Notable alumni share stories, advice to freshmen

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Eva Marie Saint 1946: Academy award-winning actress

For Academy award-winning actress Eva Marie Saint, her four years at the University were some of the best years of her life.

An active member in the Delta Gamma sorority and the theatre department, Saint said her favorite memories include dancing at Cla-Zel and the Ohio dialect.

“When I went to school, we called everybody ‘kid,’” she said. “People in Ohio talk just a little bit differently.”

Although Saint spent the majority of her life making movies such as “North by Northwest,” and meeting actors and actresses like Lillian Gish, whom the Gish Film Theater is named for, she said she was shy when she first arrived at the University.

“Thank goodness I was very shy,” she said. “It would have been a whole different experience.”

Her shyness and a dare from a friend are what led her to pursue an interest in theatre.

Taking a chance on something is part of Saint’s advice to freshmen.

“Life is made up by so many chances. Find something you really love and just be wide-eyed,” she said. “Four years is nothing; make good friends, study hard and keep your mind open.”

Bill Ingram 1972: Chief Executive Officer of White Castle

Next time a University student bites into a White Castle hamburger, he or she should think of alumnus Bill Ingram.

Ingram’s grandfather founded the Columbus-based franchise, and Ingram himself is heavily involved as chief executive officer and chairman of the board.

“It’s an ever-changing business,” he said. “It’s a cross between the retail and the hotel business.”

He said his business is a balance between selling food to customers and providing


White Castle has more than 400 restaurants and just celebrated its 90th anniversary, so Ingram said he keeps busy.

When he was at the University, he engaged in the same activities students do today.

“I went to the bars and did all the usual things,” he said.

The microeconomics major said freshmen should branch out their first year.

“Take classes when you’re a freshmen in something you don’t know about,” he said. “You might find them interesting.”

Eileen O’Neill: 1990 President of The Learning Channel and Discovery Channel.

Eileen O’Neill started as an unpaid intern and now she is the head of channels which include the popular show Toddlers & Tiaras and the segment Shark Week.

“I did several internships when I was an undergrad,” she said. “It gave me great exposure and great contacts.”

Her job now gives her the opportunity to meet with the channels’ talent and teach her viewers about different people.

“It’s fascinating that my job has allowed me to be involved with so many walks of life,” she said. “It’s been a fascinating experience.”

Although she graduated 22 years ago, O’Neill said she still enjoys visiting the University and has fond memories of her years here as a popular culture major.

“I love the small-town feel of Bowling Green,” she said. “It has the best of both worlds.”

For freshmen coming into the University, O’Neill said she has a couple tips to be successful.

“Don’t do anything stupid on Facebook and Twitter,” she said. “And take a business class regardless of your major.”