by Mary Niehaus
Being in the wrong place at the right time sometimes turns out very well. Eric Mersmann, BusAd '02, jokes that he got into UC's Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program by accident, but calls it the "definitive experience" of his time at the University of Cincinnati.
As a business honors freshman, Mersmann found himself unexpectedly with the Honors-PLUS group during the 1997 college orientation. Instead of booting him out of the meeting, CBA's enrollment manager Scott Gregory talked with him about the brand new five-year intensive business program -- its demanding curriculum, seven quarters of co-op, international study, extensive leadership training and generous tuition scholarship.
"By the end of the day, they were offering me a spot in Honors-PLUS," Mersmann says. "I lived in honors housing on campus, which led to getting interested in joining the UC rowing team." The rowers club benefited from his enthusiasm, ability in intercollegiate competition and skills as team treasurer.
Eric realizes how different his life might be had he not stumbled upon Honors-PLUS. "It changed so many things for me, opened up so many doors, showed me a lot of options."
At no time was that more clear than during the junior-year Honors-PLUS European study trip: Two weeks at a business school in Nantes, France. Living with local families. Visits with French and U.S. business executives in Paris and Brussels. Entry to international organizations, such as NATO. He even managed to squeeze in a rowing adventure with friends he met in Europe.
Honors-PLUS connections also opened doors closer to home, snaring Eric a six-month co-op assignment at Wizards of the Coast, the industry leader in hobby gaming, where he conducted "playtests" and focus groups for products and participated in game development. Today, Mersmann is enrolled in the University of Chicago law school, where he "blew them away" with his high entrance exam score, says Jeri Ricketts, director of the Honors-PLUS program.
Another graduate of the inaugural class of Honors-PLUS is pursuing his future at the investment banking giant Credit Suisse First Boston, Manhattan. After two stints as a Goldman Sachs co-op on Wall Street, Adam VeVerka found his ideal starting position in information technology.