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Adrienne Hopson, a biology instructor at Ohio State Mansfield and an advocate for education at all levels, engages students in her classroom.

Jo McCulty

Opening the doors of education to all

Meet Adrienne Hopson, an instructor at Ohio State Mansfield whose calling to education extends far beyond her own classroom.

You’re likely to find Ohio State Mansfield lecturer Adrienne Hopson in the classroom — just not always her classroom. Though Hopson teaches biology and education, her calling extends beyond her departments: In Mansfield City Schools, she helps teachers develop science curricula and has hosted free Science Saturdays to encourage kids’ interest and diversity in STEM fields. At Ohio State, she is dedicated to offering a helping hand to first-year students who also are underrepresented minorities and first-generation enrollees.

“What separates the really good students from the average or less-than-average students is not that they are naturally brilliant,” Hopson says. “They’re not Einsteins. They use the resources that are there.”

Hopson, who also serves as mentor for 10 students, makes herself one of those resources.

“I want to be one of those people who helps them, who makes sure they know what help is out there,” says the North Carolina native who is working on her doctoral degree and who’s always struggled with math. “We all are not good at something, and that does not mean you can’t be a successful student.”

Hopson’s determination to help students through college may have grown out of her upbringing, one in which getting an education was never a question, only the answer.

“I came from a family that had gone to college. I was very, very lucky in that regard. But from day one there was no discussion, there was no option. Education was your job. Everything else was secondary. From kindergarten through high school, that was the most important thing, and then certainly we were all expected to go to college and be successful in college. And, yeah, it was, ‘You’re here now. You’ve got to get through this, so use whatever you need to use.’”

Being an educational resource for others is more than a job to Hopson.

“I do love it. And for me it really is the idea that higher education should be for everybody who wants it,” she says. “The fact that you don’t have money — most of us didn’t have any money to go to college. Or the fact that nobody in your family has done it shouldn’t be the reason. Or the fact that you come from a poor neighborhood and nobody in your neighborhood does it. If it’s something you want to do, I really feel like as an institution, we have to be supportive of our students who are here and who want to be successful.”