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OLAB: A Herzog Family Tradition

Matchmaking and marriages. Children and grandchildren.

Tobey Herzog has seen it all during his time with OLAB, the Opportunities to Learn About Business summer program, and that’s just from his own family!

OLAB is a one-week hands-on introduction to business and the market economy for young women and men entering their senior year in high school. Now in its 46th consecutive year at Wabash, the program’s success is known nationwide.

Professor of English Emeritus Tobey Herzog

Professor of English Emeritus Tobey Herzog

In 1978, Tobey began his time as an OLAB instructor teaching about writing job applications. He later taught advertising and marketing and worked with OLAB until 2010.

“I really enjoyed interacting with the high school students in that environment because they were highly motivated,” Tobey said. “I liked watching the students take the material I taught them and put together their own ads and campaigns. Plus, it was a nice change of pace.”

OLAB marketing campaigns featuring children often included Tobey’s then young sons, Rob and Joe.

And when they were both old enough, Rob and Joe went from the instructor’s kids to participants to OLAB counselors.

Joe’s wife, Marci, also went through OLAB.

Then there’s Rob’s wife, Beth. She didn’t attend OLAB as a high school student, but her connection to the program makes this family’s story even more interesting.

Rob was living in Washington D.C. and studying at Georgetown, when he came home one weekend for a wedding.

That evening, he had plans to reconnect with his former OLAB counselor Greg Shaheen, who has now worked with OLAB in various capacities for more than 30 years.

“When he showed up at my house,” Greg recalled, “we started talking about the wedding, and he said he had hit it off with one of the bridesmaids (Beth). He said something along the lines of, ‘If I lived in Indiana, she would likely be the one.’

“I looked at him and said, ‘Then why are you here with me??’”

At that, Greg made Rob change their original plans and drove him up to Culver, Indiana, where Beth was working at her relatives’ root beer stand.

OLAB was two weeks away, and the program was short a female counselor that year.

“So I hired Beth on the spot,” Greg said.

“Beth had no idea what the program was even about,” Tobey laughed. “Greg was doing this for Rob and Beth. That was his motivation.”

Mia Herzog

Mia Herzog, bottom right

Tobey had no idea he was working with his future daughter-in-law that week, but he said that week allowed him to see how great she is.

Rob and Beth later married, and – of course – Greg was in their wedding. Now their oldest daughter, Mia, is participating in OLAB this week.

“It’s become somewhat of a family tradition: Herzog-related people go to OLAB,” Tobey said. “It’s a rite of passage in the family, and I’m really excited that Mia’s here.”

“And they owe it all to me,” Greg laughed.

“But sincerely, it is really cool to see how everything has come full circle.”