This semester, Dr. Meghan E. Rubado, Assistant Professor at the Levin College, and her 2022 Columbus Seminar students spent most of their spring break engaged in an immersive week of meetings, visits, and events with state elected officials, administrators, policy advocates, lobbyists, news reporters, and researchers. The group of nine students included six graduate students and three upper-level undergraduates with interests ranging from regional planning to nonprofit administration to local government management.
As part of the experience, students met with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s legislative affairs team, leaders of executive agencies (e.g., Office of Budget and Management, Attorney General’s Office, Department of Medicaid), the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner, several members of the General Assembly (including Northeast Ohio members and CSU alumni Rep. Kent Smith, Sen. Nickie Antonio, and Rep. Sandra Williams), and leaders of non-governmental organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Ohio Mayors Alliance. They observed a Senate committee hearing and a full Senate session, where Levin MPA and Seminar alumna Sen. Nickie Antonio formally recognized the students from the Senate floor. They also met with Seminar alumni now working across the public sector in Columbus.
In addition to attending scheduled meetings and presentations throughout the week, students mingled and networked at an informal legislative reception at the Statehouse. The reception gathered General Assembly members and staff, CSU and Levin College alumni, and other policy actors in Columbus. The reception was generously sponsored by Akron Children’s Hospital and organized through collaborative efforts of CSU staff and a team of advisors, including Seminar alumni Michael Wellendorf and Anthony Gutowski, and CSU Board of Trustees Vice Chair Timothy Cosgrove.
The students described the intense exposure to state government as simultaneously eye-opening, overwhelming, and inspiring. Some of their reflections on the week are below.
“Each experience and conversation helped piece together the puzzle of understanding the relationship between local and state government.” – Marsalis Hammons
“Listening to Senator Antonio, I related to her an awful lot. Like Senator Antonio, I realized and saw that I could be a legislator for the first time through my experience in the Seminar.” – Grace Flajnik
“If the agencies showed us you can work in ‘government’ without politics, these guys showed what working FULLY in politics is like.” – Jack Brancatelli, on meeting with Gov. DeWine’s legislative team.
“[I] appreciated how many officials took time out of their busy schedules to network with us and appreciate Cleveland State … at the reception. I found myself listening to how others asked questions and spoke to each other to learn how to become better at networking.” – Molly Johnston
Learn More about the Columbus Seminar: