Office of the President
Access to Education
When I was a young man growing up in Vernal, Utah, I expected that I would graduate from high school and go on to earn a college degree. Perhaps I would then further my education and become a doctor or a lawyer. My parents encouraged my goals. Of course, I knew that many of my classmates were not so fortunate. A college education was beyond their reach. As a teenager, I thought that was just the way it was.
“The way it was” is not the way it has to be. No place has taught us that lesson as well as The Ohio State University. Today, there are thousands of students at Ohio State who are the first in their families to go to college. Many are from low-income families. They are here, in part, because we have learned that the road to educational access and opportunity must be paved with more than good intentions and optimistic rhetoric.
We pave the road with concrete actions. Ohio State’s Economic Access office, founded by the trailblazing higher education leader Tally Hart and staffed by dedicated individuals who share her passion to help students, is home base for our efforts. Here, we recognize the hurdles that face first-generation and low-income students and find ways to help students and families overcome them.
We know it is vitally important for children in the elementary grades to imagine that they will attend college one day. Who better to plant that seed than our current students? At Ohio State, we ask our students to help encourage all schoolchildren to attend college. In fact, we have mobilized several thousand of our students to become “access advocates,” sending them to volunteer sites throughout Columbus to spread the word about how to prepare for college. Spring break provides other opportunities for our students to lead Blueprint College, engaging first-through-fifth graders in activities designed to encourage planning for their educational futures.
This week, we celebrated Tally Hart’s impact at Ohio State and throughout the nation with a retirement reception in her honor. I was proud to present her with the Congressional Record statement honoring her remarkable achievements from Representative Pat Tiberi, a first-generation Ohio State alumnus. I also presented her with the United States flag that was flown over the Capitol in her honor. In moments like this, I am reminded that one person can, indeed, change the world. Tally’s legacy is powerful, and those higher education professionals who follow in her footsteps — here at Ohio State and throughout the nation — will continue to lead a firm and unwavering commitment to student access and opportunity.