~Year 2 in Review~

This year has definitely been a challenging one academically, but it has come with many great experiences. In terms of global awareness, I have been involved in many activities in which I am interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds. At Nationwide Children’s hospital, I have worked with kids of various backgrounds. Additionally, I traveled to Italy, Spain and France over the summer and was able to greatly appreciate the diversity in each of these places. In May, I will be traveling to the Volta Region in Ghana, Africa to volunteer through OSU in a children’s school. I am hoping that this experience will allow me to immerse myself in a new culture, and will give me important experience working with people from all around the world.  I also decided this semester to pursue a minor in the medical humanities, and many of the classes I will be taking focus on a cultural perspective of medicine. I have had a few opportunities to engage in the research process. In my Biology 1114H class, we were able to create and conduct an experiment about endophytes from start to finish. We brainstormed ideas, collected samples, and carried out the experiment over the entire semester. We even wrote a research paper at the end of the year. This experience taught me a lot about the research process, especially the creative part of it. Over this past summer, I was in a radiology lab here at OSU. I worked for Dr. Michael Knopp analyzing MRI’s from a clinical trial involving glioblastoma. This project taught me even more about the research process, especially because I was in charge of comparing the parameters of the MRI’s submitted to the parameters suggested in the study. The lack of consistency in the parameters showed me just how difficult it can be to organize a country-wide clinical trial. From the end of the summer to January, I worked in a spinal cord injury lab under Dr. Dana McTigue. I helped a graduate student with her project involving the mTOR pathway and oligodendrocyte regeneration. I learned many new skills including staining slides, blocking and cutting tissue, giving subcutaneous injections, and counting specific types of cells. This lab was very beneficial for me because we had a biweekly journal club that I attended. All of the graduate students in the labs on our floor would take turns presenting a paper and interpreting the figures. This was a great way for me to improve my scientific reading skills. Lastly, I attended a couple of presentations where graduate students talked about their research. It was very interesting to hear about some of the studies going on at OSU. The courses that I have chosen to take throughout my four years reflect my ambition to become a doctor and to learn more about different cultures. I have chosen to take some graduate and honors level courses for my Neuroscience major in hopes to prepare myself for medical school. I chose a minor in the humanities because although  I love science, it is important to me to be well-rounded and to learn about different cultures and how this plays into everyday life. Learning to be a leader is very important for my future career. I am a Neuroscience Ambassador, which means I talk to current and prospective students at various Neuroscience events about the program, I help freshman schedule at their orientations over the summer, and I do whatever the Neuroscience department needs me to do. I am also the treasurer for Buckeyes Against Alzheimer’s. This has been a valuable experience because it has taught me how to collaborate with the other members of the board to achieve all of our goals and to make sure everything runs smoothly. Lastly, I am a group leader at my church for Vacation Bible School. I am in charge of a group of kids as I lead them around to the different stations and make sure everyone is having fun and getting along. My goal is to work with kids as a doctor, so any experience I can get with children is great experience. I have been involved in a lot of service in my two years at OSU so far. First of all, I volunteer at Riverside Methodist Hospital where I walk patients and their families where they need to go, I discharge patients, and I do whatever the needs of the hospital are that day. I also have been volunteering at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This has been an incredible experience and I have not only met some incredible children, but also some wonderful nurses and PCA’s who I have been able to get to know. It makes my day when I am able to spend time with a child who has not gotten a lot of attention that day due to their parents being at work. I have also been a tutor for students in beginners Neuroscience classes. I am available to the students to either go over their lecture notes or answer specific questions they may have. Lastly, through Buckeyes Against Alzhiemer’s, I have been able to volunteer at a nursing home in the dementia unit. The members of our club have had the opportunity to bond with some of the residents, and we were even able to throw them a senior prom which was a huge hit. I plan to continue my involvement in the community by staying involved with the previously mentioned activities. Additionally, I hope to get involved with Habitat for Humanity and I would love to be in the Big Sister Little Sister program. Overall, this year has taught me so much, and I am grateful for all of the incredible opportunities that I have been given.

~Dr. Knopp’s Imaging Lab~

At the beginning of the summer, I started a position in Dr. Michael Knopp’s Radiology Lab.  Dr. Knopp is a radiologist with a PhD in Computer Science. Over the course of the summer, I have not only learned a significant amount about MRI’s, but also what goes into the organization and coordination of a clinical trial.  There are many projects going on in Dr. Knopp’s lab at the Wright Center of Innovation, but I specifically spent most of my time working on a Glioblastoma clinical trial, and some of it working on a Meningioma clinical trial.  My job was to look at patient scans as well as the parameters of their scans and compile the information so that a comparison could be done to see if all of the sites were sending in scans that were up to protocol.  Depending on the sequence of the MRI and the field strength of the scanner(3T or 1.5T), different parameters were laid out.  In these trials, the sequences looked at were T2, FLAIR, 3D T1 (pre- and post-contrast), DWI, and Perfusion (DSC for the Glioblastoma trial and DCE for the Meningioma trial). I learned the defining features of each type of scan, and which parameters are most important for each type.  One of the main goals of the compilation project was to use this information to decide how close the parameters of the scans sent in had to be to the protocol to be acceptable for the trial.  Different sites have different types of scanners, so communicating exactly what is wanted for each trial is extremely important for the trial to have accurate and comparable results.  So much work is put into improving the the protocol so that there are substantially less problems and disparities for future trials.  Since these trials use patients from different facilities throughout the U.S., it is very important to be clear and concise in communicating the specific scans that each trial requires. This research experience has not only given me a great foundation of imaging information that I will be able to use in the future, but has also introduced me to some incredible people.  Overall, I am happy to have helped out in a lab that has opened my eyes to a different side of the research process.

~Shadowing Dr. Boehmer~

I was lucky enough to shadow the head of the ER at Dublin Methodist Hospital.  I followed Dr. Boehmer into each room and learned many interesting things as I went along.  One thing in particular that stood out to me was one patient who was a heroin addict.  I had definitely heard about drug addicts coming into hospitals and making up symptoms to receive drugs, I just did not realize how often it occurred.  This patient was saying everything they could to receive any type of painkiller.  Another thing that stood out to me was a little kid with a bad family situation.  The parents of the little kid were divorced. One of the parents was originally at the ER with the little kid, then the next thing I knew, the other parent came in and started fighting with the parent that was already there to take the kid home.  This stood out to me because when I think of becoming a doctor, I typically only think of the medical part of it.  However, these experiences made me realize that knowing what to do in various situations and interacting with families is also a huge part of the job.  Shadowing Dr. Boehmer was an awesome experience, and it definitely taught me a lot about the field.

~Indian Run United Methodist Church~

I have always been extremely involved in my church, whether it is working in the nursery during church services or helping with Vacation Bible School. Both of these things have helped develop my leadership skills.  When I work in the nursery, I am the primary caretaker of children ages 0-3 years old. I usually have a couple of helpers, but as the most experienced, and typically the oldest, I am usually in charge.  It is a part of my job to not only play with the kids and make sure they are having a good time, but to also make sure each child is getting equal attention from me and the other helpers in the nursery.  When I volunteer with VBS,  I am the leader of a group. This means that I am in charge of a small group of children, and I walk them around to various stations and make sure they are having a fun time while also learning a lot.  I do my best to create a welcoming environment where everyone feels included.  Working with kids has always been something that I love.  Getting to play childish games and see every single child smile ear to ear when their favorite song comes on, or when they are picked for duck-duck-goose is an experience like no other.  Children are the future, and being able to play a part in their development is a great feeling.


This year, I participated in BuckeyeThon for the first time.  I have never felt so humbled to be a part of something in my entire life.  Spending 12 hours on your feet, dancing and raising money for kids with cancer will really put things into perspective.  While I am here, finding my way through college and living my life, there are thousands of children in hospitals fighting for their lives.  It is the LEAST I can do to dance for 12 hours in support of them.  Throughout the day, I learned the “morale dance,” which is the dance that all of the team leaders show at the beginning.  At the end of the marathon, another person from my team and I, along with two people from every other team, performed the dance on stage in front of hundreds of people. This was a thrilling moment, and I was proud to represent my team and dance in support of children who can’t.  I was able to personally raise over $1000 for children with cancer thanks to the help of my family and friends.  I will never forget the last few minutes of the marathon when the total amount of money raised was revealed and everyone hugged and cheered and cried tears of joy.  I have never been more proud to be a Buckeye than in that moment. As someone who possibly wants to become a pediatric oncologist, this event inspired me to  continue to work hard and achieve my goals FOR THE KIDS.

My friends and I in our hand made tutus, after 11 hours on our feet.

The final reveal!


~The Inn at Olentangy Trail~

I have been volunteering at The Inn at Olentangy Trail, a nursing home, in the dementia unit since the fall of 2016.  On Sunday mornings, I and several others go to the nursing home and mingle with the residents.  We do anything from doing puzzles, painting nails, and playing with a beach ball to just sitting and talking.  Seeing the residents faces light up when we come in is a feeling that will never get old. Although many of the residents may not remember us, it is still just as rewarding to watch them smile as they complete a puzzle or celebrate as they successfully hit the beach ball back to us. Before we leave, we always help serve lunch and clean up afterwards. I have met some incredible people through volunteering here, and I hope to continue going for as long as I am able to.

~Riverside Methodist Hospital~

I started volunteering at Riverside Hospital in 2016.  In such a short time, this experience has shaped me in a way that I did not know was possible.  I have been working as a greeter at the main entrance of the hospital, where I engage with the families of patients and answer any questions they may have. I walk patients and their families where they need to be, while providing a friendly and welcoming environment.  Occasionally, I deliver flowers to patients rooms, which always makes me smile.  This experience has not only helped change my perspective on everyday life, but also introduced me to some incredible people.  I volunteer every Wednesday morning with two amazing elderly, but not so elderly in spirit, men.  I have become close with both of these men, and they have both offered me some great advice, as well as words of encouragement when I need them.  Listening to them talk about life gives me great hope for the future, and watching their kindness in action gives me great hope for humanity.  Interacting with my fellow volunteers and with patients and their families has made me realize how important it is to be present in the moment and to appreciate the little things in life.  Many of the patients that I work with have had life altering circumstances occur at Riverside, whether it be a medical emergency or the loss of a loved one, in the blink of an eye. Seeing this has helped me appreciate how fortunate I am, and has helped me be thankful for everyone in my life and every single day that I am living.

~Buckeyes Against Alzheimer’s~

In the fall of 2016, I was elected the treasurer for Buckeyes Against Alzheimer’s.  This club works to spread awareness about and raise money for Alzheimer’s disease.  With more then 5 million Americans affected by Alzheimer’s, this is such an important disease to bring awareness to.  As someone, who like a substantial amount of others, has been personally affected by the disease with the loss of a loved one, I am honored to be a part of an organization that is helping to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.  As the treasurer, it is my job to not only request funding and manage the accounts, but to coordinate fundraisers. So far, I have coordinated a Blaze Pizza fundraiser, and a Torpedo Comedy Club Fundraiser.  At the end of each year, we donate half of our remaining money to the Alzheimer’s Association.

This is a picture of the previous leadership board from the 2015-2016 school year with the new leadership board for the 2016-2017 school year.

~What Freshman Year Has Taught Me~

My freshman year here at OSU has taught me more about myself than I thought I would ever know.  Not only have I met some of the most incredible people, but these people have already made such a positive impact on my life.  Looking back to move in day, I would have never thought it possible to make the connections I did in what seems like such a short period of time.  I am beyond grateful to OSU for bringing me to these people, and for opening the door to so many amazing opportunities, both as a friend and a student. In eight crazy months, I have learned so much, and grown so much as a student, friend, and daughter.

As I talked to my advisor at orientation and scheduled classes for the upcoming semester, I remember being worried that I had only scheduled two honors classes, and not four.  After the first couple of weeks of classes, I realized how silly that was.  It did not take me long to realize how drastic the transition was from high school to college.  As I took my first Chemistry midterm and got an 83%, I was baffled.  I had excelled in Chemistry in high school, and was confused as to why college should be any different.  I now know that an 83% is still well above average for a Chemistry class at OSU, but at the time, I had a mini freak out.  This was a wake up call for me that I would need to adjust my study habits if I was going to meet the standards that I set for myself.  Over time, I figured out the perfect study routine and was able to reach my goals for the class.  This experience helped me grow as a student by showing me that not only are college classes substantially more difficult than even the hardest high school class, but that each class requires different study habits and various amounts of time outside of class.  This year has also brought me out of my shell in a sense.  I have always been a fairly timid person inside the classroom, as speaking up in front of everyone made my heart race. With the multitude of presentations and in class discussions that I was required to take part in throughout the year, I now feel more comfortable speaking up.  The difference is that in high school, people were judgmental.  There was always the chance that making a comment in class would result in a snicker out of someone or a response that made me feel stupid or inferior. In college, the environment allows me to voice my opinions and answer questions without feeling like I am being judged.  I have learned that chances are if you are thinking it, someone else in the room is thinking it too.  It is so important to me that everyone is able to voice their opinions and that everyone has an open mind for discussion, and I am extremely happy that the classes at OSU allow for that.  Another thing that helped me grow as a student is my increased willingness to put myself out there and take chances.  Although I had only been a part of Buckeyes Against Alzheimer’s for a semester, I decided to take a chance and run for treasurer.  My chance paid off, and I was elected treasurer.  Additionally, I decided to take another chance and apply to be a Neuroscience Ambassador, even though freshman typically do not get this position.  I decided, why not, I am passionate about Neuroscience and helping others, so what was the worst that could happen?  This chance also paid off, as I was selected to be a Neuroscience Ambassador for the following year.  This has taught me to never be afraid to pursue something, even if my chances of succeeding are slim. Overall, my freshman year has helped me grow as a student by teaching me that the most important thing to do is work hard and give it your all, and that I should never be embarrassed to speak up.

I think that the greatest lesson I have learned this year is that no matter your grades, your achievements, and even your worst mistakes, true friends and family will always be there to support you. This year woke me up and made me realize that, yes, it is very important to work hard to achieve my goals, but achieving my goals will mean absolutely nothing if I have no one to share them with.  I have learned to cherish every moment with my friends and family, because you never know when that moment will be the last.  Human connection is so important, and at the end of the day, this is what brings true happiness. This year has helped me become a better friend in so many ways.  First of all, it has given me numerous opportunities to be a good friend by placing the most amazing people in my life. I have made some friendships this year that I already know will last a lifetime. My best friend from home is one of the most amazing and inspiring people I have ever meant, and she truly makes me want to be a better person every day.  This year, tragedy struck her life in a way that she will carry with her forever. She chose to go Columbus State her freshman year to save money and figure out what she wants to do. Throughout the first semester, we talked a lot, but did not get to hang out much due to my busy schedule.  She became close with someone that was a mutual friend of ours.  So close, in fact, that they decided to get an apartment together in Columbus the following semester.  I was ecstatic, my best friend would be minutes away from me and we would be able to see a whole lot more of each other.  Over winter break, everything changed.  I woke up to a chilling text one morning that read nothing more than, “Mackenzie, Steven’s dead.” Of course, I was in shock.  I was not very close to him, but he was someone who I had hung around a lot in the past.  However, he was everything to my best friend.  Although they were just friends at the time, I know that they loved each other, and that he made her feel whole.  My heart broke for her, as I knew the immense pain that she had to be in.  She had been with him the night before, and as we later discussed, she heard sirens while she was lying in bed, and hoped with everything in her that the aching feeling that the sirens were for him was wrong.  Tragically, that feeling was more than a feeling, and she found out the next morning that Steven had been in a car accident and was killed instantly.  For the next week, I did everything I could for her, from letting her cry and talk to me to lying on her bedroom floor while she slept to make sure she knew she had someone there when she woke up. My best friend had lost her best friend, and I knew she would never fully recover.  This tragedy made me open my eyes to how fleeting life is, and how we need to take in every single moment with one another.  The people in our lives that care about us are so much more important than one test, or one interview.  This experience, as well as this entire year has made me appreciate every moment with my friends, old and new, whether it is taking a road trip, watching a movie, staying up talking until all hours of the night, or even playing cards or studying together.  Every moment that we get to spend with and make connections with people that care about us is a beautiful moment, and one that we should never take for granted.

Being away from my parents has not only led me to become more independent, but has also made me realize what a blessing it is to have the parents that I do.  I never realized how much my parents played a role in my daily life.  Whether it was help with filling out a form, or offering a simple piece of advice, I definitely took those things for granted before my freshman year.  In that aspect, I have definitely grown as a daughter in that I have learned to appreciate every little thing that my parents have done and still do for me.  There was definitely an added struggle in terms of my parents throughout this year.  In May of 2016, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Throughout the summer and well into the school year, she was receiving chemotherapy every two weeks.  This was tough because as I moved into my dorm and started off the school year, I was always worrying about her in the back of my mind.  I made a point to call as much as possible and ask about her treatment, and I was even able to visit her when she had surgery at the James Cancer Center.  After a very long year, she is finally cancer-free, and I am grateful for that every single day.  My mom is my person, and I would be nowhere without her influence.  She has taught me to be strong, kind, and hopeful.  This experience as well as being away from my parents in general has taught me to spend as much time as possible with those that I love.  Anything can happen at any time to anyone, so it is important to never take anyone, especially your parents who want the best for you, for granted. I am so so appreciative of everything that my parents have done for me since day one, and realizing how I would be nowhere without either of them has helped me to become a better daughter.

Overall, this year was a learning year in many areas.  The main lessons that this year has taught me are that there are some things that are beyond our control, and that it is so important to cherish every moment with the ones we love. This summer holds many promising adventures, such as a vacation to Europe, a trip to the Dominican Republic, quality time with old and new friends, a nannying job, and a research position at the Wright Center of innovation. As I embark on the journey of summer and everything it holds, I will take these lessons and integrate them into my daily life.  I am so thankful to OSU for helping me grow as a student and a human being, and I cannot wait to see what next year has in store.

~Biology 1114H Endophytes Research Project~

This in-class research project helped to open my eyes to the incredible amount of work that goes into every single research inquiry.  For this project, we were given information about endophytes, which are microorganisms that inhabit internal plant tissues.  These endophytes are typically seen to have a mutualistic relationship with the plant, meaning that both the endophytes and the plant benefit from the relationship.  Given minimal information, we were required to come up with a testable research question involving endophytes.  My partner and I decided to explore how the endophyte diversity of a plant would be affected when the plant was introduced to salt stress.  We worked throughout the semester to run the experiment, and collect as much data as we could with the resources provided.  We were able to gather data using microscopy, PCR and gel electrophoresis, and several bioassays.  We also drew upon literature to help us make predictions and consider why we had the outcomes that we did.  Once all of the data had been collected, we created a poster to present at a mini forum.  The forum consisted of several Biology classes presenting their original research to various faculty members.  My partner and I were able to present to many professors, as well as our TA. This was a great learning opportunity for me, as I hope to present research at forums, such as the Denman Forum, in the near future.

This is the final product of the poster that we presented. The poster gives a summary of the most important points of the study.