard said. “The experiences and what I’ve learned are the base, and being able to share Blue Key with others in my life, that was the perfect cherry on top.”

Howard will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology May 9 and has chosen to pursue a career in student affairs administration. She will begin graduate studies at Ball State University this fall.

“I’m excited to continue to serve the college community,” Howard said. “I want to help other students have the unforgettable undergraduate experience I’ve had.”

She has a wide, diverse range of involvement to draw from. While at UToledo, Howard has served as president of Alpha Xi Delta and Gamma Sigma Alpha, as secretary for the Residence Halls Association, as Mortar Board emcee, and as alumni relations director for Blue Key.

And as a first-generation college student, she found a particular passion for helping to guide incoming students through the Summer Scholars Underclassman Mentor Program.

Shelby Howard with parents

Shelby Howard, pictured here with her parents, Minda and Joe, will graduate May 9 from the College of Arts and Letters. An involved student on campus, Howard plans to pursue a career in student affairs administration.

“If I were to get involved with anything, I knew I would pour my heart into it,” Howard said. “The leadership and service of Alpha Xi Delta meant a lot to me. We help all women realize their potential — not only our sisters or fellow students, but all women.”

“Shelby is one of those students who cares about every single person she comes into contact with,” said Alex Zernechel, assistant director for Greek life in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. “She models the way by making sure to reach behind her and bringing others along with her. I’m thrilled that she has decided to pursue a career in higher education because I know that she will have a lasting impact on anyone she is able to work with.”

Howard credits the students, instructors and organizations she’s collaborated with as having shaped her into the person she is today. During the unexpected transition to remote learning in her final semester as part of the university-wide response to coronavirus, she said her professors and classmates set a great example with their compassion, flexibility and resourcefulness.

And throughout her UToledo experience, Howard also has worked at SIP Coffee and as a babysitter. Her advice to other students? Find balance.

“College has been a lot more fun than I thought,” Howard said. “Embrace every opportunity, but also look out for your own physical and mental well-being.”

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