2018-19 Year In Review

Global Awareness

I haven’t done a whole lot yet in my college career to further this mission; I haven’t been out of the country or engaged in any cross-cultural sharing of import yet.  However, I have concrete, set-in-stone plans to start this process this summer.  For five weeks in May and June, I will be studying as an intern for a member of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.  I am extremely excited to encounter new people both within the program and outside of it, as well as to learn more about how a country different, though certainly with its similarities, than my own functions.  I’m eager to explore their Parliamentary system and learn more about the legislative process there, as well as the kinds of unique and different challenges they face on political, social, and policy levels.

Original Inquiry

So far, I’ve had a lot of tremendous opportunities to explore this part of the GOALS.  From a research perspective, aside from exploring it on my own through reading and writing papers for classes, this semester and last spring I’ve had the privilege of working as a research assistant on a couple different projects.  Last spring, I worked in a communications lab and helped run participants through an online experiment.  Though I didn’t get to do a whole lot beyond greeting people and reading off of a script, I also got to sit in on some of the meetings and learned a lot about the IRB approval process.  This semester, I’ve been much more hands on in working with two gradate students in the Sociology department, Laura Frizzell and Sadé Lindsay, for credit in the Sociology department. Their work is centered around exploring how experiences with police and police coverage in the media affects Black women, specifically, since most current research centers around the experiences of Black men.  In addition to attending biweekly meetings about the project, I have been transcribing and coding 1.5-2.5 hour interviews they’ve conducted and have also worked on recruiting more participants.  This has been extremely valuable experience, and I’ve learned a lot more about the research process, especially when it comes to qualitative research.  As I move forward, I’m very eager to do some of my own research, and I hope to write a senior thesis for Sociology.

This year specifically has been just awesome for me from a creative standpoint.  Ever since I graduated high school and lost the creative collaboration community that we had fostered working on our school’s newspaper, I’ve been really missing that creative outlet and that space to create with and for other people.  In the fall, with essentially no previous experience and very little knowledge or prior interest in film making, I decided to join Mad Royal Film Society.  That has been possibly the best decision I have made since entering college.  I have learned an incredible amount about screenwriting, storyboarding, working with lights and sound equipment on set, and editing (among other things) and have met some of the very best people I know on this campus.  Last October, I had never even touched editing software before; this semester, I essentially ended up taking lead for editing on our big semester short film–a 20 minute romantic comedy that I’ll link below–as well as a shorter small group project that we did earlier in the semester.  I think there was a two day stretch where I was in that editing lab for upwards of 15 hours.  Moving forward, I am extremely excited to continue to learn more and create more in the next two years with the club and outside of it, and I also plan on coming up to Columbus several times this summer to help some of my friends from the club with their film projects on weekends.

Academic Enrichment

I think that the most that I can say for academic enrichment is that, in every stage of my life, I’ve never shied away from taking a harder class just because it was harder.  In choosing my courses and my majors, for me it has been entirely based on personal interest.  When I see a course that sounds interesting, I try to take it and fit it into my schedule, and I worry about the number that’s next to it later.  With that being said, over half of my total credit hours at this university are scheduled to be upper division hours, and the majority of those that aren’t are either honors courses or credit I earned in high school.  In my two majors, specifically, 37/40 of my hours are upper division in sociology (and I’ve already taken most of them) and all 3o of my hours in philosophy are upper division.  I currently have a 3.98 GPA and, barring something unforeseen, will have a 3.985 by the end of this semester, with my lone non-A an A- my first semester here.  As I continue in college, I look forward to continuing to pursue academic excellence and studying those topics that interest me most, with a focus on developing my writing and critical reading skills.

Leadership Development

In college, I’ve been involved in a few politically oriented clubs and have participated in activism related to them.  Last year, as a part of OSU Fight for $15, I helped collect signatures and then tabled in support of the student government initiative pushing for a $15 minimum wage on Ohio State’s campus.  Additionally, I spent some time with the Ohio Student Association collecting signatures and then passing out fliers on Election Day this past fall in support of Issue 1, a proposition that hoped to mitigate the disastrous consequences of mass incarceration in this state.

This year, I’ve become heavily involved with the aforementioned Mad Royal Film Society and next year will serve as its treasurer.  Beyond that nominal leadership position, I feel as though as the year has progressed, I’ve felt more comfortable taking leadership roles in screenwriting meetings, in editing, and in helping facilitate the small group film at the start of the semester.

