Ohio-TWC Partnership Celebration

Ohio-TWC Partnership Celebration

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Reid May
March 12, 2013

TWC celebrated 15 years of partnership with the state of Ohio during a reception at the Athletic Club in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Since the late 1990s, the Ohio General Assembly has included Washington Center-specific scholarship support for Ohio based students in its bi-annual budget; to date, more than 1,400 students have benefited from the funding.


“This program is one of extreme value – you don’t have to just take my word for it,” said Senator Randy Gardner, who went on to reference the obvious impact the experience has had on Ohio students and the help it provides in the Assembly’s task to help “make a difference in young people’s lives.”


Mike Smith, TWC's president, presided over the program and presented certificates of appreciation to Gardner, Senator Cliff Hite and former Senator and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Robert Cupp. All three have advocated for sustaining and, at times, increasing the state’s commitment to student participation in Washington Center programs. “You’ve become the choir now – and what’s the choir’s job?” Hite asked the roughly two dozen program alumni in attendance. “It’s to sing to the congregation – let them know what [the experience] is all about. Let them know the goods and the bads and that you’re fired up about it. I hope it increased your passion.”


The three Senators’ lighthearted remarks were only outshone by the emotionally candid personal experience shared by Ohio Northern and Washington Center alumna Megan Harrison Lawhon. Originally from the southeastern most part of Ohio, flush with “a fierce Appalachian mindset,” Lawhon described the experience as both empowering and life-changing.  “For the first time, I excitedly observed women who acquired success and respect outside of the traditional roles with which I was familiar,” said Lawhon. “These women were valued for their aggressiveness, abilities to self-advocate and visions of gender equality. They were free from the limits I felt were binding many of the women I knew from home.” During her time in Washington, D.C., Lawhon interned with EMILY’s List, a non-profit organization which describes its mission as “electing pro-choice, Democratic women to office.” While she briefly considered the possibility of staying in D.C., Lawhon felt compelled to return to Ohio, where she can call on the motivation of her internship experience to empower other young women in her hometown. “Without my experience, my life and the [lives] of other Appalachian women might have taken different path,” Lawhon added.



Chris Kershner, Vice President of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and alumnus ('00) of TWC and Wright State University, also shared his perspectives on the program. “As a young man, who was incurring one hundred percent of his student loans…it was refreshing to have some assistance as I took this new step in life [interning with then-United States Senator Mike DeWine],” said Kershner, speaking about the financial support he received from the state of Ohio during his internship. “About 90 percent of all students who go through this program come back to their home state; bring that knowledge and bring that experience back to help benefit their home state… and that’s really what the program is about,” Kershner added, reflecting on the positive impact the TWC partnership has on Ohio.


The reception was attended by many of TWC’s institutional partners, with representatives from Ohio Northern University, Tiffin University, Hiram College, Ursuline College, Bowling Green State University, the University of Toledo, Wright State University, University of Mount Union and Otterbein University in attendance.


Along with Senator Gardner, Senator Hite and Justice Cupp, a number of other legislators and some Assembly staff joined the reception. TWC hopes to continue strengthening its partnership with the state of Ohio in coming years.


[View photos of the event on our Flickr channel]

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