Alumnus Finds Professional Success as Ohio Air National Guard Commander
For Col. Ken Kmetz, the Ohio Air National Guard and The Ohio State University at Mansfield were a combination that opened wide the doors to his professional career.
After enlisting in the Ohio Air National Guard in 1986, Kmetz, now commander of the Guard’s 179th Airlift Wing Maintenance Group, decided, “I’m going to finish my degree. How can I do that? That’s when I went to Ohio State.” He graduated from Ohio State Mansfield in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
An “enlisted guy” for 12 years, he became a commissioned officer 20 years ago and rose swiftly through the ranks to become colonel in summer 2017. In addition, he was a firefighter at the Guard base for 16 years.
He recently shared about his experience as a student at Ohio State Mansfield and the impact it’s had on his years with the Air National Guard.
Why did you choose to complete your bachelor’s degree at Ohio State Mansfield?
I went to the Mansfield campus because I could get a first-class education right here at home, and I wanted to get a bachelor’s degree. It was something I wanted to finish. Having (a regional campus) here in Mansfield is huge. I could leave the Air National Guard base on leave, drive 10 minutes and be in class and drive back to work.
How did Ohio State Mansfield prepare you for the position you’re in now?
What the university experience taught me is what you put into it is what you get out. What Mansfield taught me is I could do what I wanted to do with my education and work full time. Once I figured out how to learn at a higher level, I certainly gained more confidence. I actually learned how to multitask.
Did you have a professor who particularly affected your education?
Terri Fisher (professor emeritus of psychology). I learned a lot from her because she was extremely challenging, because she was so tough. She challenged her students, and she got the best out of them.
What was your favorite aspect of your experience at Ohio State Mansfield?
Being a part of Ohio State. That’s special. The fact that I can be a Buckeye and be in my hometown was just a bonus because of the convenience. It enabled me to get an Ohio State diploma while working a full-time job and a part-time job. And that means a lot to me.
What would you tell someone about to graduate from high school if they were considering enrolling at Ohio State Mansfield?
(Referring to the eligibility for a full scholarship to state-based educational institutions gained by those enlisting in the Ohio Air National Guard, he said,) I would probably tell them to join the Air National Guard and go to Ohio State Mansfield and get it paid for. Now, they’re going to earn it … What’s Ohio going to get out of it? They get a good citizen airman.