Peer Mentor Reflection #1

Weeks 1-2: August 20th-September 3rd

The Autumn 2018 semester has now begun! This is something that hit me when I had to weave through hundreds of freshmen cluttered on campus while traveling to the first Peer Mentor training of the year. Many of them were eager for new beginnings: new ways to advance their academic careers, new clubs and organizations to join, and new friendships to create, all while exploring a new campus and/or city. The first-year student excitement was evident in the way the freshmen chattered in their first survey class. I found this to be a pleasant surprise and in sharp contrast to the survey class I Peer Mentor-ed in last year–where, even at the end of the semester, students didn’t converse much with each other and when they did, their conversations remained hushed.

With all this new-ness, there should be an organized way to familiarize students with campus resources, right? In comes survey class. The first week was spent introducing students to the survey course syllabus and expectations while the second week launched into an outline of GE requirements. As I listened to my survey instructor field questions, I realized how far I have come in my own journey at OSU. While I could faintly remember having the same questions as the freshmen at one point and time, that time seemed forever ago and I now know the answers by heart. This realization increased my confidence in my ability to provide first-year students advice on both the big and small things–extending from ASC honors GE requirements all the way up to big college and life questions, like “What’s the point of taking a literature class if I want to be a doctor?” and  “What kind of career can I have so I can help as many people as possible?” After the first two weeks of Peer Mentor-ing, I became extra excited about helping students out and interacting more with them.

Peer Mentor Reflection #2

Weeks 3-4: September 3rd – 14th

Week 3:

This week in class, the peer mentors helped lead small group discussions with students about time management. Compared to last fall semester, I felt more comfortable facilitating a group discussion. During our conversations, I heard several concerns that I remember struggling with my freshman year. For example, one student pointed out that there were so many different aspects of her life that it was important to devote time to and she couldn’t cut down any of the activities. I realized that the students seemed to be struggling to find a balance among all their activities.

I have also been working on my peer mentor internship project. I would like to create a presentation and brochure about mental health and campus resources that can help students maintain their wellness. Currently, I am struggling most with brainstorming an interactive activity that allows students to talk openly about mental health in a casual, non-intimidating way.

Week 4:

I led my first peer mentor event this week! I attended a Candlelight Yoga class with a couple students. I felt like I had improved my ability to both make conversation with the students about their college experiences and to make the students feel comfortable sharing them. For example, one student felt comfortable enough to vent to us about the problems she was having with her roommate. At the end of the event, I was happy to see that the two students who attended my event exchanged phone numbers so that they could hang out again.

In class this week, the peer mentors led “Communication at the University” skits. Several students in class volunteered to help out act out the “good” versions of the skits. I was happy to see the students wanting to be involved in the activity (none of the students in the survey class I was a peer mentor in last year wanted to participate – they were much quieter than my current group).

About Me

Hello! My name is Nicole Chain and I am a freshman at The Ohio State University. Though I have moved around a bit in my life, I claim Knoxville, TN as my hometown where I graduated from Farragut High School. As my academic career progressed, I increasingly discovered my affinity for chemistry and biology. Molecular genetics is of particular interest to me, as I am fascinated by the universal code that simultaneously unites and distinguishes all forms of life. In addition to my academic interests, I am passionate about helping others, especially kids and those with special needs. I hope to integrate these two passions into one career that will enable me to both challenge myself and impact the lives of others. I am thrilled about the opportunities that The Ohio State may present in these next four years!

G.O.A.L.S.

Global Awareness:

I recently attended Taste of OSU for the first time in February. At this event, students can sample foods from different cultures prepared by various student organizations. I was able to taste Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Armenian, and Indonesian food. It was great to see what other students’ version of a home-cooked meal is like!
Original Inquiry:

The summer after my freshman year, I began working as a research assistant at OSU’s Clinical Cancer Genetics Program. I recruit subjects for a study on familial papillary thyroid cancer and collect family history information to include in pedigrees. I’ve enjoyed the interpersonal interactions of my job and being able to contribute to research on this highly heritable thyroid disease.

Academic Enrichment:

In my first two years, I have challenged myself to pursue an academically rigorous curriculum. I keep my coursework varied to match my diverse interests. Although my major is molecular genetics, I have taken several classes that contribute to my English minor and will also be picking up a psychology minor. I also take honors versions of classes when available, where I can enjoy the benefits of smaller class sizes. Although my classes keep me busy, I enjoy the challenges that come with learning new things!

Leadership Development:

This semester, I have begun my position as Communications Coordinator for the Undergraduate Genetic Counseling Club. Our club is devoted to providing resources for students potentially interested in pursuing a career in genetic counseling. At the beginning of the semester, I created and distributed flyers to advertise our club meetings. I also emailed professors and advisers as part of this outreach plan. Before each club meeting, I also email our members to inform them what we will be discussing at our meeting. I have enjoyed being in this leadership role as a resource for others.

Service Engagement:

This semester is my second one as a pen pal as part of the West Mound Pen Pal Program. Every other week, OSU students write in a journal to their 4th or 5th grade pen pal at West Mound Elementary School. It has been a heartwarming experience to be able to give encouragement to a growing child and help them develop their reading and writing skills.

Year in Review

I began my college career as a chemical engineering major. After only a few weeks, I quickly realized that this was not the field for me. I wondered what career path I should pursue and began to attend career counseling sessions at OSU’s CCS center. I decided that I might want to consider genetic counseling as a career. My second semester, I started coursework as a molecular genetics major pursuing an English minor. This mix of science and humanities classes is a much better fit for me. I have also begun working as a research assistant for OSU’s Clinical Cancer Genetics Program. At my job, I work under a genetic counselor and do research on papillary thyroid cancer. Although I was nervous about balancing work with studying, I have fine-tuned my time-management skills and have been successful in achieving a balance. I have also been involved as Communications Coordinator for the Undergraduate Genetic Counseling Club, where I provide information about upcoming meetings to current members and advertise our club to prospective members. Recently, I have also considered career paths in psychological or academic counseling. For this reason, I will also be pursuing a psychology minor. Additionally, in the fall I will be a peer mentor for the Arts and Sciences Honors program. I am very excited about this role and can’t wait to start! Overall, I have faced my share of struggles about my major and career choices, but I have worked hard to create opportunities for myself to explore the different roles that I could potentially pursue.