Scholar found meaning, opportunities in work with Voinovich School
Tre Spencer works as a scholar for the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service – but it’s more than just a college job. It’s fulfilling, meaningful, and has opened up prospective career opportunities Spencer hadn’t considered before.
“It makes me feel like I’m working a nine to five, and it makes me feel really important. Working for the Voinovich School makes me feel important,” Spencer said.
It’s also likely because Spencer puts extra care and compassion into all of his work – from The Post to Voinovich.
Spencer works with Amista Lipot and the Mayors’ Partnership for Progress, a nonpartisan organization that brings together mayors and city managers across 19 Appalachian Ohio counties to benefit municipalities by providing resources, sharing information, and creating connections.
It was through environmental journalism stories that Spencer decided to apply for the Voinovich Scholars program. He wrote an environmental story about Lake Erie and spoke with former communication scholar Claire Schiopata. Schiopata covered the environmental studies program for the Voinovich School.
Spencer is a senior studying journalism in the Carr Van Anda program. He came to Ohio University to study journalism, originally planning on being a photojournalist. However, Spencer fell in love with the writing aspect of journalism and put in countless hours writing for the student publication The Post.
Through working with Lipot, Spencer was pushed beyond the journalism sphere into more public relations work. Spencer says he loves it. He works on running the social media account for the mayors’ partnership for progress, the website for the program and communicating with other agencies such as the Governor’s Office of Appalachia.
“Scholars, in general, are not just students, they are project team members. I expect out of them what I would expect out of any other employee on the team, which means Tre’s learning a lot, but he’s also expected to do a lot,” Lipot said.
Being a scholar has exposed Spencer to even more opportunities he hadn’t previously considered, such as starting his own nonprofit after graduating. Spencer is considering returning to the Voinovich School as a master’s student studying public administration to further build his skill sets.
Even though it was an adjustment for Spencer to wake up early and be at the Ridges twice a week by 8:30 a.m., he’s thoroughly enjoying working as a scholar. By compartmentalizing school work and scholar work, Spencer says he’s experienced minimal stress his senior year, and still has free time to spend with his friends.
He joined The Post his freshman year and has been an integral part since, according to Ryan Maxin, editor-In-chief of The Post and Spencer’s roommate.
“He cares so much about his work, whether it’s this big, long story that he’s spending months reporting, or it’s a quick hit, day long story that he just needs to get in so we can put it in print,” Maxin said.
Spencer has also created a positive impact at The Post through his enthusiasm to get involved. Maxin recognized that newcomers to The Post after the pandemic as freshmen would struggle with motivation. However, Spencer helped ignite that enthusiasm.
That same enthusiasm helped Spencer make an impression on his professor during his freshman year during the pandemic. Eddith Dashiell, the director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and a professor in the school, said she remembers Spencer because he was one of the few students who would turn his camera on during her Future of Media class.
“Because he put forth the effort, he was proactive in developing a relationship with me,” Dashiell said. “I can remember him. He didn’t just hide behind the blank screen.”
Now, Dashiell also works as Spencer’s academic adviser. She has worked with Spencer to manage his classes and graduate in three years.
“I’m proud of his accomplishments, and I’m grateful that I had a little, tiny bit to play in his success. He did it all, but I was maybe able to help just a little bit,” Dashiell said.
Many students struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Despite taking a full load of classes and a job with the Voinovich School, Spencer has found that sweet spot.
“I’ve … finally on to that rhythm and letting myself enjoy school in college and not be stressed and working all the time,” Spencer said.
It took some trial and error, though. Last year, Spencer spent a lot of time working for The Post and said he felt really burnt out. He took the summer off from journalism to refresh and has been working to maintain that this year while balancing his work.
“The work that I’m doing now,” Spencer said, “it’s something that I’m proud of.”