Distinguished Alumni 2008
Four area graduates were honored as the 2008 Distinguished Alumni for the Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development.
These graduates have made a positive impact on their community and have excelled in their profession. They include an Emmy-nominated hairstylist, several business owners, and one of the members of the first class of Great Oaks students under its original name, the Hamilton County Joint Vocational School.
Commercial and Residential Electricity, 1978, Clermont Northeastern High School
Having perfect attendance throughout his time at Laurel Oaks was an example of Thomas Cornwell’s dedication to his education. The son of a Clermont County farmer, Thomas chose Commercial and Residential Electricity as a vocational student in order to learn skills that he would not learn on the farm.
After graduation Thomas continued to farm, even as he worked as an electrician. Eventually, electrical work became a larger part of his career and in the 1980s began operating Cornwell Electric as a full-time business.
Over the past 20 years, Cornwell Electric became well known and Thomas Cornwell has become a prominent and well-respected member of his community. As the electrician for the Clermont County Fairgrounds, he has made significant improvements to the Fairgrounds. These improvements have led to a more enjoyable experience for those who visit the Fairgrounds as well as cost savings for the community.
He is quick to share stories with young students about his time at Laurel Oaks and the path which led to a successful career. He and his family continue to donate their time and talents to benefit their community.
Secondary Instructional Aide, 1973, Princeton High School
Paula Losey was among the first students of the newly-created joint vocational school district in 1971. After graduating in 1973, she began work at the brand new Scarlet Oaks campus as a switchboard operator and key punch operator.
She began college—an unusual step for vocational graduates in the 1970s—and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Campbellsville University. Paula then became a Trust Department Officer for PNC Bank where she managed employees, facilities, and accounting operations. She continued her education throughout her banking career, earning Securities Operations Professional certification and taking courses in Personal Trust Administration.
During her banking career, Paula also supported her community, teaching courses for the American Institute of Banking and organizing fundraising efforts for such charitable groups as the United Way and the Fine Arts Fund.
In 1999, Paula Losey returned to Great Oaks as the Accounting Manager and later became Benefits Coordinator in the Human Resources office. She continues to make an impact on both her colleagues and her community. She was the keynote speaker at the Ohio Vocational Legislative Day, and is active in her church where she established an active youth group.
Carpentry, 1976, Oak Hills High School
Just two years after completing the Carpentry program at Diamond Oaks, Russell “Rusty” Wayne founded Wayne Buildings, Inc. In the thirty years since then, he has led the company to become recognized as a leader in constructing post frame buildings. He provides jobs for more than 20 people, including other Great Oaks graduates, and more than 1,000 buildings in the Cincinnati area were built by Russell and his employees.
Russell Wayne has also become known throughout the area as a leader in other ways. He serves on the Board of the Western Hamilton County Economic Council, and is devoted to the vitality and beautification of his community. He is a member of the Miami Township Planning Commission, and was previously President of the Miamitown Business Association.
He also continues to support education and youth. He serves on the Construction Advisory Council at Diamond Oaks, regularly provides co-op opportunities for Great Oaks students, and was named a Diamond Oaks Employer of the Month. For many years he was also a 4-H advisor.
Russell Wayne and his wife Pattie have two children, Shannon and Garrett.
Janice Zoladz Allison
Cosmetology, 1985, Greenhills High School
Janice Zoladz’ cosmetology career began as soon as she graduated in 1985, and her drive, determination, and talent enabled her to move forward quickly. She became licensed in Ohio and Kentucky, and worked in upscale salons in both states.
In 1996, in the midst of a successful cosmetology career in the tri-state area, she moved to California to pursue a dream of working in the entertainment industry. That move required her to begin again, and she started by working on small low-budget short films and with local photographers. After proving herself, she earned the right to join the Hair and Make-Up Artists Union, which allowed her to work on larger productions and television shows.
Janice’s work has been seen on Disney, Fox, HBO, Warner Brothers, MTV, VH1, and numerous other production companies’ films and television shows. She recently received her first Emmy nomination for her work on the show Two and a Half Men, and has been named Department Head on an upcoming Biography Channel series.
Her drive to excel is seen in other activities as well. A marathon runner, she set a new cross-country course record in high school.