Service Engagement

Back home, I’ve done a lot of community service with my grandma working at Reach Out Lakota, which is a food and clothing aid organization focused on serving the disadvantaged members of the Lakota Local School District, where I attended school 1st through 8th grade.  I work mostly in the food warehouse side and have had the absolute pleasure of getting to know some incredible volunteers there as well as seeing firsthand how much kindness can help a person in need.  Here at OSU, I haven’t found something like that quite yet, but that is something that is certainly a goal.  In my work on campus, however, I find myself doing what could be described as service work.  This semester, I started working as a writing center tutor at both the Smith Lab and Thompson Library locations.  I have learned an incredible amount about how to be an effective helper, communicator, and teacher from both my coworkers and my clients.  I’ve engaged with and helped people who run the gamut from Doctoral candidates to middle aged people returning to college after 20 years of working to international students to students who come from a very similar background as I do to everything in between.  I’ve found this work incredibly rewarding and am excited to learn even more about it, and from it, moving forward these next two years.

Venturing into the World of Poetry

I want this e-portfolio to serve as a space for me to share all sorts of writing, and that includes poetry.  This is a poem I wrote a couple summers ago of which I am extremely proud.  The idea was sparked in my head after watching a series of videos online called “Everything Is a Mashup” in which I was introduced to the concept of a cento.  A cento is a type of poem which is comprised of lines or phrases from other poets’ works.  I thought that sounded like a fun and interesting challenge, but I wanted to have my own twist on it.  What I ended up with was the following poem, in which each line of the poem is an unedited quote from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident

that mankind are more disposed to suffer

when a long train of abuses and usurpations

are absolved from all allegiance to

the United States of America,

protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders,

in the name, and by the authority of,

“necessary for the public good.”

Screenwriting: an Entirely New Challenge

Early in the fall, when I went with a group of friends to the Arts Involvement Fair, I’ll be honest: I was only going to support my friends and had absolutely no expectation of finding something with which to get involved.  I have no artistic of musical talent whatsoever (unless you count my singing voice having been described as “surprising” and “passable” as talent) and my only on-stage experience has come in the form of one semester of drama class in high school and playing the small role of the cat and the fiddle in my second grade production of Lemonade.  However, at the small little fair in the basement of the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Mad Royal Film Society caught my eye.  I knew one of the leaders of the club from another club with which I was involved, and I thought Hey! I like movies; maybe this could be cool.

I went to their first meeting and found out that every semester they make their own short film as a club.  This sounded fascinating to me and so I joined the screenwriting small group.  I had taken creative writing classes in the past and worked on my school’s high school newspaper and have always been an avid writer, but I had absolutely no idea how to screen write, let alone how to do so collaboratively as a large group.

We started just with brainstorming ideas for the plot and characters and setting and slowly but surely our film started to take shape.  Once we had a rough outline in place, we took to devising the dialogue and stage directions.  We eventually also needed to edit our script in accordance with the suggestions and input of the set design and cinematography / story-boarding groups.  It was a great learning experience for me, and we are set to finally do our filming this upcoming weekend.

Though I am not sure whether film is something I want to pursue as a career, I had never even considered it before.  After this experience, what I’ve realized is that creativity and writing can take so many more forms than just journalism or newspaper work; I think that as I continue with this club, skills like editing and working in a group on something as big as a short film or planning a film festival can help me whether I work in film or in something else entirely.

On Voting Yes on Issue 1

This November, in just a couple of weeks, voters all across the state of Ohio will vote on Issue 1, a bill aimed at addressing mass incarceration through a constitutional amendment.  I, however, have already placed my vote early and had already made my position on this issue clear months earlier when I worked with the Ohio Student Association helping to collect signatures to get this issue on the ballot.  I believe very strongly that this bill is not only good for Ohio but should be used as a model for states across the country to follow after, and I would like to explain why.

First, I think that it is important to understand what passing the ballot initiative would mean for Ohio.  There has been a lot of media attention drawn to the portion of the issue focusing on drug law, so it might be best to start there.  If Issue 1 were to be passed, fourth and fifth degree (lower-level) felony charges for drug possession and/or use would be reclassified as misdemeanors and individuals convicted on such charges would not be eligible to serve prison time unless it was their third such charge in 24 months; those individuals currently serving time for these classifications of crime would also be eligible to appeal their sentence under this new amendment.  Now, that’s a lot of words and stipulations and it has been vastly misconstrued by many politicians, so let’s break down what that actually means.

