MLK Jr. Day of Service encourages Propel Ohio


Propel Ohio – Photo by Olivia Fraser

Olivia Fraser and Olivia Fraser

Schools are celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by encouraging community service. At BGSU, students participated in “Not a Day Off, a Day On” by giving back to Bowling Green and northwest Ohio.

Students who engaged in these service opportunities were encouraged to attend Propel Ohio, on Feb. 2 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. This is a bipartisan student conference put on by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, and his office which encourages civic engagement, voting and student leadership. BGSU hosted the last in-person summit in 2019, bringing together college students from across the state.

A scheduled watch party for students by the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership was canceled due to inclement weather. Students can register for the virtual Propel Ohio event by creating an account and filling out the form. Registration must be completed by Feb. 2.

Dr. Amy Acton, former Director of the Ohio Department of Health, is the keynote speaker.

“A lot of what she did affected our daily lives, so we wanted to highlight the power that one person can have to change the whole world. She is from right here, went to school here, and stayed in Ohio. Students have a lot to look up to when it comes to her. Not a lot of women have gotten the kind of accolade that she has gotten,” said Ellen Short, Central Ohio Regional Representative for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

V. Rosser, Ph.D., Director of Civic Engagement in the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership at BGSU is a key leader in many of the service events offered at BGSU and is passionate about Propel Ohio.

“Senator Brown is very committed to building young leaders. He does not care what political party, he cares about students getting involved, thinking about what they really believe in, and the sense that for many college students, you are the future of democracy and engagement,” Rosser said.

Graduate Assistant for the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and President of Omicron Delta Kappa, Sophia Spivey, assisted with planning MLK Jr. Day of Service at BGSU and served as a site leader during the event.

“I know as a college student sometimes things feel very down. Having an outlet to help someone or to help a cause can help you see you are an intricate part of making the world a better place. I know this is cliché, but I think it’s really important that we have people who want to take part in service and get us to the next level of inclusivity and helping others,” Spivey said.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, BGSU limited the number of student volunteers and organizations they partnered with on MLK Jr. Day. Thus, this holiday was the kickoff for BGSU’s Semester of Service. Weekly service opportunities and events, including Propel Ohio in Feb. and a TEDx talk in April. Both are open to students in collaboration with the Marvin Center.

Assistant Director in the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership, Kendra Lutes, believes acts of service look different throughout each phase of life.

“I define service as giving up your time, talents, and treasure in order to affect positive changes in your community that you care about,” Lutes said.

Young activists are finding creative ways to give back to their community. BGSU students transcribed documents for the Library of Congress, promoted fire safety with the American Red Cross and made cards for Operation Gratitude. Although the ways in which service is done can be affected by the pandemic, it still makes an impact on the community.

“For Senator Brown, he believes in the civic engagement of college students, and he really wants college students to be thinking about what it means to be an active citizen in a democracy,” Rosser said.