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Message from an OHIO senior: Don’t be afraid to say 'yes'

Ohio University senior Ellen Gill-Franks' next academic stop is law school at the University of Cincinnati College of Law next fall.

This summer, she'll work at the Buckeye Hills Regional Council as a consultant "so I can bring some of the amazing things I have learned at OHIO back to my hometown (Barlow, Ohio)," Gill-Franks said.

Double majoring in English Pre-Law and Sociology-Criminology, she’s also adding a Certificate in Law, Justice and Culture and a Strategic Leadership Certificate to her resume. She has made the most of her time at OHIO, taking advantage of opportunities including:

That sounds like a list of accomplishments only a select few could accomplish in four years, but Gill-Franks offers some thoughts to incoming first-year students who will her place in Athens next fall:

“As both an Ohio University student and as a person, I have countless times considered if I am deserving enough or prepared enough to take on a new position. This doubt has clouded my confidence at moments and resulted in me delaying applications, searching for reassurance, or even counting myself out before I can even try. While this is definitely still a growing process, I have been able to overcome this fear by being bold enough to fail or to wildly succeed,’ Gill-Franks said.

“I always joke that my greatest strength and weakness is that I say yes to new opportunities,” she added. “This mindset has allowed me to be open to new experiences and has resulted in me falling in love with topics, people, and places that I never would have identified as consistent with my interests. By being bold enough to allow myself to fail, be rejected, or potentially honored with a new responsibility, I have opened myself up to unexpected growth and immense joy.”

Read more about Gill-Franks' time at OHIO in the following Q&A.


Ellen Gill-Franks
Ellen Gill-Franks

Q&A with Ellen Gill-Franks

Q. What led you to choose your majors?

A. I began as an English Pre-Law major because of my interest in the intersection between persuasive and dynamic storytelling and the practice of law. It wasn’t until I was accepted to the Law, Justice and Culture Certificate program that I considered exploring more of the intersectionalities of law. From there, my scholarly foci snowballed as I began to explore sociology, criminology, legal anthropology, women studies, business, entrepreneurship, etc. My majors and certificates are a reflection of how my ideas began to grow and I started to see how impactful my career in law could be.

Q. Who are your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

A. I cannot appropriately credit all of my professors for the way they taught me about topics they are passionate about in such a way they made me excited to learn! However, many of my professors have dedicated an immense amount of time in helping me see the bridge between their scholarship and my interests. Dr. Holly Ningard sparked my interests in corporate crime. Dr. Amanda Cox helped me see how criminology and the death penalty intersect with good (or bad) lawyering. Dr. Elizabeth Koonce taught me about themes of monstrosity that can be seen in literature and sociological storytelling. Dr. Susan Burgess and Dr. Paul Shovlin made me reconsider what credible scholarship and idea-sharing looks like. Robert Föehl, Esq., and Kim Jordan made me consider how the law touches business, profit, and social change. Dr. Haley Duschinski brought me to another country to learn about memorialization, conflict, legal advocacy, and truth telling. All of these professors shared a piece of themselves with me and made me care about the work they do. As a result of their mentorship, I have researched, studied abroad, interned, externed, and networked in their fields with the hope of continuously redefining what I care about as a future lawyer and scholar.

Although I have not quite graduated yet, I imagine that Larry Hayman, Esq., can always expect a text from me with too many questions about law school, and Dr. Ningard knows I will never miss lunch at The Fluff. It is my sincerest hope that I continue to get to learn from people that have invested so much of themselves in me over the past four years.

Q. What are your favorite OHIO memories?

A. I cannot put most of my favorite memories into words! I will certainly miss how many times I grabbed Donkey Coffee with people I love, traveling to Mock Trial competitions on the weekends with my team, staying out too late with friends, and learning what kind of person I want to be around others who care. I have loved everything from running across College Green when it rains to grabbing Bagel Street Deli for lunch to traveling the world with fellow students. While this does not begin to scratch the surface, I am leaving Ohio University knowing that I will never regret the times I spent with friends or the moments I surprised myself by learning something new.

Q. What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

A. On the academic end, do not miss all of the speakers that come to Ohio University! Some of the most fascinating people I have ever met have been folks that came in to talk on a topic that I have never heard of in my entire life. Students have such a unique opportunity to learn from people who dedicate their entire careers to niche topics and they want to share that with you. On the social end, do not take yourself so seriously that you cannot enjoy time with friends on a random Tuesday for no reason. College is supposed to be a place that you learn, but when you forget to have fun, you no longer foster an environment where you can grow meaningfully.

Q. Is there anything else that would be helpful for OHIO students to know?

A. Not to be cliché, but I hope that new students will wholeheartedly take my advice when I advise to say yes to new opportunities, travel whenever you can, and be a fierce advocate for yourself.  

April 26, 2022
Staff reports