Hiram College is pleased to announce Dontavius Jarrells, representative for District 1 of the Ohio House of Representatives and assistant minority leader, as the College’s esteemed commencement speaker for the 2023 ceremony on Saturday, May 13. Jarrells is also a 2010 alumnus of Hiram College.  

A Cleveland, Ohio native, Jarrells enrolled at Hiram College to study political science and economics. He quickly learned that his college journey could take him to new and interesting places beyond his hometown. The College’s unique academic schedule gave him the opportunity to travel abroad and pursue his ambitions of serving the community. And as a Garfield Scholar, Jarrells was given many opportunities to learn about issues at a local, national, and global level.   

After graduation, he earned a fellowship with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission and worked at the Statehouse with the Democratic House Caucus. Jarrells wanted to help officials in his home state increase community support and outreach, a goal he was able to pursue further during his time at both the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Jarrells helped with advocacy efforts to expand Medicaid and led equity initiatives for the state’s behavioral health services. More recently, he served as the chief of communications in the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office.  

In 2020, Jarrells was elected as state representative to the Ohio House of Representatives, and committed himself to advancing common sense legislation that would make Ohio a place where everyone is seen, heard, and inspired. During his first term in office, Jarrells successfully passed legislation to eliminate discriminatory covenants from property deeds, remove derogatory language from the state’s legal code, and bring millions of dollars back into his district and Franklin County. He was re-elected to serve a second term during the 2022 November election.  

“I am very excited that Dontavius Jarrells will be Hiram’s 2023 Commencement speaker,” said David Haney, Ph.D., president of Hiram College. “As someone who epitomizes Hiram’s mission to foster social responsibility and meet the urgent challenges of our times, he is an outstanding role model for our students, and a great example of how Hiram graduates can make the world a better place.” 

Commencement day activities will begin in the morning with an induction ceremony for students named to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences in the United States. A pinning ceremony for graduating nursing students will also be held, followed by the traditional class picture, and a 2 p.m. commencement ceremony in Hiram’s Martin Field House. The commencement ceremony is a ticketed event, reserved for members of the campus community, graduating seniors, and their families. A livestream of the event will be available for others wishing to watch the ceremony.