My entire life I have lived in one city: Columbus. Although I love this city and all of the amazing opportunities it has to offer, I also do not want to limit myself to one place when there is an entire world out there for me to explore. I have traveled to other states within the United States, but I have yet to experience other countries and their ways of life. Entering my second year at OSU, I reflected on my lack-of international experiences and decided that with the grant I will receive from participating in the STEP program I will travel to another country and expand my global awareness. From May 7 to May 21, I will be participating in the Global May: Paris program, an experience in which I will be studying Parisian culture, landscapes, history, and people in order to not only learn about how people are living thousands of miles away, but to also reflect on my own life and how I can live it in a more fulfilling way. I am eager to travel abroad and take this life-changing trip that will open my mind to different perspectives.
Prior to entering Ohio State, when I thought of the word “research” I thought of a science lab with test tubes and Erlenmeyer flasks, not something I would be participating in considering I was not going into a “science” major. I soon learned, however, research is much, much more than just scientists in white lab coats studying cells, but rather forming a hypothesis and something of interest to you, and executing studies test it. My first experience with research was during my first semester when I participated in numerous psychology studies on campus, followed by several communication studies my next semester. As a participant, I got to experience studies and, to my enjoyment, analyze each one, trying to solve what they were studying if it was not explicitly stated. This grew my interest in the research process, wondering how I could implement my own study on communication theories I am interested in, leading me to enroll in Comm 3160: Communication Research Methods this semester. A large component of this course is designing a study testing a self-created hypothesis. Although the study is hypothetical and not required to be carried out, this has allowed for me to see the “researcher” side of a study and how I could one day carry out my own communication studies, or at least successfully assist professors in their projects during my time here at OSU!
To be honest, coming into Ohio State I had absolutely no idea what area of study to pursue. This confusion was not due to my lack of interests or passions but rather quite the opposite; I had far too many things I wanted to study that I could not possibly choose one area to graduate with a degree in! To my delight, however, I realized I could study multiple areas of interests to me through my GEs, with my primary passion being designated with my major and minor. During my first semester in Exploration, I took several different classes that peaked my interest but also fulfilled degree requirements, including Psychology, Philosophy, Persuasive Communications, and Dance. After this semester, I received the clarity I needed to decide which areas I believe I could pursue a fulfilling career most successfully in, while also distinguishing which interests of mine I could not put to the side completely. This led me to declare a major in Communication with a minor in Media Production & Analysis, an area in which I could see myself flourishing in career-wise, but I still continued to take GEs in areas I was passionate about, such as music and women studies. Although my coursework has been rigorous, with honors courses and upper-level classes, I have remained resilient due to my confidence in the path I have chosen and my excitement for the future I have in store for me.
During my Autumn 2018 semester, I enrolled myself in the Emerging Leaders Institute. Established by the Department of Recreational Sports, this 10-week program consisted of formal leadership training using the social change model. This program allowed for me engage in experiential learning to gain insight on how to collaborate and have meaningful dialogue with others that have different experiences, backgrounds, and opinions than myself. This program definitely has made a lasting impact on the type of conscious leader I am and I plan on continuing with this program by becoming a facilitator for the program during this upcoming Autumn semester. During Spring 2018 semester, I also was apart of the planning committee for Take Back the Night, which was a week in April in which our committee constructed and orchestrated several events focusing on sexual violence awareness, with the week ending in a march on campus. During that same semester, I was hired as a member services associate at the RPAC, with this position requiring various formal leadership trainings.
Throughout my time at OSU, I have made it a goal of mine to get involved in various volunteer activities, whether on campus or around the Columbus area. Through the ELI program, I participated in a semester-long service experience in which my cluster and I picked a social issue we were passionate about in the Columbus area. The issue we chose was youth-homelessness in the Columbus community, an issue that of enormous prevalence and relevance, but something that does not receive the recognition and solutions it deserves. We took the semester researching the topic, meeting with local experts on the issue, and implementing a hands-on service activity at the Huckleberry House in Columbus to meet with those affected by homelessness. This project concluded with a presentation explaining the issue and possible solutions our city can implement in order to help solve it. This experience not only allowed for me to learn about a social issue I had little prior knowledge on, but also allowed for me to work with my peers to analyze the issue and inform others on the best way to address it. I have participated in other service projects on campus, such as packing food for the food insecure through The Pack Shack, and in the Columbus area, such as building furniture for those in need through the Furniture Bank, but this opportunity allowed for me to have a more in-depth experience and required more critical thinking surrounding a social issue.