Students from Clark State College were able to attend the 2023 Propel Ohio Student Leadership Conference on October 6 at Case Western University in Cleveland. It was the first state-wide in-person Propel Conference since 2019.
During this free one-day conference, participants heard from leaders who have made a difference in their communities and joined students from around the state to explore effective civic engagement opportunities.
The Propel Ohio Leadership Conference is sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown’s office to get students involved in civic engagement. The conference is set up as a non-partisan event to allow the students and administrators the opportunity to come together and learn from professionals and discuss their own ideas about how to get students more involved in their communities, especially through their vote.
The speakers included Senator Brown and his wife, Connie Schultz, Kurt Russell 2022 National Teacher of the Year (from Ohio), and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Dr. Eva Johnson.
The conference included representatives from colleges all over Ohio, including 2-year and both public and private 4-year colleges.
Clark State was represented by seven students - Ethan Adkins, Anton Avington, Heidi Austin, Sean Allen, Aaron Clements, Kiahna Garcia, and Calcifer Peters – based on an application to Senator Brown’s office which included a personal essay.
“All of the students who attended are first-generation college students meaning neither parent or guardian hold a bachelor's degree,” said Callie Carey-Devine, project director of TRIO Support Services at Clark State. “All of the students are affiliated with TRIO Student Support Services; four as active participants, two are new applicants, and the mother of the CCP student who attended is active in TRIO.”
TRIO is a federally funded program to help students to overcome economic, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education. Clark State College's TRIO Student Support Services program has been in existence for over 20 years and serves students who are first-generation, have limited income and those with a documented disability.
Clark State student Sean Allen said he has a passion for technology, innovation, and the pursuit of a better future.
“As an aspiring computer engineer, I am driven by the belief that advancements in science and technology can transform society and address pressing global challenges,” he said. “This conviction inspires me to become more civically engaged because I recognize the impact of technological progress extends beyond laboratories and corporations – it significantly influences policy, regulation, and the well-being of communities.”
Allen said his journey as a student and officer in the Clark State Cyber Club has shown him that active civic participation is essential to shaping a conducive environment for technological growth.
“By engaging in local governance and advocating for policies that foster innovation and education, I can contribute to a society that supports my aspirations and empowers others in the field,” he said. “This intersection of technology and civic engagement propels me to be a part of conversations, initiatives, and actions that pave the way for a technologically advanced and ethically responsible future.”
Robert Gast, academic coordinator for TRIO Support Services at Clark State said the student attendees will be meeting as a group to further discuss the ideas they brought back and determine how they can implement them at Clark State and the community, with the goal of increasing civic engagement.
“I am very proud of these students and I am encouraged by their excitement and energy about what they can bring back to Clark State and our community,” said Gast. “They are great student leaders and I look forward to helping them bring their ideas to reality.”