Our Stories | Ben, Class of 2020

“I watched C-SPAN as a kid.

“I did the other kid stuff, of course—played soccer and collected Pokémon cards and went to the movies with my friends. But I watched C-SPAN, too, and I can’t think of anything else that commanded such rapt attention. I know this sounds a little ridiculous. I feel a little ridiculous writing it.

But there was something alchemical about it: if you were willing to wade through the dull procedural votes, through the hours of testimony about sorghum farming in Iowa and the structural integrity of certain bridges, you could see something truly remarkable. You could see people arguing passionately with one another and, as a result of their words, making the country materially better. Or worse.

“And, watching C-SPAN, I came to realize no one had clearer convictions, or a stronger voice, than Eleanor Holmes Norton ’60.

“Watching the Congresswoman obstinately refuse to yield the floor, saying what other representatives didn’t dare say, it scarcely seemed to matter that she wasn’t afforded a vote in Congress. (Though—don’t get me wrong—even at fourteen I understood this to be a cut-and-dry outrage.) She had purpose. She had keen moral vision, and she clearly had a voice.

‘Man,’ I’d think, ‘If I ever work in politics, this is the kind of person I want to work for.’

“And then, thirteen years later, the funniest thing happened.

Antioch happened. Thanks to this peculiar little school in the heart of southwest Ohio—thanks, specifically, to its unparalleled Co-op program—I found myself in Washington, D.C. in January of this year, working for a communications firm and living in the guest room of Karen Mulhauser ’65.

“One night in March, I attended an Antioch College dinner on her suggestion and there I met—who else?the Congresswoman herself. I told her of my past experience working on U.S. Congressional campaigns across Ohio. and told her about watching her on C-SPAN as a kid. To which she said the damnedest thing: a response so felicitous, a response that cleaved so closely to those fantasies we all entertain about our futures before drifting off to sleep, it seemed almost hilarious to me.

“‘I’ve been looking for some help,’ she told me.

Elanor Holmes Norton '60 and Ben Zitsman '20

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton ’60 and Ben Zitsman ’20 at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., March, 2018.

“It seemed hilarious, but it was no joke. Here I now am, sitting at Karen’s dining room table at 11:30 pm, eating mixed nuts and typing up drafts of fundraising emails for my employer, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. I’m writing this now because I want you to know, at this crucial time in Antioch’s history, that it’s responsible for this. Without Co-op, without the generosity and enthusiasm of Antioch’s alumni community, I’d never have landed this job.

“I’m telling you because, the next time you wonder what happened to Antioch—you know, to the Antioch you went to—I have an answer for you. Nothing. Antioch remains what, I gather, it’s always been. It remains a school that, through the pluck, tenacity, and profound generosity of its community members, can make remarkable things happen.

“Here I am, after all: employed by a childhood hero, on the Co-op of my dreams: living, working proof. Thank you for making it possible.”

The story of Ben Zitsman ’20 is one of those Antioch success stories we all know and love. Support the Co-op adventures and C-SPAN dreams of more students by making a gift to the Annual Fund today.

 

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“I continue to benefit from being an Antiochian, as demonstrated by Karen’s continuing support of my work in Congress and now Ben Zitsman, the next Antioch generation. Ben is currently bringing whiz-kid computer expertise to my campaign for reelection to the House of Representatives.”

–Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton ’60