The revving of the Top Thrill Dragster engine getting ready to launch. The noise of the FunTVs entertaining park goers while they wait in line. These sounds fill the air at Cedar Point and they make Zachary Horvath smile.
He’s a technical services technician at the Sandusky park, keeping the audio and video equipment throughout Cedar Point and its resorts running at the highest quality. For Horvath, 20, it’s the perfect combination of career and interest.
“I love theme parks, and I love technology, so I’ve really found what I love doing by working in theme park technology,” he says.
Eventually Horvath would like to work his way up in the industry and be a part of the visionary team that creates new attractions. To help him get there, he enrolled in the new Resort and Attraction Management program at Bowling Green State University in downtown Sandusky.
Horvath expects to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in 2022. And the entire cost of his degree is already paid for thanks, in part, to the Thompson Scholarship he earned from BGSU. But Horvath isn’t sure he’d be where he is today – certainly not debt free – if it wasn’t for Lorain County Community College.
No better way to get a head start
Horvath, who grew up in Elyria Township, started taking College Credit Plus courses at LCCC while attending Open Door Christian School. It was his first introduction to college-level classes and taking them helped ease the transition to college and accelerate his time to graduation.
“This program introduced me to the rigorous demands of college courses while I was taking only one class and not a full course load,” Horvath says. “And it opened up the opportunity to take more higher level classes my first full year of college. There’s no better way to get a head start in college and in my career.”
Horvath believes that head start, coupled with his good grades, helped him earn the many scholarships he has, including the Trustee Scholarship from LCCC that covers the entire cost of two years’ tuition.
“Having your tuition completely paid for was just an offer that was too hard to pass up,” Horvath says. “I knew that this would be the right decision for me.”
What Horvath wasn’t sure of though, was the career path he wanted to take. Luckily LCCC gave him flexibility to find the right career path for him.
“I was able to pick up a couple night classes as well as a couple online classes, and work part-time while I was in school,” Horvath says.
A scholarship geared toward working students
Horvath began working at Cedar Fair, the parent company of Cedar Point, in May 2019 as a live entertainment technician at Cedar Point. He ran sound and resolved technical issues for some of the park’s small shows. Since then, Horvath has held the same position at Cedar Point’s sister park, Kings Island, running sound for the park’s most popular show, Tinker’s Toy Factory, which had up to 1,200 guests per performance. In March 2020, he began his current role at Cedar Point.
And just two months after landing the position, Horvath graduated from LCCC with his associate of science degree. This fall Horvath transferred to BGSU and began working toward his next degree.
“I was able to settle on this program at BGSU and it’s been a completely smooth transition,” he says.
BGSU’s Resort and Attraction Management program was created in partnership with his employer and is a perfect fit for Horvath and the career path he’s on. Better yet, Horvath’s academic excellence and work experience made him a prime choice for BGSU’s Thompson Scholarship. The scholarship, funded by Robert and Ellen Thompson, awards $5,000 per year and, in conjunction with a scholarship Horvath received from Cedar Fair, will cover the entire cost of Horvath’s bachelor’s degree.
“I worked really hard to maintain my GPA and I think that was the biggest thing that made me stand out,” Horvath says. “And this scholarship is geared toward working students, so I felt like the work experience I was able to gain thanks to LCCC’s flexible scheduling really helped me out a lot too.”
Horvath is thankful to have found a career he loves and to have received scholarships that have helped him align his education and career goals. And he’s thankful for LCCC – the launching point for where he is now.