Staff Spotlight: Rachel Lokai and Brooklyn Wagner
Rachel Lokai is our new Fiscal Officer 2 and joined the Department of Animal Sciences on September 12, 2022. Rachel is from Columbus, OH where she attended Bloom-Carroll High School and graduated with a BA in Business from Ohio Dominican University. Rachel is married to her husband Jeff, and they have two children Landon and Avery along with two cats. When she is not attending her children’s sporting events, Rachel enjoys walking, digging in her flower beds, and reading a good book. The last book she read was Elin Hilderbrand’s The Hotel Nantucket. Rachel’s favorite authors include Colleen Hoover, Elin Hilderbrand, Kristin Hannah, and Lisa Scottoline.
Rachel’s career path began in healthcare compliance. A career in healthcare was not in line with Rachel’s career pursuits which led her to The Ohio State University focusing on travel and purchasing compliance. One of her fondest memories of Ohio State is when she first started, Gordon Gee (former Ohio State University President) invited Rachel and her colleagues to his office for some of his birthday cake which was a huge bowtie! Learning new skills and increasing responsibilities led Rachel to her current position in the Department of Animal Sciences where she will manage the business and fiscal operations for the department. In her first couple of weeks, Rachel noted that “everyone is helpful and sincerely nice!” Her goal is to “become a valuable resource and build relationships with faculty and staff in the department.”
Dr. Brooklyn Wagner
Dr. Brooklyn Wagner joined the department on July 12, 2022, as a lecturer and coordinating advisor for undergraduate students. Brooklyn is familiar with Columbus and The Ohio State University. She grew up in Columbus, OH about 15 minutes north of central campus and attended St. Francis DeSales High School. She received her BS, MS, and PhD from the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University. When asked about her fondest Ohio State memory, three came to mind: “1) Moving into the Blackburn as a Freshman where I would meet many of my lifelong friends on the third floor. 2) Rushing the field after wins against *ichigan, not once, but twice! 3) Hearing my name called, walking across the stage, and being hooded in the Shoe in 2019.”
In May 2021, Brooklyn married her husband, Caleb, in the California redwoods with twenty of their closest friends and family. Their fur babies Zoey (black lab), Ayah (overweight but cuddliest feline), and River (newest addition, yellow lab mix) keep their household very lively. In Brooklyn’s free time, you will find her painting and making watercolor greeting cards for her loved ones and roller blading (when the Ohio weather cooperates!) Another favorite activity is traveling, “The travel bug bit me early on and I want to visit all the National Parks. But when things open back up globally - our next stop will be Thailand, Greece, or Italy!”
Brooklyn’s career path felt long and winding, but she is thrilled to be in her current role within the department. The natural pairing of her first love of science and the connection to all different kinds of animals was the spark that ignited the path to her career. “Being in Academia seems to combine everything I enjoy – scientific research, teaching and mentoring students, collaborating with experts, and pursuing knowledge to affect real-world change.” Brooklyn began college thinking she would attend veterinary school but finding research through an internship would change her future. She realized she had a passion for research, welfare, and physiology which eventually resulted pursuing a post-doc at North Carolina State University where she combined those areas and applied them to the swine, cattle, and poultry industries. “After a year of traveling the country as a Dairy Welfare Auditor, I was excited for the opportunity to bring that industry experience into the classroom and get back to teaching!”
As a 12-month lecturer, Brooklyn provides support to students through her roles as the Department Coordinating Advisor and course instructor. Her main objective is to meet each student’s individual needs through open and direct communication, flexibility, and drawing on their lived experiences and passions. She is one of the intermediaries between the Department and the College and hopes to facilitate bi-directional collaboration between the two when possible. Brooklyn is seeing the department from the other side, having previously been an undergraduate and graduate student, and it is great. “Connecting with students in a different role as an advisor has been particularly rewarding. Having support from amazing new and old colleagues has helped make this semester feel like a success so far!” The impact Brooklyn hopes to make is facilitating infrastructure within the department that supports positive and connection-building experiences for our students. She also hopes to have the opportunity to be a helpful resource to other faculty members as a collaborator for research and extension as needed.
In Dr. Wagner’s professional and personal life, reading the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has improved her ability to be successful and happy. From that, the one that that has had the greatest impact on her is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.”