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November 13, 2003
These students stand out from the crowd
By Susan Green

Everyone has a story to tell.

Every year, more than 16,800 stories alone make their way to Ohio University, where they join the collective narrative of a University with a proud history and an even brighter future.

It just happens that these two stories are about two Ohio University students who hope to use their political leanings to shape that future.

The following profiles represent the second in an ongoing Ohio in Focus series, "Finding Their Focus."

idealist, activist
Andrew Goodhart is a soft-spoken activist who's committed to changing the world.

The Youngstown native's love of politics stretch back to his childhood. "My father and I always talked about politics," the first-year political science major says. "I was interested in what was going on. He talked to me like I was an adult."

Before enrolling in college, Goodhart spent a year in Germany as part of the Congress-Bundestag Program. "I lived in Germany during the lead up to and duration of this last war with Iraq," he says. "It was probably one of the most challenging times for an American to be living or studying in Germany.

"I had the opportunity to discuss and debate with Germans about Iraq and other political issues - a lot. What was so interesting to me was the fact that we often entered into discussions with very different sets of assumptions about the role of the military in international politics, about the United Nations and its role and about what it meant to be threatened."

Goodhart says he learned a great deal about what it means to be German and saw firsthand how some of their cultural differences were causing friction between the United States and Germany. "I feel the need for a deeper understanding of our friends and our allies alike if we are going to interact with them," he says. "And I'd like to be a part of aiding that understanding."

During his search for a college, Goodhart sought a school that would allow him to build on his experience in Germany and to continue to develop personally. He also needed an environment that encouraged community involvement and flexibility in his studies.

A visit to Ohio University and its Honors Tutorial College was in order. "At first I was drawn to the physical beauty of the campus, it was quaint and comfortable," Goodhart says.

But it was the Honors Tutorial College that sealed the deal. "The college gives you a unique opportunity to choose the direction of your studies," he says. "There's a good relationship between students and faculty. And everyone seems to have a good sense of humor."

True to his political nature, Goodhart plunged into community service, Model U.N. and the Civil Libertarian's Club during his first weeks on campus.

"These activities are in line with my activist interests," he says. "I think it's important to raise awareness about civil issues. And I like working with organizations in town to create more contact between the University and the local community."

Goodhart credits the Boy Scouts for his interest in community service. "I've been involved with the scouts since first grade," he says. "And I still teach merit badge classes. Teaching is the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

"It's good to feel that you are part of something."

political edge
The trees always get 'em. Or was it the brick? The rolling hills?

"The greatest thing about Ohio University for me was that it had a great journalism school," says Berea native Toby Fallsgraff, a senior, "and also that it had a great campus. The campus is really appealing to somebody who's from a suburb of Cleveland and wants to get away."

Fallsgraff, who hopes to combine his love of magazine journalism and politics after leaving Athens, didn't see bucolic southeast Ohio as his final destination as a high schooler. He had his sights set leaving Ohio for New York City - and New York University. But a reluctant Fallsgraff was blown away when his parents took him to Athens and Ohio University for a visit. When a Cutler Scholarship offer came, so did Toby.

"I can go to New York City another time," he says. "I don't know if I wanted to go to college there. They [NYU] have a journalism major. But not a journalism school. And I don't know if I would have gotten into politics in New York City because it's a little more intimidating there."

Not intimidated as a freshman, Fallsgraff quickly dove in to life both inside and outside the University. Always a music lover - his father, a lawyer, was in a band before he took up practice - Fallsgraff began playing at open mic nights at various campus hangouts.

After three years of going solo, he is now part of a duo, Toby and Nick. Fallsgraff has also recorded two discs as part of another duo, Daddy's Gonna Kill Ralphie. Having music as a creative outlet has brought a positive balance to Fallsgraff's college career. He suggests incoming students follow a similar path.

"Get involved with as many things as possible," says Fallsgraff, also a disc jockey for campus radio station ACRN. "When you're a freshman, you don't realize how much free time you actually have, how much time you actually spend watching TV if you aren't doing something else.

"I'd recommend trying a student organization, or an intramural sport, something like that."

Fallsgraff loves politics as much as music. The president of Ohio University College Democrats, he is a self-proclaimed "political junkie." He would love to work for a politician, getting more people involved in the political process while removing some of the stigma attached to partisanship these days. Following his graduation, Fallsgraff plans on going to the nation's political Mecca, Washington, D.C.

Would he fathom a return trip to New York?

"It was weird because my dad wanted me to go to New York," he says. "But he didn't want me to go to New York. He wanted me to be in New York City so he could have an excuse to come visit me."

Susan Green is a writer for University Communications and Marketing. Joseph Hughes, a writer for University Communications and Marketing, contributed to the second profile

 

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