By Okon Ekpenyong
Ohio State Rep Dontavius Jarrells (D) will be returning to his alma mater, Hiram College to give the Commencement Speech on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
“As a graduate of Hiram College, I’m proud to have the five independent colleges and universities in Ohio House District 1,” said Representative Dontavius Jarrells.
“As we look forward…I’m committed to building a better Ohio for all of us. I envision an Ohio where everyone can access high-paying careers, not just jobs—an Ohio where a child’s zip code doesn’t determine the quality of their education. An Ohio where our kids are safe from firearms, and families don’t have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. Simply put, I work for you.”
In May of 2023, the 34-year-old will serve as the Commencement Speaker at his alma mater, Hiram College, becoming one of the youngest speakers ever in the college’s 172 years of existence.
In early March of 2023, he spoke at the 2023 Independent College Day sponsored by the Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Ohio.
Jarrells enrolled at Hiram in 2006 and majored in political science with a minor in economics.
However, the road to Hiram College, the Treasurer’s office, and even the statehouse was not an easy one. As a child, he grew up in one of Cleveland’s most challenging neighborhoods; however, through mentorship and persistence, he is now where he is today—and paying it forward by inspiring other young and future heroes to do the same.
Having been elected as Democratic Assistant Minority Leader in just his second term, Rep Jarrell began his second term on January 3, 2023, an unprecedented feat. The representative has lived up to the hype and continued to use his platform to tackle some of the most challenging problems impacting Central Ohio and the state daily.
District one includes Berwick, Bexley, Bronzeville, Downtown, Franklinton, German Village, Milo-Grogan, and the South Side of Columbus communities.
“As we look forward to the 135th General Assembly and beyond, I’m committed to building a better Ohio for all of us. I envision an Ohio where everyone can access high-paying careers, not just jobs. An Ohio where a child’s zip code doesn’t determine the quality of their education. An Ohio where our kids are safe from firearms, and families don’t have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet,” said Jarrells. “Simply put, I work for you. Together, let’s build an Ohio we all deserve.”
That was Rep Jarrell’s press release at the start of his second term, and so far, in the 135th General Assembly, the representative has co-sponsored ten bills, including HB52, which is now in the Senate Committee. The bill would reverse HB509, passed during the 134th Assembly, to restore law related to emergency medical services training and continuing education programs and EMS and fire instructor certification.
Also, Jarrell has sponsored two primary bills in this year’s assembly:
Rep. Jarrells has sponsored two primary bills. House Bill 96, which would raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, and House Bill 106, known as the “Pay Stub Protection Act.” The bill requires employers to provide their employees with earnings and deduction statements.
He played a critical role in the election of the State Representatives Ismail Muhamed (D-Columbus) and Munira Abdullahi (D-Columbus), the first Somali-American male and female Muslims elected to the Ohio State House of Representatives. He also collaborates with various immigrant and refugee communities to celebrate their achievements and advocate for changes affecting their communities.
Representative Jarrell received the 2019 Community Service Award provided by 100 Black Women in Columbus for his advocacy for positive change with young people in the community. A part of that advocacy was mentoring the organization’s 100 Black Women’s Stem camp, encouraging young women to pursue careers in science and technology.
Growing up in Cleveland, he was significantly involved in his high school STEM PROGRAM. He attended East Technical High School and was on the school’s FIRST Robotics Team 120. It’s a historic team in space robotics that NASA and other engineering partners recognize for preparing urban leaders to change the world. It is one of the reasons why Rep Jarrell works so hard to improve the lives of youth through something that did change his life.
As a member and leader of the organization from 2002-2006, he credits the organization with changing his life. It was in January of 2022 that he paid it forward by meeting Team 3324 members of the Past Foundation, which also aims to inspire young minds to change the world of education through science and technology.
In an interview with the First program in April 2018, Rep Jarrell stated that “because of first and his involvement with the EAST tech First 120 team saved his life, and some of the kids on the team didn’t come from the greatest households. And so to have an opportunity like this to be told that you can be anything you put your mind to and have a place of refuge after school where you’ve got people who love and care about you to see you through. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
He has a natural affinity for working with the leaders of primary and secondary institutions to advocate for positive change to empower the next generation throughout his time in the public eye.
As a student at Hiram College, he made a name for himself by advocating for campus-wide initiatives to address inequality, race relations, and diversity issues. He was the Chief of Communications of Franklin County Treasurer before becoming State Representative. He has also worked for the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities and the Ohio Department of Mental health and Addiction Services.
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