A Graduate Taking the World by Storm

Photo by Daniel Smyth


Michael Hill runs a basketball camp for underprivileged youth that he started from scratch, helps individuals with job-related challenges find employment, takes care of his child and supports his wife while she attends graduate school. He’s not a superhero per se, but he’s definitely the kind of person Cincinnati needs. 

But like many successful folks, Hill didn’t just pop out of nowhere ready to take on the world. He accepted a full scholarship to Cincinnati Christian University and spent four years in the crucible, mastering skills, juggling responsibilities and working hard. Hill was a sports administration major with a minor in biblical studies and played on CCU’s basketball team. 

“What I learned at Cincinnati Christian University is really helping me now with the basketball camp,” says Hill. “The program taught me how to build sponsorships and show investors the value in what we do.”

His time at Cincinnati Christian University provided Hill with a number of mentors and faculty members he could call upon for help both during college and after his graduation. Basketball coach Kellen Zawadzki and former university president Ken Tracy are Hill’s go-to people for advice post-college. 

“They took me in and assisted me whenever I was in need,” says Hill. “I could still call them today for instruction and wisdom. My time at CCU raised me into a man – it taught me accountability and the importance of taking responsibility on and off the court.” 

This sense of responsibility translated into Hill’s senior year, when he was captain of the basketball team, supporting a family, working as much as possible and gearing up for life after graduation. But he didn’t have to face the world after college alone. In addition to the mentors, Hill says his wife Arieanna is the person who helped him find faith and is his biggest supporter. “I thank God for my wife every day,” says Hill. “She’s been with me this whole journey. She’s the world to me and she’s irreplaceable.” 

While attending college, Hill met Barry Baker, executive vice president of youth programs for City Gospel Mission, a local Christian organization that provides services to underprivileged members of the community. 

“He invested in me,” says Hill. “He had me meet with each director in each department at City Gospel Mission, and I was able to network with them.” It was through this that he met Abe Wolford, Jr., who would help him get his current position at Jobs Plus. 

“I was trying to help him gain employment when a job here opened up,” says Wolford. “At first, I was reluctant to bring him on because of his age. But we decided we needed a younger person in here, and he’s been a blessing. He has such great energy and new ideas. Hiring him has helped ignite myself and our staff to match his enthusiasm.” 

Jobs Plus needed new employers and professional partners to provide positions for the individuals seeking aid through the organization, and Hill has been integral to gaining new support. His basketball camp, which he runs through the Salvation Army, is also doing well: with 16 kids and thousands of dollars secured for the program through grants and fundraisers, Hill’s efforts have helped establish a program that will likely help the youth of Cincinnati for years to come. 

“What I love most about Jobs Plus is that it gives hope to people, and second chances, which is something we all need sometimes. We’re all sinners,” says Hill. “Everyone’s situation is different, and we present them with a loving environment and hope.”

Steve Carr, director of advancement and development with Cincinnati Christian University, says graduates like Hill are typical of the students coming through the university. 

“Michael is a 2014 graduate of Cincinnati Christian University,” says Carr. “He was part of the Urban Scholars Program, launched in collaboration with City Gospel Mission. The program is focused on recruiting first-generation college students and giving them the tools for scholastic success. Michael is exactly the kind of graduate CCU is sending into the world. He’s socially conscientious, focusing on a career path that gives back to the community.”

Cincinnati Christian University is located at 2700 Glenway Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45204. You can reach them at 800.949.4228 (4CCU), by email at info@ccuniversity.edu or visit www.ccuniversity.edu.