This bill does not take any laws off of the books; it does not make anything which is currently illegal, legal.  Instead, what it seeks to do is implement sentencing reform so that our already overcrowded and expensive prisons do not continually become further overcrowded and expensive in service of locking away non-violent offenders.  Proponents of this bill wish to see addiction treated as what it is: a disease.  We don’t treat cancer or pneumonia or HIV/AIDS with incarceration, so why should we treat addiction any differently?  Locking people away in prison for the use or possession of drugs does nothing but take away from the potential treatment these offenders could be receiving.  In my 4000 level Sociology classes on Prisons and Jails and on the Criminal Justice System this semester, we’ve talked and read a lot about the research surrounding recidivism rates and there is substantial evidence that recidivism (meaning re-offending) rates are significantly higher for people convicted of drug crimes when they are sent to prison rather than placed in probation or given some other sentence.

Many politicians, including gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine several times during the gubernatorial debates, have made it a point to emphasize the specifics of what constitutes a low-level charge for fentanyl possession, making the outrageous claim that someone could be found with enough fentanyl to kill 10,000 people and not be sent to prison.  Even if it were true that this much fentanyl classified as only a fourth or fifth degree felony, these politicians should take issue instead with how are laws are on the books; as I previously stated, Issue 1 does not seek to change what is or is not illegal, only to change sentences.  Secondly, prosecutors are still more than free to prosecute offenders on the charge of drug trafficking and/or drug dealing.  As Mike DeWine himself points out, if someone has that much fentanyl, they are likely engaging in one of those two activities, so prosecutors need only do what they would likely currently do anyways and charge offenders accordingly.

The second part of our criminal justice system which this issue addresses is probation.  While parole is what offenders are placed in after being released from prison early for good behavior, probation is an alternative sentencing program for offenders whom judges have deemed are not a danger or threat to society and therefore do not need to be imprisoned.  Individuals on probation must abide by a variety of rules–things like showing up to regular meetings with their probation officer, paying mandated fees, staying employed, staying housed, avoiding alcohol and other drugs, etc.  They may also face other more stringent requirements like using an ankle monitor or doing mandated community service.  Currently, offenders on probation can be sent to prison at their probation officer’s discretion without an additional court date if they fail to abide by one of those stipulations, even if it is not a crime.  For example, if an offender is unable to find employment because of structural barriers in place for people with felony convictions, or if they are subsequently as a result of this unemployment unable to pay the mandatory fees or afford housing or afford transportation to their meetings, they could be sent to prison.  Under the current system, individuals can and have been sent to prison for nothing more than being late to a few meetings.  If Issue 1 were to pass, it would require a gradated system of responses to non-criminal rule violations; several steps would have to be taken before someone on probation could go to prison without committing a new crime.  This still would allow for imprisonment in the case of an offender who repeatedly and unflinchingly violates the terms of probation, but would help avoid imprisoning people who are not a threat to the community.

Thirdly, if Issue 1 were to pass it would overhaul the Ohio earned credit program.  This, and not the drug law portion, as most media and advertising campaigns would have you believe, would have the most impact with respect to the number of human beings behind bars.  The earned credit program, which nearly every state either has or has some very similar version, allows for incarcerated individuals to earn credit toward their release by participating in programming such as jobs training, education, community outreach, substance abuse treatment, cognitive and behavioral therapy, and various other programming options depending on the institution.  Currently, out of the 44 states that offer inmates with some sort of earned credit program, Ohio is the stingiest of all of them; to earn just one day toward their release, inmates must participate in 30 days of programming and inmates can only earn up to a maximum of 8% of their sentence reduced.  If Issue 1 were to pass, these numbers would change to one day toward their release for every two days of programming completed and a maximum sentence reduction of 25%.  These changes would not apply to individuals convicted of violent and serious crimes such as rape, child abuse, pedophilia, and murder.

Finally, it’s time to talk about money.  Depending on how much you know about the United States’ criminal justice system, you may or may not know that it is extremely expensive.  For how this would affect Ohio specifically, researchers expect that if Issue 1 were to be passed, it would reduce the Ohio prison population by about 25%–or 10,000 human beings–over the next 10 years.  This would amount to roughly $100 million saved annually once this reduction were actualized.  Issue 1 takes the money saved specifically through the reduction in prison populations and dedicates 75% of it to publicly funded substance abuse treatment facilities for those suffering from addiction and dedicates the remaining 25% to funds for victims of violent crimes.

