To Lead is To Serve

This year, I am part of the STEP program — the Second Year Transformational Experience Program. Sounds fancy, right?

Basically, this program is available to students living on-campus in their second year. You can “apply” by simply checking a box saying you’d like to be a part of the program when you apply for housing. I’m not pressuring you… BUT DO IT!!!

In STEP, you meet with a small group and faculty member weekly to discuss plans and ideas to ultimately receive $2,000 at the end of the year to use toward whatever suits your interests — whether it be to study abroad, take internships, do research — literally anything you can imagine.

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However, what I really want to share is the insight I have gained from my faculty advisor. When I first found out my group’s faculty member was an electrical engineering professor, you could say I wasn’t too thrilled. I am studying psychology and communication with a minor in public health (so basically I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I do know it’s definitely not electrical engineering), and needless to say, I thought I wouldn’t get much out of his advice. But something that he emphasizes week after week has been stuck in my head lately: to lead is to serve.

This got me thinking. I definitely like to serve; I’m in a service fraternity, am part of the UNICEF club and felt like I was doing a pretty good job of “serving.” But what I’ve come to realize this year is that simply participating, showing up, and being aware is not enough. If we want to make a true impact in this world, we have to go beyond just putting in our hours of service and feeling like a good person because of it. Instead, we have to be engaged, thoughtful, inquisitive, and give a voice to those who cannot be heard.

This could mean creating a new service club focusing on an issue that you are passionate about, this could be recruiting others into your organization by sharing your enthusiasm, or this simply could be teaching others what you have learned in a particular service project and how you think you could make it better the next time.

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When I think more about the idea of to lead is to serve, I think of qualities in a leader that I find to be the most inspiring.

These are:

  1. Passion– I think it’s safe to say that there are no good leaders who lack passion. It takes a special person to be able to inspire an entire crowd with their own passion, and it always gives me the chills.
  2. Authenticity– Basically I see this as “being real.” It’s a person who shares their true self and understands they are human. This type of person is approachable and warm and doesn’t hide parts of themselves depending on the situation.
  3. Participator– I find a leader to be so much more valuable when they are able to practice what they preach. These leaders are involved in the grass roots and exemplify how to make an impact even at this level.
  4. Daring– A real leader is willing to take risks. A real leader is also willing to invest in their people and have faith in their abilities. When an inspiring leader has you take on a big project, you naturally step up to the challenge knowing that your abilities have been trusted.

An important thing to understand is that you do not have to hold a title to be a leader. A leader is someone who actively engages in the world around them, positively impacting the people they cross paths with regardless of whether they hold a special title or not. I encourage you all to reflect on yourselves and what type of impact and legacy you are leaving behind, because that’s all that really matters when it comes down to it, right? You can do it!

Fvgzm

 

I Wrote This With My Tears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello readers, just an emotional senior over here writing a blog post for first-year students with my tears. Casual.

When I think back on the summer before my freshman year, I had a lot of emotions going on. I was beyond excited to finally go to college at The Ohio State University, nervous about leaving my friends and family at home and absolutely terrified because I didn’t know what to expect as a student at Ohio State. My life was going to completely change and I had no idea how I would handle the transition. For you first-year students who are moving to campus in, oh, approximately SIXTEEN DAYS, I imagine you’re feeling similar emotions, experiencing similar fears, and fluctuating between this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…or this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…or maybe this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…all while attempting to prepare yourself to start at The Ohio State University.

My situation now isn’t too different. I’m approaching my last semester at The Ohio State University (I’m graduating early in December. Totally not freaking out or anything. Like, it’s fine. BRB, CRYING IN THE FETAL POSITION).

 

 

 

 

 

And guess what? I’m still scared of the unknown. For the first time, my path isn’t directly laid out at my feet. After high school, I had to make the choice of where to go to college, but there wasn’t a question of going. Now, I could look for a job, apply to graduate schools or enroll in a service program. I could also move back home (hi, Mom and Dad!) but we’ll say that’s not an option right now. Three years ago as I was coming to The Ohio State University, I also didn’t know where my path would lead me over the next four years. I could switch my major (and I did); I could join any student organization (or none at all); I could decide who I wanted to be at this huge university where nobody knew me. Though this idea is terrifying, it’s one that first-year students should appreciate because of the opportunities that await you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really! One of my favorite things about Ohio State is the limitless choices that students here have. No Buckeye will follow the exact same path as anyone before or after them; the combination of academics, involvement, interests and activities that mark their time as an Ohio State student is completely unique. To my incoming Buckeye friends – take advantage of this. Pursue what interests you, whether that is your passion for history that results in a Folklore minor or your love of The Best Damn Band In The Land that sees you at the Lincoln Tower fields on Friday nights to watch their final pre-show practice. It is these things that make Buckeyes love Ohio State in their own unique ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can do what you want to do and be who you want to be here at the greatest university, and I am so jealous and so excited that you have the next four whole years to do just that. You may ask yourself this question like little David after the dentist,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the sad news is, your time at Ohio State will eventually end. As Carmen Ohio states,

The seasons pass, the years will roll…

It’s incredibly true that all of a sudden you’ll be scheduling your last semester of classes and wondering where the years went. Cherish your time on campus, find the friends who will become your family and treasure your memories. I’m taking inspiration from Bilbo Baggins in how I’m looking at the next phase of my life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re doing just the same by coming to The Ohio State University. And hey, if you need to write a reminder to yourself on move-in day or President’s Convocation or the first day of classes, I’ll have the same thing on my hand during Commencement on December 21st:

The Next Step: Leading in College

February and March are usually an exciting/hectic time for me. Almost everything is due the week before spring break, and you better be studying for that exam you have the week after!

If you’re like I was in my first year, you’ve probably gotten involved in a few student organizations that you are passionate about. You like going to the meetings, but you want to contribute more to the group. As the end of the school year comes around, this might be your chance to take the next step and run for a position! Whether it be a the head of a committee or president of the entire organization, if you’re passionate about the club you are in, don’t be afraid to run! It might be a little intimidating at first, but once you get your foot in the door, you will be glad you did!

After my experience serving as president of an academic honorary this past year, I’ve learned a lot about how leading in college is different from being on prom committee in high school (not that prom wasn’t important; it totally was). Here are my top three tips from my first year as president of a student organization…but these tips can also apply to anyone involved in a student organization (no matter the position)!

1. Get to know people!

In high school, many of us had been with the same kids since at least junior high. In college, you could be leading a group of people you’ve never met before. In the academic honorary system for example, a new class is inducted every year. This can be a tough one right off the bat, but if you don’t know everyone in the organization at least by name, introduce yourself! Friend everyone on Facebook, and be sure you know their face so you can remember their name. The better acquainted you are with the members or committee, the easier communication will be, and more things will get done. 

2. Delegate, delegate, DELEGATE!

Did I say delegate? There can be a steep learning curve when it comes to breaking things up and giving people responsibilities. There isn’t a teacher there to tell you how to run things (like on prom committee). You can’t do everything yourself, and once you try, you will be extremely overwhelmed. Learning to depend on others is one of the most important skills you can take away from being a leader. Collaborate to break up tasks based on convenience, ask for volunteers, and suggest a deadline.

3. Utilize your adviser!

Your student organization adviser will only be as active as you need them to be, but they’ve had experiences with the club in the past and are a wealth of knowledge! When we were planning our annual benefit dance this past February, I started asking my adviser all kinds of questions and wondered why I hadn’t done so before. In the honorary system too, they provide a nice link to past officers and the information they have as well. If anything, they’re a great listening ear as well!

Don’t be afraid to run for a position in a club you’re passionate about! If you want to start small, begin with a committee head and work your way up to the exec board. You’ll be glad you did 🙂

Jenna

Stepping Up Language Learning

In high school, learning languages sounded like the coolest thing to me…until I actually got into my French class. I was given a textbook full of random vocabulary and tons of grammar points that I had to learn. We were quizzed on the information weekly and tests came every month. The classes themselves weren’t great in structure. The teacher would just go over the grammar and pick our minds to see if we learned the new 25 vocabulary words assigned this week. After everybody was on track, we moved on…on to more grammar and another set of 25 vocabulary words. Oh, and this also went on for the next 4 years that I took French…

The problem wasn’t with the grammar or the vocabulary. Those two are the basis for language learning and are extremely important. The problem was that we weren’t using them at all, and so, everything that I just learned was gone within the next two weeks.

Instead of actually interacting with us and engaging the students, high school foreign language teachers at my high school would just talk in the foreign language. The way they got students involved was a rule that stated students couldn’t speak English. Yet, teachers almost always had a magical question you could ask in the foreign language to use English:

May I speak in English? Is English okay?

