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Great Beginnings: Stories of Great Oaks Grads

 Every student and every graduate of Great Oaks has a unique story. Here are some of those stories. What's yours?

Gabby Zahneis (2019, Surgical Technology) came from Oak Hills to start working toward a career in health care.

More Great Beginnings...

"You can't learn if you don't try..."  2018 grad Shyanne Hedstrom earned the respect of her peers in the Welding program, and now works as an aide teaching others.

1992 grad Doug Hyrne (HVAC) started the company Time Savers Heating and Cooling.

Dr. Caryn Filson (2002) graduated from the Equine Science and Management program; now she's an agriculture professor at OSU

Lt. Matt Poppe of the Blue Ash Fire Department graduated from Great Oaks in 2011.

After earning a BS in Veterinary Technology, Chelsea Caskey (2010) began a career doing what she loves.

2018 Culinary Arts graduate Kennedy Harper combines her culinary skills and interest in business at The Ohio State University.

Alumnus: Gary Gilbert

Great Beginnings: Gary Gilbert


Gary Gilbert

Diamond Oaks  

Oak Hills   

I wanted a career in construction, and Diamond gave me the chance to learn the trade while going to school.       

Having an instructor that had come from the trades gave them the ability to not only teach from the book but show us tricks they had learned over the years. It also helped gear the entire lessons around what is actually important.

I co-oped in a cabinet shop while in school; after graduation I started at a commercial construction firm and quickly learned the ropes. Within 8 years I was running the largest projects they had. At that point they brought me into the office to begin to estimate and run projects as a project manager.

I worked my way up from being an apprentice carpenter to being part owner of a large construction firm in approximately 20 years. As part of that firm I was the project lead as the construction manager at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden along with taking care of many other projects. After 35 years, I left this company.

After 2 ½ years, I was asked by the Cincinnati Zoo if I would consider coming back and starting an internal construction team for them. The Zoo is obviously a dream job and I jumped at the chance. We currently are working on a $150 million campaign to give kangaroos, penguins and most importantly, elephants much larger habitats.

Just four years out of high school, Connor Weiss (2016, Industrial Diesel) is Operations Manager for a local manufacturer.

Tell us your unique story!  Click here.