Trish Jefferson portait

Giving time, talent and expertise, truly caring about people and going above and beyond is often an exception to the rule. Trish Jefferson embodies that exception.

Jefferson, director of undergraduate admissions and recruitment, was recently honored with Ohio State’s prestigious Distinguished Staff Award for her dedication to student success.

The award, given to only 13 recipients across the university each year, recognizes individuals for their outstanding achievements and leadership, service to university stakeholders, creative solutions that positively impact department or university operations and dedication to Ohio State’s shared values.

“I have worked in higher education for 30 plus years and come from a family of educators,” Jefferson said. “To be acknowledged by my peers and especially by my students is very humbling and special. It certainly energizes me to get out there and continue to get the good work done!”

Jefferson began at Fisher in 2003, first serving as an academic advisor and recruitment coordinator and then associate director of recruitment and admissions. In 2015, she was promoted to her current role where she supervises 40 full-time employees and more than 100 student employees, eagerly mentoring and building personal relationships with new hires.

Jefferson has fostered a collaborative and supportive environment with Fisher’s Undergraduate Program Office and the university’s admissions community, said Jana Lithgow, executive director of undergraduate programs at Fisher.

“Trish is regularly sought as a campus-level expert in undergraduate recruiting and admissions, serving on panels, search committees and university-wide committees concerning domestic and international admissions strategies and practices,” Lithgow said.

In her role, Jefferson builds relationships with high school guidance counselors from across the country, often playing a key part in attracting, supporting and retaining students with marginalized and minoritized identities by advocating for scholarship support and academic success resources. She helps prospective students navigate admission processes and understand academic policies.

Trish Jefferson shows off her award to her coworkers
Samantha Hodik, assistant director of undergraduate admissions and recruitment, left, and Juleanna Smith, admissions counselor in undergraduate programs, right, congratulate Trish Jefferson on her award.

“Her work has been a driving force behind the success of Fisher’s highly ranked and highly selective undergraduate business program, not only elevating Fisher’s reputation but significantly contributing to positive experiences for prospective students and their families,” Lithgow said.

In her 21 years at Fisher, the college’s undergraduate enrollment has grown from 4,500 to over 8,000 students.

As a partner with the Undergraduate Leadership and Engagement Office, Jefferson helps support co-curricular programming, serves on internal petition and scholarship committees, and regularly engages with Fisher’s leadership to address undergraduate program needs.

In nominating her for the award, Fisher’s admissions ambassador captains noted: “Trish Jefferson seamlessly combines a warmhearted and compassionate nature with unwavering grit and perseverance. She takes to heart the events and updates of every person she works with, striving to help every person be the best version of themselves.”

Her passion for the student experience is exemplified by the various ways she coaches, mentors and supports staff. As a leader, she allows her team to be innovative in their approaches, to grow professionally in their positions and to know the power of being valued at work.

“I am proud of my team, the program we have built over the years and the impact we have had on the educational journey of thousands of prospective students and families,” Jefferson said. “Supporting students as they navigate successes and failures, providing an encouraging word when needed, cheering them on when they step outside of their comfort zone – this is some of the most rewarding work I do.”

And her reach extends beyond current students.

“Her tireless work in the Fisher Ambassadors Program has not only helped shape the future of countless students but enriches the entire college experience with a sense of purpose and community,” says Connor Buehler (BSBA ’21). “Under Trish’s guidance, I witnessed the Ambassadors Program evolve into a haven for students seeking a sense of belonging, a place where their unique backgrounds and perspectives were valued and nurtured.”

For Lisa Navarro (BSBA ’16), Jefferson’s guidance was instrumental in her journey as a first-generation Latina student.

“Trish has the ability to see the potential in every student, empowering them to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths,” Navarro said. “Trish's support didn’t just end at graduation; she has been a continuous source of strength and inspiration throughout my career.”

“Supporting students as they navigate successes and failures, providing an encouraging word when needed, cheering them on when they step outside of their comfort zone – this is some of the most rewarding work I do.”

Trish Jefferson Director, Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment