Volunteer Spirit: While getting a Ph.D., Seybold puts volunteer skills to work


By Philip Case

Contributing writer

While many view retirement as an opportunity to spend more time doing nothing — or at least less than what they have been doing — as Pat Seybold was nearing that time more than six years ago, she had one goal in mind.

“I wanted to get my Ph.D.,” said Seybold, a 66-year-old Frankfort resident.

Doing so, however, would mean she would need to take a break from her numerous volunteer responsibilities in the community.

“This week I’m defending my (doctoral) thesis,” she said. “If that works out successfully, I’ll be able to go back to more time on my volunteer work and other things.”

When all is completed, Seybold will hold a doctorate in business from Sullivan University in Louisville with an emphasis on conflict management and dispute resolution. The degree will complement a master’s from Wayne State University and bachelor’s and master’s from Central Michigan University.

“I didn’t want to be bored in retirement,” she said. “The people at Sullivan were very patient and encouraging with a lot of focus on detail. They kept assuring me I could do it.”

Seybold put her degrees as a mediator in conflict management and dispute resolution to work during her career with the state — and in her volunteer positions, too.

“I hold parenting classes for female inmates at the Franklin County Jail,” Seybold said. “Through my training in conflict management, I try to help the women understand how their behavior affects their children and those around them.”

She’s served on the boards of the Sunshine Center and Franklin County Humane Society and in the Leash on Life Store that helps provide funds for the animal shelter.

Seybold has therapy dogs, three that are certified and one retired, and works through Pawsabilities Unlimited. She takes, or has taken, dogs to Collins Lane Elementary, as well as to schools in Georgetown and Owen County. They also go with her to some special events.

“In the past, I have been certified in national animal response,” Seybold said. “These dogs have special training to respond to people who are suffering the effects of disasters. Kentucky has a chapter and I hope to do more with that when my degree is done.

“Children and people respond differently to animals than they do to other people. There’s no judgment, for instance, if you’re reading to a dog and you miss a word!”

Seybold and her husband, John, who’s a retired mechanical engineer, serve as volunteer lay leaders in the Unitarian Universalist Community of Frankfort.

The Seybolds, who’ve lived in Frankfort since coming here from Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1999, have one son, who’s a marketing executive for Tulsa Welding in Scottsville, Arizona. She grew up in Arkansas.

Seybold said her parents taught her it’s important to give back to the community.

“I do it because I enjoy giving back,” she said. “It’s a way to give back and to meet a diverse group of people. I’ve learned a lot about Frankfort through volunteering.”

She says she understands why most volunteers are older, many retired with grown children.

“Young parents have so many responsibilities these days it’s difficult for them,” Seybold said. “I still think they will volunteer to give back if it’s a good project and it doesn’t take up too much of their time. Time is a precious thing.”

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