Sparks Blazes Trail for Activism, Community Involvement at Ohio State Newark
When he graduates from The Ohio State University in 2021, Zach Sparks will have earned more than a degree: He can boast an invaluable college experience.
In the three years he’s been attending The Ohio State University at Newark, Sparks, of Huntsville, Ohio, has honed his leadership skills through various organizations in which he has been both a participant and a founder.
“I think Ohio State’s motto, ‘Education for citizenship’ is a great way to go,” he says. “You can make your education just about getting an education — get your piece of paper, be done with it. But it really can be so much more than that. It really can be about preparing you to be involved in the entire nation, in a sense, and the global community in general.”
Opportunities for activism and involvement abound on campus, Sparks said, and they’ve provided experiences that will build on his portfolio as he enters the workforce with a psychology degree.
He hopes to utilize the people skills he’s learned both in and outside the classroom as he enters the field of politics, and his time at Ohio State Newark has been the perfect starting point.
“That shared sense of community that we all work toward, it really does create a lot of opportunities to connect with people,” Sparks says.
He works as a resident manager in the Newark campus residence halls, where he has lived since his second year on campus. In that time, he’s been able to make special connections with fellow students in various ways — whether through organized activities such as trivia nights or just ordering a pizza and gaming with friends.
In addition to gaining practical one-on-one experience working in the psychology lab, Sparks serves as a student representative for the Ohio State Newark Board and is working to create an organization called Students Pursuing Change, which will encourage students to become engaged in politics and the community around them.
That kind of connection is vital to the college experience, Sparks said.
“This is our community, too,” he said. “As long as Licking County does well, this university is going to do better, and vice versa. It’s kind of just creating a mutual idea of growth.”
In his time as president of the campus’s Community Outreach Committee, Sparks helped grow its membership from a couple of students to more than 30. The group volunteered for several local organizations, collecting supplies and donations, cleaning transitional housing and walking dogs at an animal shelter — to name a few.
Sparks is thankful for the many relationships he’s been able to forge because of these activities and is quick to encourage any student or prospective student to do the same.
“It’s great the framework that Ohio State gives to student organizations. They give them a lot of their own autonomy,” he said. “It really gives students the opportunity to get involved in civic engagement, or whatever you want to do.”
Because of those opportunities, Sparks will graduate from Ohio State with more than a piece of paper: He’ll be armed with a wealth of real-world knowledge gleaned from four years of connections, all made possible by a unique, well-rounded university experience.
The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.