Glass Breakers 2017: Dr. Randi Love
Love has spent her career committed to enriching the lives of those in poverty. A winner of numerous teaching awards, a dedicated public health activist and researcher, Love reflects fondly on the joys of teaching, service and being recognized as a 2017 Glass Breaker.
Dr. Randi Love is a 2017 Glass Breaker. She has won numerous awards in teaching and has spent her career committed to enriching the lives of those in poverty through the study and practice of public health.
This year, the President and Provost’s Council on Women recognizes faculty and staff members whose efforts have improved workplace culture for women at Ohio State: They are Ohio State Glass Breakers.
Buckeye Voices presents question-and-answer interviews with each extraordinary honoree. Randi Love, associate clinical professor in the College of Public Health, is set to retire this May and reflects on the joys of teaching and service.
You had an atypical career path at Ohio State — its unusual for staff to move into a faculty teaching position. What did this path teach you that you would not have learned if you had reached your position in a different way?
“Because I worked full-time and only came to campus for class throughout my years of being a graduate student, I was essentially unaware of the implications of hierarchy in a large research institution. My background is in practice and when I took the job in 1997 I was one of two clinical faculty in the (then) School of Public Health. That being said, I am encouraged that the university seems more open to valuing the contributions of clinical faculty.”
Do you feel that your personal experiences have put you in a better position to understand the various obstacles young women encounter on their path to success?
“It took me almost 10 years to complete my master's and doctorate degrees. I clearly remember the anxiety that at times was overwhelming and much of it was self-imposed. I’m not sure I would even recognize myself back then. I try to keep that in mind when working with students — that most of them are doing the best they can. Affirmation can be a powerful tool and, when coupled with guidance, a motivator.”
What types of things did you learn taking your path that you can pinpoint for other women who are taking a nontraditional path to success?
“Show up. Speak up. Take a minute to write your own mission statement and let that be your guide. Avoid at all costs thinking that life should be fair — it’s not — just like our mothers told us. Accumulating a long list of perceived injustices keeps us from taking sensible risks, building confidence and helping others. You limit your self-knowledge, which can ultimately lead to poor decision making.”
You’ve mentioned that mentors helped you along the way to achieve career success. Were there other things at Ohio State that helped you along the way?
“I remember attending a PPCW-sponsored workshop sponsored on the ‘Imposter Syndrome,’ which speaks to the insecurity that many women feel in their daily lives. It typically manifests in the messages we tell ourselves, 'If I can do it, you can do it!' Chalking your success up to luck or timing. Agonizing over even the small flaws in your work. Worrying that it is just a matter of time before you are ‘found out’ and exposed as a fake. I looked around the room and to my amazement, saw many of my colleagues that I admired! I wondered to myself, how could they feel that way? Clearly, I’m not the only one! It struck me what a waste of time and energy this attitude was and how it results in low confidence and risk averse behavior. Another impactful workshop for me was sponsored by the multicultural center on privilege. This opportunity provided a safe space to examine my own privilege and the effects of institutionalized racism. Also, I have appreciated the associations I have had with UCAT and the service-learning community, both of which have contributed immeasurably to my teaching.”
Tell us a little bit about your teaching interests.
“I realize that most of our students are probably coming from a middle class background and don’t really understand the challenges of being in poverty, so I developed a course that I teach every semester on the dynamics of poverty and part of that is a service-learning experience. The students get some classroom work, and we also go out and visit some agencies where they will spend 40 hours in the field. They can work in whatever agency they want. It can be one of the homeless shelters, the Star House, some have gone to the food banks — wherever it is that interests them, they spend forty hours and reflect on that experience. I think it’s provided some real-life experience for students where we can learn about the social determinants of health, which is one of the basic tenets of public health.”
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
“I’ve been able to watch our weekend program for master’s students change and grow to meet the need of professionals in the field. We are looking now towards a population health focus and working within the constraints of the changing health care scene. We’ve been changing the curriculum to cater more to the needs of students, putting more classes online, doing more outreach. Our program has a pretty good reputation out in the community. I really enjoy working with students. I have a lot of advisees and love giving guidance and watching them blossom after being in our program for two years.”
How have you grown at Ohio State?
“I’ve grown in confidence. In trusting my decisions. Through teaching at Ohio State, I’ve developed deep connections with people, and it’s given me a chance to do the things that matter to me and really count for healthy relationships. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to get that any place else. The experience has been very rich and I don’t feel as though I have yet taken advantage of all the opportunities that Ohio State provides. There are so many!”
"I have the opportunity to work in the substance abuse prevention field part time, and I’ve also just taken the training for the syringe access program at Equitas Health, so I’ll be working behind the scenes on the opiate epidemic. I’ll also be volunteering with neighborhood services at the local food bank. That’s pretty much it — I don’t have any big travel plans or anything like that, not that that’s out of the question. I’m excited for the change. It’s hard to imagine myself there, since in my 20 years at Ohio State, I’ve never taken more than a week’s vacation.”
Any advice for other women?
“Pay attention to what motivates you. There are different ways to address that. It might be a career change; however, it doesn’t have to be. Maybe it’s a hobby or volunteer experience, but pay attention to that because that’s the part of you that really needs fed.”