Community Connectors: Quanetta Batts
Community Connectors is a monthly series highlighting Ohio State staff members who have shown leadership in partnering with our communities to make an impact. This is the first edition of Community Connectors.
Director of Outreach & Engagement
As the director of Outreach & Engagement for University Libraries, Quanetta Batts establishes and cultivates relationships with community partners on campus and in Central Ohio. Specifically, she coordinates University Libraries participation in Project Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, leads the planning for the libraries' high school summer internship program with the Expanding Visions Foundation (EVF), supports logistics for the professional development workshop series with Columbus City Schools librarians and coordinates volunteer opportunities with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective. She has also participated in university level outreach efforts including the Sesquicentennial Community Open House and the Engagement Awards Celebration planning committees, among others.
Why is engaging the community important to you and your work?
I grew up in Central Ohio and was a beneficiary of many community service and outreach programs. If it werent for programs such as Upward Bound, I Know I Can, St. Stephens Community House, First AME Zion Church and others, I would not be where I am today. I am a lifelong community servant and believe in giving back to the community that gave so much to me. Im particularly passionate about exposing young people from underserved populations to the benefits of higher education and positive mentors. Leading the University Libraries outreach and engagement efforts allows me to work in the areas that I am passionate about every day. Im also able to encourage and support my colleagues who want to work in this space, but are often unsure about where to start.
What lessons have you learned from the community that have helped you as a university staff member?
The community has taught me many lessons about resiliency. No matter how many times you are knocked down in this life or how dire a situation might seem, dust yourself off, try again, ask for help if needed and keep pressing forward. Through my engagement in the community, I have also gained a better understanding and appreciation for having diverse voices and perspectives around every table.
What has been your favorite moment from your community-engagement work?
I, along with some other colleagues from University Libraries, volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. My Little Sister is in the 2nd grade, and we have developed a great relationship and bond after only one year together. Every time I walk into the library at her school, Im greeted with a big hug and smile. Although we moved to a virtual environment at the end of last school year because of COVID-19, I still look forward to our talks over Zoom and am excited they will be starting up again soon. The fact that we are able to support this excellent program during the work day is priceless. I certainly believe one of the best ways to have a positive impact on the future of our community is to mentor a child.
What advice do you have for other staff members who are interested in getting involved in community engagement?
Just do it! There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Simply partner with our Office of Outreach and Engagement or other community partners who are making a lasting impact in our communities. Be sure that you go into any engagement or service opportunity with an open mind. Check your implicit bias at the door, have a servants heart and follow the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Together, we (Buckeye Nation) can make a difference in our community that will lead to lasting and impactful change for years to come.