Ohio State Rep Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus) will return to his alma mater, Hiram College, to give the Commencement Speech on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
Only 34 years old, he will be one of the youngest speakers ever in the college’s 172 years of existence.
In early March of 2023, he spoke about his collegiate experience at the 2023 Independent College Day sponsored by the Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Ohio. With five independent colleges and universities in House District 1, Rep. Jarrells enrolled at Hiram in 2006 and majored in political science with a minor in economics.
He grew up in one of Cleveland’s most challenging neighborhoods as a child. The road to Hiram College, the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, Franklin County Treasurer’s Office, and even the statehouse took work. However, through mentorship and persistence, he is now where he is today—paying it forward by inspiring other young and future heroes to do the same.
Having been elected as the Assistant Minority Leader of the House Democratic Caucus in his second term, he’s one of the youngest in the nation to hold that position. Rep. Jarrells has lived up to the hype and continued to use his platform to tackle some of the most challenging problems impacting Central Ohio and the state.
His district, House District 1, includes Berwick, Bexley, Bronzeville, Downtown, Franklinton, German Village, Milo-Grogan, and the South Side of Columbus.
Here’s what Rep. Jarrells said at the start of the 135th General Assembly:
“As we look forward… I’m committed to building a better Ohio for all of us. I envision an Ohio where everyone can access high-paying careers, not just jobs—an Ohio where a child’s zip code doesn’t determine the quality of their education. In Ohio, where our kids are safe from firearms, families don’t have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. Simply put, I work for you.
He’s remained steadfast to that commitment. And so far, Rep. Jarrells has sponsored two primary bills. House Bill 96 would raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, and House Bill 106, known as the “Pay Stub Protection Act.” The bill requires employers to provide their employees with earnings and deduction statements.
The representative has co-sponsored ten bills, including House Bill 52, now in the Senate Committee. Bill 509, passed during the 134th Assembly, to restore law related to emergency medical services training and continuing education programs and EMS and fire instructor certification. The bill would reverse House.
Rep. Jarrells’ unwavering support for Central Ohio residents, particularly immigrants and refugees across central Ohio, is undeniable.
He played a critical role in the election of the State Representatives Ismail Muhamed (D-Columbus) and Munira Abdullahi (D-Columbus), the first Somali-American male and female Muslims elected to the Ohio State House of Representatives. He also collaborates with various immigrant and refugee communities to celebrate their achievements and advocate for changes affecting their communities.
While Rep. Jarrells is typically the one giving commendations to celebrate the achievements of those across his district, his service and advocacy have been noticed. He has received several recognitions, including:
* 2023 Healthy Food Access Legislative Champion from Produce Perks Midwest
* 2022 NAMI Legislator of the Year
* 2022 Legislative Champion Award from Mental Health America
* 2022 Small Business Advocate of the Year from the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE)
Growing up in Cleveland, he was significantly involved in his high school STEM program. He attended East Technical High School and was part of the school’s FIRST® (For Inspiration Recognition in Science and Technology) robotics team. As one of the first all-Black teams in the nation, the students worked with organizations like NASA and other engineering companies committed to fostering well-rounded leaders. It is one of the reasons why Rep. Jarrells works so hard to improve the lives of youth through policies he fights for in the General Assembly.
As a member and leader of the team from 2002-2006, he credits robotics with changing his life. That’s why in January of 2022, he paid it forward by meeting members of Team #3324, the Metrobots. The team is sponsored in part by the Past Foundation, which also aims to inspire young minds to change the world of education through science and technology.
In an interview with FIRST in April of 2018, Rep. Jarrells stated that “his involvement with the East Tech’s robotics team saved his life…to have an opportunity like this to be told that you can be anything you put your mind to and have a place of refuge after school where you’ve got people who love and care about you to see you through. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Rep. Jarrells’ natural affinity for working with the leaders of all institutions to advocate for positive change and empower the next generation is truly an admiration to those who see him serve his district and state. And that’s an Ohio he believes we all deserve.