Distinguished Alumni 2009
Great Oaks is proud of its alumni and the many accomplishments and contributions of its graduates. Each year Great Oaks selects, from many worthy candidates, a few alumni to honor as Distinguished Alumni. These graduates positively impact their communities and they excel in their professions. 2009 honorees include a proud Purple Heart recipient Marine and police officer, an advocate for the disabled and champion for civil and human rights, an entrepreneur with a successful auto repair business and an Army soldier specializing in weaponry and environmental research and development.
Colonel Rodney Jackson
Law Enforcement, 1977, Police Academy, 1985 Scarlet Oaks (Sycamore High School)
Colonel Rodney Jackson has dedicated his life to protecting others and standing up for the rights of the disabled. He is a two-time graduate of Great Oaks. First, in 1977, he successfully completed the Law Enforcement Program at Scarlet Oaks. He returned as an adult to complete the Police Academy Program in 1985. He retired on disability from police service after suffering a heart attack while on duty. His medical condition led him down a path to help people in other ways. In his own use of a service dog, he discovered, first hand, the many discriminatory practices of businesses toward people with service dogs. He took on 230 companies for discrimination and won all of the cases. He is now a consultant for the Department of Justice. He has served on the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities, the Rehabilitation Services Council and the Consumer Advisory Council. He established several substance abuse programs to reach out to those needing help. Seeing the variety of needs, Colonel Jackson also produced an extensive line of safety products including an All Hazards Warning System for the deaf. Despite his current battle with cancer, he continues to take a stand against discrimination and helps others. He is a fighter, a champion of worthy causes and a Distinguished Alumni of Great Oaks.
Auto Mechanics, 1977, Scarlet Oaks (Norwood High School)
Great Oaks was a perfect fit for Mark Meinking when he was a teenager searching for direction in his life. He graduated in 1977 from the Scarlet Oaks Automotive program. His interest in cars and natural abilities to understand the complexities of auto mechanics became a labor of love as well as a thriving business. As a young entrepreneur, his small repair shop expanded to a larger business with collision repair and then also a towing service. He owns Meinking’s Service, in business now for 27 years. Mark’s dedication to customer service is truly demonstrated in the professionalism of his business. His business earned the AAA Station of the Year Award. Mark also is a family man with a sense of pride for his community of Norwood. He is active with the Norwood Chamber of Commerce and supports the local schools and his church. He donates his time and expertise to help when a tow or an engine overhaul is needed. He appreciates the quality of education Great Oaks provides. As a business owner, he hires Great Oaks alumni to work in his auto repair shop. Great Oaks provided him with skills and knowledge in the auto mechanic field. He took those abilities, tapped his own drive to succeed and created a valuable business that serves his community. His business is fixing cars, but his passion is helping others to enjoy life.
Law Enforcement, 1999, Scarlet Oaks, Adult Police Academy , 2007 (Norwood High School)
Benjamin Moreland is a firm believer in the quality of Great Oaks programs. He completed the Law Enforcement program at Scarlet Oaks while in high school, but then returned again for the adult Police Academy program after serving in the United States Marine Corps. Sergeant Moreland has distinguished himself as a man of great honor, patriotism, dedication and commitment. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and earned numerous awards including the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He always volunteers to help others and steps up to lead when no one else will. This trait continued into the Marine Corps. His commendation letters tell of his enduring hardships, keen leadership abilities and assuming responsibility for operations. His sense of duty to his country and community did not end with his military service. He completed the Police Academy program where he was class president and class top gun. The City of Reading took notice of his leadership abilities and work ethic. He is now Officer Moreland with the Reading Police Department. He continues to give back to the Great Oaks system by serving as an advisory committee member for the Law Enforcement Program. He also mentors students in the program and is an advisor for the “Young Marines” chapter in Cincinnati. He is a Distinguished Alumni for Great Oaks, a dedicated officer for the people of Reading and a true American hero.
Dr. Daniel Young
Machine Trades, 1980 Live Oaks (Clermont Northeastern High School)
Daniel Young is a man of strength, efficiency and brilliance. Upon his graduation in 1980 from the Machine Trades program at Live Oaks, he ventured down an impressive career path. He earned numerous degrees including his Ph.D, served in the Army, joined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a Weapons of Mass Destruction specialist and now works as a Quality Assurance Manager for the U.S. EPA Sustainable Technology Division. He holds a multitude of certifications in such areas as National Incident Management, Community Anti-Terrorism Training, Analytical Chemistry and Laboratory Assessor. In Dr. Young’s position with the EPA, he oversees research to develop recycling, recovery and reuse of products. His division also promotes “green chemistry” processes in industry and promotes sustainable development through an understanding of life-cycle impacts of products on the environment.
As an expert in the field of weapons of mass destruction, he was a teacher to the homeland security community. He provided classroom and field instruction to first responders, military personnel and medical professionals to increase their knowledge base of weapons of mass destruction.