Alumni

August 5, 2021 at 2:44 pm

Alumni News | 60 years later, Bobcats reflect on OHIO learning, living and ‘the best years of our life’

Joy and Bernard Kokenge, PHD ’66, visit Ohio University’s new Chemistry Building in July—60 years after the couple moved to Athens, where they started their family and Dr. Kokenge earned a doctoral degree in chemistry.

Joy and Bernard Kokenge, PHD ’66, visit Ohio University’s new Chemistry Building in July—60 years after the couple moved to Athens, where they started their family and Dr. Kokenge earned a doctoral degree in chemistry.

Excerpted from Ohio University News

For Dr. Bernard Kokenge, PHD ’66, Ohio University isn’t just the place where he earned a doctoral degree he never intended to get. It’s the community where he and his wife started their family and continue to make memories. And it’s where some sage advice from a professor led to a career that took his work—and his name—to the moon and beyond.

“The older you get, the more you look back,” says Kokenge, who resides in Springboro, Ohio, with his wife, Joy. “We look back on our days at Ohio University and how it was so formative for us—not just the academic part but the living. It helped us to prepare for the future.”

The newlywed couple arrived in Athens 60 years ago this month, with Joy expecting their first child and Kokenge accepted for graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry. They moved into old military barracks on East State Street that had been converted into married student housing—14 units total, each housing eight families, and all without air conditioning.

Kokenge came to campus with a goal of earning a master’s degree and becoming a college professor. A qualifying exam given to graduate students at the time instead landed him in the chemistry department’s doctorate program—OHIO’s first PhD program, established in 1956.

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