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I hope I have a Hollywood ending to share: a hard-working English professor and dedicated lecturer running for public office as a Democrat, opposing the current Republican businessman who she believes is not sensitive to the needs of the community-and winning. In the same year she ran for the election, the record voter turnout resulted in a change in the White House. A woman of color became the vice president, and Ohio resumed its long-standing role as a swing state. The newly elected she voiced an effective voice in a more bipartisan state legislature that prioritized better healthy income, improved economic viability of working people, and fairer education funding. In the process, she became the first English professor in Ohio to win a state government position.

There is no Hollywood ending. I lost. A wave of older white voters voted for the incumbent president on election day, leading to a Republican victory in the Ohio State Capitol. Before voting on Election Day, I have a chance to fight—to keep pace with my opponents in an off-travel area. But on Election Day, the Republican votes overwhelmingly overwhelmed every Democrat in my county, and all state legislators except one non-current Democratic candidate lost. After a national false propaganda campaign that overwhelmed local interests, all our efforts were in vain.

My involvement in public service may not have a Hollywood ending — and more importantly, it will not produce results that are in the best interests of my community — but on a personal level, it is both comforting and enlightening. My experience can also provide a broader experience for general higher education: it can prove useful in thinking about the future of liberal arts and the role of academic services. Of course, my campaign has redefined the service I provide every day as a professor and its importance to the well-being of my students, my university, and my local community. Running for office means learning to represent higher education in situations where I might face anger, despair, or even AR-15, just like using a pen and a notebook.

On the one hand, that experience taught me that I am an educator, not just a professor. As an educator, my job is related to the continuous public service of diligent public school teachers, troubled public school administrators, and even parents who teach their children at home. In a world where our children are struggling and resources are limited, we are all striving to be our best. As an educator on the road to the election, the door is open to me. Until the last 10 days of the campaign, every encounter in someone’s front yard led to a consensus. We all hope that our children have a better future, and we all know that education is the key to achieving this result.

I remember having a long conversation with a single mother across the fence — her child playing in the car, her mother helping her manage her complicated schedule at home — and how much this woman desires her child to learn Tolerant of others and their differences. We speak the same language. Yes-she wants her children to have financial opportunities, but what she really wants is to make them good people. My PhD has nothing to do with her, but my service to students and my commitment to promoting tolerance are clearly similar to her needs and values. When our conversation was over, she had hung up my sign in her small yard. I still don’t know her party affiliation, or whether she has a party affiliation. However, I know we have the same hope for her child.

Such encounters also made me realize which parts of my own educational story were hidden. Where did I get my degree, how many articles I published, and whether my teaching met and/or exceeded professional expectations, which led to my academic work and tenure and promotion. My journey there is irrelevant. However, I grew up using a non-standard dialectics. My grandfather could not read or write. My parents were the first to go to university among their large farmers, and I was the first to study for a PhD. It was Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown’s call that made me realize how little I shared this story. Because I was one of the “canary candidates” he recognized, he followed my campaign and recognized the power of this personal narrative before I made this personal narrative-leave a message on my work phone, everywhere, Say I need to tell my story more.

He was right, and not only in my campaign. One-third of the students in my university are the first generation, and the larger group is suitable for my second generation, and those are the students who failed in our higher education. They have the lowest retention rate and the highest level of anxiety. However, it was only in the last few years that I started to share my story with my students. I think my authority as a professor lies in my elite status, and by emphasizing my success rather than fighting along the way, I’d better be recognized as a campus leader.

However, the struggles of my students-economics, education, personal-are the main reasons why I run for public office. As I said in every speech, I was seeking public office because I realized that serving my students in class is no longer enough. They also need me to fight for them outside of class.

The irony is that doing so requires me to put my story — and my service — first. There are eight 10-foot-tall billboards in my area declaring that I am a staunch advocate, a half-page newspaper ad and recurring radio advertisement, a T-shirt that says “I♥ Cynthia Richards”, And the promise of three full-length videos of me to my community. This commitment also means addressing community needs in my three daily Facebook posts, speaking at every local rally that supports racial justice—including one where I immediately faced AR-15—and in my area Run a separate 10-K to commemorate women’s right to vote.

The young man with AR-15 didn’t want me to talk about the value of black people living in a historic white town in my area. Some public officials are more concerned about canceling drop boxes—including those in the same town—rather than celebrating the expansion of voting opportunities. Fighting for my students means getting on stage and making sure their stories are told.

Nevertheless, running for office is the most selfless job I have ever done. Unlike establishing my professional certificate, it serves my students and my community. Like most of my academic services, this is unpaid labor.First as an educator, and second as a professor, my job is to talk about the ability to “win [our communities] It’s over,” as Senator Brown said.

In the last 10 days of the campaign, when the national election became the focus, I felt most strongly. Before, talking about my student’s struggle opened the door. But now some people curse me or drive me out of their property, they are convinced that my student’s life is much easier than their own life. They don’t have first-hand knowledge, only politically motivated to believe in the worst of my students, and not enough of us oppose these narratives.

Surprisingly, being a professor trained me in a difficult campaign. My biggest laugh at the fundraising event is the mention of very few English professors elected to state or national public office. However, mentioning my skills as a communicator, researcher, and critical thinker received support. I can post three persuasive messages on difficult and complex topics every day. I can speak at rallies, debates, forums, and fundraising events to tailor my message to individual audiences. I am good at listening to the opinions of local leaders and then reformulating their concerns for wider discussion. In the heated debate, I can stick to my “course plan” while at the same time justifying my response to personal comments. I learned that what my audience values ​​is that I advocate for their children in class every day.

This does not mean to me that all professors should run for public office-although I am not against it-but that we must use our position to educate the public about the needs of our students and our role in defending them. The work we do is a public service, and we should say it without hesitation. The way we serve students needs to be the first and center of how we describe the work we do. In defending the needs of our students, we fight not only for them, but also for our communities, including academia.

My story may not have a Hollywood ending, but the prospect of highlighting the struggle makes the story of higher education a convincing story. Our future depends on what we tell it.

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