My Experience at Equitas Health – January 2018

This spring semester, I began my volunteer position at Equitas Health, a community-based healthcare system serving over 67,000 people in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. It is one of the nation’s largest organizations serving communities for people who have HIV/AIDs and those who identify with LGBTQ+. Equitas also provides mental/behavioral, primary care, and dental care in addition to other health initiatives. Equitas Health also produces Prizm magazine. They are very comprehensive as well as inclusive! When interviewing originally for a work-study position with Equitas last August, I learned that Equitas  receives the same grants from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as Care Alliance Health Center, the health center I interned with before back home in Cleveland. During summer of 2017, I worked with Care Alliance on their prevention initiative called Safe on the Scene and a program within that called D-up Lounge. Meanwhile, Equitas has Project Ink and Promise that focuses on men who have sex with men and are of color.

Care for All is their mission. 

I met my future supervisor, Shae. She is the head of the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline department and graduated from Ohio University with an International Relations major and nonprofit focus. She hopes to get her Master’s in Public Policy. I deferred the position to focus more on my studies during autumn semester. However, due to my scholarships overpowering work-study, I ended up having to terminate work-study. I still wanted to be involved with Equitas in some way, so I am volunteering with them because of the valuable experience I gain!

The hotline serves people in Ohio, but it’s not unusual to encounter people from outside the state. We have had people from Michigan and even India!

January 8th, 2018 – First Day of Volunteering

Taking the #2 COTA bus to work was a straight line down High Street to the Clintonville neighborhood of Greater Columbus! I wore a nice dress, leggings, and Hunter boots and my backpack was packed with a binder, notebook, sticky notes, and pencil pouch. My supervisor Shae told me to bring my laptop and headphones for my training. While waiting for her to arrive, I decided to take home copies of the magazines displayed along the walls and tables, including several issues of Prizm, Ohio’s LGBTQ community magazine focused on current events, health, arts & culture, fashion, politics, news, travel and entertainment. Shae arrived, and I set my things onto a desk in her office. She proceeded with an office tour and introductions to the other staff here, who work on various projects. I will work with Shae every day, as well as Mykalah (OSU College of Public Health – Class of 2017)!

After receiving a welcome folder containing information sheets, I finished a questionnaire that asked what I wanted in a supervisor, the one skill I wanted to learn the most, and other valuable questions pertaining to work. I also completed an About Me paper, which obtained my birthday, favorite candy, etc. Afterwards, I spent a while working on my training (the first module to tackle was about STIs). From noon to five, we were having a condom packing party! Shae called this the “party day”, as the first Monday of the month is spent packaging condoms into tiny plastic bags for the Free Condom Project! For the Condom Packing Party, we enjoyed Papa John’s pizza and Krispy Kreme donuts before immersing ourselves into assembling the bags! Shae put on the movie “And the Band Played On“; the summary is:

The book [and the docudrama based off of it] chronicles the discovery and spread of the human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome with a special emphasis on government indifference and political infighting—specifically in the United States—to what was then perceived as a specifically gay disease. Shilts’ premise is that AIDS was allowed to happen: while the disease is caused by a biological agent, incompetence and apathy toward those initially affected allowed its spread to become much worse.

This was my first time watching this movie; it does a great job at depicting how AIDs became an epidemic and the history of the actors involved in this issue.

While we watched the movie, each of us were part of an assembly-line operation for efficiency! One person put a postcard advertising the hotline into the bag, then another placed some condoms of a particular brand, then another person did another brand’s condoms, and so on and so forth. I was at the end of the line and in charge of placing some condoms as well as sealing the bags and placing them into containers. Although counting the condom packs were not necessary, I did so for one of the containers, and it contained approximately 74 packs! Therefore, I know that we packed over 100 packages that afternoon!

Overall, it was an extremely great day that was productive and fun. After we watched “And the Band Played On“, we watched “Ancient Aliens“, at the suggestion of a staff member named Charles. That was also very interesting but I was more impacted by the docudrama because it offered me insight into what happened in the 20th century and specifically with the AIDs outbreak. It helped me become more knowledgeable about the timeline of events. At the end of the day, I even had questions written down in my notebook to ask Shae: What are your goals for January? For 2018 in general? (To get out into the community and do more outreach.) How will I be evaluated and how often? Do you want me to update you every day on what I accomplish?

After my first day, I spent a weekend finishing my training about STIs, health equity for LGBTQ+ people, and a refresher video on PrEP and PEP.

Photo from Text GETPREP to 69866. It is safe and effective (92-99%) when used consistently at the same time each day. It does not reduce the effectiveness of birth control.


January 22nd, 2018 – Second Day of Volunteering

I came to Equitas early to get situated; I put my lunch bag in the fridge and a new employee introduced himself to me. He helped prepare coffee since I do not know how to use a coffee machine! I love how Equitas’ environment is so welcoming and accepting. It feels like your coworkers/peers are your friends, even though there is still obviously a limit to how friendly you can be! I felt comfortable asking any questions I had as well as requesting people to look over my work to ensure that I did it correctly.

I spent time writing quick facts about the hotline in my notebook to refer to it while working. This day, I was introduced to the dating site Adam4Adam – the hotline has an account on this site to do outreach. We have a profile of a fictional character on here and we click on other users’ profiles; this shows up on their own webpages. They see us and are then able to click on our profile. Our bio basically informs any reader that we are a health counselor and able to answer any questions related to sexual health, including STIs and PrEP/PEP!
In addition to answering messages in my Inbox on the site, I also click on profiles of all the members online who are in Columbus, Ohio at the moment. I simply click through them, and there are usually hundreds in the area at any given time on the site. When I answer people’s messages, I am also required to log the conversation on a data sheet, even if it is for a message saying something like “Hello, I am with the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline. We are here if you want to talk about sexual health :)”

Another task is creating social media posts for the hotline’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! The goal is to post at least twice or thrice a week. I made a graphic using the design site Canva to acknowledge the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The hotline has a list of what to post:
#MythMonday tackles a common myth regarding sexual health and presents the facts.
#TechTuesday is a video about a new app regarding sexual health; this is done on the first and last Tuesday of each month.
#WisdomWednesday involves a wise quote or phrase
Sometimes Wednesdays are for defining a Word of the Day
#Throwback Thursday or #TransHealth Thursday
#PublicFigureFriday or #FeminismFriday
These various post categories all excite me and I cannot wait to create posts about them!

This graphic celebrates the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

I did not volunteer on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day because it is a federal holiday. I do not recall the number of hours I spent for training but it was around 4-6 hours, I believe. Furthermore, I was absent on the 29th due to a dentist appointment. Although I only volunteered two days in January, I earned about 20 hours of service for Equitas.

JANUARY = ~20 hours

My experience so far has been positive and there is plenty to learn! Please follow my posts as I grow personally and professionally at Equitas this spring!

New York City 2017

I finally visited the Big Apple for the first time the week after OSU finals ended! MUNDO’s one-week winter break experience was in New York City. This blog post will record my experiences and perspectives.

This experience will challenge each individual with a new way of viewing our vast world through experiencing different cultures and learning about the history and legacies of one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

We will focus on immigration  and its impact on the development of NYC and the Latin communities specifically in the context of NYC. The role of theatre in conveying a message and creating empathy will also be examined through two Broadway shows!

Photo from

“Travel Day”

  • On the road by 5:30 am
    • I slept on the long bus ride, as did virtually everyone else. With our suitcases in the cargo area of the bus and lights turned off and curtain blinds pulled down, it was a quiet and peaceful ride.

      Our bus driver Matt has been with us for many MUNDO travel experiences.

  • 11:30 am – Lunch break on the road in Pennsylvania
  • 1:20 pm – Continue on journey
  • 4:00 pm – Arrive in NYC/check into hostel/orientation to the area with dinner on our own
    • We stayed at Hostelling International, which is on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, for the duration of our trip. This hostel is like a hybrid of a hotel and a university dorm.  Staying here is pretty cheap compared to the other housing options in the city. I highly recommend this hostel! They provide breakfast and linens, towels, and pillows, but I suggest bringing your own as well. The building had plenty of spaces for people to lounge; it even had a café, a billiards table, living room space, a theater, a downstairs kitchen for people to cook and store food, a ballroom, and a laundry room. Around the same time we arrived, Buck-I-Serv also reached New York.
      See for more information!
    • Before entering the city, we had to pass through a number of toll booths. Each person tipped the driver Matt $5.
  • 5:30 pm – (optional) visit Times Square at night
    • Since I was about eight, I have watched the ball drop for New Year’s. Times Square is lit up 24/7 and never stops shining with all the TV screens constantly flickering and traffic weaving in and out of narrow spaces on the streets. I could not believe that I was able to stand in Times Square. Julius, MUNDO program coordinator/advisor, took a small group of students to this area.
    • Times Square receives over 50 million visitors each year! We had to show off our Buckeye pride at this spot.

      This is me posing in Times Square!

  • Evening – Free Time
    • The group I was with decided to go to Tom’s Restaurant for dinner. This restaurant was the diner frequented by the characters in the TV series Seinfeld! Afterwards, we visited Columbia University, including a quick stop in their bookstore to see what it was like, and then roaming around their campus for 10-15 minutes. The students there were busy prepping for finals. Their campus is beautiful, especially the libraries from what I could see from outside. They also had holiday lights wrapping around an entire aisle full of trees, similar to how OSU has lights on North Campus.
    • We were all provided Metropasses to take the public transportation system an unlimited amount of times for the entire week. However, the transit system is confusing for first-timers such as myself. A MUNDO tip is to never venture out alone; bring a buddy or two. I always went with a group of at least four people because often during the day, people’s phone batteries die so we had to rely on multiple people to use their phones to navigate. Google Maps was incredibly helpful too. I am also grateful that in the MUNDO drawstring bags everyone was given was a power charger for on-the-go charging!Please see: when planning your routes!

“Washington Heights”

  • Breakfast at hostel
  • Operation Exodus
    • In the Washington Heights neighborhood is Operation Exodus, where we spent the entire morning volunteering with the organization’s annual holiday party.
    • Operation Exodus is a faith-based organization that believes zip code should never dictate the quality of education a child receives.For over 26 years, they have made a tremendous impact on inner-city children through after-school achievement like reading and math help and programs for middle-school and high-school students like mentoring and clubs including digital media, theater arts, and more. Operation Exodus also offers empowering parenting workshops (adult literacy, scholarship/financial education, job training, etc.).We were honored to join them for a morning and volunteer with their annual Holiday Party. We helped set up tables around the room. We played basketball with the boys and constructed gingerbread houses and colored with other children. Bagels and orange juice were provided. Afterwards, children went to different classes; they were separated by gender and by grade in school (e.g. first grade boys). While they learned and hosted a holiday performance somewhere else in the building, MUNDO went to work decorating the space with streamers and lights. Tablecloths were put on each table to make cleanup easier. Dozens of people strolled into the kitchen to drop off home-cooked dishes for the holiday meal. We set up dishes at each table. The feast involved a great slew of items: chicken, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, mac and cheese, cake, and more! Operation Exodus had so much food that they invited us to stay to enjoy it.

      Thank you Operation Exodus for all that you do; please visit to see more of their work and impact.

      This organization is a valuable resource for adolescents and parents as well as other members of the community like their passionate volunteers.

  • Central Park
    • We walked through the park to get to the Met. We stopped a few times to take photos! I was surprised to discover from Julius that this park is man-made; city officials realized that health is vital and created this ‘natural’ environment for citizens to enjoy. Another fun fact is that one of the architects of the park also helped design the Oval on OSU’s campus!

      Tip: Do not go to Central Park after dark.
      During the day, it is very lovely.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue)
    • It felt like an honor to be able to step foot in the Met, which has 5,000 years’ worth of art. This was the largest art museum I have ever visited. I enjoyed looking at the different exhibits.
      The site has what you need if you want to visit this museum!
  • Explore The Met
  • Free time
  • Meet at Studio 54 (354 W. 54th St)
  • 8 pm – View performance of “Latin History for Morons” starring John Leguizamo
    • Our first Broadway show in New York was a hilarious one-man-show. You may find John Leguizamo’s voice oddly familiar; he is the voice actor for Sid the Sloth in the Ice Age movies! I did not know what to expect from the show except to learn a bit more about Latin history. John really got into the characters he was portraying, and the ending was the most touching. He drew my attention from beginning to end.

      John used a blackboard to write and draw diagrams and pictures that helped the audience understand the material. He had wigs and other props too!

    • Here is a synopsis of the show:
      When his son gets a school assignment on heroes, John Leguizamo seizes the chance to teach him all about the great minds of the Latino world. But once he sets out on his irreverent crash course across three continents and 3000 years of history—from conquistadores to cumbia, Montezuma to Menudo, and taking on the characters in all of it—he uncovers provocative truths that shock even him.
    • Visit,616 for more information.

“Lady Liberty”

  • Breakfast at hostel
  • Take subway to Battery Park, then take the ferry.
    • The ferry was a good experience; there are multiple levels. You can feel the crisp, cool air and see birds perched right by you. The view is also spectacular.

  • Statue of Liberty
    • The statue was a gift to celebrate America’s Centennial by master sculptor Fredric Auguste Bartholdi! Whenever I think of New York, I think of this statue.

      She is a beauty.

      Part of the MUNDO group posed in front of the Manhattan skyline.

  • Ellis Island
    • From the statue, the ferry takes you to Ellis Island, where about 15 million immigrants passed through as they found their new home in America. I liked the museum very much and learned more about immigration, including the process that people faced hundreds of years ago, from entering the baggage room to getting medical examinations.
  • Free time
  • Salsa class
    • MUNDO had a private dance class by a wonderful instructor named Nancy, who wore tall and narrow high heels. The hour-long session was productive; I liked her teaching style. Soon the students went from simple steps to complex moves. Music filled the room and people were evidently having fun swinging around and doing fancy footwork. I did not participate in the dancing; I read a book but later joined for a few minutes. Dancing is something that I have never done in my life and even being in a class was an experience that I was not ready for.  Nevertheless, my peers enjoyed dancing!

      Nearly all of the trip participants also elected to take this salsa class! Even after it ended, people ended up staying a half hour to an hour to continue dancing.

  • Free time

“Melting Pot vs. Cultural Pluralism”

  • Breakfast at hostel
  • Depart for Tenement Museum
  • Tour of Tenement Museum
    • Our specific tour focused on hardships of two families who grew up in the tenement in the early 1900s. This museum preserves NYC immigrant stories; some people did not wish to have their family’s histories be discussed by the museum, so the museum honored this. I was disappointed when the tour ended but was thankful to hear about people’s experiences because it opened my eyes to what the conditions were like. The area we were in is called the Garment District because many people’s lives revolved around making clothing. Entire families would work together to sew and embroider clothes to sell to department stores; they did this in their homes as opposed to working in factories.

      Our guide Jakub provided us a great description of life in the early 20th century in the Garment District/Lower East Side.

  • Lunch on own in area
  • Take subway to Lower Manhattan (Essex St. Station, take J or Z downtown to Broad St. Station)
  • Tour of Wall Street, then walking to 9/11 Memorial
    • After walking around Wall Street and the Financial District, we saw the Raging Bull and Fearless Girl. The bull market means that the market is doing well; a bear market is what stockbrokers and financial investors do not want to see because it means stocks are going down.
    • I was interested in Fearless Girl much more.

      A staff mentor and former MUNDO student coordinator during her undergrad years poses with Fearless Girl!

      To me, Fearless Girl means that girls can do things that boys can do too. Females should be given the same opportunities as men, including equal pay.

  • Subway to Chinatown
  • Walking tour of Chinatown and treat in Little Italy
    • We walked around Chinatown, which was a massive neighborhood. My friends and I were only able to visit a few stores and did not see how massive this town truly was.

      This colorful mural caught my eye and I had to pose by it. Bubble tea, one of my favorite drinks, originated in Taiwan and is now popular among Asian and Asian-American people, especially millennials.

    • Julius treated us to cannolis when we finished a quick exploration of these two ethnic enclaves.
  • Depart for Washington Square Park
    • This public park is in the Greenwich Village of New York’s Lower Manhattan area. Not only will you see NYU students but also joggers, people with their pets, couples, and street musicians.


  • Dinner with Buckeye alumni meet-up at NYU
    • I was surprised to see Bernie Saverese greet us as we entered a building. Bernie went to school at OSU for his B.A. in Political Science. He also earned his Master’s of Business Administration here. He was the Director for University Orientation and First Year Experience and is now at NYU as the Assistant Vice President for Student Success.
    • According to Bernie, NYU and OSU have some similarities and differences; OSU is one of the largest public universities and NYU is one of the largest private colleges. Two-thirds of Buckeyes are from Ohio while two-thirds of NYU students are from out-of-state, with 1/4 being international students. At NYU, 1 in 4 students are Pell-eligible. An alumna who graduated from OSU in spring 2017 also talked to us; she works at Google! The third representative was a male who attended OSU for graduate school and has worked at NYU for over 2 decades now.

      Bernie often spoke at freshmen orientations! He spoke at mine and used corny jokes such as “What do you call a lazy baby kangaroo? A pouch potato!”

  • I visited a bookstore called The Strand, and then headed over to Bryant Park, where there was a holiday market, with dozens of vendors selling artisan crafts, foods, T-shirts, jewelry, and more. This week, I was able to explore so much of New York, from the common tourist destinations to lesser-known gems.

“Once on this Island”

  • Breakfast
  • Top of the Rock
    • From left to right: Our Outstanding MUNDO member of fall semester, a Newark Buckeye, and Park-Stradley Assistant Hall Director!


      The Top of the Rock tour allowed me to view the vastness of New York.

  • Recreating Rockefeller Photo for MUNDO’s 20th Birthday
    • This day was extremely special for Julius Mayo, our program advisor who co-founded MUNDO in 1997. It was 20 years ago that the MUNDO group visited New York and took a photo at Rockefeller Center.
    • Happy 20th, MUNDO!

      MUNDO has been Buckeye Strong for two decades. We Serve, Learn, and Lead no matter where we are.


  • Grand Central Station/Grand Central Terminal
    • Located on 42nd St and Park Ave, Grand Central is one of the busiest train stations in the world, and serves nearly 200,000 NYC commuters every day.
    • MUNDO stopped here for lunch. At this time, there was a Holiday Market where artisans set up pop-up shops to sell goods.
  • United Nations Headquarters

    Photo credit:

    • We received a guided tour of the United Nations building. As we were proceeding into the security check, delegates were exiting the gates. After making it out of the security check building, I saw a sculpture of a gun with its barrel twisted into a knot. This is the non-violence sculpture, also called Knotted Gun. I stand with non-violence.
    • MUNDO was split into two groups because of our size. The tour was incredibly informational, and I learned about the three pillars of the UN: human rights, development, and peace & security. The UN was created after World War II, in 1945. There are currently 193 member states in the UN, with Palestine and South Sudan not yet joined. I learned about the chambers of the UN, like the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. We were able to go into these different rooms since there were no meetings being held at the time.
    • We also learned about UNICEF’s School-in-a-Box operation for worldwide use within 72 hours of an emergency so that students can still learn wherever they are, whether they have a physical school building to attend or not. We saw this resource in person and I am impressed that we have something like this available. The kit contains exercise books, pencils, number tables, a wooden clock, and more, for up to 40 students to use. The lid of the metal box can be painted using special blackboard paint so that teachers can write in chalk on them. The only suggestion that immediately popped into my head was that the box can be heavy to carry, especially for tinier teachers like women. Perhaps in the future, the boxes could have wheels on them for easier transport!
    • The Tour Guides, or UN Ambassadors, interact with millions of visitors. They actually are debriefed every morning so that they are well-informed about international events prior to their tours. Our tour was about an hour long, so it went by quickly. We saw conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction, including a statue that suffered from one of the major bombs during World War II. It was surreal to see these artifacts.
    • One of my favorite parts of the UN Headquarters was the #DreamBigPrincess Exhibit on the ground floor. As a female myself, this exhibit was pleasant to view, and I saw how girls worldwide are making differences, in STEM fields, by surviving cancer, etc.
    • Facts:
      • Although the complex is geographically a part of New York, it is under the sole jurisdiction of the United Nations, not the U.S. government.
      • The complex opened October 9, 1952.
      • After much debate over the location, the Manhattan site was purchased for the United Nations by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. as a donation. The land was $8.5 million (estimated to be approximately $83.4 million adjusted for modern inflation.)
      • The flags out front are the flags of the 193 member nations in alphabetical order.
    • On a wall was the quote: “The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded” – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
      This quote spoke volumes to me because it is true. I feel like countries should not be so concerned with accumulating weapons to defend themselves and spend more time communicating with other nations to address conflicts.
  • Circle in the Square – “Once on this Island” Broadway Musical
    • This was a breathtaking musical and was well-executed with brilliant, talented cast who all have powerful vocals. As we sat and waited for the musical to start, the floor of the ‘stage’ was covered with sand. Actual live chickens and a goat were present. The cast interacted with one another and got into character. This musical will remain in my heart and mind as a reminder to fight for what I want despite the odds.
    • This is the sweeping theatrical power of Once On This Island—the universal tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl in search of her place in the world, and ready to risk it all for love. Guided by the mighty island gods (played by Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Alex Newell, Merle Dandridge, and Quentin Earl Darrington), Ti Moune sets out on a remarkable journey to reunite with the man who has captured her heart. The groundbreaking vision of Tony Award-nominated director Michael Arden and acclaimed choreographer Camille A. Brown conjures up “a place where magic is possible and beauty is apparent for all to see!” (The Huffington Post).

    • Some MUNDO members remained after the show; we lingered by a fence to wait for some cast members to come out and talk with us! Only about 30 people were outside, and nearly all of the cast actually came out!

      Hailey Kilgore, who plays Ti Moune, was very gracious and took the time to thank us for coming to see the musical. Her performance was splendid and magical; you can hear the emotion in her voice and see it in her actions. You are a bright shining star!

      Lea Salonga provided her lovely vocals for Princess Jasmine and Princess Mulan in the Disney animations.

      Isaac Powell, who plays Daniel, is a 2017 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He had a great performance!

WEDNESDAY, December 20th, 2017
(This was a day where students could roam around NY; there was no set agenda. This is what my friends and I did.)

  • Breakfast, store bags in hostel storage room
  • Bronx Zoo
    • We spent two hours here, looking at rhinos, sea lions, reptiles, birds, and snow leopards. Peacocks freely roamed the grounds.
  • American Museum of Natural History
    • This is the setting of the “Night at the Museum” movies. I did not get to see the third and fourth floors of the museum, but the floors that I did get to explore were incredibly fascinating! I loved the cultural exhibits and the scientific exhibits related to human population and health. The ecosystems/biomes were wonderful as well. What I especially appreciated was how the dioramas give a lot of perspective and look very realistic; when I look into an exhibit, its like I am looking into a different world. I hope to return here sometime to venture into the areas I was not able to see due to time constraints.
  • Greenwich Village
  • Brooklyn Bridge
    • I loved the skyline of Brooklyn. When my friends and I were in the area, few people were around. It was quiet and we ate dinner at Shake Shack; they have my favorite burgers and fries.

  • Times Square
    • We visited the Disney store and it was gorgeous! The walls lining the escalator are painted to resemble scenes from Tangled, the movie about Rapunzel.
  • Return to hostel for a short respite
  • Make journey back to OSU (our bus left around midnight)
  • We reached OSU around 9 am on Thursday, December 21st!

This trip felt unreal to me at some points – all the lights, the diverse people, the stimulating streets, etc.
I overheard a wide range of languages spoken around me; even with the people walking their dogs, I saw a variety of dogs (at least 20 different breeds). I gave my extra snacks and drinks to homeless people and people that were collecting food or money for the needy. Although NYC is a great city, there is a lot of inequality and I felt hurt with homeless people shivering on the ground as they slept their hunger away. Another thing I encountered was a rude man who cursed at another person in line; this seemed unnecessary to me. Also, I overheard two young boys, perhaps around age 7, speaking gibberish as if they were mocking another language. This bothered me too, and this is probably because of how NY is divided and how people, even in a diverse city, can be ignorant to other cultures.

Additionally, I noticed things in America’s most populous city that I have not seen elsewhere: heaps of trash bags piled together on the sidewalk, which is a public health issue. I took note of sodium signs displayed on menus; they are triangular symbols with a salt shaker in the center, indicating that the food item is high in sodium, and this also relates to public health. This should be in place throughout the country! Restaurants had signs for the Heimlich maneuver for people who are choking. Furthermore, food stands/stalls were everywhere; most of these offered hot dogs, fries, donuts, bagels, and other fare that is usually unhealthy. I did see one bubble tea stand, which was interesting. All, or at least most of these stands, require cash.

In conclusion, New York was a unique experience for me. I gained perspectives about immigration from different ethnic groups through time. I learned about important resources like United Nations and Operation Exodus, which work to improve the world on different levels. I had to think quickly when using the transit system and to plan ahead for my outings (from my Internet research, I found out that the Bronx Zoo had free admission on Wednesday, which happened to be MUNDO’s free day). New York is not a place I expect to live in but it is a city I enjoyed visiting. I plan to return during a spring or summer to see what it is like during the warmer seasons. There is still plenty of food that I did not get to try. I also want to keep learning about New York’s history and the millions of people that make up the Big Apple.

For a more thorough compilation of photos, please see my PowerPoint! It has over 100 slides that can help provide a better picture of the trip.

Thank you to the NY Action Team for planning this informational and interesting experience. Not pictured are Emma, Tyler, and Ryan.

This is my last post for 2017. Going into 2018, I hope to learn more about our multicultural world with MUNDO.

Our wonderful NY Action Team had an end-of-the-week lunch with Julius!

Sophomore Year Timeline

Autumn 2017

  • Began role as Social Media & Marketing Correspondent for MUNDO
    • Managed social media: Facebook and Twitter
    • Posted statuses/photos at least once a week to social media and to the MUNDO GroupMe messaging app to connect with OSU students and staff
    • Designed promotional flyers for our Monday meetings, events, and trips
    • Designed graphics to showcase our executive board members during our Monthly ODNUM Spotlights
    • Created PowerPoint for Fall Pinning Ceremony, the culminating meeting for fall semester, and presented it to the group
    • Collaborated with our president Danny to select food menu for ceremony
    • Designed certificates of achievement to present to the 11 new active members of MUNDO for Autumn 2017
  • Active participant in planning Spring Break 2018 Experience for MUNDO
    • Attended biweekly planning meetings as part of the Action Team
    • Designed flyer graphic for the week-long trip
    • Researched museums and other locations in the South (New Orleans, Memphis, Birmingham) in order to plan a trip that will be educational and meet all of our goals
    • Initiated design of itinerary packet for trip participants
  • Participated in MUNDO’s Detroit (Classic Edition) Experience,  a day-long trip to Detroit
    • Only executive board member to attend
    • Spoke with Wayne State University students about what Detroit is like and how their life experiences have shaped them
    • Visited Greektown and took a subway train to gain perspective on the city
    • Explored for a few hours the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History with a guided tour and visits to the following exhibits:
      And Still We Rise: The African American Journey
      Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion
      Inspiring Minds: African Americans in Science & Technology
      The Music and the Times: Photographs by Leni Sinclair
      Spirits and Symbols: The Art of Haiti
  • Active member of MUNDO
    • Earned 42 points by attending 14 meetings/events with MUNDO; tied for second place for executive member having the most points
  • Through Buckeye Pen Pals, was matched with a mentor (and OSU alumna) who has a Ph.D. in epidemiology and works with a clinical trial right now studying tobacco-related health disparities, specifically with the American Indian population
    • Email correspondence several times a month to exchange knowledge and perspectives; I specifically hope to gain career guidance from her and more
    • The Buckeye Pen Pals program connects students with alumni mentors around the country. Based on a short registration survey and students’ career interests and major, program administrators match students and mentors. Participants stay in contact by email, but decide on their own how frequently they correspond and on what topics.
  • Began role as Event Planning Co-Chair for Global Health Initiative
    • Planned second annual Pre-Professional 101 event, which brought close to 20 upperclassmen/graduate students and at least 20 underclassmen/undergraduates together to discuss academics and graduate/professional school
    • Reached out to numerous upperclassmen and graduate students to ask if they could volunteer to represent their tracks at the event
    • Learned more about event planning, marketing, and budgeting
    • Designed flyer and was able to advertise on the Ohio Union TV screens as well as in residence halls across campus
    • Planned and executed two Study Tables, one for midterms and one for finals week, for the general body members

      We just provide an assortment of cookies, no milk!

    • Along with a Co-President and Event Planning Co-Chair, accepted the John Lewis Award at OSU’s Civic Engagement Banquet
    • Participated in an event called Advocacy Training with a partner organization Population Connection so that I could learn about advocacy and lobbying, especially for the #Fight4HER act
  • Resumed role as Young Scholars Program – Young Scholar Ambassador
    • Called 12th grade YSP student to congratulate her on being accepted to OSU and discussing with her goals and hopes for college
    • Provided example for new Ambassadors to emulate when they call high school students themselves
  • Recognized as National Residence Hall Honorary All-Star
    • Was nominated by anonymous person to be an All-Star for the Buckeye Chapter of National Residence Hall Honorary
    • Was recognized for the positive impact I have made on my Buckeye community and for my exceptional student leadership with a lunch and movie
  • Participated in MUNDO’s one week long New York Experience 2017 (Deluxe Edition)
    • Engaged in service with minority youth at a program
    • Learned about immigration histories by visiting Ellis Island, Tenement Museum, Chinatown, and more
    • Immersed myself into what it is like to be a New Yorker for a week as I navigated my way using the transit system
    • Viewed two Broadway shows to further explore cultural issues (Latin History for Morons covered Latin history and Once on this Island examined struggles of different social classes.)
    • Expanded my worldviews on various cultures through these different experiences and visiting ethnic enclaves
    • There is a separate post about this experience!
  • At beginning of semester (first week of school), was emailed saying that I was hired for a work-study position within an hour after the interview
    I deferred this position until Spring so that I could finish Autumn semester strong
  • Dean’s List and 4.0 GPA again!
    • I am especially proud of myself since I was very anxious about my courses for the semester. I earned a perfect score on a 30-page paper for my Research Methods in Sociology class
  • Opted out of Mirrors Sophomore Class Honorary and James Cancer Hospital volunteering position in order to focus on my true passions and my personal healthLess is more!
    This semester taught me so much and contrasted greatly from freshman year, but I am glad that I was able to achieve despite numerous struggles.

Spring 2018 (to be updated)

  • Began volunteering with Equitas Health as part of their Ohio HIV/STI Hotline – I am an Operator and answer online inquiries about sexual health, create informative social media posts, and prepare health packs with condoms, lube, and business cards. I volunteer on Mondays from 9:30 to 5!
  • Participated in MUNDO’s “Civil Rights, Citizenship, & Southern Legacies” spring break experience
    • Part of ACTION Team that plans every aspect of the trip
    • I specifically had role of booking group tours with museums in Birmingham, AL
    • A separate blog post will be made for details of this experience!
  • Accepted to participate in “Public Health Perspectives: Finland & Estonia” study abroad program for May-June 2018
  • Facilitated the first meeting of the school year for MUNDO “Where Do We Go From Here?” along with another ODNUM member

    OSU has great Brutus Buckeye emojis for use!

  • Executed first AlumNight event for Global Health Initiative, which brought together GHI alumni and current GHI members together for a night of networking
  • Featured on front page when Communications department took photos of me and my friends during the summer
  • Solely organized and executed GHI’s resume review event, which I renamed Professional Finesse.
    Event included LinkedIn tips and overview, Honors & Scholars e-portfolio use and general use, resume basics, social media etiquette, and more.

    I prepared a 60+ slide presentation with all the information I could discuss with potential students. Unfortunately, not a single person attended, but this informed me that the time of the event conflicted with others’ schedules.

  • Executed Research Mix & Mingle event for Global Health Initiative on March 20th, 2018 and connect undergraduate students with faculty members who are doing research
  • Participated in 2 hours of video recording at Curl Market and North Rec Center for OSU’s future freshmen Orientation videos (the videos should be shown for the next three to four years)
  • Awarded Office of Diversity & Inclusion’s Education Abroad scholarship for $925, which almost fully reimburses me for my study abroad flights
  • Participated in first Global Women’s Empowerment Conference, presented by AWOW (Advocates for Women of the World), Buck-I-Serv, and the Multicultural Center. Attended break-out sessions on sexual harassment awareness, economic empowerment, and women’s health.
  • Attended in-person university training to prepare for being Co-President of Global Health Initiative of 2018-2019 school year
  • Participated in the Multicultural Center’s Women Student Initiative’s inaugural Buckeye Women Service and Philanthropy Day 2018! I volunteered at Kaleidoscope Youth Center, which is off-campus
  • Attended the annual Distinguished Leadership Brunch on March 31st honoring student organizations on campus that support the residential community in Residence Life. Refreshments and an awards ceremony were part of the brunch to highlight the Involved Living Organizations at OSU!
  • Accepted into University of Iowa’s SROP for Summer 2018; during the eight-week program, I will work on a professor’s research project(s) while preparing for the GRE and graduate school, participating in workshops and other professional development activities, and networking with peers from across the country
  • Executed and volunteered at Khmer Student Association’s Khmer New Year 2018.
    Throughout the semester, I joined this group’s meetings to learn more about Khmer culture and Cambodian history. I learned about experiences of Southeast Asians.
    I was on the Marketing Team and my graphic designs were used for program flyers and promotional material. For Khmer New Year 2018, I designed a banner for sponsors, the event program, the Facebook event photos, and more. Over 100 people attended the event.

    At the beginning of the event, I helped with the PowerPoint presentation and click on the slides.

    Performers and volunteers pose for a photo!

    A goofy photo moment

  • April 13th, about 80 tenth graders from the nine urban cities of Ohio visited OSU for a few hours to see what college is like. For this 10th grade visit day, I had two shadow me; one was from Toledo and one from Dayton. They were both interested in engineering. From 10 am to 1 pm, they were with me; I introduced them to North High Street and the Union. They sat in on one of my classes, and afterwards I showed them the Oval. It felt short to me but I enjoyed meeting new people, especially so because both were in the Young Scholars Program, like me! This counted as part of my volunteer position as a Young Scholars Ambassador.
  • Present my second-year service project at Health Science Scholars Second-Year Symposium on April 19th
  • Will present at art showcase called Breaking Our Silence by Pan-Asian Mental Wellness Association (PMWA) on April 20
  • More to come!

MUNDO – Autumn 2017

I learned about MUNDO before coming on campus my freshman year. While perusing the student organizations directory, I stumbled upon this organization committed to Service, Learning, and Leadership. I attended a few meetings and my interest for diversity and cross-cultural learning only grew from being a member of MUNDO. In the spring of freshman year, I applied and was selected as an executive board member.

As a first-time executive board member, this caused me to be apprehensive when the 2017-2018 school year rolled around. Being on e-board is not as easy as it sounds. Prior to the academic year, during the summer, extensive planning occurred, such as creating posters for the year’s events. Our program coordinator Julius sent us a list of tasks to be completed, with deadlines attached to them. It was up to the e-board to divvy up the responsibilities. We also finalized what our Mondays with MUNDO meetings would entail, from making the budget to managing the resources like requesting rooms to creating programs that people would be drawn to and lead them to join our organization. This is what my first year as an executive board member for MUNDO looked like. (Our e-board is called ODNUM for some reason, which is just our name backwards.)

Twitter: @MUNDOOSU1
Facebook: MUNDO at The Ohio State University
We are always accepting members, no dues ever

The Ohio State University – Involvement Fair – August 20th, 2017 

Four executive board members for MUNDO!

I was stationed at the MUNDO table from 6 to 7 pm. I spoke to several people, even OSU employees who wanted to learn more about the organization. Employees are allowed to attend meetings, but cannot accompany us on any MUNDO trips. Some students rushed to the booth and eagerly signed their names and emails on our list to receive our updates. I was glad that there were hundreds of people who seemed interested in the organization, but I realize that after a few meetings, attendance does decline as students decide if they want to stay in MUNDO or not. It is about finding the right fit and experimenting with student orgs. Our table and poster were decorated beautifully. We had fortune cookies to distribute and we had three different messages. One that I recall was “Community service and global travel are in your future”, and all messages contained a link to MUNDO’s website! Furthermore, we had tiny button pins with different country flags on them! We passed out papers about our London & Rome trip as well as our calendar of events for the fall. At the end of the day, the e-board members emailed students reminding them of the event the next day.

One of our Spring Break 2018 ACTION Team Leaders, Nick!

Welcome Week Event – August 21st, 2017

The Welcome Week flyer I created for the event

This event was at Curl Viewpoint from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, and our first meeting of the year! We had music and an ice cream sundae bar catered by the university. We also had plenty of drinks like ice water, orange juice, apple juice, and lemonade. We had a few people come half an hour early, which I appreciated. On the tables were MUNDO calendars detailing our meetings/events, and fortune cookies. In total we had about 30 to 40 attendants. The executive board members introduced themselves to the crowd. We scattered among the tables so we each took a table to sit at and mingle with the students. After an overview of the organization, we played Cultural Pursuit. Each table was a team (of up to 8 people) and filled out a BINGO sheet together. The sheet had questions to answer and the team(s) with the most correct answers would earn prizes. Two teams tied for the most number of accurate answers. We had 25 questions and those teams had 24 points, which was impressive! They received MUNDO drawstring bags.

Community Commitment 2017 – August 26th, 2017
MUNDO had a large group volunteer with OSU’s annual Community Commitment event! This is how OSU pays it forward to the surrounding areas. MUNDO was transported to a community garden.

MUNDO had a strength in numbers when we volunteered cleaning up a garden!

Let’s Get Things Started! – August 28th, 2017
For this meeting, held in the Great Hall Meeting Room #1 in the Union, we brought in two representatives from Student Leadership Advocates to facilitate a session: Elysse and Ashley! They used Tinker Toys for our activity, and the students were divided into four groups. One facilitator, Ashley, created a structure outside of the room, and she instructed the room to recreate this piece exactly. The game was called Sabotage, and apparently some people in each group were supposed to sabotage the team. If we suspected someone of being that person, we would have to call them out and then the rest of the group would agree to out that individual. Only one person per group could get up and go look outside at a time, and there was no talking permitted at all! It was a difficult task, and I have poor spatial awareness. The fastest team finished in about 8 minutes, while it took my team the longest time of 12 minutes, close to 13. This activity allowed us to learn about how we need to trust in one another. In the end, it was revealed that nobody was given the role of Sabotage!

Tinker Toys, a vintage game, allows you to build whatever using rods and different shaped pieces.

A Meal and Some MUNDO – The Columbus Greek Festival – September 4th, 2017
At noon, about 23 MUNDO members met at the Brutus statue in the Ohio Union to take the COTA together to the annual Greek Festival! MUNDO covered the $5 admission fee for each of us. Once we were there, we were free to explore the grounds on our own. We first went inside the Cathedral to listen to a talk and spoken tour of the room. I spent time with people I already knew, so in the future, I should hang out with people I do not know. I tried Greek coffee (I still prefer my Starbucks), as well as Greek foods such as spanakopita, tiropita, and a platter of desserts.
I watched dance performances from younger children and from teenagers. I also listened to women singing.
This experience allowed me to learn more about Greek culture, from the dancing to the food and religion.

We utilized public transportation to go to this community event.

Greek Festival Flyer

ODNUM Meeting #1 – September 5th, 2017

The executive board members and Julius and Ryan met to discuss updates and trip planning. We talked about trip budgets and agendas.

General Body Meeting – United We Stand – September 11th, 2017
A representative from CRIS (Columbus Refugee & Immigration Services) spoke to us about what CRIS does!
We collected a few boxes worth of household item donations for refugees in Central Ohio. We had over 30 people come to this event and learned about how refugees are being settled in the area and what services are available to them to aid them in adjusting to America. Please see for more! Thank you to Tyler Reeve, Community Engagement Coordinator, for presenting for us!

We had boxes of donations for CRIS.

Education Abroad Expo – September 14th, 2017
MUNDO was at the College of Education and Human Ecology table to share with students about our Multicultural Histories and Legacies of London and Rome experience 2018. This counts as a STEP project and as part of the Leadership Minor at OSU! There were also 100 other education abroad options at the expo.

What Do You Stand For? / Guess the Straight RA – September 19th, 2017
A controversial event with Baker Hall West, this meeting allowed us to celebrate OSU Ally Week by exploring and discussing ways to challenge the stereotypes or biases that affect the LGBTQ communities on campus, and beyond.
The Hall Director for Baker West coordinated the event along with MUNDO.

A flyer that a Baker West student created

STAR HOUSE Service Night – September 25, 2017

This service night benefitted the organization Star House, a crucial resource for youth experiencing homelessness in Columbus. It was my first time going to this place. We took Lyfts and Ubers to get there, which wasn’t too far from campus. We spent about two hours organizing donated clothing in the warehouse section of Star House. We refolded clothes and made sure that the clothes were in the appropriate boxes, labeled and separated by size and gender. A nice volunteer explained to us more about Star House and even showed us around the facility. There was a new kitchen, a living room area with a TV, and a computer room.

MUNDO regularly returns to Star House to complete service.

Please visit to read more about what they do and see how you can help! They accept donations and you can also volunteer, work, or intern with them.

Strange Foods – October 2, 2017
I enjoyed this workshop! It is MUNDO’s spin-off of the show Bizarre Foods. So did the other members! We had a good attendance this day, about 20 people. Julius had a Powerpoint and a table filled with unfamiliar snacks. We began with biscuits – not like the fluffy, buttered ones from Kentucky Fried Chicken – but British biscuits that resembled cookies. They were slightly sweet and like thin discs. American biscuits and British biscuits contrast greatly. Julius asked “Is a biscuit a biscuit?” and “Is a cookie a cookie?” to get the group thinking about how these definitions vary depending on the culture. In waves, we passed out items including Yucca chips, plantain chips, seaweed (one was prawn flavored and the other was wasabi flavored), pork rind chips, green tea Kit Kat, and ginger Kit Kats. We discussed how we felt about each foods’ texture and taste. We ended with kimchi, with both vegan and meat versions passed around. Ways to comment on a food are “This is interesting… I like the color of it… What do you like about this food?… How often is this eaten?…”
The lesson learned here was to try foods, even a tiny bite of them! I ended up semi-liking or tolerating the Kit Kats, but I would not actively go out and buy them. I really liked the yucca and plantain chips the best.

Foods that may be strange to us can actually be normal in other countries.

Involved Living Organization Panel – October 4, 2017
I volunteered to serve on a panel for the First Year Collegian learning community at Siebert Hall. The Hall Director Kyle invited the six Involved Learning Organizations (ILOs) to come talk to freshmen about our respective organizations. Some of the other ILOs are Off the Lake (a student-run theater production organization) and National Residence Hall Honorary. As the only MUNDO executive at the informal panel, I made sure to be armed with promotional flyers, both for MUNDO in general and for our London & Rome trip. This session only lasted an hour, with some structured question from Kyle and then time for us to interact with individuals. I discussed how I found out about MUNDO, what we do in the organization and what my specific role is, and how MUNDO has helped me become a better leader. I made a few connections from the panel but I do not think that any of them attended future meetings.

I prepared an index card with notes for what I wanted to say during the panel. I wrote about how students can learn about and be part of social change at local, national, and global level while exploring this school year’s theme concepts of freedom and citizenship. Our organization meets on Mondays 6:30 to 8:00 pm and we do educational road trips, study abroad, workshops, multicultural nights, service nights, and even host Strange Foods sessions in different residence halls. We go to Detroit, Circleville Pumpkin Show, Greek Festival, see Broadway shows, Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, New Orleans, and many more cities/events.

Urban vs. Rural – October 9, 2017

When comparing and contrasting the city versus the country, we opened our minds to new perspectives.

This event was discussion-based and allowed members to contrast the city and the country. We wrote down what came to our minds when we thought of urban and rural, and walked around the room to different blank posters and placed sticky notes on the sheets. I learned about how urban and rural environments have much more in common than we realize. When people think of rural, words that come to mind are corn, quiet, community, space, farm, underdeveloped, white, poor, and Amish. Actually, 2 to 3% of people in rural areas are farmers. Corn is among the top three crops grown in Ohio. The speaker who came to talk to us spoke to us about Amish gangs, which another ODNUM member chimed in on, saying that she saw a documentary about these gangs who try to create a sense of community and belonging while staying out of poverty. Furthermore, guns are so accessible today in both rural and urban areas. In rural places, you can obtain guns from flea markets, gun shows, and even Craigslist! Everyone in rural country has a gun, for hunting or other purposes.

On the other hand, urban life is viewed as full of traffic, a busy, fast-paced city life, diverse, and with more opportunities. Our speaker reported that 24% of homeless people are in the city; the majority are in rural places, finding refuge in abandoned buildings, barns, and sheds, and cars. More members thought that urban areas have a problem with heroin overdoses, but it happens in rural areas too. Crowdedness and segregation is not just an urban issue. We also discussed gentrification. For example, Columbus Upper Arlington neighborhood still is segregated because no people of color are allowed to own homes, a member brought up. Other Columbus neighborhoods are segregated usually by race/class, and there are countless similarities in other cities across the nation.

I was happy to hear member input. I learned where some members were from. One was from a rural place with many overdose incidents and one was from Milwaukee. Both urban and rural neighborhoods have drug use, poverty, guns, food deserts, and in general, a lack of resources in some way or another. I believe that actually spending more time in areas that we are unfamiliar with will help us increase our knowledge of those places and dispel preconceived notions regarding that area.

The 111th Circleville Pumpkin Show – October 21, 2017

This festival has everything pumpkin-related that you could imagine!

On this Saturday, we took a charter bus of 50 people to Circleville, Ohio! The students were excited to have free transportation to and from this tiny city of 13,000.  We attended their 111th Pumpkin Show. They are well known for having contests for biggest pumpkins (by pound), tastiest pumpkin pie, and best painted pumpkins (by age category). In addition to artwork from children, there are pumpkins carved in various shapes and designs, like a Medusa pumpkin. Tons of carnival-style booths offered a variety of fare: pumpkin tacos, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bubble tea, pumpkin pizza, and more. Boutiques selling clothing, home wares, and crafts also were present. There were carnival games and rides as well as a hog-calling contest which was interesting to see and hear. People stood on a stage in front of hundreds of spectators to call out and squeal “Here pig, here pig” in the hopes of winning. I enjoyed this festival!

The site is where you can find more about their spectacular annual show!
Next year, they will have their show October 17-20, 2018.

Justice for All? – October 23nd, 2017

Discussing the book Just Mercy was a requirement for incoming freshmen. According to the Buckeye Book Community, here is a synopsis of the book:

“From one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time comes an unforgettable true story about the redeeming potential of mercy.

Just Mercy tells the story of Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system.

One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations and legal brinkmanship – and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.”

The book covers topics like criminology, decision-making, mass incarceration, and justice. The author Bryan Stevenson also came to campus to discuss the book and sign copies of it for readers.

“Controversy” – October 30th, 2017

We need to be comfortable with talking about uncomfortable situations.

This event was a requirement for the NY experience. Our program coordinator Julius started by playing the Michael Jackson Thriller video, which actually sparked controversy itself at the time of release because it raised concern that it had ties to the occult. We then read lyrics of Prince’s song “Controversy” and interpreted what the meanings behind the words could be. Julius’ PowerPoint walked us through some other polemical topics and how to address them when interacting with peers or older adults.

“Life as a Student Veteran” – November 6th, 2017

We thank our veterans for serving our country.

We brought in actual student veterans to talk about how they see service and leadership. According to, there are “1,800 current veterans, dependents, and Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve members attending as under-graduate and graduate students.” I myself do not have much knowledge or personally know more than a couple student veterans. I am hesitant to bring up their past service since it will most likely be hurtful to recall memories of war. I did not attend this session but I wish that I did so that I could have heard the perspectives of fellow students.

MUNDO Takes on Mo-Town: Detroit (Classic Edition) – November 10th, 2017
MUNDO explored the Motor City from a multicultural insider’s view and in terms of African American History.  We were able to see from some Michigan natives’ perspectives at Wayne State University. Stanley, on the far left in the gray hat, was originally from Flint, Michigan, and said there had always been problems in the city even before the water crisis. One student was studying urban studies and currently works for the city; he knew all these facts and figures about the area, even down to the square miles!

A panel of Wayne State University students and staff spoke about what they love about Detroit and what they’ve witnessed in the city and on campus.

The WSU students are studying public affairs, criminal justice, and urban studies. All of these are important fields that contribute directly to the community! Hunter (the girl in green) wants to be a police officer!

I enjoyed every part of the day – I was pleasantly surprised that a handful of other Young Scholars from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion joined MUNDO for this special trip. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History is a wonderful resource that we spent three hours exploring, with the group being split up into two.

My tour guide was animated and she captured me in with how she described Africa and the experiences the people had to go through. This museum does a fantastic job of portraying these event from history; the walls are painted with vivid scenery and there’s sounds to make it more realistic. At a few points in the tour, my throat felt like it had a knot in it; I was hurt and felt pain as we heard about this sad history.

We ended by looking at art galleries. Additionally, I went to the basement to see student-made art and how African-Americans shaped our world with their inventions and other contributions in science and technology. Their accomplishments are often not praised enough, if at all. America has a long history with exploiting them, like in the case of Henrietta Lacks; her stem cells were used for research and it’s an injustice to her and her family. I actually read about her in a book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and there’s countless other examples of exploitation like the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies.

The art galleries provoked my mind and made me analyze what the pieces were trying to evoke. A quote on the wall that I liked was “There is always fire in the most beautiful beginnings.” I also augmented my knowledge of riots and rebellions, and after the trip, I can now say that I can distinguish these two terms. Instead of saying Detroit riots, it may be more appropriate to call them the Detroit Rebellion of ’67, because a rebellion is acting against injustices and oppression, against imposed limitations that people refuse to accept. It is resistance.

This experience will aid me in planning the Spring Break civil rights trip to Memphis, New Orleans, and Birmingham. There is so much to history that I have not heard about; many details are hidden or just glossed over, and I desire to know more. Some quotes that I noted from the museum that I hope to carry with me throughout my life include: “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way” and “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Both of these were said by Martin Luther King, Jr.

World Kindness Day – November 13th, 2017

This special day, we joined forces to prepare meals. Student athletes, alumni, and organizations came together to make over 200,000 meals in just two hours. Half of the meals were donated to local pantries while the other half was donated to people affected by Hurricane Maria. The entire week, the OSU community engaged in acts of kindness. For example, at the Union on Wednesday the 15th, free Jeni’s ice cream was passed out, as well as some gift cards! KIND Snacks also collaborated with OSU to provide free granola bars to students.

Global Celebrations – November 20th, 2017

Holiday celebrations involve more than just Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

MUNDO explored how different cultures around the globe celebrated fall/winter! Christmas is such a well-known holiday but there are countless others that should be acknowledged. Tyler and Emma, two ODNUM members from the New York ACTION Team, presented to us. (Emma is also treasurer and Tyler is the non-traditional discovery opportunities coordinator.) To begin the presentation, there is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which occurs in September for two days. Chinese/Lunar New Year is another huge holiday. This one spans about two weeks and often other countries partake in festivities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Lunar New Year will be February 16th, 2018 and it will be the Year of the Dog. We also learned about secular new year celebrations from different European countries. Then we ended by reflecting on common themes and practices we saw among the different celebrations. We had tasty snacks to sample like Chinese dumplings. We did not have time to create crafts for children.

Boricua (NY Pre-Travel Meeting) – November 27th, 2017

Our pre-travel meetings help our participants get an idea of what to expect on the trip.

During this meeting, we handed out packing lists and a booklet breaking down each day of the winter break trip. Another version of the packet, with updated information, will be provided moving forward as we get closer to the trip date. Ivanna and Jose had a PowerPoint for the day-to-day activities to give us a sense of what we would be doing. Some planned activities include visiting Ellis Island, seeing two Broadway shows, touring El Museo del Barrio, and Chinatown. They will also book a private salsa dance session for MUNDO! The meeting culminated with the New York Action Team creating a GroupMe group chat so that all New York participants have a way to communicate with the group.

Fall Pinning Ceremony – December 5th, 2017
One of my favorite events that MUNDO puts on is the Fall Pinning Ceremony, where we recognize our members who were most involved throughout the semester. Those who have earned enough points (24) will receive their own MUNDO pin and certificate of achievement. Danny, the MUNDO president, and I planned this ceremony. We met a week beforehand to negotiate the tasks; we chose the menu together, and he ordered the food. I designed the certificates and flyer, and made major contributions to the PowerPoint, which had photos from the semester and listed the names of our active members AND our outstanding member of the semester!

I presented for the first time in front of the general body. I began with thanking people for coming and provided an overview of the presentation: a slideshow of photos, then certificates and pins, then the MUNDO pledge, then food, mingling, and games! We had popcorn, chicken tenders and sauces, a vegetable platter, and a dessert bar for our members. We borrowed games like Connect Four from the Union’s Resource Room so that members could unwind before finals officially started. We had 11 active members for the semester, not including ODNUM. Our Outstanding member was Victoria, who had 36 points, which means that she attended 12 of MUNDO’s meetings/events!

MUNDO is grateful to have members who are the future leaders in social change!

December 15th-21st, 2017
The NYC Winter Break experience 2017 (Deluxe Edition) focuses on the Latinx experience in NYC and beyond. We will visit the museum El Museo del Barrio and experience comedy from John Leguizamo.  We will explore global citizenship with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and the United Nations building.  As a part of the experience,  we will have the chance to analyze the importance of breaking down racial, ethnic and cultural boundaries in order to truly live together as a community.  In celebration of MUNDO’s 21st anniversary,  we will be re-creating our first group photo at Rockefeller Center. The New York City Experience is a substance-free (no tobacco, alcohol, etc.) for all participants regardless of age.

I will post a blog post dedicated to the NYC Experience after the 21st! Please return to my e-portfolio then to read the details!

I made a New York promotional flyer. We had difficulty recruiting members for this trip, which was a surprise to me.

MUNDO is excited to bring more educational and transformative experiences for Spring 2018!

Below are the ODNUM members who were spotlighted during this semester:

Nick always brings fresh ideas to our group and is active in a business fraternity outside of MUNDO!


MUNDO has our first ever Service Chair, Celine! She is also an Honors Community Advocate for Lincoln Tower. She is great at working with people and is a valuable part of our team.

Global Health Initiative – Autumn 2017

I am in a student organization called Global Health Initiative, which increases awareness about health issues locally, nationally, and globally through meetings, film screenings, advocacy trainings, and other educational opportunities. We have different subcommittees, including Marketing, (Facebook and Instagram and website media) Local Volunteering (which volunteers at local organizations a few times a month like the Boys and Girls Club and with Local Matters), International Volunteering (two-week summer trips to countries like India, Guatemala, and Malawi to teach workshops and do other interactive service), Educational Outreach (raising awareness to youth in high schools) and Campus Events (professional development related, reaching out to rest of the campus community). The Co-Presidents work on executing General Body Meetings and finding speakers. All parts of Executive Board work together to make things go smoothly.

Our active organization is always accepting members, and dues are just $5!

I joined GHI during my freshman year of college, and I am glad that I did! I continue to expand my knowledge on world issues and learn how to advocate for others who do not have a voice or are unable to access resources. This club enhances or complements my major of public health. It is open to all majors: we have biology, microbiology, neuroscience, political science, anthropology, and other fields of study represented among our members! Topics covered in past sessions included food insecurity, global trade, infant mortality, and more.

Here is a timeline of the autumn semester, during which I served as Event Planning Co-Chair. There was a multitude of challenges but I am never alone in overcoming them because I have the help of my fellow executive board. During the summer, I was slowly transitioning into my role of an executive board member and constantly communicated with my other Co-Chair, who has had previous experience in the position, Jenn. Summer quickly ended and the school year began!

OSU Involvement Fair – August 20th, 2017

Global Health Initiative booth

We had many people stop by our booth! We distributed all of the 200 mini-flyers that I designed (1/4 the size of a regular sheet of paper) by 5 to 5:30 pm, and we still had an hour and a half left before the fair ended! Hundreds of students indicated interest in our organization by signing up for emails.

Prior to the Involvement Fair, the e-board members met up multiple times to discuss how to prepare for the fair. My event planning co-chair counterpart Jennifer met with me to help me matriculate to my position. I made a layout online for what I wanted the involvement fair poster to look like. Then I emailed representatives for Senator Brown, Senator Portman, and for Congresswoman Beatty to have them come for an advocacy training day in September. The day before the fair, Radhi and Sophia (the co-presidents for GHI from 2016-2017 and this year) and I gathered to create the poster together. Instead of having paragraphs of text on the poster, Sophia’s idea was to have handouts for students to read! I created the handout, with some editing from Radhi. Our poster has photos and headings on it, and the black background is meant to draw people in. I loved our set up for the fair. I had an hour-long shift and I spoke with a handful of students. I also really like having our logo on tanks!

Executive Retreat Agenda – August 26th, 2017 
From 10 am to 3 pm, the executive board members gathered to discuss plans and become closer with one another, since some e-board members were new and we had not met everyone yet. There are 12 of us, and we introduced ourselves and then went into a discussion about how to improve GHI for the year. Interestingly, all of us are women, but we would like more male representation in GHI as a whole, as well as on e-board. We broke into our committees: Event Planning, General Body Meetings, International Volunteering & Fundraising, Marketing/Social Media Planning, and Educational Outreach & Volunteering (previously High School Outreach). It was a very productive hour! We had a break for lunch, which was at Panera!

We all have some skills from the different color groups; we usually are strongest in one group.

After, we had a teambuilding workshop from Student Leadership Advocates, from the Office of Student Life. The specific workshop we participated in was called “True Colors”, by a Graduate Assistant named Elyssa! We learned about our dominant color, which reflects our personality style. When I did the True Colors Indicator, it accurately described me! (I am organized, meticulous, and methodical. I like to follow rules and have structures/routines.) This was a fun workshop where we interacted with each other and found out what the personalities of the members were! We next had a large group discussion about GHI troubleshooting. Finally, we had a short reflection on the retreat. I benefited tremendously from this because I got to know my team and we brainstormed and bounced off one another brilliant ideas. It was quite the storm in there, and the rest of the year is surely going to be as electric.

General Body Meeting #1 – September 7th, 2017

Full house at our first meeting!

Our meeting was in Enarson, in a room half the size of what we needed for our group. We had about 50 students cramped in the classroom, and we felt bad that some had to stand. Therefore, Radhi did a speedy presentation so that we could finish the meeting in 30 minutes. Radhi introduced herself as Co-President, then International Volunteering spoke, then Educational Outreach, then Event Planning, and then finally Local Volunteering. (We also have a Marketing committee.) We had people sign up to indicate interests in international trips, so we could have specific information sessions and begin fundraising for those trips.

Radhi made this Canva flyer promoting our first meeting of the school year.

Torpedo Room Comedy Night Fundraiser – September 18th, 2017 
It was a flop; only three executive board members attended and no general body members. What we learned was that since no students were committed to an international trip yet, nobody would contribute to a fundraiser. We will keep this in mind for next time! Also, the time of 9 to 10:30 pm could be an issue for people, since it was a bit late.

Representing at Health Science Scholars Service Fair

Health Science Scholars hosts an annual Service Fair, where GHI attended and talked about our service opportunities.

 Sophia, a Co-President of GHI, represented our organization at this fair. This was a great opportunity to get more people interested in what we do! Many Health Science Scholars are pre-med, pre-dental, or want to go to some kind of professional or graduate school, so GHI is a viable option for them to get involved since we offer a variety of different opportunities within our organization.

Advocacy Training – September 19th, 2017 
This was a fantastic session that many of us benefitted from. Tanisha Humphrey flew in from D.C., where our partner organization Population Connection headquarters is located, to train GHI on how to advocate for women’s reproductive rights. We first learned the background, which is the first step in advocating for an issue. You have to thoroughly understand what you are talking about and what you are fighting for! About 20 general body members came to the training, and we had pizza, subs, and chips. I learned about Trump’s Global Gag Rule and what this actually means for the rest of the world. A starting fact was that 1 in 3 women will get an abortion in her lifetime. Advocacy is a part of public health, and we need to be knowledgeable on the policy side!

During training we made photo petitions of why we #Fight4HER!

Tanisha is a great presenter and introduced us to the world of advocacy!


General Body Meeting #2 – September 21st, 2017
We brought in Sarah Perry, former GHI co-president and current second-year Masters in Public Health student. She presented an overview of OSU’s Master’s of Public Health Programs and careers in Public Health. She was a Bio major until junior year when she switched to Public Affairs. She remained pre-med all the way but then realized it was not her path; she then applied for an MPH-Epidemiology Specialization. Everyone enjoyed her speaking and answering questions. It was such a natural and poised presentation. Plenty of students asked questions about how to make the best of college, such as when to look for research work and what would make them stand out for future program admissions.

We are thankful to have Sarah Perry give back to GHI.


A good attendance at our second meeting

 Civil Engagement Banquet – October 3rd, 2017
OSU has an annual banquet honoring those who are dedicated to social change and civic engagement. The Office of Student Life’s Social Change recognizes those in our community making great changes and impacts in civic engagement and service. Awards are named after notable philanthropists and are given to individuals embodying that service to others.

Sophia,  Jennifer and I attended the fourth annual banquet to accept the John Lewis Award on behalf of GHI.


GHI executives posing with Ashley L. Pryor, Interim Director of the Department of Social Change,

A GHI co-president with the two event planning co-chairs on each side of her!

General Body Meeting #3 – October 5th, 2017
 Alex Sauersmith, planner for CelebrateOne, giving an overview of the infant mortality rate in Columbus, CelebrateOne‘s work, and internship opportunities to get involved with. Read here for more information on CelebrateOne. A major cause of infant mortality is not following Safe Sleep procedures: ABC (A – Alone, without stuffed animals and blankets, B – Baby sleeping on back, C – Sleep in crib). Other causes include being born prematurely or born too small, being exposed to tobacco and other drugs during mother’s pregnancy, and health inequities. There is a racial disparity among infant health; black babies are 2.5 times more likely to die than white babies. There is a task force dedicated to addressing this issue in Columbus. Infant mortality varies greatly based on zip code, so we have to address the conditions of specific neighborhoods to ensure that all babies can survive!

Every baby should be able to live past their first birthday.


Smart Cookie Study Session – October 9th, 2017
GHI brought Insomnia Cookies for our members (and the general public) to munch on while preparing for midterms. Our session lasted from seven to 11 p.m., and people could come and go. We had over 20 people stop by! 

My poster for our study table session!

General Body Meeting #4 – October 19th, 2017
Sarah Inskeep, Regional Field Planner for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, provided an overview of Planned Parenthood and their work. They are fighting for universal access to safe, affordable reproductive health care. Women’s right to have birth control and quality care is threatened constantly by legislation. This is an issue that has long been debated and continues to receive national attention.

Read here for more information on Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio

Photo from

Major Event: Pre-Professional 101 – October 22nd, 2017

A flyer we put on the Ohio Union TV screens.

Great turnout!

Pre-Professional 101 was our major event for the autumn semester (and just the second year that we have had this)! Since this was the first time that I was involved in organizing such a large-scale event, I was anxious throughout the several month process, but it was not too overwhelming. I had support from Jenn and from my peers. Pre-Professional 101 was a casual networking event with upperclassmen and graduate students from different tracks sharing their knowledge and experiences with younger students. We had close to 20 representatives available to describe how they evolved and found their paths from freshman year to their junior and senior years. One pre-law student also shared how she formatted her resume.

Our most popular tables were, not to my surprise, pre-medicine and nursing.

A successful event usually takes months to prepare, such as this one!

A pre-law student (right) discussed building a resume with a GHI member (left) and a GHI executive board member Mackenzie (middle). A resume speaks volumes about your work and what you can potentially bring to the table.

I was proud of myself for the efforts I put into making this event happen, and for speaking at the front of the room in front of so many of my peers. I printed out a script to guide me on what to say: “Thank you all for coming. My name is Melinda and I am Event Planning Co-Chair for Global Health Initiative, a student org at Ohio State.” Then I explained what GHI was to those who were unfamiliar with the organization, and reminded people to mingle and treat themselves to the food and refreshments in the back of the room. This event will return every year to provide students with advice and perspectives of people who were in their shoes before!

No Options – Voices from the Frontline – October 26th, 2017

The Facebook event ad for the event

This spectacular meeting was made possible by the collaboration of Global Health Initiative and Population Connection. We hosted the speakers in Hale Hall, and provided pizza, salad, and breadsticks. (In the future, I hope to bring more healthy options for dinner.)  Family Health Options Kenya Director of Clinical Services Amos Simpano, Kibera Clinic Director Melvine Ouyo, and human rights activist and award-winning author Lisa Shannon came to discuss how the Global Gag Rule is harming millions of women. They shared their stories from the frontlines of reproductive healthcare in Kenya, Congo and Somalia.

Senator Portman needs to get on board with us. We will lobby at Capitol Hill every spring until he supports our side.

Thank you to the three speakers who made time to speak and share their experiences!


Another round of good attendance at one of our events.
This event was featured in an article by The Lantern

General Body Meeting #5 – November 2nd, 2017

Photo from Women are told “Don’t Get Raped” by making sure we do not wear clothing that is too revealing, or drink too much, or go out alone to parties. There are precautions that we take like watching our drinks. Many times, rape victims are blamed and even shamed, being told that they are just seeking attention. Instead, people should be told to not rape. Another frustrating point of the issue is that when perpetrators are found out, they don’t get as harsh sentences as they deserve. The offenders get excuses such as “He had a promising career.”

We had a fantastic presentation from Jill Davis of Ohio Health’s Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (SARNCO). She spoke on sexual violence, its incidence, prevalence, and types. I gained greater clarity on this issue; this is so important on college campuses, where there’s greater opportunities for sexual violence to occur. Jill presents about this topic to fraternities and sororities, student organizations, and other areas.

Jill was a marvelous presenter! She showed a video about a man (whose face was not revealed) who is pre-law and revealed in an interview how he “staked out “freshman girls on campus with his friends and “targeted” the pretty ones, “grooming” them over the week until they trusted him to go to a party on the weekend. The drinks served at the party had alcohol put in; the man claimed that the “smart girls” knew there was alcohol in there. Rape culture is so pervasive that many men who do commit this offense do not consider it as rape! The entire presentation was extremely effective; she was prepared with handouts and promotional items to distribute to our group.

See this website for more information on SARNCO.

Reproductive Health: Policy & Practice – Global Health Initiative and Scholars Strategy Network Collaborative Event – November 9th, 2017
We collaborated with Scholars Strategy Network, or SSN; Sarah Perry, OSU alumna and former GHI President is a part of SSN. She was responsible for this event that brings together policy and public health. In the state of Ohio, reproductive health policy is often at odds with best practices in clinics and hospitals. Students of medicine and law discussed how current law affects our access to a full range of reproductive health services and how clinicians navigate state-mandated restrictions while caring for patients. How does policy shape practice – and how can practitioners and researchers effect policy change? A networking happy hour was held after the event, where heavy hors d’oeuvres were served. Attire was business casual. We had over 30 people attend, and I learned more new pieces of information! 

Tierra Prometida: “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty”  – November 9th, 2017 

Ohio Union – Cartoon Room 2, 8:30 to 10:30 pm
Project Nicaragua, a nonprofit student organization at OSU, works to alleviate poverty in a small impoverished community in Nicaragua, which is the second poorest area in the Western Hemisphere, with the first being Haiti. This showcase event was about how to break the cycle of poverty both locally and internationally. Project Nicaragua presented their documentary, which they filmed in the rural town of Rancho Grande, Nicaragua, where they have been developing rapport and relationships for several years. A few other student organizations gave presentations: Encompass, Global Health Initiative, and Operative Smile. A guest speaker, Dr. Abdoul Sam, who is also a faculty member at OSU, spoke about his efforts in applied economics when it comes to agriculture and resources.

Tierra Prometida means the Promised Land in Spanish.

 Sophia, one of GHI’s Co-presidents, and I presented for about 10 minutes on current public health initiatives in Columbus. We discussed what issues Columbus Public Health is addressing around Central Ohio, including alcohol and drug abuse (the opioid crisis, for instance), infant mortality, and food insecurity. I enjoyed working with her to create a PowerPoint to convey this information. During the process I learned more about what was actually going on in Columbus, so this made me more aware of the existing programs and resources that are available and often, extremely affordable! It was an honor to be able to speak along with Sophia at this event. The documentary was eye-opening and allowed me to see what Nicaragua looked like (I had no idea at all.) I am fortunate to have been able to hear my peers speak about their contributions to society! I have trouble with public speaking, and tend to forget what I want to say or stumble over my words when doing so, but practice will perfect my speaking. 

General Body Meeting #6- November 16th, 2017

Our last General Body Meeting for this semester, we brought in Sarah Wharmby, Volunteer & Operations Manager for Local Matters, a non-profit that works to create healthy communities through food education, access and advocacy. They partner with healthcare providers to offer healthful food education and complement existing programs treating chronic diseases. They teach cooking classes and gardening to anyone in the community! Programs vary and serve ages from pre-school children to adults. The organization’s goals include addressing food insecurity and food waste.

Photo from NBC4 team building a garden with Local Matters

GHI Executive Board – Friendsgiving – 11/20/2017
Most of the executive board members gathered for a special dinner to celebrate the semester and bond over good food. We all contributed dishes or utensils or beverages; we had stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans cooked with olive oil and thyme, pasta, and salad! I got apple juice since that is more of a seasonal drink. We then had a good time talking. I am so grateful to be in a group with strong, independent women who are all thriving and inspiring me. One of us has already been accepted to medical school!

GHI had a private potluck!

Study Tables – December 3rd, 2017
We had another study tables session before finals week. We had a smaller crowd at this event but it was still a productive time.

Study tables/sessions can help encourage people to get work done! I made this flyer.

Next Semester:

In March, we will hold our annual event Research Mix & Mingle (which was in fall of last year), at the Biomedical Research Tower over on OSU’s medical campus. This is usually a three-hour long event, involving a dozen distinguished faculty members who want to share their research with students. The event begins with some light food. A member of GHI’s executive board, typically a co-president, will give a brief presentation to begin the program. People listen to brief explanations about the faculty’s research. The faculty members are stationed around the room, and the students move around to who they want to converse with. The research represented comes from various disciplines including public health, biology, entomology, epidemiology, biomedical engineering, neuroscience, and sociology.

Research during your undergraduate is an enriching experience. It does not have to be in a lab – there’s research done using interviews, focus groups, and other methods. Research is not always science-heavy; any field, even social sciences, can involve research.

I attended this mix and mingle myself during my freshman year and it has provided me insight into networking and how to find research opportunities. Students are required to RSVP and wear business casual. Prior to the Research Mix & Mingle, GHI also holds a preparation event. We bring in career services representatives who offer their tips for resume writing and review so that students can effectively display their talents on paper.

In addition to our Research Mix & Mingle in March, we will have General Body Meetings on WEDNESDAYS from 7 to 8 pm for Spring 2018 semester! We also plan to host an Alumni Night (AlumNight) to connect with the people who were in charge of GHI in previous years. This will most likely be a conference call/Skype session. Some of the former Co-presidents are now medical students or Ph.D. students. One is currently attending medical school at Brown University.
GHI’s volunteering is going well; we traveled to the Boys and Girls Club to teach them about the flu and flu vaccine and hand-washing techniques. We also prepared gardens with Local Matters to prepare for the winter season. With the Sierra Club, we worked with honeysuckle and planting trees. Additionally, we made and distributed meals and hygiene supplies to people experiencing homelessness with Crosswalk Outreach to the Homeless.

Please return back to my e-portfolio next semester to stay updated on what GHI does next!

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  • All funds will go to GHI‘s international trips!




Sophomore Slump

Many people are aware of the Freshman 15. Not as many people have heard about the phenomenon called the Sophomore Slump. I myself was unsure what this phrase meant at first, but the first few days of my second year of college made me cognizant of how real and troublesome the slump can be!

Lemons and Richmond (1987) define sophomore slump as a “period of developmental confusion” and hypothesize that “sophomore slump results from student’s struggles with achieving competence, desiring autonomy, establishing identity, and developing purpose.”

A typical college student can suffer from sleep deprivation, stress, and more.

Freshman year at OSU was a struggle and emotional roller coaster for me; luckily I barely put on weight! I always teeter around the same number, and am just a few pounds heavier today. But I began to carry a metaphorical weight , and this manifested more as college went on. In August 2017, this invisible load surged.

Already, I have witnessed a dramatic dichotomy from freshman year to this sophomore year. I had to withdraw from a few commitments (volunteering at the James Cancer Hospital and my involvement in Mirrors Sophomore Class Honorary). I had to refocus what I wanted to get out of college and what I could realistically carry on my plate. My previous schedule entailed doing an extracurricular activity after classes each day of the week! It seemed impressive but it was going to drain me more than fill me.

Being on the executive board for two organizations is more than enough to handle, and I truly love both the organizations I am in. Less is more! It’s something that I have to remind myself. I do not have to do EVERYTHING. I just need to do a few things with great impact instead of many things with tiny influence. Other challenges of the Sophomore Slump include harder classes. Mine require much reading and preparation, especially my Chinese 1103 class (it’s my last semester of Chinese though, thankfully).

Things can escalate quickly, and I was already on the fast track to getting burned out within the first weeks of autumn semester. Multiple times during a week (or even a day) I would ask myself why I was here at Ohio State. How can I possibly keep going on? Some symptoms of a Sophomore Slump include questioning one’s decision to go to college or continue with their studies, questioning major or career choices, thinking about graduate school and if that’s an option or not, and more.

Something that I want to address to my readers and the greater OSU community is that taking a step back to evaluate mental health should be encouraged. There are a multitude of factors contributing to my stress: being a first-generation college student, a female, a racial minority, learning a foreign language, family tensions, climate change, and the state of the world potentially being in shambles, etc. Other pressing concerns include graduate school in the near future, learning how to drive a car eventually, and finding an apartment for junior year. While people may assume that I have it all going for me, nobody’s life is perfect. Sometimes I would feel unsatisfied and feel like I was not doing enough to be successful.

I struggled with my issues alone for a long period of time, but did open up to friends about my problems. It may be even more helpful and liberating to speak with a counselor about it. I bravely made the phone call to Counseling & Consultation Service, and then was called to do an over-the-phone assessment. Afterwards, I was invited to come in for a in-person session.

Based on my experiences, I want to share how to help yourself and others to be well in various aspects of life.


At least one day a week do something fun that you have never done before!

  1. Embark on Columbus Adventures – Make a plan to go to a new Columbus attraction at least once or twice a week or month. Escape from the books and explore off-campus! With your BuckID, we can take COTA buses anywhere for free! There’s:
    – Columbus Zoo ($8 if you pre-pay by going to the Discount Tickets, also known as D-Tix, station in the Union)
    – Franklin Park Conservatory ($5 with D-Tix) – gardens and constantly changing exhibits
    – Short North (tiny shops, restaurants, art galleries) – a short COTA ride towards downtown
    – Bunch of niche neighborhoods like German Village, Victorian Village, and Italian Village
    German Village has The Book Loft, which is a bookstore with over 30 different themed rooms!
    – COSI ($8, D-Tix)
    – North Market – market plaza area with dozens of merchants selling spices, meats, ice cream, desserts, and variety of authentic ethnic foods, and more. Great for getting ingredients for cooking and household ware
    – University District
    – Clintonville
    – Grandview
    – Lucky’s Market
    – Trader Joe’s
    -Shopping malls and plazas including: Lennox Town Center (less than a mile from campus), Polaris Fashion Place, Tuttle Mall, and Easton Town Center. At a plaza called Carriage Park Place, there’s a pet store called Pet Land with dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, reptiles, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs. You are able to play with them.
    For more ways to explore Columbus:

    At the Franklin Park Conservatory, one of my favorite exhibits includes a koi garden and waterfall, with butterflies fluttering around the room.

  2. Participate in OUAB events
    Since student tuition and fees go into supporting this magnificent program, check out the Ohio Union Activities Board! Also follow up on their social media updates because they constantly bring new exciting events and speakers to campus! Last spring, OUAB brought in The Big Brain Theory’s Mayim Bialik (she plays Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon’s girlfriend). I got to see her for FREE with my BuckID and hear her story about becoming a star and her views on life. OUAB also puts on the giant Welcome Week Concert each fall, as well as a Big Spring Concert. I saw Kesha and Zedd concerts. Furthermore, there’s showings of movies for free too.
  3. Artistic and/or Creative Expression
    Paint, draw, sketch, sculpt, color, sing, play an instrument, or knit! Play with LEGOs, design an invention, create a mix tape, photograph things, experiment! If you don’t do it for yourself, you can give your finished product to someone else. My Health Sciences Scholars program held a Canvas Painting Night in February of this year. In front of me was a blank white canvas and I was unsure of what to paint. I decided to paint flowers in front of a soothing background, so I layered on coats of a light turquoise. Next I drew dark brown branches of a tree, then red dots, dark pink dots, light pink ones, and teeny white dots to form cherry blossom buds blooming! That one hour of painting goes by quickly; I had a great time and talked to people. Others loved how my painting turned out and so did I! Stop by a crafts store to pick up some supplies.

    My painting was inspired by cherry blossoms, which are so beautiful and appear after winter.

    Another recommendation is that if you aren’t keen or skilled at doing art, you can admire it at Wexner Center for the Arts or museums elsewhere. This was at the Fall Student Party 9/22/2017.

  4. Counseling & Consultation Services
    The workshops and times changes each semester but they range from art therapy to yoga and even a stress management workshop! I dropped into one of their Art Therapy sessions and I colored a mandala. It is a safe space.
    Also, they have individual counseling in addition to group counseling and couple’s counseling.
    Please do not hesitate to check it out. There is a quote/metaphor that you can’t pour out of an empty cup, and I interpret that as meaning if you are drained and tired and hurting, your productivity is limited and you cannot achieve your full potential.

    Your health and happiness matter the most.

  5. Good Food
    Comforting options like fries, burgers, pasta, and chicken tenders seem like the best option for you when you are feeling down, but reach for the salads and fruit cups instead. They are better in the long run. Yogurt also helps with digestive health! (But everything in moderation, as the saying goes! Treat yourself to decadent, savory foods on special occasions).
    My recommendations: Berry Blendz, Pita Pit, Bibibop, Chipotle, Panera
    *Make-your-own-salad bars in campus dining locations let you personalize your salad!
  6. Music
    Having a playlist with songs that get you upbeat can help brighten your day. My main playlist is called “My Jams”. Singing along to songs and just losing yourself in the music will temporarily erase problems.
  7. Self Care
    This varies by individual, so the things that make YOU happy. Find your niche, your passion.
    Have some time set aside for “me time” where you can do whatever strikes your fancy. This time can be spent catching up on TV shows. Comedies bring me into a better mood!
    My TV show recommendations: Gravity Falls, Parks & Recreation, Grimm, Glee, etc.

    Watch on Hulu!

  8. Serve the community
    If you immerse yourself into serving others and thinking about how to make a difference in their lives, there are many places to get started:
    Community center
    Day care center
    Public school
    Halfway house
    Rehabilitation center
    Community theater
    Historical restoration
    Alderman’s office
    Retirement home
    Art gallery
    Youth organization
    Food bank or soup kitchen
    Neighborhood adoption or cleanup programs
    Boys and girls club
    Animal shelter
    Sports team
    After-school program

Credit: Caitlin Weber (

This may seem like a generic, cliché list of advice. But these are simple, basic steps, and they’re repeated across different sources because there’s proof that they work. You do not have to try ALL of them. It can be one at a time.


  • Attend class, on time (early, if possible).
    This should be a no-brainer. Professors describe and explain concepts in class and give information that may not be found in the book or on their class pages. Some instructors write on the board or expand from the skeletal outlines on their PowerPoints. Attendance is as important as breathing air. Sometimes you get points for just showing up. My friends have said that for labs, even if you are a few minutes tardy, you will be asked to not come into the lab. Plus, if you get to class early, you get better seating, and possibly one by an outlet.
  • Pay attention in class.

    No social media page surfing while class is in session. It’s a habit to kick! I have seen so many peers do this, and I myself am guilty of doing this from time to time. Just exit out of those tabs; you can live without them for a class period. Also, it is frustrating when other students are having a conversation in class and their whispering is still pretty loud so that others can hear everything. Teachers will call them out on this, which may occur during or after class. Be courteous to everyone; someone is paying for your education, whether you are a scholarship recipient, footing the bills yourself, your parents are financially supporting you, or the government is loaning you money! Sometimes professors slip out “Know this for the test”, so keep eyes and ears focused on the instructor.
  • Do the readings for class.
    Even skimming, with special attention to the introduction, headers, and bolded/underlined/italicized terms, and conclusions, will suffice. Sometimes there will be 60+ pages of articles to read, for just ONE class! Be smart about reading. Work smart, not hard.
  • Sleep.
    I once had a friend tell me they did not need sleep. That is ridiculous to me. In college, I have had to learn to be content with 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night, but there were a few periods where some nights, I’d only get 4. Sleep deprivation should not be a common experience. Sleep is truly so wonderful, and nobody should miss out on it.
  • Do not cram. That almost always means failure.
    Information does not retain well this way; study incrementally. For instance, if you know you have a test in two weeks, divide the chapters up so that you can read them all for the exam, allowing yourself a few days of review. One of my high school teachers told me to not study at all the day before the test! (However, I study so frequently, leading right up to the test time.)
  • Write down all deadlines.

    This is what my planner looks like!

    I write all of mine into a planner at the beginning of the year by looking at all my syllabi in detail. I put down my exam dates, paper deadlines, and times to go to office hours. (Back up this academic planner onto a cloud service like Google Calendar).

  • Do the work – YOUR work, and nobody else’s!
    Do not even attempt to cheat because most times, if not always, you will be caught. It is not worth jeopardizing your academic future.
  • Attend Office Hours once in a while.
    You can ask professors how they became interested in their fields and about their experiences. Go over your project or paper ideas with them.
  • Expand your network.
    There’s career fairs and different professional events. Colleges at OSU bring their alumni back to talk about their frontline experiences and how they’ve grown. Get to know them and see what they can offer you in terms of mentorship and guidance!

    I talked to senior students about what made them pursue Occupational Therapy and physical therapy.

  • Get to know classmates.
    Share notes, do study groups. They are your peers and you find out that you have more in common than you think. I have met people from across the country and with ancestors from countries I had only heard of a few times in my life. The friendships I make at OSU are my favorite part of being in college.
  • Do some Informational Interviews.
    Try to do this at least once or twice a semester. Ask upperclassmen and graduate students to help you figure out if you want to be somewhat like them when you are older. You’ll learn their perspectives and they usually offer great advice. I have posted some Informational Interviews on my e-portfolio.
  • Prepare your backpack the night before so you are not scrambling and stuffing items in there in the morning, when you are more likely to forget something important.
  • Prepare for presentations.
    Dress the part even if you do not feel confident in presenting. Practice any speeches or PowerPoints over and over so that when you stand in front of your peers and professor, your words come naturally since you rehearsed multiple times. I wear a dress or blazer, blouse, and pants, and I feel better and in general, do better.


  • Stars cannot shine without darkness.
  • Other people’s success is not your failure.
  • Self care is not selfish.
  • It is OK to ask for help.
  • You are more important than your GPA.
  • You are worthy of love.
  • Another day, another slay.
    This means another day, another triumph/success.
  • “Messy bun and getting stuff done.”
  • “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.
  • Value your friends and do not judge others without knowing their story. – Monster’s Inc./University
  • Every dream is possible. – Ratatouille
  • Learn to love yourself and never take your loved ones for granted. – The Incredibles
  • There is nothing else in the universe as amazing as the love you have for others. – Wall-E
  • Stay strong when things get rough. Remember to keep on swimming. – Finding Nemo
  • Life will take you places. Enjoy the ride. – Cars
  • “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi
  • A simple act of caring creates an endless ripple.
  • Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
    This means to keep pushing through, and live for the things that make us feel alive.
  • When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.
  • Her secret of success is that she did it all with passion.
  • It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It matters what you are doing. – Sarsuki Shibuya
  • If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
  • Apply yourself to supply your wealth.

This post, while designed to help others, in a way has assisted me by allowing me to reflect on my emotional wellbeing and how I have coped with the various challenges of college and adulthood. I truly hope that this can be beneficial for at least one person. I am halfway through with the autumn semester already (I actually began a draft of this post in August but am just now posting it.) I will continue to post throughout my time at OSU about how much I grow.

Please let me know in the comments what works for you to manage your time or stress, or feel free to share what you do for fun! 

Informational Interview with Graduate Student: MPH-Epidemiology

GO(A)LS: Academic Enrichment
Informational Interview

Back in freshman year, I conducted an informational interview with Anthony J. Nixon Jr., who at the time was a Master’s of Public Health-Epidemiology student at OSU’s College of Public Health. He was also a Graduate Assistant for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. I reached out via email because a mutual contact referred me to him. I was not even nervous about meeting with him for an informational interview, because this interview is basically a conversation to learn about his experiences.

Epidemiology involves studying the patterns (causes and effects) of health and disease in populations. It does not necessarily only mean tracking the infectious disease spread like zika or Ebola. Science and statistics are crucial aspects of this public health sub-field.

We discussed his path from his undergraduate years to graduate years. Nixon majored in biology at Morehouse, (a small, all-male, liberal arts HBCU with 3,000 students) and had a 3.3 or 3.4 GPA. During college, he had positions as Resident Assistant and a tutor. After his first year, he engaged in summer research at St. Louis and at Walsh University, working with mice models and getting his first taste of epidemiology. A scholarship was provided for all of his expenses! The following summer, he conducted research at Northwestern. The next summer was spent at the University of Michigan. However, it was in his senior year that he took his first public health course, where Center for Disease Control (CDC) employees talked to the students. This made him consider public health as a possible career path.

This is Columbus Public Health, a place where I myself hope to volunteer or intern in the future.

After graduating college, Nixon was a research assistant at Wexner Medical Center and a weekly volunteer at Columbus Public Health. He then spent two years in Minnesota‘s downtown public health department. He worked at the local level and got to speak with the major and council. Nixon wanted to continue with his education and so pursued an MPH (Master’s in Public Health) here at Ohio State! He even has experience studying health disparities in India!

Nixon says he enjoys talking to people in person and over the phone to find out what issues they are dealing with. He wants to be in a place of influence and impact people. Therefore, developing intimate relationships with others is important. In his graduate classes, there were usually 30 to 40 students, and he completed his practicum with a heart transplant surgeon and cardiology physician working with patients with LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Devices).

Community health is one of my interests too. It includes ensuring safe, nutritious school meals, providing quality nursing home care, providing vaccinations and prescriptions, and much more. To me, community health is about outreach into the various aspects of a community (schools, sidewalks, grocery stores, fast food restaurants, parks, banks, pharmacies, homes, etc.) 

In the future, Nixon would like to help out as much as he can, especially with community health and men’s health. He also would be interested in some teaching and research, so a Ph.D. may be a viable option for him! Other things he hopes to see in the future are more people of color in graduate programs. As a person of color myself, I agree. Oftentimes racial minorities are the first in their families to even attend college, so graduate school can seem almost impossible to reach because of the barriers already in the way. However, I am determined to be the first in my family to go to graduate school. I want to set that example for others.

One valuable piece of advice that Nixon gave me was to keep a running list of opportunities. After our interview, he emailed me public health summer programs/camps and I was so grateful for the links, which I bookmarked. I already have a list of Summer 2018 plans and what programs I want to apply for, since deadlines are usually around December or January. This requires several essays and it can be a lot to handle but my organization makes it approachable, and I know that I will have back-up plans in case I do not get accepted into my desired programs.

The interview I had with Nixon confirmed my desire to pursue public health, and it was inspiring to hear about all the impressive experiences he has in the field! A few months ago, I reached out to him again to check in on him and also inform him about the updates in my own life. He replied that hard work pays off and that sophomore year for me will have more opportunities. There are more chances to get overwhelmed, so I should be aware of the support system I have and not be afraid to utilize it. I am thankful for his wise words of advice! I know that I can turn to Nixon for support as well. Currently, Nixon serves as Program Manager for the Wexner Medical Center, working on two statewide public health/policy projects. I hope to continue to learn and grow from the different opportunities that lay ahead for me!

Tips for Informational Interviews:
– Email the person you are looking to have an interview with using respect and etiquette. Have an appropriate greeting (spell their name right), and introduce yourself and include how you found out about that person, if applicable. Then politely request to meet with them and give them several options (different days and times you are available). Finally, have a salutation such as “Best” or “Regards” or “I look forward to hearing from you!”, and put your name.
– Prepare a list of questions for the interview so that you do not come with a blank slate and to avoid awkward stares or silences. Have a pencil to jot down notes if you would like.
– Try to keep the interview around 20 minutes, unless the person is willing to go more than that. You don’t want to bombard them with too many questions because they could get exhausted. Remember that this should lean towards more of a conversation and not an interrogation.
– Thank the person for their time! Do this both in person and in a follow-up email. Appreciate their time.
– Keep in contact with the person; touch base with them every once in a while. This helps you maintain connections.

YSP Summer Bridge Experience 2017 – Peer Leadership

This summer, I was like a duck to baby ducklings entering the giant pond that is college! Before this summer, I did not know how much impact I could have in the lives of incoming freshmen. However, as a Summer Bridge Experience Peer Leader for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion – Young Scholars Program (a program which I have been in since 2010), I took in a group of 10 scholars under my wing (three males, seven females). Each of the 12 Peer Leaders had around this number of freshmen to mentor and guide. Our groups are called our families. Since I just completed SBE the previous summer, I still had fresh knowledge of the experience that would enable me to effectively mentor the incoming scholars.

Analogy of me guiding young ones and preparing them for college life! In actuality, my Scholars were born the same year as me or the year after.

From July 30th through August 18th, 2017, I played a vital role in helping the 118 Young Scholars of OSU’s Class of 2021 participate and thrive in this three-week summer bridge program. This program is mandatory but will be transformational. It can be intimidating since students are in a huge place and they don’t know their way around. After the three-week summer bridge program, they WILL be able to navigate campus without much problem. The overview of the Summer Bridge Experience includes college success seminars (college success, professional development, and scholarship services). In these seminars, students discuss diversity, campus climate and social integration. Furthermore, they work through figuring out their career goals and how to prepare for them. They learn to interpret their financial aid and about financial wellness. Their academic core classes include an English, math or statistics, and an elective of either chemistry, physics, economics, or psychology. These classes will help prepare them for the challenge of a four-year college institution. Lastly, there’s time allotted to do rec sports and wellness workshops!

The 12 Peer Leaders serving during Bridge were all rising sophomores, while one was a rising junior. After applying and interviewing for the role, we were chosen because the YSP staff believed that each of us had something unique to contribute to Bridge. We have knowledge about OSU and college life, and want to help younger cohorts be successful in college. For the first week of Bridge, we physically lead them to their classes and other locations. Then they can get to their classes themselves for the most part. We’re still available to guide, if needed. But there’s so much more than that. We help with any issues they’re having; they may be feeling homesick, or overwhelmed because they slowly realize that they will indeed be college students, and that high-school level attitudes and work ethics do not cut it here at OSU. The Peer Leaders are a resource for these students. We offer advice and also listen to them and work with them to make sure they can make the most of their first year of college. The months leading up to Summer Bridge, my excitement for them increased!


Wednesday, 7/26 – We checked into Siebert Hall where we’ll stay for a few days. Training is at Hale Hall, across the street. We received our Peer Leader Training Manuals! We reviewed the Young Scholars Program (YSP) policies and procedures. We discussed pre-college student success services as well as the undergraduate student success services such as the success coaches, academic success partners, and freshman seminars. We did an activity where we were divided into two groups and one group drew what a good Peer Leader looked and acted like, and the other group drew what a bad one would resemble. Finally, we reviewed Chapter One of Students Helping Students: Peer Educators on the College Campus.

Thursday, 7/27
We did Conflict Resolution role-plays; scenarios are based off of true incidents that have occurred in YSP. I paired up with my outgoing friend Anthony and he played the role of a student whose grandmother just died and he wanted to go home and never return to OSU. I was the Peer Leader and my peers and supervisors informed me that I acted well!! I went close to Anthony and asked if he was alright. I talked with him through his decision to leave college. Although the death was a sad loss since his grandma was close to him, I reminded the student that he should go to college for his grandma and make her proud. I also asked if he’d be comfortable talking with the Bridge coordinators about this, so we could come up with solutions and not have him miss out on college and his YSP scholarship. This fictional scenario felt real when I stepped into my role.

We learned about Leadership Dichotomies: Practical Leadership Approaches, presented by Kris Y. Coleman, J.D., MBA and Program Director of The Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Post-Baccalaureate Preparation Program (which is also called Tri-P). Different situations require different leadership approaches, and authenticity is the crucial element in leadership. Ms. Coleman claims that there are 12 different dichotomous tools to use:
1. Control and/or Empower
2. Respect and/or Fear
3. Advocate and/or Enable
4. Astute and/or Obtuse
5. Decisive and/or Collaborative
6. Introvert and/or Extrovert
7. Morality and/or Integrity
8. Judge and/or Ascertain
9. Condescend and/or Relate
10. Platitude and/or Praise
11. Body language and/or Verbal language
12. Sympathy and/or Empathy

I feel that my leadership style involves being introverted, empowering, and respectful. I won’t be the first to speak in the room, but I am still a warm, motivating presence to others. I’m there for others and never have an attitude. I listen while not being judging, but trying to step into the person’s shoes to fully assess the situation along with them.

Friday, 7/28
We discussed Chapter Four of Students Helping Students, which is focused on Interpersonal Communication Skills and creating the helping interaction. It’s easy to give advice to others; however, that’s directed interaction and it’s talking to the other individual, whereas in interpersonal communication, interaction is collaborative and you’d be talking with the person. After practicing icebreakers, we went to RPAC (rec center) to learn how to give tours to our own students! Then we designed and created door decorations for the students in our families! I printed and cut out Harry Potter house crest signs for my group! Other Peer Leaders had Pac Mans, cameras, keys, puzzle pieces, Lego pieces, and more.

The Harry Potter house crest door decorations I created for the Scholars in my family


Another PL, Zach, made himself Pac Man and his Scholars the ghosts he was chasing

Saturday, 7/29,
we had the day off to rest and prepare for the gigantic class. The Peer Leaders moved to Lawrence Tower. I was assigned to Group 1 (out of a possible four groups) for the workshops in the morning. I would just need to take attendance of the students there. Additionally, the PLs were divided evenly into taking attendance at the Chemistry, Economics, Physics, and Psychology classes; in other words, three PLs per class. I was placed into Economics. I have never taken economics during high school or college, so this will be interesting. I may actually pay attention in the class as well, to further my knowledge and see if I can help the students too!


