National Park Photography

Hello everyone! My name is Kurt Atwell and I completed an Artistic & Creative Endeavor STEP project: National Park Photography. Over the past year, I had the opportunity to visit (in order) Yosemite NP, Canyonlands NP, and Glacier NP to observe and photograph the different landscapes, flora, and fauna that exist in each park. Both Yosemite and Glacier consisted of several day hikes and a backpacking trip, while Canyonlands consisted of mountain-biking the White Rim Trail (a 100 mile trail that follows the Colorado River). With the completion of this project, I now have hundreds of photos to show family, friends, and fellow students, in hopes that others will see the beauty our country offers and go visit some of the many national parks we have.

Oftentimes, I’ve found myself getting caught up in the hectic environments of work, school, relationships, etc. When I traveled to these national parks, I lost all communication with the outside world; there’s no cell phone tower 50 miles in any direction, and you’re left to be alone with nature. Being out in nature, I was able to let a lot of these worries go, and instead I appreciated what was around me. Such few people have the opportunity to go on hikes in these parks, but I found myself sitting on a log next to a clear blue mountain lake multiple times.

I also learned that there are several different forms of a beautiful landscape, and that no two landscapes are the same. For example, in Yosemite, there were hundreds of waterfalls. In Canyonlands, however, there were fast arid landscapes of rock that formed millions of years ago, and many of these rocks were still standing. Seeing these variety of landscapes changed how I define beauty, and I realized too that there is so much more out there for me to see. I guess you can say that visiting these national parks opened my eyes up to the beauty our country and world have to offer.

Each national park presented a different experience for me. In Yosemite, my dad and I were able to do the iconic Half Dome hike, where we went from hiking in 75 degree heat at the bottom to walking above 6 feet of snow at the top. Along the way, I was able to photograph the changing scenery and seasons (at the top of Half Dome it still looked like winter). Each photo I took presented something new, whether it be the Merced River flowing at a rapid pace or a squirrel scavanging for some mere scraps of berries scattered among the snow.

In Canyonlands, much of the landscape was arid, rocky, and lacked major color changes. However, for this park, I focused on golden hour photography. Over the three campsites I stayed at along the white rim trail, the sun rose and set in perfect locations that shined a beautiful orange onto many of the rocky peaks in the park. By waking up early, I was able to get some time lapse shots of the sunrise as it shined just over the horizon. These photographs showcased beauty in the form of orange, purple, and red tints as the sun hit the rock during the early hours of the day and last hours of the night. It was a wildly different park than Yosemite, and I’m thankful I was able to take part on the mountain bike journey of the White Rim Trail.

In Glacier, I had the opportunity to backpack for 4 days in the backcountry of the park, camping out in isolated locations next to lakes and mountain peaks. During this trip, I focused on extensive landscape portraits. Being that Glacier has over 100 lakes in the park, it wasn’t hard to find a still-lake that presented me a mirror image when I took the photos. The glistening of the water during a sunset perfectly added hues of orange and purple, reflecting the mountains all around the lake. Having read a little bit about golden hour photography before this trip, I can confidently say that some of the best photos I took occurred during this trip, again showing the beauty of being away from reality. Glacier NP was definitely my favorite park of the 3 I visited, and I would definitely go back to continue hiking in the backcountry.

Seeing beauty in nature has since opened me up to the appreciation of art in general. As a kid, I would usually be the one to blow through a museum in less than an hour. Since these trips occurred, I have been more appreciative of landscape photography as well as landscape paintings. I have incredible admiration for artists that were front-runners in their respective areas of art, such as Ansel Adams and Frederic Church. Along with appreciation of art, I now have a better eye of my own for good photography. I can oftentimes say “that would be a good photo,” then I take it and it ends up being a good photo after all. I definitely will continue to take photographs in my free time. I’m exceptionally excited for fall on campus, being that I’ll hopefully be able to get several photos of the foliage during the peak time.

Below I have linked a video I made for all the parks, showcasing ~110 photos over all 3 parks. My blog throughout the entire project can be found at

Welch.491 Creative Project

Name: Rachel Welch.491


Type of Project: Artistic/Creative Endeavor


  • Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.


My STEP project consisted of me becoming a beekeeper to better understand how pollinators work and how to create an environment that is suitable to them. It has given me a closer and a more intimate look into aspects of agriculture as well as the chance to play a larger role in the production of food.


  • What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.


This project has changed me in ways that I did not expect before going into it. Before going into it, I had expected that this would influence my knowledge on how bees can impact agriculture and that I would learn how to care for them. While these changes did in fact happen, and I have become a better source of knowledge in the entomology world as well as with pollinators in general, and honey bees specifically, I have changed in a deeper way as well.

Being a beekeeper has allowed me to be more patient. When working in a hive, movements must be slow and careful in order not to be stung. It has allowed me to keep my cool, as the bees can sense when there is not a calm presence around. It has allowed me to be more kind and to not be afraid. It has shown me that all little things want to be loved, which I have seen from being around my bees and learning that inspections go easier when I am not timid and when I am sending them love while interrupting their life within the hive. This project has allowed me to gain a greater respect for small things, for they can often have the biggest impact on the world. It has made me even more passionate for the agriculture industry, which is something that I did not know was possible.

Being involved in this project has connected me with more people. It has made me more confident in striking up conversation with others, especially when we have a shared interest, and it has helped me become more confident in teaching others on topics that they are not familiar with, which will help me tremendously in my future career as an educator.



  • What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.


Opening a beehive for the first time is a feeling that is like no other. Inside, there are anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000(+) bees that at any point could choose to sting you. While the sting is relatively not dangerous (unless one is allergic), it is still painful and can be a terrifying anticipation. If one approaches a hive with the mindset that it is scary, then the beekeeper could tremble, could drop frames or squish bees, injuring, killing, and angering them in the process. With this in mind, it is of the utmost importance to approach a hive with confidence, patience, and kindness, which are some things that I have learned to be in my time assuming the role of a beekeeper.

In order to prevent a sting, one must work slowly and calmly. While a lot of things in life today are quite the opposite and people are consistently working to do things quickly, being a beekeeper has allowed me to slow down. It has allowed me to take a break from the fast-paced everyday life and in turn has made me more patient. I can not expect to do something quickly in the beehive unless I want to cause trouble – for both myself and the bees. Knowing this, I have accepted that not everything needs to be done at 110 miles per hour, and because of that have, I have found myself slowing down other aspects of my life and putting a better focus on what I am trying to accomplish rather than a focus on simply getting things done.

Also, because beekeeping is not typical, it is extremely fascinating for not only myself, but others. When others in the community find out that I am a beekeeper, they are immediately curious and ask to visit the apiary. This always increases my interest and excitement, and it provides a way to connect with others and learn more about the behavior and importance of bees, as well as show the beauty and magnificence of it all to others. Being able to explain and answer questions has made me a much more confident person and it has helped me sharpen my teaching skills, which is an extremely useful tool.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.


The changes that have come along during this project have helped me in ways that I could not have imagined. Working in a bee yard requires skills that I did not know I would need to work with thousands of insects, and it has created in me a better ability to form relationships with others. This project has taught me the importance of working together by watching how each bee contributes to the colony, and it has reminded me that there is no such thing as being too small, because even the smallest of things can have a big impact. Taking all of these values and implementing them into my life will not only make me a better person, but it will most definitely help me professionally by allowing me to be a more understanding teacher and being able to see the uniqueness in everyone and how it can contribute to the group as a whole. I believe that this experience that I have had through my STEP project is something that I will always be grateful for and will work continuously to incorporate the things I have learned into my life.

STEP Reflection: Stories From New York City

I took a month-long beginner photography class at Shutterbug Training, a learning center in Columbus, OH. After taking these lessons, I traveled to New York City from May 10 to May 20 of 2018 in order to take photographs and interview people in the city.

Despite my excitement to learn from what New York City and its diversity has to offer, I felt disorientated when I first arrived. I had been fortunate enough to travel to various places, but I had never traveled alone before. It was strange and daunting for me to go and stay whenever and wherever I wanted. As I adapted to my new surroundings, I became less fearful and more eager for new experiences. I observed the tourists who took selfies and the locals who ignored the people around them and realized that I was neither tourist or local but a wanderer, searching for opportunities to learn from my surrounding environment and other people.

There are several pivotal changes I experienced during my time in New York City. First, as a result of observing and interacting with the people and activities in the city, I gained the awareness that I occupy very little of the world as well as the fuller appreciation of diversity. Although I had various experiences with meeting people who are different from me, I was able to reflect more about my sense of self and how people are socialized by their environment. This trip also made me realize my biases. Specifically, I am prone to think about and make assumptions about how socioeconomic status affects people. This trip made me speculate more about how different people live different lives in different parts of the world and allowed me to retain a more inclusive view of the world.

Prior to my STEP project, I was too young and unaware to value every moment and possibility for learning while traveling; I now realize that I was selfish during those past traveling experiences because I focused on what I could get out of traveling instead of how I can be sharing stories and memories with people. Moreover, although people watching has always been a pastime of mine, I had not done much of it during traveling because I was preoccupied with moving from one tourist spot to another.

During my time in New York City, I had the luxury of not having strict plans of visiting popular tourist sites and doing what the people who accompanied me wanted. I was free to observe and talk with people as well as visit different museums and walk around the city; the events I witnessed as well as the interactions I participated in led to my transformational changes.

In addition to seeing famous artwork and zealous protests in New York City, I met people from all walks of life. It was a challenge to walk up to strangers and start a conversation with them, but every interaction- even with people who did not speak the same language- proved worthwhile to my overall learning and experience. As I observed and listened to people share their stories and aspirations, disparity and different roles in society soon became evident to me. Among many other sights and people that stood out to me, I was most shocked by how seemingly well-to-do individuals who resided in the Rockefeller Center lived in contrast to beggars such as the man who had a badly injured leg and the many people who slept on the streets. Furthermore, I saw religious diversity as I sat in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and observed people’s reactions and watched the Amish, Hindus, and Buddhists propagating their religions. These people of different ages and backgrounds lived such different lives despite being in close proximity with one another. They allowed me to see and speculate on the patterns people fall into as well as better understand what people can do with the life that they have.