I wish that these final three points, rather than only the first part about drugs, were emphasized in the media’s coverage and in advertising circling around Issue 1.  Not only do I think that voters ought to be informed about the portions of the bill which actually will have the largest scale impact on real human persons, but I also think that we ought to engage the public in a large-scale discourse about mass incarceration and its effects on not only those in prison, but also those who have family or friends in prison, and also its effects on the public at large.  Issue 1, if passed, could be a major step in the right direction for Ohio in attempting to remedy the near-irreversible harm it has done to large swaths of our population, particularly poor and marginalized communities.  It could also serve as an excellent blueprint to other states to do the same.  There is a swell of rising bipartisan support for criminal justice reform, and it’s about time something is done about it.

Columbus Dispatch Op-Ed

This past spring, near the end of the year, a couple of suicides on campus gripped the Ohio State University community and there was a (for me) unprecedented amount of discussion about mental health and mental health resources on campus.  Many students (and faculty, too) were understandably distraught in the wake of the tragedies and there was a renewed discourse focusing on what some perceived to be a lacking in dedication to mental health on campus.  A lot of attention was brought, especially, to the student counseling and consultation services (CCS) because of unbelievably long wait lists to receive help, which many attributed to there not being enough funding for the CCS.

Depression is something that has affected my life and the lives around me for several years and, largely because of that, mental health reform and treatment is something about which I have become passionate.  When I was in middle school, my mom was diagnosed with clinical depression and was forced to leave her job because she was dealing with too much.  A friend of mine in eighth grade had been forced to transfer from her previous school because of harsh bullying and dealt with suicidal thoughts.  In high school, one of my best friends fought through multiple bouts of extreme depression, winding up hospitalized at one point.  During my sophomore year, a classmate in my same graduation year died by suicide.  If I were to total up all of my friends who have been hospitalized because of either attempted suicide or fear that they may attempt suicide, I would need to use more than one hand; to count up all those close to me who have dealt with depression in less severe but still very real ways, it would take several.

With this in mind, and with the knowledge that waiting lists for CCS were dismal and that some of my friends at Ohio State who had needed help had been unable to receive it because of that, I was angry.  I was angry and I was frustrated at what I thought was a lack of care at the administrative level; it seemed to me that given the state of our financial situation, we could more than afford to properly fund adequate and sufficient mental health resources and we could certainly put more funding into them than we were.  I reached out to the Columbus Dispatch in the hopes of writing an opinion piece and airing my frustrations and urging something be done.  They quickly responded that, yes,  they would like to publish my thoughts in a long letter to the editor.

After I finished my first draft, I wanted to share it with some people who worked in mental health care on campus to ensure that I had not made anything up and to ensure nothing I had written could be triggering to folks who have suffered or currently were suffering from depression and/or suicidal thoughts.  After talking with them, I made a number of changes because the way I had written the letter was unintentionally and unnecessarily very combative and could be taken to imply that Ohio State did nothing in the way of mental health resources.  While I still wished to air my grievances and make it clear that what I thought we were doing was not enough, I also did not want a student to stumble across it and assume that there was no where they could turn.  After making the adjustments, I was very proud of how it turned out and it was soon published online and in print for the Columbus Dispatch.


Year in Review

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more information, go to: http://honors-scholars.osu.edu/e-portfolio. Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


Global Awareness: one way I can do this is right on campus through diversity clubs like Mundo or just engaging in dialogue with other students from diverse backgrounds.  I also intend to study abroad at some point in my undergraduate career.

Original Inquiry: I would like to reach out to faculty and engage in research work, particularly in the realm of prisons and policing.

Academic Enrichment: I would like to maintain a high GPA while taking courses that both challenge and excite me.  I also hope to extend my skills and knowledge to extra curriculars, service, and research.

Leadership Development: I would like to write for The Lantern and hopefully eventually earn an editorial position there; further, I hope to engage in leadership in an area of volunteering some time during my four years.

Service: I want to get involved with the Passgo club here at OSU more once my schedule allows for it.  I also hope to volunteer at the local Planned Parenthood clinic and hopefully other organizations in the Columbus area, as well.


[“Career” is where you can collect information about your experiences and skills that will apply to your future career.  Like your resume, this is information that will evolve over time and should be continually updated.   For more information, go to: http://honors-scholars.osu.edu/e-portfolio. Delete these instructions and add your own post.]

Odyssey Online

In keeping with my interest in writing, I have been writing an article for Ohio State’s Odyssey Online community nearly every week since the beginning of the summer.  One of my favorite articles I have written addressed suicide in the wake of Chester Bennington’s suicide.  In particular, it was a response to an article entitled “I Don’t Feel Bad For Chester Bennington And Neither Should You” (the title was later changed to “There’s A Problem With Glorifying Celebrities After Suicide.”  Here is a link to my article: