A Helping Hand: Hopson helping Mansfield students achieve success
Even Buckeyes shouldn’t expect to achieve academic success on their own.
Adrienne Hopson makes it her mission to make sure students, particularly those new to The Ohio State University at Mansfield, know the regional campus offers a wide array of resources to assist them as they pursue academic accomplishment.
A member of the school’s faculty since 2015, Hopson is a biology and education instructor. But her calling extends beyond the classroom, as she advocates for science education in public schools and diversity in science, technology, education and mathematics, and works with underrepresented minorities and first-generation college pupils.
“What separates the really good students from the average or less-than-average students is not that they are naturally brilliant,” Hopson said. “They’re not Einsteins. They use the resources that are there.”
Hopson, who also serves as a mentor for 10 students, makes herself one of those resources.
“I want to be one of those people that helps them, and make sure they know what help is out there,” said the North Carolina native who is working on her PhD and “who’s always struggled with math. We all are not good at something, and that does not mean you can’t be a successful student.”
One of the students she’s mentoring, Martese Roulette, a first-year Ohio State Mansfield student majoring in architecture and interior design, talks to Hopson “at least three times a week.”
The 18-year-old Willoughby South High School graduate who “grew up in the hood of Cleveland” met her shortly after enrolling at the Ohio State Mansfield campus, the school he chose because “it’s in-state, and everybody knows the Buckeyes.”
Meeting Hopson after arriving at the regional campus made a positive impression on Roulette, who says he’s the first member of his family to go to college.
“I didn’t see a lot of African American staff,” he said. “Then I met her, and I was like ‘Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!’ … In a way we can relate to certain things that I can’t relate to with other professors.”
Hopson said she’s determined to reach out and encourage individuals of color, first-generation college enrollees and others who might not think that college is in their future.
She is the contact for Buckeye Living and Learning Community, a learning community developed at Ohio State Mansfield that offers guidance and support to help students have an academically successful first year.
Opened this year to “any incoming freshmen who wanted kind of a little extra assistance,” BLLC “was originally geared toward first-generation college students and students of color,” she said. “Truthfully, we have a good chunk of our students here in Mansfield who fall into the first-generation category, and we have a growing population of students of color coming every year. Both of those groups also tend to be statistically two groups that struggle in higher education, particularly their first year — a lot of times with our first-generation students because they don’t have that background, they don’t have a parent or sibling who’ve been through the process.”
Helping students along the path to and through college is a passion for Hopson.
“I do love it,” she said. “For me it really is the idea that higher education should be for everybody that wants it. The fact that you don’t have money — most of us didn’t have any money to go to college — or the fact that nobody in your family has done it shouldn’t be the reason, or the fact that you come from a poor neighborhood and nobody in your neighborhood does it. If it’s something you want to do, I really feel like as an institution we have to be supportive of our students who are here and who want to be successful.”
She’s also one of the Ohio State Mansfield instructors who works with Science Saturdays, a science- and math-based program for elementary-age students at the Springmill Learning Center, a STEM-based extension of Mansfield City Schools.
“STEM still tends to be a predominantly white male area,” she said, adding, “I really think a lot of it has to do with accessibility to the sciences, to technology. We’re interested in casting a really wide net and making sure that a diverse group of students knows about the activities that we do.”
Learning science is vital to all students, said Hopson, who teaches courses for non-science majors.
“Of course, I’d love to convert all my students to science majors and send a world full of ecologists and doctors out, but mostly I really want everyone to have enough understanding of science to use it for their own benefit,” she said.
Ohio State Mansfield students surely benefit by having Hopson on campus, Roulette said. “She’s such a great human being,” he said. “She’s there for her students and anyone who needs help.”