Sunday, 7/30Move In Day!
The 12 of us, along with the YSP staff, gathered around 8 am to set up the environment for the Scholars. Debbie and I chose to be stationed outside to direct traffic and the Young Scholars the right way to get their belongings unloaded, then the car parked in a lot across the street. She was on one corner and I was down on another. Young Scholars were told to display an orange sheet of paper with the YSP logo on it on the car’s dashboard, so that’s what we were trying to look for when eyeing the sea of vehicles that continuously whizzed by us. While move-in wasn’t scheduled until 9 am, we had some early birds by the time we were down in Lawrence’s lobby preparing. Later, another PL Anthony came to help Debbie and I, since Lawrence Tower has several apartments around it and some people were confused which building it was. What made the time go by was Debbie dancing as she was standing on the sidewalk and pointing the directions to go. She got happy honks from drivers. I cannot dance, so I swung my arms around. The other PLs helped unload belongings into red carts, wheel them into the Scholars’ rooms, unload the things, and bring the carts down. It was a strenuous three or four hours but nearly all the Scholars made it within the time frame! At one point, around 11 am, many flooded in, and we had a line of cars/vans in a procession waiting to be unloaded. The line stretched for a block and more! What made it more challenging was that we had another Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) summer program which had participants coming in at the same time that the Young Scholars were!! A pedestrian walking past even asked what was happening. It made me fatigued; I am thankful a supervisor came to give us water! (Also my brother is one of the Young Scholars in Summer Bridge this year, and I could recognize our dad’s SUV from far away!)

Students checked in and received their room key, and YSP provided them with three meal passes (totaling $30) and all-day parking passes. They had time before our Summer Bridge Student Welcome & Family Orientation Event at 1 pm over in Hitchcock Hall. We disbursed student folders, which had their schedules, information, and paperwork to be completed. We also collected BuckID cards when the families were done with lunch. The session involved a warm welcome from all the YSP staff: the Director, Assistant Director, Program Manager, and the two Program Coordinators. A few PLs spoke and gave words of wisdom and raised morale. All the PLs also were lined up in the front of the room for a couple minutes so students could realize who we were! I did not know what any of my students looked like, so I was excited.

Peer Leaders in matching polos and khakis.

Afterwards, we had free time and at 5:30 pm, the 12 PLs gathered the 118 students in the lobby of Lawrence and one by one, each PL would call our group members’ names to bring them outside. I took my group/family to a shady area by the NROTC building. I introduced myself, then had my 10 students introduce themselves, and then we all created a family GroupMe. We did an icebreaker (“I’m a Buckeye and you’re a Buckeye too if …”) and then did a Family Chat, which I was instructed to do by the YSP staff. The topic was social media and its impact on college students’ lives. We did not have a discussion, but I asked questions such as what social media accounts the students had, what do they post, are they private, and do they use their real name? I understood that this was a long day for them and many had to get up early at 6 or so in the morning, so we ended quickly. I answered questions and said that the rest of the day was free to do whatever.

Monday, July 31stFirst Day of Summer Bridge Classes

The day goes like this:

  • ODI Workshops – 4 different groups of scholars, randomly divided
  • Academic Core – 4 classes (Chemistry, Psychology, Physics, Economics)
  • Mathematics or Data Analysis (Statistics) – Math 1050, 1075, 1075, 1148, 1148, 1150 and 1151 (7 math classes) and 1 statistics
    • The math classes have a supply of iPads (YSP has used the same ones since I was in eighth grade)
  • Lunch
  • English and Research Methods – 4 English classes and one Research Methods
  • Afternoon Workshops (if applicable)
  • Dinner/Free Time
  • Evening Activity (if applicable)

The first day was very eventful. We had a student with the stomach flu, and several were lost. Scholars needed to have schedules on them at all times, and should be using the Ohio State app or Google Maps or Maps app for iPhones. Their PLs should not be reminding them which class to go to next. (The first week in general could be described as conditions being hectic, hot and hungry.)
In the afternoon, the students had a Campus Police safety presentation. While the students learned about this, the PLs and YSP staff assembled to debrief on the day and discuss what went well and what didn’t. In the evening, we had a welcome event at the RPAC, where a wellness director talked to us. The Wellness Center provided ice cream of all kinds (Drumsticks, Oreo sandwiches, popsicles). They also had a sign-up station for Zumba, yoga, crate stacking/rock climbing, or personal training. All students had to choose at least one session to attend. There was a space in the RPAC for coloring pages, playing cards, and giant Jenga. I had another Peer Family meeting with them to discuss basic rules (be down in Lawrence lobby by 7:25 am to be led to their classes, no open foods in the dorms to prevent ants, have your school supplies and backpack, communicate in the group chat, etc.)

Tuesday, August 1st
PLs led students to their classes. In the evening we had an introduction session from RPAC and students went on tours of the facility. There were always some who wanted to leave and do homework, but they were required to stay for the duration of the program. Therefore, we suggested that the students hang out in the Nike Lounge in the basement of the RPAC. There’s a pool table, couches and game consoles.

Wednesday, August 2nd
Full day of workshops and classes again. Every day during the first week of Bridge, the PLs gathered with the YSP staff to do a debrief meeting, and troubleshoot any issues. We could bring up anything we noticed among the students and work to find solutions.  Groups 1 and 2 had a wellness presentation in the RPAC (topics covered most likely were condom club, nutrition and financial wellness) Back in Lawrence at night, we invited anyone interested to play the game Mafia. There’s a conference room on the 11th floor with enough tables and chairs to have at least 20 people.

Thursday, August 3rd
After classes, students had a presentation from OSU Libraries about employment opportunities. Then I held a family meeting to discuss their feelings towards bridge and about school involvement, including informing them about the Involvement Fair! I reminded them to respond to my group chat messages and like them to indicate that they read the messages. Furthermore, I suggested that they budget their money and begin packing. Then we headed towards Lawrence Tower to catch a bus to the Adventure Recreation Center (ARC). All Scholars had to come; those who signed up for Crate Stacking and Rock Wall Climbing would participate and the others had to be in the building. There’s cardio equipment, basketball courts, and turf fields for running or playing soccer. I played soccer with a few of my Scholars as well as other people, including my younger brother! This was my first soccer game, so I was not the best by far. At night, I played the Mafia game with other Peer Leaders and Scholars. This was a way to get to know each other better and wind down. We also all packed a moderate amount in preparation for the next day, which is move in. To end the day, I informed my group about upcoming weekend events such as Gallery Hop and Ohio’s Sales Tax Holiday.

A soccer field at the ARC

Friday, August 4thMove Into Permanent Housing
Today was an exciting day because we all were able to move into our permanent dorms for the academic year. There were no ODI workshops, to allow for everyone to receive more sleep, so just academic class, math, and English. Throughout the morning/early afternoon, PLs had one-on-one debrief sessions with the Program Manager LaNorris or Program Coordinator Marissa. We could disclose how we personally felt about Bridge. I actually believed that I was a weak PL since I do not speak often and do not assert myself. However, Mr. LaNorris told me that my thought was not accurate; I was strong and competent after all. Afterwards, I met with my freshman year Success Coach Alvian, who is also a YSP Program Coordinator (and graduated with a B.S. in Public Health in 2015!) The Peer Leaders, after taking attendance for their English classes, began packing. We used a notebook to keep a numbered list of which Scholars would be moving out first. At 3 pm, two of my Scholars in my family were already in the lobby because they speed-walked and wrote their names on the list. I was flabbergasted at how quickly they arrived to Lawrence Tower and how eager they were to get out of it! They were the first ones to leave. Young Scholars Program staff came with ginormous SUVs to take the Scholars. The process went by smoothly and efficiently; the PLs were able to be transported in the SUVs around 7 pm. I could not believe that one week had already passed, and was thankful that we had ironed out the rough edges during the week. During the weekend, most of my Scholars had went back home to pick up more items. I would have liked to spend some time with them, but they were busy. Instead, I went on my first Gallery Hop with two close friends/fellow PLs. Furthermore, Mr. Lanorris stated that it is important for me to relax and do self-care.


Beginning this week, the students can get to their classes independently (ideally). The PLs do not escort them. To my chagrin, there were still several students late to their classes daily, some were repeat offenders from the previous week. Some said they overslept but a PL retorted that that is not a valid excuse.

A screenshot of what the Ohio State app looks like – All students should get this!

Monday, August 7th
The majority of the time after I take attendance for my classes, I leave the class. However, I enjoy sitting in on the Economics class because the teacher is so engaging. I learn from his class too because he provides a plethora of examples. He told the class the secret to becoming rich: “Buy low, and sell high.” Later, my family and I came to a consensus to have our Family Meeting after English. I reserved a room in Thompson Library for the 11 of us, and they all were mostly on time. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes, the longest meeting we had! This was a good thing. We learned about each others’ birthdays and then did a few icebreakers. (One of my favorites was reading out loud a random fun fact and then telling the student “Name five [objects, people, etc.] in 10 seconds.” Our conversation included their weekend plans and their thoughts on their dorm assignments. We discussed what jobs they were looking for and most said Office Assistant or library jobs, or Hale Hall. Also, I wrote out questions on slips of paper and the students randomly chose a slip to read off of and answer out loud. The meeting had lots of laughs and joking around. Finally, we reached the assigned Family Chat Topic, which was about study habits. I asked how they all studied and received a mix of answers (memorization, flash cards, study groups, depending on the subject). Most of them also claim to be procrastinators. I am the total opposite, with a Type-A get-it-done mentality. I shared some study tips. Additionally, we talked about which subjects they were most concerned about and would likely request tutoring for. I made a list of these classes to try to look up resources. The evening activity was indoor volleyball and dodge-ball; Scholars could go anywhere in the RPAC as long as they did not leave until 8 pm. I saw many of them playing ping-pong, using an exercise bike, or doing homework, or simply sitting around on their phone.

Tuesday, August 8th
Another normal day of classes, followed by OSU Libraries Employment Opportunities Job Fair, held specifically for the Young Scholars Program. Many students were not interested in working for a library, so we suggested networking for 15 minutes before leaving. After dinner there was a Zumba fitness class, and everyone had to be at the RPAC regardless of whether they signed up for the class or not. I spoke with a student who I didn’t know much about, so I was glad to be deepening a connection and actually learning details about her. She’s a Cleveland Young Scholar, like me, but we had never had a conversation until now. Meanwhile, there were students who checked the clock constantly for it to be 8 pm to be dismissed from the evening activity, and as soon as the time changed to exactly that, they immediately exited the RPAC.

University Libraries employs many students for Federal Work-Study in various positions! Several Young Scholars were called back for interviews within a day of applying.

Wednesday, August 9th
In the evening, I held another family meeting, in the same room I reserved before at Thompson. We had an hour reserved. I began with asking what the Scholars remembered about me. In general, they guessed the city I hailed from (Cleveland). One of them knew my exact birthday, while others knew the month. Nobody remembered my major, so I repeated it to them. Next we did a short icebreaker of Two Truths and a Lie, which is commonly used but doesn’t take a lot of time to complete. The other icebreakers I had in mind would require us to be outside and loud. My family had trouble figuring out which was my lie! Next, we quickly went over who wanted help with resumes! Then we went into our Family Chat Topic, which was about the highs and lows of my college experience. To begin, I brought back the question I asked when I first met the group: “What are you looking forward to in college?” Some responses were: being away from home; getting the whole college experience; making friends; graduating; and football games. I shared mine when I entered Bridge: being independent and in a new environment and just growing as a person in general. Following this was the worries we had. Mine were academically adjusting to the rigors of a reputable university and staying in school. Some of their worries were the overwhelming class sizes, writing papers, and managing their time. Making note of these concerns, I moved onwards to briefly describing my High and Low points of my first year, going from how I did during bridge and then how I progressed. The meeting ended with me assuring the students that there’s going to be ups and downs expected but they can survive, and I quoted “Stars cannot shine without darkness.” My family erupted in laughs and support. At night, the PLs gathered for an exclusive potluck. We celebrated making it halfway through bridge!

Thursday, August 10th
In the morning I was able to sleep in (Group 1 had no workshop and Economics had office hours), and then I just had to take attendance for math and Research Methods. The afternoon workshop was held by the Office of International Affairs, addressing the entire cohort, in Hale Hall. It was great information, from several speakers, including students who had previously studied abroad. At 6 pm, there was a personal training presentation at the RPAC, with my best friend and I being the PLs assigned to take attendance for it. A certified personal trainer described the various facets of training (full body workouts, exercise equipment types, cardio, strength training, and resources that rec sports offered). Today was a more relaxed today and I felt like we had no major issues. However, I did have one of my Scholars arrive to the study abroad presentation half an hour late. Tardiness is not tolerated, and it bothered me because we were halfway through with bridge and it made no sense to be that late. At the end of the day, in GroupMe I messaged some more reminders! I also helped two Scholars in my family with their resumes!

Friday, August 11th
This was a good day. In the morning, the entire YSP cohort went to Hale Hall for a presentation from various ODI speakers about tutoring and work-study opportunities. Many Scholars were interested in working at one of the desks/offices in the building because it was not strenuous work and would give them time to study. Furthermore, the hours are flexible and include availability on the weekends! A few of the people in my family indicated that they’d apply for a position. Later on in the day, my family and I were supposed to have a peer family meeting, but we agreed to postpone our meeting until the following week. At 9 pm, some PLs and Scholars joined up for more Mafia! I was actually narrator for one round and I struggled with coming up with scenarios of how the individuals were killed. Also there was cheating in the game, which we had never encountered while playing before.

Saturday, August 12th
From 11 am to 1 pm, ODI had a special event on Saturday which involved bringing in YSP alumni to serve on a panel and meet the incoming freshmen! The YSP Alumni Association had representatives come from as far as Los Angeles to talk about their experiences as well as offer words of wisdom. There was time for question and answers. Then we had a catered lunch. Finally, we had a YSP cohort photo immediately after the panel on the steps of the Public Affairs building. This was a great time because the Scholars all wore the same shirt which made them feel united. The PLs coordinated with red polo shirts, so we felt included as well. Additionally, my own family wanted to take a group photo (all the girls were present while all the males returned home).

YSP – 2017 Cohort
(OSU Class of 2021)

The Peer Leaders for Bridge 2017! The dream team!

The females in my family! A lovely group of girls.


Monday, August 14th
I had a family meeting in Hagerty Hall by the café area, and we did an icebreaker before I discussed mental health resources and physical health resources. The Student Wellness Center, Counseling & Consultation Services, and Rec Sports were mentioned. Additionally, I disclosed my own struggles with mental health and self-care.

Tuesday, August 15th
My family meeting was after English and we had a shorter session, with less information provided. The family chat topic of the day was Accountability Among Peers. The family requested that we not do an icebreaker. I asked if it bothered my family that I did not smile much. They said “No”, and they said they respected me and liked me. What’s important is that I remain true to my authentic self. I asked what accountability meant and examples of how to employ that characteristic. Then I provided advice of how to be accountable in various areas, whether that be work or school or with roommates or friends.
Battleship was an optional evening activity and had a maximum of 75 participants. In the game, there were six teams, one team per canoe. Each team could have four people, and they were provided with two buckets. They had no oars, so had to use their hands to move the boat. Their goal was to be the last canoe floating by trying to dump water onto other people’s canoes so they’d sink. There were three rounds, and we had a good turn out of people! There were several who watched the battle, and I enjoyed spectating too. Two of my Scholars were on a winning team!

Battleship was a great activity. Two of my Scholars participated and three came to watch.

Wednesday, August 16th
The 8 am sessions were facilitated by the PLs according to their groups: 1, 2, 3 or 4. The PLs all made Kahoot games for their groups. They asked questions to test what the Scholars knew. “How much are Swipes worth?” “What service on campus can provide safe rides for you during 7 pm through 3 am?” We also included questions about all the PLs to help them get to know us better. This was the last week of Bridge, and we had a good handful who did not which PL was which. We had some people who did not know what about our majors. There are 12 PLs, so I can understand that to an extent. It was overall a great session, with the students gaining knowledge or reinforcing concepts they had learned previously. My group had 25 questions, and we stopped in between questions to explain ideas in detail!
This day, we also had more sick students having to go to the Minute Clinic or emergency rooms. It has been quite an eventful Bridge. It has made me more attentive to how people show their symptoms. It can be very subtle, like a flushed face or sunken-in eyes. Although I have to adjust my personal plans to accompany the Scholars, I am helping people, so I cannot be remorseful for it.
Later, during Research Methods, I walked around to assist students with creating their research posters, which they’ll present on Friday. The afternoon workshop was about wellness center coaching in the PAES Smart Lab on the 4th floor, but nobody arrived, so we dismissed the Scholars after 20 minutes of waiting.
At 7 pm, another PL and I brought our families together to walk over to Mad Mex, a restaurant on South campus, to eat Mexican-style food for dinner! This was my first and only family dinner, and the last time we would meet to have a conversation. Our family chat topic was Balancing Home Life and College Life. I genuinely enjoyed the dinner! I learned that most of the Scholars were inducted into YSP a year ago (in 2016) or in junior year. Meanwhile I was inducted in the 6th grade, and we are colloquially called “the Originals.” Nonetheless, I beamed when my Scholars asked me questions about what I liked in terms of movies and sports.

Our family photo! @Gateway, outside Mad Mex

Thursday, August 17th
The ODI workshop entailed the YSP cohort meeting their ASPs (Academic Success Partners!) These people are generally junior or senior year undergraduates who are employed to mentor a group of Scholars throughout their freshman year. They meet weekly or biweekly for at least an hour. The evening activity was the ODI Early Arrival Programs Mixer, with about 300 students from the Young Scholars Program, Morrill Scholars Program, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and Bell National Resource Center. The PLs helped the Scholars mingle. There was Italian shaved ice and a DJ playing music and announcing giveaways. The Scholars could enter raffles to win festival tickets and even Kendrick Lamar concert tickets! The Scholars met new people and had a great time dancing and socializing.

Friday, August 18thCulmination of Summer Bridge Experience 2017
At 8 am, we had the YSP Closing Session and Evaluation. I was excited to give out the superlatives to my Scholars. All the PLs colored in a trophy sheet template for their families. After a speech from Ms. Chila, the Assistant Director, we had Scholars complete an evaluation of Bridge, with questions about their courses and about their PLs. The PLs left the room to avoid biasing the survey results. We then passed out our superlatives and it was heartwarming to me because we saw how not only the Scholars had grown, but how we ourselves had prospered.

Superlatives I created for my family, with a specific and special motivational quote for each Scholar

We still had academic core, math, and English classes. Furthermore, the Research Methods class had poster presentations occurring from 2:45 to 4 pm. This allowed the class enough time to print their posters, which were suggested to be 36″ by 48″ (3 feet by 4 feet). ODI provided them with printing money. There were printing issues, which happened last year as well. Some students could not print their posters, so had to resort to normal size 8 by 11 inch sheets to pin up onto the boards. At Hale Hall, faculty from around campus were invited to come see the posters and engage with the Scholars. The 17 of them were the guest judged. YSP encourages all Scholars to get involved in undergraduate research at some point! This poster forum can serve as a catalyst for students to be more inquisitive and creative. I was impressed at how the posters were all detailed and well-designed.