The changes made possible by my STEP trip are valuable for my life because they allow me to understand the significance of capturing and sharing stories and memories as well as to understand the different manifestations and effects of diversity. Traveling to new places and taking pictures will always be my personal goals because of the growth and awareness that can be achieved. I realize there is always more to see and learn than what my limited mind knows, and I am thankful for opportunities to further understand people. Moreover, the changes I experienced helps me with my academic and professional goals as I prepare to be either a psychologist or teacher. In these professions, it is crucial to understand biases, appreciate diversity, and promote inclusion. I am grateful for the opportunity to question my surroundings and become more cognizant of what it means to be human.

Yoga Teacher Training

For my STEP project I enrolled in a 200 hour yoga teacher training program at Yoga on High, a studio in Columbus. This training consisted of weekly lectures, time spent assisting in public yoga classes, 20 hours of practice teaching to friends and family, a silent retreat, and an unlimited pass to attend yoga classes at the studio.  Throughout the training, I learned invaluable skills and developed my own teaching style that focuses on alignment, mindful movement, and inclusive language.

At the beginning of yoga teacher training, I thought that being good teacher meant being “good” at yoga. While being able to demonstrate poses and maintaining a regular practice are essential, I’ve learned that it’s about far more than being able to do advanced poses. While the physical practice is an important component, it is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. For me a good class begins with the breath and helps the student find a more grounded, balanced and at times joyful state of mind. While learning new poses can be fun and excited, learning how to teach in a way that gives students the tools to change their state of mind has inspired my teaching.

Another huge part of this experience for me was the community I found at Yoga on High. The instructors in the program provided invaluable knowledge on a wide range of topics related to teaching yoga. From start to finish there was so much information to soak in throughout the program but I felt supported the entire way through. In addition to the incredible instructors, I was surrounded by a fantastic group of yoga teachers in training. As a third year student living off campus for the first time, it was a gift to be surrounded by such a supportive community.

One of my favorite components of this training included a silent retreat. While the retreat was conducted on site, I spent the majority of the weekend at the studio practicing various meditation techniques, yoga styles and experiential components such as “karma yoga” service projects. We were invited to abstain from talking and using technology the entire weekend as a way to immerse ourselves in meditation and self-care. Throughout the weekend I became much more aware of my conditioned patterns and the way my mind works. I was also surprised at how close I felt with the rest of the students in my training program during our time spent in silence. Even though we were unable to speak to one another, there was a sense of togetherness and community that came from experiencing silence together and finding ways to communicate nonverbally.

When I enrolled in teacher training, I hoped to enrich my understanding of the relationship between yoga and mental health. I’ve become increasingly interested in teaching yoga in therapy settings and to those who experience trauma. My experiences over the course of this training and my intention of going into clinical psychology have led me to enroll in another teacher training this coming school year. This training will also take place at Yoga on High and will deal specifically with the teaching of trauma sensitive yoga. EMBER (Mindfulness Based Emotional Resilience) Teacher Training will provide me with the training necessary to teach trauma sensitive yoga. Considering my career path, I think this will be beneficial to me as I pursue teaching yoga to therapeutic communities, especially as it pertains to body image and eating disorders.

As I move forward in my career, I’m excited to explore the intersection between yoga and mental health even further. While our society is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of mental health, the emphasis continues to be on treatment for those whose mental illness is no longer manageable. I believe that yoga, especially practices that incorporate meditation, mindfulness and the breath, have the ability to serve as an effective preventative form of mental healthcare. As I pursue teaching yoga and a career in clinical psychology, I hope to give individuals the tools to respond more positively to stress and anxiety in addition to developing a more positive relationship with their own physical body. Throughout the course of my STEP project, I’ve learned so much but I also feel that there is so much more for me to learn. I’m excited to continue learning more each day as both a yoga teacher and student.

STEP Reflection: Dance in Cali

The purpose of my STEP project was to attend the Milliennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles for a week. I was fully immersed in the dance culture and LA scene, as I tested my limits in the dance industry.

The experience changed both the way that I view myself and the way that I view dance in the world. I went into this trip expecting to just learn choreography and become a better dance. I thought that I would be dancing every day and then have an abundance of free time to explore California. I also falsely believed that learning about dance in the industry was the lesser important lesson in this trip and didn’t originally give it the respect it deserved. Dancing in the industry; whether commercial, movies, tour, and so on seemed as easy as training hard and getting hired. I now realize the ignorance of that statement.

Discussing my transformation will entail recounting from the beginning of my trip, including some obstacles I faced. I was supposed to live in an all-girls dorm associated with the Millennium Complex for a week. However, the dorm had been completely filled. Homefordancers was suggested to me and I absolutely dreaded the idea of being so far from the dancers I would see everyday and instead being placed with dancers I would never see in class. On the contrary, the Millennium dorms being rented out was a blessing in disguise. At Homefordancers, I was surrounded by international dancers. In other words, everyone besides myself and one other girl, had traveled from out of the country to pursue a career in dance. I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss their journey. Many had originally been in movies and commercials in London and Italy, but wanted the opportunity to work for be artists in America.

When I wasn’t talking to my fellow roommates, totaling to eleven, I was taking classes from top choreographers. I danced for four hours a day, which is mind-blowing. I don’t work out much and when I dance, it’s usually for an hour. The other girls in the summer intensive program usually danced about four to six hours a day. It was humbling to listen to the amount of dedication they have to dance and their future in this career path they have chosen. Though it was rough at times, I was able to keep up. I learned about the limits of my body. I didn’t know that I could dance for four hours straight, with usually one twenty minute break in between. It made me realize that I put a lot of physiological limits on my body’s ability and endurance. I also realized how far I could push myself before being unable to physically keep moving because of how badly I wanted to nail a choreography.

I definitely saw a change in myself throughout the week. At the beginning of the week, I was awfully shy around all new people. Dances were taught a pace quicker than I am used to. The movements seemed to blur together, it was a struggle to be able to detect what the instructor was doing with their hands and feet simultaneously. Executing the moves myself were even more difficult and felt strange. Dancing was very rough in the beginning. As choreographers watched and taught our group, they would often give suggestions and advice. One statment that was made by AJ Petrey resonated with me as he said that “…you’ll often feel funny when you dance. If you don’t feel funny, then what are you doing?” His dance mentor and top choreographer, Kenya Clay, mentioned how I often was a too much in my head when dancing. She could see it on my face that I wasn’t fully in present mentally. When heeding to their words, I noticed that I had more fun and was dancing better. Class is the time to look stupid and make mistakes to avoid doing so in competition or performance. Not caring how I looked or if I messed up was freeing in a way I haven’t felt in a while.  I also noticed that my dancing improved, especially when I trusted myself to be able to copy a move or trusted muscle memory to execute a dance. I began to discover my own style of hip hop. It took me a few days to realize that not everyone looked or danced exactly the same as the instructor, and they looked better because of it. They still did the moves correctly, they each had their own style that fit their body and character.

I also learned a great deal about dance in the industry. On June 14th, we dedicated four hours to trial auditions. I learned that dance in the industry isn’t for everyone, and probably not for me either. However, I have a great deal of respect for those who so pursue this side of dance and especially those who have become successful in it. Dance in the industry requires more than just being able to dance well. The dancers have to sell themselves to the audition. They have to look the part, often times they have to keep multiple outfits of various styles in their car in case they get a call from their agent about a new audition while on the road from a previous audition. They have to deliver the desired look while still standing out amongst many. They have to be able to quickly pick up choreography, sometimes be able to act, be able to improvise, free style, and always be ready to keep the show going. In other words, dance can be very tasking and stressful at the professional level.

I will forever value this experience because it has changed the way I perceive dance and because it has changed me for the better. I have a new respect for dance. I was able to do mock auditions and see a side of dance I never considered much. I have a love and passion for dance itself, and never really thought about how much more it has to offer career wise. I also believe that the mock auditions advice I received can be applied to any job or opportunity I may try to apply to in the future. I will treasure this experience because meeting people from other cultures and countries has been enlightening. I enjoyed hearing their stories and learning the differences in dance and culture. I also enjoyed being able to achieve “free-ness” in California and hope to be able to obtain that again in Ohio with some practice since I now know I am capable of it.


Landscape Architecture In Major Cities Throughout the United States

My STEP signature project was a 3 week trip to Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston in order to observe different forms of landscape architecture and architecture.  The different things that I observed in each of the cities I chose to visit will act as precedents for designs that I create in the future.  I could see what worked and what didn’t work for different designs throughout the country, and I can also now take that information into consideration when I am creating a design in order to make it more effective and practical for the area.

During my STEP signature project, I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t previously know.  I travelled to many of the cities alone, which was a new experience for me.  I learned that I am definitely an independent person, and I really enjoy doing things on my own.  I could really take the time I wanted in each of the spaces I visited, and could really appreciate the thought and time that went in to designing these spaces.

I would say my assumptions and view of the world changed as well.  Since I had never been to Seattle, Chicago or Boston I was not entirely sure what to expect from each of these cities.  I expected them to all be similar to each other since they were all major cities.  I expected to see some bad areas, a lot of homelessness, and mass amounts of people throughout the cities.  I imagined each of them being these large, bustling cities, where most people wouldn’t give you the time of day.  While some of these things served to be true in certain places, I found for the most part this was not the case.  Seattle, for example, was not the huge bustling city I imagined.  Many of the people I spoke with were very pleasant, and I felt very safe in every area of the city that I went to.  This was also the case in Boston.  I actually asked a woman for help figuring out what train I needed to get on to get to the city, and she not only helped me find that train, but also showed me how to get to my next destination as well.  Chicago, on the other hand, was very similar to what I was picturing.  Although many of the people I interacted with were very nice, it was definitely a big bustling city like New York City.  I did appreciate the fact that they have installed many parks and outdoor spaces throughout the city in order to make it seem a bit less industrialized.  Seeing all of these different cities made me realize that they are all VERY different from one another, and it is difficult to assume what it is going to be like without actually being there and experiencing it yourself.

One event that impacted me in particular was when I was in Boston.  I stayed in an AirBnb just outside the city of Boston, but near the commuter rail that runs into the city.  Since I was staying so close to the train, I decided that would be the easiest and cheapest way for me to get to and from downtown Boston.  The first day I was in Boston, I was attempting to figure out how exactly to get from where I was staying to Lake View Cemetery, one of the sites I had on my list.  Since the cemetery was not only outside the city, but on the complete opposite side of Boston from where I was staying, I was having a difficult time figuring out how exactly to get there and back.  I decided to approach a woman who was waiting for the commuter train and asked her for help.  She was incredibly kind to me, and not only helped me figure out which way I needed to get on the first train, but actually went with me to my final destination to make sure I made it there okay.  It really made me realize that despite being in a large and busy city, people were nice enough to stop and talk to you and help travelers who were not familiar with the area.

Another experience I had while on this trip was in San Francisco.  I had rented an AirBnb to stay in while I was there as well, and began talking with the owner of the house I was staying in.  I found out that he was also a landscape architect and he showed me some of the projects that he had done.  His projects were mostly private residential projects throughout California, which opened my eyes to that possibility in the future as well.  I had not ever really thought of landscape architecture on a smaller scale like this.  This was probably the most impactful interactions I had while on this trip because it made me realize that I don’t necessarily have to be doing large scale projects such as city parks or gardens.

After talking with the owner of this AirBnb, I started to notice smaller projects and appreciate them more as I was exploring each of these cities.  I found that there was a lot more landscape architecture projects than I had found doing research prior to going on the trip.  After speaking with him and noticing these smaller scale projects, I actually am more inspired to go towards the smaller scale private residential projects.

This change is significant to my life both personally and professionally.  It is impactful to me personally because I learned that a lot of people are actually willing to go out of their way in order to make a difference in your day or help you, much like the woman in Boston helped me.  It inspired me to help people more and not be afraid to ask people questions, even if I don’t know them.

It was significant to me professionally because it showed me that I do not necessarily have to work for a huge architecture or landscape architecture firm doing massive projects like many of the sites I saw.  I learned that I also have the option of doing projects similar to the owner of my AirBnb was doing.  This option is actually more appealing to me professionally because I would have more freedom to be creative with my designs.  Many larger scale projects have several landscape architects and architects working together in order to come up with a design.  With the smaller projects, however, it is often just one landscape architect working with the client in order to create something spectacular for them.

As a whole, this trip has definitely given me a lot to think about for my future both personally and professionally, and I cannot wait to incorporate some of the things I have learned into my future designs as a landscape architect.

Seattle Sculpture Park with the Space Needle in the background

Golden Gate Bridge

Throughout the trip, I was reflecting on each of the cities I had visited via my personal blog:


Frankenstein in the Park


Dakota Drown

My STEP Signature Project was a focus on my observations on the differences between Academic and Semi-Professional Theatre as well as the differences between working on a production as an actor versus as an assistant stage manager. I worked for the Actors Theatre of Columbus (ATC) on their production of Frankenstein as an assistant stage manager (ASM) and helped run rehearsals from May 14 to June 20 and worked backstage for every performance from June 21 to July 15.


There was a definite change during my project and I learned a lot about the inner-workings

of a production company and how it also relates to many other jobs. ATC was in a restructuring year and there were a few mistakes or lack of communication that came down to people blaming our production for issues that were happening outside of it because there was not a designated person to take care of said issues like there had been in the past. This lead to miscommunications such as house management not doing some of their duties which were then relegated to myself and the other ASM. I’ve worked as an ASM only one other time before, at Columbus Children’s Theatre, and I had a fantastic experience. This production was really eye-opening in many ways but the best way to describe it is how just because an 18-year-old is considered a professional and has worked for a theatre for a while, sometimes they are still just an 18 year old at the end of the day and others have to pick up the slack. I wouldn’t say this production made me jaded and the dazzling sparkle of professional theatre has been lost from me, but it made me more mature as what to expect from employers which is a great life skill to have anyway. I had great experiences and as shown in the picture below, I even got to be a part of dance rehearsal and wore a rehearsal skirt because two of our actors were not present. While I did have many stressful moments, the production was mostly full of laughs and just a great environment.

Luckily, I was working with two fantastic people from Ohio State. My advisor for the project, Mandy Fox, was also the director of the production and one of my professors in the Department of Theatre here at OSU. Rebecca Sharrer (OSU Class of 2018) was the Stage Manager and one of my good friends and I had the fortune to be working directly with her. These two relationships made this project so much more fun and better than had I not known anyone going in. They got me through so many hair-pulling moments, like our one child in the cast who wasn’t showing up to our rehearsals, having to move props back and forth to the stage 3 times because rain kept coming and going, and the great fun of dealing with all the different types of people that come to the park, including calling the cops on belligerent drunks during our performances. I had a great time on this production thanks to all my friends, but I’ll be surprised if most of my food budget wasn’t going to getting Winan’s Coffee in German Village with Becky just in anticipation of what we were going to have to deal with that day.

The incredible Mandy Fox

Mandy Fox has been my professor since I first came to Ohio State and has been coincidentally been the director on every mainstage production I’ve done with the department. The only time she hasn’t been the director on a production I’ve worked on since I came to college was the show at CCT last November and December. Mandy has been a great mentor to me the past 3 years and continued to do so during this project. My experience with her on this production resulted in one of the biggest transformations for me with the issues we had with the set. There was a significant amount of miscommunication with the designer not understanding what we wanted/needed that resulted in an unsatisfactory and unsafe set. We (the SM/ASM crew) had to make some changes after repeated attempts to get the construction crew to fix our issues and they only did about 70% percent of the safety improvements we asked for. As an ASM it is not my duty to have to reinforce a climbing wall with studs to make sure my actor doesn’t pull out a handle and fall to the ground from 8 feet up. Mandy gave me great insight on how she dealt with this issue and moved forward to complete this fantastic show.

Rebecca Sharrer, who also completed a STEP project, was a great mentor and taught me a lot about what to do as an ASM. She gave me tips for the production and is a veteran of ATC, so she was able to alleviate a lot of stress by talking about how ATC has never really been like this, so this must be a fluke year with the restructuring. Several cast and crew members, including Mandy, also said this so I am confident there are just some holes in the current setup during the company redesign that will be fixed. Becky also lives up the road from me on campus and I was able to get rides from her to and from rehearsals and performances, so it kept my budget costs low and I only had to pay for a Lyft twice. Becky was instrumental in my learning during this project and I owe a lot to her for that.

Finally, one general interaction of this project that led to these changes was simply the difference of working in an outdoor theatre. Obviously, every rehearsal and performance are at the mercy of the weather. We had the fortune of only having to cancel 2 and a half productions (we got through Act 1 but had to cancel during intermission) due to rain but had to deal with the heat during that mini heat wave the US had during this summer. My actors did a great job performing in 95-degree weather at 8pm dressed in regency era coats and dresses without too much complaint. Having to deal with the weather and lugging props and costumes back and forth each night because they couldn’t be stored underneath the stage often made me grumble and contemplate whether I really wanted to ASM anymore, but the friendships I gained through the cast helped me get through it.


As a theatre student with a focus on acting and writing, this has been incredible for my academic, personal, and professional goals and future because I grew as an artist. I worked with an amazing director and cast and learned by observation from the actors, even though I was never on stage. This project gave me more theatre experience and references that I can use later (as the entertainment industry is run purely on luck and who you know) and taught me a lot about how the theatre world operates. It has given me confidence going into my final year at OSU and I am ready to audition this August for the Fall shows and this October for the Spring shows and if I’m lucky I’ll get cast in another show directed by Mandy. Becoming more mature about how productions run and that not everything is going to be as organized as academic theatre has given me more appreciation for my opportunities at Ohio State and just how lucky I am to be a Buckeye and be doing theatre. I’ll be honest, I was getting pretty tired of this school and slightly jaded to how different colleges and majors are given better opportunities based off what their alumni has done, but I never took the time to appreciate all the talent within our department. A friend of mine who graduated in 2017 from OSU has a production about to make an Off-Broadway run. It is almost unheard for someone who didn’t go to a Yale, Julliard, or AMDA type school for drama or theatre to direct something that goes Off-Broadway that quickly. This STEP project helped me out immensely and I’m going to be starting my senior year on a really high note thanks to this program.

My Trip to Yosemite National Park

My STEP signature project was a creative endeavor. I flew into San Francisco and then commuted to Yosemite National Park for the substance of my project. On my trip, I documented the beautiful scenes of Yosemite’s waterfalls, mountains, and valleys, while focusing on documenting the recent increase in forest fires due to climate change.

Going about day-to-day living in the city, we (I) find myself feeling removed from nature. I feel that I deal with a fair amount of anxiety, as most people do. This trip, for me, was like a reset button. Growing up, I used to spend most of my days as a boy exploring the wilderness of the forest preserves in my community in Chicago. I would take pictures with my instant-developing camera, climb trees and even pretend to be an animal. While I didn’t spend any time pretending to be a squirrel this trip to the forest and despite upgrading my photography game by acquiring a new camera – my time in Yosemite felt strangely like my time with nature in my youth. Even after coming back, I have been able to carry this energy back into my day-to-day routine in Columbus. It feels like I’ve wakened up from a kind of trance I was in before going. In the more practical domain of transformation, I was able to add many quality photographs to my resume as an amateur photographer. Recently, I sent in some of my work from this trip to a journalism internship I applied for with the Black Sheep.

One moment that I recall indulging in the feeling of awe that I was overcome by, was when entering the park and then again when entering my actual camping grounds hours later after navigating through the mountains of the park on the way there. The road leading to the campgrounds stretched for over thirty miles, scaling over the park’s peaks and through the valleys carved between mountains, I could see acute and jagged rock formation left over from the dynamite used to etch these roads into the face of the mountain. The road at many times, provided a view from atop a mountain, giving view to what seemed like hundreds of miles of forest. Once I got to my campsite, the first thing I was struck by was the length of the trees. The next thing that thought, and was impressed by, was their age. Trees well over 200 feet tall must be hundreds of years old.

Inside the camp, there were probably 60 trees like this, all of which located within 10-15 feet of one another. The camp itself was built in a valley, giving off the appearance from the ground of being surrounded on all sides by mountains. And I mean mountains, not some large hill – there was no seeing over the mountains looking in any direction. I do not know why observing these spectacles has had a lasting impact on how I feel about “things” in general weeks after the trip, but they have. It has something to do with feeling small and insignificant, there is a certain pleasure that I found while reflecting on such terms, which is counterintuitive in my traditional trail of thought on the matter. Feeling so small, yet at one with a system, much larger than myself – is how I felt. Usually, when I think about if I felt small and insignificant, I associate those words with feelings of loneliness or anxiety. That was not the case in this instance. It has been over a month since my trip ended, and I still feel that I’m riding the wave of this bliss. The sun and wind of the summer in Columbus takes me back to Yosemite as I close my eyes and breath in deeply.

One of the objectives of my trip was to document the impact of recent climate change on Yosemite’s flora and fauna. I did some research before the trip, particularly analyzing snowpack during the winter months of the year, as I knew I’d be traveling to Yosemite in the summer. What I found out in Yosemite from the campground’s staff and from my tour guides, was that the wildfires in the summer are a huge issue in Yosemite. As the summers get longer and hotter as we continue to pump our atmosphere full of smoke blocking heat energy from escaping, the forests fires get larger and occur more frequently. An interesting fact that I learned is that they are also necessary, in moderation, for the well-being of the forest, but recent fires are exceeding the frequency that is remotely close to beneficial.

Even if this bliss that I’ve been riding since returning does not go on forever, I feel that I now understand that getting away from society and immersing myself in nature and in my own thoughts is something that I can do as a getaway and as a remedy for the anxiety that I feel sometimes while fulfilling my role in society. I do not feel that it is procrastination from my responsibilities, though. What I am saying is that I noticed that I carried a kind of swagger back with me after the trip, that stayed with me. I feel that if that bliss were to go away, I can go get it back by going camping somewhere in Ohio, which is something that I’ve never done. My time in Yosemite was my first time ever camping. My buddies back home made fun of my an called it “glamping” (glorified camping) because the camp had concrete walls around our sleeping couriers. The point is, that I’ve realized that being outside in nature is a positive way that I can relieve anxiety, rather than turning to other outlets for stress. I also realized that I do actually like camping like I thought I would.

I’m entering my senior year of college, I have two semesters left. I’m still not positive what I’m going to do right after I get out. Maybe land a good job, maybe start going back to school right away. I want to go back to school for journalism. I enjoy writing and feel that I am a gifted writer. And I love taking pictures, and I think I’m pretty good at it. I want to be a photo-journalist. The STEP program has helped me build a platform to move that dream in the right direction by helping me add to my body of work.

STEP Reflection: Producing Music

In my creative endeavor project, I will be learned how to mix and master audio at a professional level by obtaining top-notch mixing software under a non-commercial license and learning how to use it through online classes and free textbooks. Additionally, I consulted Mark Rubinstein for guidance in my journey.

After completing this project I have become acutely aware of the rich overlap between physics and engineering with the production of music. As I learned more about signal processing and psychoacoustics I was reminded of the Fletcher Munson curve and Fourier analysis. I also learned about exactly how we encode sound into digital devices and feel like I can really appreciate what music really is on a fundamental level. Nowadays when I listen to music I will break it apart into its most fundamental components, ponder how and why they work well together, and consider what could be done differently or better.

During my project, I worked on producing, mixing, and mastering countless tracks in conjunction with the online course I took. Through repeated experimentation, I gained key insights into the world of music production. Although it could often be frustrating to sink many hours into an idea that ultimately fails, I learned many useful tricks for making a song sound as good as it can.

I also worked closely with fellow producers via the music producers club here at OSU. Through this collective which I am now the treasurer of, I was able to work on many collaborations with other producers with ideas that were often very different than my own. Through weekly meetings and production challenges, I pushed myself to my limits and beyond.

Moreover, I was able to meet with an consult with Mark Rubinstein, an award-winning audio engineer here at OSU. He offered me deep and insights into what was holding me back in my work. It has been a privilege and an honor to work with someone as talented and accessible as Mark, and I still keep his advice in mind whenever I work on a new track.

This project holds a place close to my heart. I come from a very musical family, but despite thoroughly enjoying the art form I never really felt like my family’s primary method of expression of this passion–instrument performance–was for me. Years later I stumbled upon the world of electronic music and DJing and fell in love with the whole scene. Through this project, I have honed my skills in expressing my take on music.

STEP Project: RowBot Performance Monitoring Device

My STEP project involved developing a performance monitoring device for the sport of rowing. Creating this device involved communication with rowers and coaches to develop the best device for teams to use, and a combination of hardware and software development skills. As a former rower, I’ve heard rowers and coaches complain that the devices they use to keep track of their performance are outdated and missing features they’d like to see. I saw STEP as an opportunity to help local rowing teams – and maybe teams everywhere – by developing a device that could give them everything they wanted when it came to performance monitoring. There has never been a device quite like the one I envisioned, and designing an electronic device from the ground up is proving to be quite the ordeal. I’ll always be looking to improve it and get feedback from rowers and coaches, but I’ve already learned a lot and gained valuable experience from my STEP project.