And this phrase really wasn’t hard to find! Usually it was at the top of a common phrase sheet or directly on the syllabus. I will admit that this kind of question is good for starting off in a language, but for some reason, this was good enough for teachers during my 5th year of the language. High school language learning was just not good for me…at all.


When I stepped into my Korean class at OSU, however, it was like a whole different world. The first day of actual class involved us getting up to recite a dialogue with another person in another language that we had to memorize the day before…

What?

This was more talking in two days than I did in my whole first year of French…so maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but man, did it feel like I had actually accomplished something.

The good thing about most Asian languages at Ohio State is that they are all structured in a way that gets you talking and interacting in a foreign language. You memorize conversations, recite them in class, and apply what you learned from them to different situations. Some days you go over the grammar and vocabulary, but most of that stuff is done at home. The times you do go over them in class is just to reinforce ideas and get any questions you may have had out of the way. Which is great.

I had already learned some Korean on my own before I took the class, and it put me at an advantage during the first semester. However, come second semester, people are already beginning to catch up and my lead is slowly shrinking. It was amazing to watch how quickly the course is moving, but it was even more exhilarating watching how quickly the other students were progressing. I am actually quite jealous…but I don’t let it show.

Although I cannot speak for the European languages, and any of the other languages for that matter, I got to watch a Spanish class everyday before my Korean class. As I sat there waiting, I realized the structure was somewhat similar. They didn’t have the conversations that we did (or maybe I just missed them), but the teacher got them involved. He made everyone repeat after him, asked questions and only allowed answers in Spanish, and set up scenarios for people to create dialogue. So simple, yet not what I experienced in high school.

Whether you are afraid of foreign languages, had a bad experience with them, or believe that they are useless in your life, try to give them a second chance. Ohio State offers more than 30 languages, so there’s bound to be one you find interesting. Just give it a shot and make yourself stand out! Nothing looks better to another person than knowing a second language. It shows you can appreciate another culture.

Personally, I recommend Korean :]

Your First Year Love Affair

In true Valentine’s Day fashion, it is necessary to talk about that one word with four letters. LOVE. I’ve always been deemed the “hopeless romantic” among my friend groups. It may have started in the second grade when I fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio in his role as Jack in Titanic…and definitely continued through my awkward tween years with an obsession with the Backstreet Boys.

 


While I was (am?) very much infatuated with these heart throbs, I was also in love with the passion Leo and my favorite boy band exuded in doing what they love. I love love. Nothing makes me more passionate than seeing people do the thing which sets them on fire. This is why I enjoy working with college students, specifically with first-years. There are few things that get me more excited than seeing individuals start a four (or five!) year love affair with an interest they encounter in their first year at college.

In your first year, it’s all about “playing the field”. Don’t be afraid to “flirt” with different ways to make your experience at Ohio State a transformational one.

Whether it’s going on a Buck-I-Serv trip, learning about undergraduate research opportunities, or attending BuckeyeThon (which we suggest you do this weekend), you are bound to find something that sparks an interest. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone – join something quirky like the Ukulele Club or an improv group.


However, my hope is that after some serious time scoping out your options, you will come across something during your time at Ohio State which engages, inspires, and transforms you from the inside out. First Year Experience strives to support you all in your first year so you are able to make a lasting impact on our university and the greater world in which we live during your time at the university and beyond.

Love is about being inspired, taking risks, and committing once you’ve stumbled across something meaningful. If you’re still looking for something that tugs at your heartstrings here, that’s great. One way you can learn more about yourself, reflect on your purpose and passion, and connect with other students about their “love affairs” which inspire them to lead is by attending The Annual Conference on Leadership and Civic Engagement. The conference will be held on March 1 and is free to all Ohio State students. At the conference, students will have the opportunity to learn about topics such as organizational development, non-profit management, innovation and entrepreneurship, reflection, peer leadership, service learning, team building, and communication. You may just run into me there!

Your first year is one to spread your love as far as it goes, and I hope you have done just that. There are so many people to meet, so many traditions to take part in, and so many ways to find that love that sets you on fire by engaging in the Ohio State community. Who knows? Maybe the passion you lead with at Ohio State will be the spark for another Buckeye to leave their mark.