Research Methods Poster Presentation Winners 2017 – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place (left to right) Their topics were child abuse, prostitution, and renewable energy, in that order. The one on the right is my brother!


23 presentations in progress

The evening activity was the ODI Early Arrival Program Basketball/Dodgeball Tournament, at the ARC. Here, YSP, MSP, LSAMP, and BNRC were mixed together on teams so that it wasn’t entire ODI programs competing against each other. We do not want rivalry, but cooperation and coexisting. This was the final ODI event and marked the official end of Bridge 2017!


Summer Bridge Experience allowed me to strengthen my leadership, empathy, communication, and problem-solving skills.  I refined my speaking skills through my staff debrief meetings as well as through my Family Chats. I had to remain open-minded when understanding conflict. Also, Bridge tested my patience. With the issues of tardiness, absences, lost schedules/school supplies/IDs, and disrespectful attitudes we encountered, we had to remain calm and positive. At times, I had to drop what I was doing and immediately rush into action for the students. I helped search for missing lanyards and whatnot. I skipped or delayed meals to take students to get medical care. This reflects my mission of putting the Scholars first. My job/priority was taking care of the students, especially the ones in my own group/family, but making myself available and extending my help to others as well.

I built relationships with multiple students, especially in my family. I gave my insight and fostered a nurturing, supportive environment where students could ask questions and learn about campus/community resources. I encouraged them to have a healthy self esteem and to aspire for greatness by setting high but achievable goals for themselves. A college education is valuable, and especially when most/all of it is paid for by YSP, it is important that they complete college. Although it would be nice if some Scholars looked up to me, if I could just instill in the Scholars a sense of purpose, I will be satisfied.

I was not provided a stipend at all for being a PL, but my early move-in and meals were covered. I would suggest this opportunity to be a Peer Leader to other Young Scholars who want to give back to the program while serving and leading. The experience was worthwhile.

“Until you cross the bridge of your insecurities, you can’t begin to explore your possibilities.” – Tim Fargo

KEY:Abbreviations and Acronyms

ODI – Office of Diversity & Inclusion
YSP – Young Scholars Program
PL – Peer Leader
ASP – Academic Success Partner
Bridge – Summer Bridge Experience
BNRC – Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male
MSP – Morrill Scholars Program
LSAMP – Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation
Hale Hall – the hub and headquarters of ODI; official name of the location is Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center

Build bridges for student success. I am pictured with fellow PL Anthony (in red polo). In between are two Scholars. One of them was in my Family.

HIV Prevention Volunteering – Summer 2017

One volunteering position I was involved with during this summer was on the HIV Prevention Team for Care Alliance Health Center, a nonprofit federally qualified health center in Cleveland, Ohio. Care Alliance strives to provide high-quality comprehensive medical and dental care as well as patient advocacy services to people regardless of ability to pay. They have four different clinics around the city. The target population is those experiencing homelessness and those living in/around public housing. Everyone is welcome at Care Alliance, and no one is turned away from care. (I volunteered with them previously in January!)

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The Central neighborhood clinic for Care Alliance opened in 2015. In Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, 73% of families live in poverty. The infant mortality rate and the type II diabetes rate are both double the city’s average. Therefore, it is pertinent to increase health access in this area.

The HIV Prevention Team 2017 summer cohort is made up of 8 volunteers (we are all college students) split among three teams since there are three supervisors who conduct HIV tests themselves. It was an honor to be one of those selected and I was glad to be a part of Care Alliance once again. This summer, LaChanee was my supervisor and I was on her team along with another volunteer. (She is currently a HIV test counselor with Care Alliance and graduated from college in 2015.) Another impression accomplishment is that she runs her own dance business on the side.

HIV has stigma attached to it, and my hopes while I was volunteering was to decrease the discrimination and dispel common false perceptions about it.

In May, I applied and interviewed for the volunteer position, which was posted on Care Alliance’s Facebook page, which I follow. I was immediately drawn to the role because of how much impact it could have on my community and the valuable skills I would gain from the experience. Some requirements for this HIV prevention role were good verbal and communication skills, cultural sensitivity, open-mindedness, optimism, responsibility, and accountability. Being at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent was also needed. I was chosen to be in the cohort after showing that I was serious and committed to the betterment of the community. Afterwards, there were mandatory training sessions later in May, and prior to that, I had to research more on HIV to get a firm grasp of the topic.

Training took two days in their Central Neighborhood clinic. I brought a tote bag that was large enough to carry water, my planner, pencil pouch, and a binder and notebook to jot down notes. It pays to be prepared.

The first day, we were welcomed and did introductions. Each volunteer was provided with a folder containing documents, including the Volunteer Program Handbook. I read this handbook over multiple times to refresh my memory. The volunteer coordinator gave us training, which involved an interactive PowerPoint about patient confidentiality and we had to answer if the scenario was confidential or not. We reviewed general volunteer information like the code of conduct and expectations. We were given a packet of HR documents to complete too. Next we were provided a comprehensive information presentation, which was a run-through of HIV/AIDS, STIs, PrEP, and PEP. The counselors also covered risk reduction (with a demonstration of proper condom usage).

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PrEP is for HIV negative people who are at high risk for contracting HIV because they engage in risky behaviors like unsafe sex with an HIV+ partner. This is taken daily for the rest of your life. PEP is post-exposure, and for people who have recently engaged in risky behaviors (such as unsafe sex or sex while intoxicated) within the last 72 hours. This is taken daily for 28 days.

The second day of training, we learned about funding streams for HIV testing, universal precautions for testing, forms and data-collection when working with clients, pre- and post-test counseling, and positive procedures. Additionally, we reviewed databases and data entry. Training ended with us getting into our teams and meeting to discuss anything we had to do before June. Leaving training, I was excited about the scope of my volunteer work with Care Alliance (which I’ll call CA). However, I was informed that I’d be finger pricking clients, and I assumed I’d only do cheek swab tests. I was not feeling that comfortable taking even a drop of blood from a person. Then I was told that cheek swab tests (or OraQuick) are more expensive and may not be as accurate. So I had to do this even if it made me uneasy. Besides training, I had to complete a drug screening.

Throughout my volunteer tenure, I was required to wear business casual clothing for the office and more casual while we were doing outreach on the streets. With outreach, especially if outdoors, jeans and sneakers are allowed! A CA volunteer badge was also worn to identify that I was with the organization. Personal hygiene was important, as well as high respect for everyone I encountered. I held myself to the standard of treating each client as if they were my own family member. But above all, the number one important thing during work was to protect and maintain patient confidentiality!

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This is the Alere Clearview Complete 1/2 HIV Test, which Care Alliance workers call Clearview for short. This test involves pricking the finger to draw blood. In 10-15 minutes, results are ready!

In June and July, I helped work towards preventing HIV transmission through a variety of methods like conducting rapid testing and risk-reduction counseling around the community. I conducted HIV testing in clinic as well as at community events with the HIV Testing Mobile Unit; some activities were in the evenings/on weekends. My work schedule conflicted with my volunteering one and did not allow me to conduct HIV education sessions like originally planned. Additionally, I assembled and distributed risk reduction materials such as condom kits. Also, I scheduled primary care and PrEP appointments as well as assisted with quality control of all required paperwork. Everything I did, I recorded in my daily journal. I was required to keep and turn in a monthly log for my volunteer tenure as well.

In one or two hours, my colleague and I prepared over 100 condom kits, which consisted of five condoms, five lubricant oil tubes, a business card, and a sticker. This was for Safe on the Scene, a CDC-funded initiative.

Rapid testing is done at the site of care and can be completed in about 20 minutes! They are highly sensitive and specific tests, so results are usually accurate, but they need to be confirmed by additional testing if the result is positive.
Risk-reduction counseling involves discussing with the client what are things they can do to lower their risk, realistically. For example, some people who have had 50 sexual partners within the last year will not likely change to becoming abstinent. They may lower that to 25 partners a year. It has to be something they can stick with, and be completed incrementally (baby steps!)

One major project I was involved with was a CDC-funded HIV prevention initiative called Safe on the Scene (SOTS). Their slogan is Safe Just Got Safer. This $4 million initiative is intended to turn around incidences of HIV in Cuyahoga County, and the target population is African American males who have sex with males (MSM).
According to HIV/AIDS surveillance records at the Cleveland Department of Public Health, approximately 200 county residents were newly diagnosed with HIV-only or HIV-with-AIDS in 2013, and 42 percent of all HIV cases in 2012-2013 were among African American males ages 13-29. That’s almost one in two men.
(Source URL:
Therefore, the most at risk for HIV contraction are African-American MSM.

Recovery Resources and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio are partners of Care Alliance for this initiative. From this project, it is estimated that over 30,000 people will be served during the five-year span. Progress can already be witnessed; in 2015, Care Alliance reported that they provided risk reduction counseling and HIV testing to 3,314 individuals!

Most of my time was concentrated around Care Alliance’s Stokes Clinic (6001 Woodland Avenue, second floor), on the east side of Cleveland, and outreach events at places like Walgreen’s and public centers.

East Side Clinic for Care Alliance Health Center

  • June 5 – Walgreen’s in Lakewood, OH
    • I went on the Mobile HIV Testing Van to recruit people and conduct the questionnaire to assess their sexual health behaviors.
    • Recruited two women!
  • June 7 – Prepared condom kits at our Stokes Clinic for distribution and recruited people around the neighborhood for walk-in testing
    • Tested real citizens for the first time! I tested three men!
    • Went to Woodland library nearby and hung poster on bulletin board!
  • June 15 – LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland
    • This was my first time at this center, which is a huge, great resource for not only the LGBTQ community but also allies. It was a lovely facility, and colorful. My colleague Bailee and another volunteer Katherine were present with me; they focused on recruiting people outdoors. Altogether, I tested four people, all of whom were walk-ins, and my testing skills were getting better. I did have awkward silences with the first couple of clients, but one client and I had a nice conversation. I found myself sharing life details with that person! He made me appreciate my work more.
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  • June 17 – Park Village Apartments (Section 8 Housing) in Hough neighborhood
    • There was a community event in this public housing neighborhood, including a cookout, bouncy house, DJ, and resources fair. The booths in the courtyard included Planned Parenthood, University Hospitals, and more.
      We parked our Mobile Testing Van close to the action, and set up our materials to test people. That afternoon, we tested four folks, which was not as much as we hoped, but Planned Parenthood also used our van to test people since they’re one of our partners.
    • I personally tested two people and distributed the condom kits I made!

      The interior of the Mobile Testing Van has four chairs and a table that serves as the work surface for testing. It is actually very comfortable in the back.


  • June 24 – Cleveland’s 28th Annual Pride Festival
    • For five hours, I attended my first Pride! With a handful of Safe on the Scene workers, we walked in the Parade at noon and held a giant banner! I do not have a strong, powerful voice when I shout out so I couldn’t be heard well but the others hollered out “Who are we? Safe on the Scene! What do we want to be? HIV free! Safe on the Scene! Safe on the Scene! Safe on the Scene!” And then another worker following behind the banner yelled out “Get tested! Know your [HIV] status! Knowing is sexy!” It felt so different to be walking in a parade with hundreds of people watching you from the sidewalks and the rooftops. I never knew the feeling until this day. I was so fortunate to be a part of this moment.
    • At the booth we set up, we had a table in front as well as one in the back. The front table held a spin-the-wheel trivia game, free promotional items, fans, and business cards, and a clipboard. One or two people manned the front to ask the booth visitors trivia questions related to HIV, and then ask if they wanted their prize as a keychain, phone wallet, condom case (in black or pink), or a wristband. In the back, I was in charge of the build-your-own-condom-kit station. Participants write down their demographics and then get a goodie bag. They can put as many condoms and lubricants as they like into the bag, and it must fit. We had an assortment of condoms in a variety of flavors. We also had female condoms and flavored dental dams. Our lubricants were water-based and silicone-based.

      The condom station at our Safe on the Scene booth

    • In just the four hours I was at the table, we had over 120 people stop by to make condom kits. Since the Safe on the Scene team would remain until 8 pm, I am sure that we would see at least 200 people total for Saturday. We gave away all the female condoms and dental dams we had. The one thing that bothered me at this station was that one man overstocked on our condoms and I did not say something to him. His goodie bag was overstuffed and he also placed a good number of condoms into his backpack. At least he’ll have protected sex. Overall, I had a great experience and we did a good amount of outreach.
    • According to our organizer Lawrence White, who stayed all day, we interacted with 250 people. Furthermore, the festival staff said that we were in the top 10 most visited booths at Pride! Apparently they surveyed visitors about which booth was most memorable and recommended and people said “Safe on the Scene!”
  • June 25 – “Buck on the Scene” event @ Cleveland Exotic Dance Studio
    • This dance workshop event was made possible by Buck Out Cle LLC and Safe on the Scene! These two entities partnered together in efforts to raise awareness around HIV testing, prevention and linkage to HIV services. The workshop was lead by two members of the group Prancing Elites, Jerel and Kareem. The Prancing Elites are from Mobile, Alabama, and are featured on the hit show on Oxygen “The Prancing Elites Project.”
    • We had the Mobile Testing Van out by the entrance for HIV testing and the upstairs where the dance studio was, we had HIV testing as well as STD testing (a restroom is needed to collect a urine sample). I had my phone out so I could ask the event attendees to fill out the registration form, and so we could keep track of how many people attended.
    • Admission for the event is free if visitors get a confidential HIV or STD test provided by Safe on the Scene workers/volunteers. Otherwise, they pay a $10 admission fee.
  • June 27 – Walgreen’s in LakewoodNational HIV Testing Day!


    • The first National HIV Testing Day was observed on June 27, 1995 (
    • All afternoon, we recruited a total of 19 people for HIV testing at Walgreen’s, which partners with health departments/AIDs services each year for this special event! We had four volunteers, including myself, wearing our red shirts. While we are trained to test people, our job for the day was to recruit citizens to get the tests. The HIV testing counselors handled the bloodwork and paperwork. We also handed out $5 Dave’s Supermarket and McDonald’s gift cards, as well as Care Alliance Health Center goodie bags that included condoms, a sticker saying “I got tested”, and much more.

      The volunteers!

    • There were quite a number of people out, but we did get many rejections. However, 19 people is phenomenal because our goal was to get at least 12 people tested.

      Me squinting into the sunlight.         Taken by my college mentor and HIV Testing Coordinator, Carly.

      Our station set-up. Results were given inside the Mobile Testing Van for confidentiality.

  • June 28 – Walgreen’s in Lakewood, OH
    • This day went by faster than anticipated. The first hour there, we tested five people! Wow! We tested over a dozen people total, exceeding our goal for the day. We even had a client talk with us for over 20 minutes.
  • TOTAL HOURS: 29 (including May training: 36)
    Total Personally Tested: 9


  • July 19 – Stokes Clinic
    • I assembled 47 condom kits in an hour. The kits had five condoms, five lubes, and a business card. It was just me and LaChanee in the office. LaChanee was answering emails and doing other administrative duties.
    • I read part of a book called 100 Questions & Answers about HIV and AIDS, third edition.
      Image result for 100 questions and answers about aids third edition

      Then I distributed flyers advertising Care Alliance’s Block Party, held the next day. I went to the library, police station (no luck), Boys & Girls Club, and an apartment complex (no luck). I also handed some to a Beechbrook staff member, who shared the rest with her team.

  • July 20 – Care Alliance Block Party @ Central Neighborhood
    • CA hosts an annual block party. This year it was at their newest branch clinic, Central Clinic. This was a community celebration of health and wellness. Food, beverages, and entertainment were provided, along with raffle prizes and free giveaways!Services included bike repairs, blood pressure checks, cancer screenings (lung, colon, etc.)and information, health education, appointment scheduling, fitness activities (such as Zumba), CMSD student enrollment, and SNAP enrollment. We also had other community resources such as the neighborhood food bank, Molina Health Care, and our HIV van. A face-painter was available for the kids.

      The role I had was to greet visitors at my booth and have them sign in if they wanted a meal ticket and/or a BINGO score card. Those who completed the card by going to each booth inside and outside the clinic would then get a raffle ticket to enter the giveaways. We gave away two child bikes and two Dave’s Supermarket gift cards as well as a goodie bag. Everyone who attended the event left with something though – pamphlets, free food, and more. I was amazed at how we had hundreds of people come! Even the CEO and COO of Care Alliance stopped by to thank the staff for our hard work. This was my last day of volunteering for the summer too, and this block party was a great way to end my term.



  • Thank you to Carly Hill, my college mentor and HIV Prevention Coordinator of Care Alliance. You’re so motivational and positive! You make things all run smoothly and no one gets left behind when they’re on your team. I am always grateful for you.
  • Thank you to Annette James, HIV Prevention Specialist of Care Alliance. Your laidback demeanor was always appreciated! During training, you pushed the volunteers by asking us “Why? Explain it to me. Teach me.” Your presence is calming.
  • Thanks to LaChanee Davis, my team supervisor. I really enjoyed working with you. You were very flexible with working out my schedule. You motivated me to be better and was honest with me about my strengths and weaknesses. I also love how you are involved with your own business in addition to what you do with Care Alliance.
  • Thank you Mohamed Yugo, for your bright personality. You are very polite and look out for others. You also made me smile often when you danced or sang while driving us in the Mobile Testing Van! Good luck with your MPH at BU!
  • Thanks to Bailee, my fellow volunteer. You help make me feel comfortable when we work together. You’re in Public Health as well and you’re going to be a great doctor! You’re hardworking and easygoing.
  • Thank you to Karl Kimpo, who works with Planned Parenthood. I have done some community outreach and testing with you. I am glad to meet someone who’s had decades of experience with sexual health and marginalized populations.
  • Thanks to the people I have met through Planned Parenthood and Safe on the Scene. It was great to work with you all! Lawrence White, you rocked for organizing our parade walk and booths for Pride!
  • Thanks to Care Alliance in general for what it has done for the community. All volunteers have to pat themselves on the back for assisting in carrying out CA’s mission.
  • Thanks to the organizations CA collaborated with; community partnerships are a key to success! I learned more about the resources around Cleveland.
  • Thank you to my supporters, including the readers of my blog.


I spent a total of 43 hours with Care Alliance this summer. I enjoyed the work I have done with Care Alliance as part of their HIV Prevention Team. The summer was productive and I reached dozens of individuals. The most pivotal moment of my work (and biggest struggle) was getting over my discomfort with pricking patient fingers. Some really hated needles, and I share their pain. I was able to work with diverse groups of people: people in public housing, people who were incarcerated, people who were MSM, and transgender people.

The amount of knowledge I gained while volunteering was tremendous! I furthered my own knowledge on HIV and the stigmas people have towards it. I learned about the Ryan White CARE Act, which made it possible for more treatment, attention, and funding to be allowed for HIV/AIDS. We have come a long way since AIDS was called an epidemic in the 1980s; before, public discourse perceived AIDS as contagious and people with AIDS would not be allowed in schools or other areas. Fear guided people’s actions. With technology and education, there is less controversy over it. Public health is such a rewarding field and I am happy to be in this major at OSU.
During winter break, I strongly believe I’ll return to Care Alliance to help out more with their HIV efforts.


