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WC Junior Featured at Statewide Summit on Student Engagement

Taylor Powell-Abbinante Speaks on His Civic Involvements at U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's Propel Ohio Wilmington College's Taylor Powell-Abbinante shared his significant experience as a highly engaged student with peers from across the state while serving as a panelist at the Propel Ohio Collegiate Leadership Summit earlier this month. PICTURED: From the left are Taylor Powell-Abbinante, Dr. Amy Acton and Ellen Short.  BELOW: From the left, 29015 WC alumna Ellen Short, who moderated the panel discussion; Dr. Amy Acton, who gave the keynote address;  Taylor Powell-Abbinante, the WC junior on the panel along with students from Columbus State and Ohio University. Powell-Abbinante is a junior from New Richmond with dual majors in political science and biology/environmental science. He was part of a trio of Ohio college students selected to present at the statewide conference sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in Columbus. Brown introduced the event as a means to promote civic engagement among college-age students and to encourage them to see it as a way to foster the change they wish to see in the world. Dr. Amy Acton offered the evening's keynote address. She is a public health researcher and the former director of the Ohio Dept. of Health who played a leading role in Ohio's initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Powell-Abbinante spoke of his involvement as an organizer with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Advocacy Corps in which he has been a strong advocate for the federal Environmental Justice for All Act through his lobbying efforts. "With this position, I have been able to train people on how to lobby, how to tell their stories and how to use their voice when it comes to policy and legislation," he said. Powell-Abbinante also shared his involvement as a local organizer for 2022 Earth Day programming in Wilmington. He's working with the city, community members and other WC students in planning a largescale event April 23 when, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., sustainability and eco-friendly ways to live will be promoted at four locations in the community. "The experience presenting at the Propel Ohio Collegiate Leadership Summit was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he added. "For me, being able to speak about my work and how to get involved to hundreds of students from across the state was very uplifting." Dr. Michael Snarr, professor of political science, witnessed Powell-Abbinante's presentation, which he feels will give him "well-deserved confidence." "I think it is fair to say that everyone in attendance was very impressed with the wide variety of civic experiences he has been a part of," Snarr said. "Furthermore, the professional manner in which Taylor carried himself and presented was very impressive." Powell-Abbinante noted the networking opportunities afforded him at the conference, as he has designs on a career in public service as an elected political official or in a related legislative field. "I am a great proponent of environmental legislation — I think that is an area of policy that dramatically needs more involvement and action." His career aspirations have solidified during the last year, as Powell-Abbinante found his voice for advocacy as a result of working with Snarr and networking with the senator's office while in the professor's Public Policy & Advocacy course. There, Snarr introduced him to the work of FCNL. Little did Powell-Abbinante know when he lobbied at Brown's Columbus office that someone with influence would take notice of the student from Wilmington College. Indeed, WC 2015 graduate Ellen Short, who serves as the senator's regional representative for Central Ohio, happened to be the staff member whom Powell-Abbinante lobbied. Short, who majored in environmental sustainability at the College and organized several Spring Lobby Weekend trips, remembered Powell-Abbinante when she developed the Propel Ohio Conference. "I knew Taylor would be a great panelist because he lobbied Sen. Brown's office in the past and did an incredible job telling his story and getting his points across with confidence," she said, noting that directing a statewide conference and involving a Wilmington College student felt like her journey that started at WC had come "full circle." "It was great to see Taylor follow along the same path that I took when I was in college," Short added. "It made me proud of my alma mater — and I also felt my age for the first time in my life!" Short hopes the conference will serve to reinforce the idea that young people can use their age to their advantage by seeing it as a strength. "They will never have another time in their lives with as many opportunities to get involved with causes they care about," she said. "We believe fostering a desire to be civically engaged while in college will help them remain civically engaged throughout their lives." "Ellen Short is living proof of that," Snarr added. "It was very heart-warming to see both Taylor and Ellen on the stage together. Wilmington College was represented well that evening!"