I developed a lot of skills over the course of the project, growing as a technical designer and entrepreneurially. Throughout the years I’ve taught myself to do many things, always learning and tinkering with electronics, but the sheer amount I’ve learned thanks to this project amazes me. Before I started this, I never would have imagined I could gain experience in circuit design, embedded electronics, programming, product design, waterproofing, and so much more from a single project. Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to learn new skills, but with a goal to work towards, learning comes easier, as each new skill acquired is a stepping stone toward building something great.

During the course of my STEP experience, I have also come to appreciate the sheer scale of a project like this. Electronics have always been a hobby for me, but this project allowed me to dive into every role required in the complex process of developing an electronic device from start to finish. One important thing I learned during the course of the project was how much work goes into developing both the software and the hardware for an electronic device. Working on this project mostly by myself, and with some help from knowledgeable people I know, I came to appreciate how many people it takes to quickly and efficiently develop of new device. Even with all the time and money in the world, I couldn’t do this myself, and so many people helped me along the way.

Some aspects of the project that led to my greater appreciation for the time involved with developing an electronic device from start to finish were the trial and error involved with hardware and physical design. I spent a lot of time figuring out the best shape for the outer housing, as there were a lot of specific criteria I need to meet. The housing had to be waterproof, fit in the existing mounting location in a boat, and have an aesthetically pleasing design. On top of that, I had to account for the components inside the device. Making sure buttons, a screen, and plugs could work with a watertight housing required many redesigns of the housing. The electronics design is an ongoing challenge, and there are always improvements to be made in that area. Since I imagined this device years ago, I never thought I’d be using embedded computer systems instead of off the shelf components. Designing an embedded system is a hefty task that required a lot of research into the components I’d be using. I eventually settled on a Raspberry Pi product for embedded systems, the Compute Module, but even with this simplified “brain” there was still a lot of complex design work to do. Figuring out all of the electronics and case design required me to hone my skills with several programs, from different CAD softwares to various circuit board design suites.  Searching through hundreds of pages of documentation for electronic components and learning new software gave me an appreciation for all the roles that go into designing a product and the time commitment behind every device like a cell phone.

I also believe myself to be a better entrepreneur and networker thanks to all of the interaction with outside sources that was required for this project. When learning all of the skills that go into designing a complex electronic device, there were a lot of things I just didn’t know. But reaching out to people to find solutions gave me valuable experience in making connections and doing what it takes to get a project done. I talked to coaches from Columbus and from back home, rowers I’ve known my whole life and rowers I’ve never met, and reached out to people with technological experience in organizations at OSU. Consulting with people in the sport helped me see the value of talking to users when it comes to product design. Their ideas and input ultimately shaped my vision of the final product and helped to create a device that will be exactly what rowers and coaches need, not just something that I thought would be cool. Getting help from outside sources when it came to technology was also a great learning experience. Whether it was fellow hobbyists on internet forums or people from clubs like the Maker Club at OSU, I learned the value of asking for assistance; if you have a problem, there is probably someone out there with an answer. All of this networking and problem solving will no doubt help me achieve my future goals, and to make this project the best it can be.

My STEP project fostered a combination of professional growth and technological learning in me, and I have become a much more experienced and capable person because of it. Facing all the challenges that come with designing and troubleshooting electronics helped me to develop professional relationships with people from all areas of expertise from sports to technology to business. I worked with people to coordinate suppliers for obscure parts, gather large data sets to see what rowers and coaches really want to see in their devices, and reached out to so many knowledgeable folks for help with roadblocks in the design process.

I developed my people skills and my tech skills thanks to STEP, and this growth will certainly help me when it comes to achieving my goals. A project like this is never really over, and it’s going to be a long road to bring the best iteration of my performance monitoring device to rowing teams that need it, but the skills I’ve gained can help me see this or any project through to completion. Having the courage to reach out to experts and enthusiasts that might have the answers you don’t is valuable skill in any field, and as I complete my studies in architecture, I know I’ll be able to find people to help overcome roadblocks when learning design software, prototyping methods, or just understanding architecture itself. Networking is essential to growing professionally and in entrepreneurship, and I would love to run a successful business one day. Being able to talk to customers and deliver what they really want is important in architecture, technology, or any area my future businesses may serve. Talking to rowers to get real end user feedback is great practice for delivering perfect final products. I now know what it’s like to be involved in every part of developing a device from the ground up, and meeting with people that will be involved with every step from concept to production. I achieved proficiency in areas I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d be dabbling in as an architecture student, and made great strides in bringing the perfect performance monitoring device to the sport of rowing. There is still so much to learn, but thanks to STEP I’ve already learned a lot. My growth through this program will allow me to tackle any project I set my mind to, take my career in any direction I choose, and continue to perfect the device that rowers have wanted for so long.

Early Prototype Bottom Early Prototype Top Researching Old Rowing Devices GPS Programming Faceplate Prototypes Test Placement for Screen