Guest Columnist: Take pride in your roots

Richie Mulhall is a junior multimedia news major. Contact him at [email protected]

Richie Mulhall

Around this time of year, college juniors and seniors scramble to find internships and hunt for jobs. And around this time of year, it never ceases to amaze me how much people bash the Buckeye state — the, dare I say, “great” state of Ohio.

While college students take a break from the tiresome task of school, they begin to search for potential job prospects. Many people look to their hometowns for work, others take to searching out-of-state positions and still some flock to internships or jobs right here in Kent. This, naturally, doesn’t bother me. You should pursue the internship, job or career you want in the setting that best suits your needs and goals.

What does bother me, however, is when people complain to excessive degrees about not being able to find an internship or job outside of Ohio. In general, people think it’s a failure on their part if they don’t “get out of” their hometown when it’s time to fly from the nest and get a job some day, but this concept has become as commonplace as the cardinal, our state bird, in Ohio. 

Everyone has become so obsessed with this idea of escape, this idea of fleeing Ohio as if they’re doomed to be trapped here forever. Just because you take baby steps and start your career here or even decide to settle down in the same city or town in which you were born does not make you a failure. For some unfortunate reason, whether you move away from home has become the standard for success, the benchmark for really “making it” in the world.

Now that’s not to say that aspiring college students and future graduates preparing to enter the workplace shouldn’t attempt to distance themselves from home. I encourage people to branch out and find that dream job, no matter where it might be. Expand your possibilities and broaden your horizons, by all means!

Don’t, however, make it your sole goal to bolt from Ohio as soon as you can just because you want to get out of Ohio, especially if the reason for your departure doesn’t match your career aspirations. After all, being from Youngstown, I’m much too accustomed to seeing people skip town as soon as possible.

A city whose image has often been associated with violence, crime and the sound of gunshots echoing throughout pothole-covered streets, Youngstown was nationally identified with gangland slayings that were often committed with car bombs in the 1950s and ‘60s. The town gained the nicknames “Murdertown, USA” and “Bomb City, USA.”

These nicknames years ago, along with a high crime rate today, has greatly damaged the city’s reputation, especially among those not from Youngstown. 

A lot of people back home denounce Youngstown with strong feelings of resentment. They are ashamed to tell people where they’re from and see their city as being more hindering than nurturing.

Youngstown, to them, is nothing more than an eyesore and a dangerous place to live. Future athletes, celebrities and other society types sometimes view the once-booming Steel Valley as a mere stepping stone to the big time. And when these more prominent figures fall from grace, everyone is quick to blame Youngstown for their shortcomings.

I, on the other hand, regard my hometown with the utmost respect and admiration. I take pride in where I come from and enjoy all my city has to offer. Although Youngstown is widely criticized and condemned for being a corrupt city and hotbed of criminal activity, Youngstown offers positive attractions, too, despite the vast economic decline since its mafia days in the 1950s and ‘60s. Everything from Powers Auditorium, home of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, to Stambaugh Stadium, home of the Youngstown Penguins, it’s all home to me.

I was born and bred in Ohio, and my home will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s not a setback if you don’t leave home right away, and don’t let people convince you otherwise. Don’t feel like you’re stuck and need to get out as soon as you can, and don’t let anyone discourage you from where you want to be.

Get a job where you want to get a job. Pursue the goals you want to pursue. Live the life you wish to live. 

Richie Mulhall is a junior multimedia news major. Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].