Please see these resources to learn more:
“Giving HIV Test Results”, April 2013, by Maria A. Corwin, LCSW, CAC III, and edited by Lucy Bradley-Springer, PhD, RN, ACRN, FAAN.


To find a testing site near you:

  • visit ActAgainstAIDS,
  • text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), or
  • call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636).

For Care Alliance:
Follow them on Facebook and Twitter as well!

For Safe on the Scene,
#SafeontheScene #KnowingisSexy

For LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland:


This summer, I had an interesting employment opportunity. I was employed by Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and while I was listed as working primarily at the NEOMED-CSU Partnership Building at Cleveland State University, in reality, I was able to spend time as a supervisor not just at CSU’s campus but also spent a week at a library and a few days at a rural college. This was truly a unique summer job and this is solely because of my great relationship with a NEOMED Health Profession Program Pipeline Coordinator named Ms. Johnson! I’ve known her for about 4 years now, and she’s all over northeast Ohio running programs and going to different high schools. During the summer, she’s also busy with different programs. She’s a wonder woman and one of the hugest role models in my life.
Here’s how my summer went:

June 12-30, I supervised at the CHAMPS (Careers in Health and Medical Professions) program at Cleveland State University. This three-week summer camp provides high school students with skills and knowledge about health/medicine through hands-on activities like labs and field trips. I LOVED being with CHAMPS!

Mad about microbio

The link to my comprehensive blog post on CHAMPS is here:

July 3-7, I participated in and helped execute a NEOMED-sponsored Academic Boot Camp at Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Cleveland near University Circle and my high school. This camp involved financial literacy (taught by a credit strategist), ACT tutoring, math and science teaching, as well as leadership training. I learned a lot during this short week. High school and college students could attend this event. We had majority high school students, mostly rising juniors and seniors, and about five rising college freshmen. I was the only college sophomore present.

The financial literacy instructor Mrs. Murphy-Williams was phenomenal and extremely effective in getting her messages across to us! I could actually listen to her talk about finances for hours. She just has a voice and charisma that draws your attention. From her, I learned that everyone has a brand. It’s how people perceive them or remember them by. I believe my brand is that I am sweet, determined and hardworking. Many people, especially those close to me, have described me using these traits.
My elevator speech (a quick way to introduce myself) would most likely resemble this:

Hello, my name is Melinda. I am a rising sophomore at The Ohio State University studying Public Health with a Sociology specialization and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
I am an ambitious go-getter who always wants to help others. I tend to be competitive but my drive is so strong and I never procrastinate. I’m a person who can be relied on to get the job done.
I am passionate about equity and access to high quality, affordable healthcare and education for all. My goals are to reduce racism/discrimination and health disparities, and prevent poverty. I want to improve lives for people worldwide. My future goals also include obtaining my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Health Behavior and Health Promotion in five years.

Mrs. Murphy provided us with so much valuable information – a sheet with 50 of the most common interview questions and booklets relating to credit history/scores and background checks. We also had sheets about budgeting.
Furthermore, this pro directed us to collect all coins we had, even the disrespected pennies in society – they add up over time!

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Edutopia clip art relating to financial literacy – Save and make more money than what you spend.

Her plethora of tips are listed below:

* Don’t share personal info. Don’t put out your birthday for others to know and use against you to steal your identity!
*A credit card is part of your brand.
*Everyone you meet is secretly interviewing you. First impressions matter so much!

* Avoid payday loans if you can.
* Don’t spend money faster than you make it.
* Credit is not about how much you have, it’s about WHO you have credit with.
* Have a beneficiary card or Upon Death card with your bank so that your account money can go to your loved ones (younger sibling or parents or children) and not the state.
* Never co-sign or be on your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner’s plan for anything. Money and love should be separate. Good advice!
* Be careful with your debit card. Leave it at home if you do not have a purpose for using it. Carrying it around makes you more inclined to buy.
* Don’t keep all your personal information in one place, like your purse. If that’s stolen, then you lose everything.
* Make sure your voicemail message, email address and signature, and social media accounts are appropriate and represent you well. Employers and schools check your presence online!
* Do things for other people so that they can do things for you one day.
* Do things that matter, and know what you want.
* Every 12 months, check your free three credit reports using
Other tips she had were to bring a can opener to your college dorm and to have a side-hustle (selling $1 water bottles at games).

Another component of the camp was leadership training; people from Effective Leadership Academy (, which has impacted over 15,000 students.

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It’s headquartered in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. This week, ELA had three college interns and one staff person come to the camp. I was skeptical of the effectiveness of ELA because I initially assumed it would involve cheesy ice-breakers and would not offer me any important skills. However, I did gain some soft skills and the activities were not a torture. Through the activities, I explored my values and my views about myself and the world. The interactive sessions involved games and worksheets. Some topics covered were self-empowerment, growth mindset, embracing change, reflecting on values, and interpersonal and communication skills.
I learned about ego and a communication rule: 7% of the words I say matters compared to 38% tone of voice, and 55% nonverbal body language. This means that body language is crucial in relaying your messages across to others.

*Tip* To get someone to like you more, try to mirror their body language. Leaning forward towards the person you’re talking with also shows that you’re interested in the conversation.

Another topic that resonates with me is the concept of pushing outside your boundaries and stretching yourself. There’s the comfort zone that we all know; we tend to stick to people like us and have habits such as sitting in the same seat for a class. However, if we stay in the same area and never explore or take risks, we won’t grow. The stretch zone is also called the growth zone. It’s about trying new things. When you push yourself too far, you can reach the panic zone, which can turn out poorly. For example, let’s say that a timid person remains comfortable not speaking out and staying in the corner of the room. He/she can enter the stretch zone by chatting up a classmate sitting next to him/her. They might not be ready to be in front of a crowd of strangers, which could lead to them running out the room or fainting. As I enter adulthood, I am in my growth zone for many area, such as being in a new city and learning how to succeed in college.

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Another way to learn about yourself is to do a SWOT analysis. This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Something interesting we did involved ethical decision making. The college students and I were told to imagine that we were on a boat which had a hole in it, and there was just one life preserver, with a rope attached to it. Only one person can be using the life preserver, and one person using the rope. This taught us more about each other and how we analyze situations, especially when it comes to who lives and who dies.

One of my favorite parts of ELA was when we did a cube personality test.
The link and any videos titled “Cube Personality Test” would have the same layout. This takes just five minutes of imagining and then the answers reveal surprising knowledge about ourselves. For me, the test was accurate!

The other favorite moment in ELA was when they provided us with a keychain holder that had five blank papers. They are for you to write quotes on. The ELA instructors told us a story of how a boy who went through one of their programs carried this keychain for 3 years, and on the day of his high school graduation, he pulled the keychain out of his pocket and gave it to the founder of ELA. The program changed his life and kept him focused. Therefore, I will maintain a record of motivational quotes so I can continue on my path to greatness and not lose faith in myself either.

A couple of key concepts of Organic Chemistry

The science and math tutor and ACT prep teacher was Ms. McClay. She taught the high school students on preparing for the ACT and some basic chemistry knowledge. For the 6 college students in the camp, she had us research science careers or how we could incorporate science into our careers. We also covered some hours of Organic Chemistry material, specifically carbon structures. We took a pop quiz on it as well.

The college students put on a skit directed by Ms. McClay, and the performance revolved around a 21-year-old patient’s recent admission to the ER and how the visit lead to the discovery of other issues in his life and a diagnosis of a mental illness as well as diabetes. We played the roles of doctor, public health nurse, psychiatrist, social workers, and case manager, while Ms. McClay played the patient’s girlfriend. The skit showed how several factors contribute to a person’s health, and impact how they receive treatment. For example, the patient was a Jehovah’s Witness, and other issues he had were impulsivity, reckless driving, suicidal tendencies, and more. He could never hold a job for very long, and he just came out of a long relationship with a girlfriend, and also had strained relations with his family. We were not trying to portray anyone in particular – this character was entirely made up! It could be possible that there are some individuals in real life like the patient in our skit. It helped to remind us that we cannot see someone’s struggles just by glimpsing at them. There could be a myriad of issues they’re going through. This is what I will try to do when I am a healthcare/public health professional.

Sharing our knowledge and reflecting on our experiences

Every day before camp ended, Ms. Johnson asked us all to sit in a circle and reflect on the day. “Share some knowledge! What did you get out of this?”
At the end of the week, Ms. Johnson surprised the high school and college students with backpacks filled with school supplies! Loose-leaf paper, highlighters, black pens, colored pens, mechanical pencils, folders, a notebook, a water bottle, a USB flash drive, and index cards! I was amazed at how this camp provided us with so much. Ms. Johnson asked NEOMED for the funds to have this summer camp since it can help reach youth and allow them to better themselves.

School supply stash! I am so thankful.

July 10-20, participate in activities including art therapy, daily discussions, implementing SOLE mode, community health work training, and more.
Daily duties include helping with set up and clean up of activity areas, completing timesheets, tracking attendance, and helping other participants with any issues.

July 10 – Cleveland State University
– We completed a SOLE session. (SOLE stands for Self Organized Learning Environment). We broke out into groups to answer the question: “What are your roles and duties as a citizen in your community, and what are the influences of your roles and duties?” Each group has a few minutes to dissect the question and then find at least two sources and statistics to back up their findings. We had a great discussion.

– We later watched videos from the documentary People Like Us. One episode was about Tammy Crabtree’s family living in poverty in Waverly, Ohio, a rural village. It’s so saddening to witness people in terrible conditions, living without heat or transportation. Tammy had to walk 10.5 miles to work. She had no car or working furnace at home. Furthermore, her kids did not seem to appreciate how she struggled to make ends meet and feed them. Then outside sources intervened to alleviate some of the family’s burdens. This lead to an exploration of rural poverty and discussion of whether my peers felt sorry for Tammy or felt like she deserved it.

Watch these two videos to see Tammy’s story:

– Norman Rockwell photo interpretation followed by art therapy

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Next, we looked at a Norman Rockwell painting. The facilitator Anita Iveljic (Hiram Class of 2014 and now AmeriCorps Associate Director at NEOMED) guided our discussion. She asked about what we observed in the print. Then she asked how we felt, and why the artist may have made this piece.  The Problem We All Live With, an oil on canvas from 1964, captures Ruby Bridges being walked to school by four U.S. marshals. We discussed that racism is still a prevalent issue today, but it’s more subtle than in the ’60s. We all have prejudices, but not inherently, and there’s widespread implicit bias as well. We learn about stereotypes in media and in conversations overheard when we were little. Hopefully, in America, race will no longer be a divide between people.

To end the day,  we used oil pastels, watercolor pastels, and paints to draw a portrait of a partner in the room. I am always welcome to art therapy but it was a challenge to draw a person. However, my partner said that I did a good job and she liked how I drew her.

July 11 – Cleveland State University

– Overview of Upcoming Trip
– Reading of story
While I do not recall the title of this story, although I am sure it is fictional, the summary is that a woman lost her husband in a tragic accident (murdered by someone who stole his car when the husband simply wanted to help an elderly woman with a flat tire). The 33-year-old deceased man’s organs: cornea, heart, pancreas, and more, went to various places around Texas, and to a total of eight individuals. The woman felt utterly empty and sought the person who now possessed the husband’s heart. Coincidentally, this transplant recipient was also 33 and she mails this person back and forth, because all she wanted to do was to listen to the beating heart for an hour. It was a touching story.

Hiram Excursion Trip – July 12 to July 14

This rural educational experience trip was overseen and supported by the NEOMED HPAC Program, the HRSA HCOP grant, and AmeriCorps. The purpose was to expand professional and educational growth through lab experience, scientific discussions, and learning about rural culture, while experiencing a movie and campfire s’mores.

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We stayed at East Hall for three days, two nights.

Wednesday, 7/12  
– Campus Tour of Hiram College
– Lunch (all you can eat)
– Hiram Lab Experience in Gerstacker Science Hall
We split up into two rooms because there were a lot of students. We extracted DNA from cheek cells and also from our saliva, and used these in tests to analyze our genetic diversity. We used PCR (polymerase chain reaction) amplification and electrophoresis. Specifically, we looked at the Pv92 sequence presence or absence in our genomes! You are either +/+ if both parents gave you this, +/- if one parent gave you a Pv92, or -/-, if neither of them did.

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From Bio-Rad Pv92 Informatics Kit

This lab took hours to complete because the procedure was complex, involving pipettes, tubes, micro centrifuges, and other equipment. Sadly, not a lot of students’ results appeared, most likely because there were errors during the experiment. Mine showed up though; I was +/+. According to the handout we received, people of Asian ancestry were more likely to have positive (+) allele frequencies. For example, 86% Chinese, 80% Filipino, 84% Java, and 90% of Taiwanese have the + allele. In comparison, the chart on our packet also showed that people of European origins are more likely to have the negative (-) allele; 18% for Euro-Americans, 10% for German, 12% for Hungarian, 18% for Syrian and 20% for Swiss. This was all very interesting, but I wish I understood more about the material.

– Bioethics Dilemma Prep

We were provided with a packet of articles relating to athletes using enhancements such as inhaling xenon gas or blood doping to improve performance. Steroids, injecting hormones, or living/training in high altitude environments help with strength or red oxygen cell formation. The various essays offered insights on the issue from experts and former athletes themselves. Is the use of these various methods cheating and therefore unfair? What qualifies as fairness? I learned about how one side supports the fact that all athletes should have wide access to the same drugs, so the playing field is level. However, critics claim that if all drugs were allowed, there’d be pressures on the athletes to use them. Some say that athletes should have the same opportunities to use drugs, and then their use can be optimized. According to one author, we should invest in developing safer forms of enhancement since people are going to continue using them anyways.

– Dinner
– Biomedical Humanities Discussion

The entire camp group came together to discuss what we believed were fair and unfair ways to enhance athletic performance. I personally think that living or training at high altitude environments are fair. Things like low oxygen tents or blood transfusions require thousands of dollars. This is a waste of money to me; people are in need of blood everyday. We even heard about abortion doping; women runners reportedly aborted their babies before races, while they benefitted from the extra red blood cells in their bodies. This is ridiculous and inhumane.

– Chopped! S’mores Competition
We divided campers into groups of eight people to get together and create s’mores that were healthy and creative. They could use four ingredients off of our provided list, which had 26 ingredients. They could pick from Nutella, wow butter, cream cheese, vanilla chips, powdered sugar, soft tortillas, green apples, sour brite octopus, air head extremes, pineapples, and mangos, to name some from the list. Then 15 minutes before they were supposed to present their concoctions, the staff members introduced to each group their secret ingredients.

– Campfire
Outside, each group presented their s’mores to the five judges. We had 10 groups total, and some groups stuck with the traditional graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallows. Almost all used fruit in their s’mores as well. In the end, Groups B and E won. Their prizes were Hiram Health water bottles.

Thursday, 7/13 
– Breakfast
– Middlefield Cheese Co-Op Visit

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Elmer was the employee that greeted us and gave us an overview of the operation. He actually helped build the factory. I learned a lot and saw what it’s like to make cheese. There are about 18-20 employees and 70+ farmers, who are 98% Amish. The cows that provide the milk all have names, and milk is delivered in jugs. The cheese is made by hand in open vats. No artificial growth hormones are used.
(More information on the co-op can be found here:

– Amish Farm Visit
Dan Chardon in Middlefield, OH is a mutual connection of a Hiram or NEOMED worker. He allowed us to visit his farm, which he said was 70 acres of land. He has six kids, who were adorable and quiet. While they did not talk, they watched us and followed us around as Dan showed us city folks a tour. We were as curious of the family as they were about us.

Dan presented his 40,000 pieces of garlic he had picked over three days. They could be sold for $15,000! What a whopping harvest! The farmer also butchers deer; he does not hunt them, but people bring them in to him. He raises livestock as well: chickens, sheep, and horses. I believe he said there’s 300 sheep, and the lambs are eventually sold and separated from their families. The horses are used only for transportation purposes, not for riding on, but for pulling the carriages. Also, the eggs of the chickens are sold. Although he makes minimum wage, he does not complain; he is comfortable and happy with his life. The students asked what he did in his free time, and he replied that he did not have much. Most of his time was spent on the farm. There was always something to do.

The Amish life was meaningful to Dan because three or four generations of his family lived on the land. He attended a private school until eighth grade, and a kid muttered to herself why Dan did not continue to high school. Actually after age 13/14, vocational training begins, and that’s when the individual pursues their craft or skilled trade. Amish people can have jobs in carpentry, farming, etc. The Amish lifestyle is interesting and is simple. Some kids did not understand and called it weird. Dan did not condemn the outside world for using technology or electricity. He respects us, just like we should respect them. Personal questions I had written and did not get to ask were “Has the Amish community decreased? Do you hear much about the outside world?” We all clapped and thanked Dan for our tour and departed for Hiram College.

– Lunch
– Water Balloon Battle
Hundreds of water balloons lay in containers out on an open playing field near the dorms we were staying in. This was optional, but about several dozen students participated. They brought their own Nerf guns and Super Soakers. We had plenty of photos of the battle. The kids had fun. Those who did not partake had free time to go to the gym or remain in their dorm. A student and I did walking and jogging around the track circling the football field.

– Dinner
– Stress relief therapies (mindfulness, music therapy, art therapy, pet, yoga, drum circle)

Plans had to be changed regarding this activity; many speakers cancelled, so we only had a mindfulness speaker, but she captured everyone’s focus and I truly enjoyed being with her. Rebecca Reynold is a health coach, certified drugless practitioner, certified Thai massage practitioner, and a raw and vegan lifestyle educator. Based in the Lakewood area of Cleveland, she also does women’s retreats and much more.

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Being mindful is different than having your mind full. Free yourself and just be in the moment. Do not think about the past or future, but focus on the present. Photo from

She began our session by rubbing peppermint oil on our wrists and telling us to smell them. We were then directed through imagining something we wanted. We kept our eyes closed during this. We had to picture what we wanted. What did we look like when we eventually obtained what we wanted? How did we feel? What were we envisioning? Then she said to imagine us receiving an award stating that we deserved what we received. Some students shared their goals of obtaining careers. Another boy dreamed of having a sports car. I went through the activity too, and I dreamed of finding love and true happiness, and the public health career and traveling the world appeared after.

We learned about an artist who looks into people’s eyes as a performance art. For one piece, in 2010, Marina Abramovic sat in a chair at a museum and people lined up, to the point that the line stretched outside the museum, to sit across from her and have her stare into their eyes. This can be a few minutes to even 40 minutes. She looked into 1,500+ people’s eyes. This is incredible. A shattering moment was when Ms. Abramovic had her head down as she always does before an art patron sits down. When she felt someone take a seat across from her, she gazed upwards and tears flowed down her eyes soon after, because she was looking at a former lover of hers that she’d seen decades ago. Hearing this story touched me. The campers were asked themselves, if brave enough, to look into someone else’s eyes, for three minutes, and then share what they learned about their partner from just observing.

Next, we discussed and practiced doing a few ancient mudras. When we do a peace sign with our pointer and middle fingers, that’s a mudra. Furthermore, from Ms. Reynolds, I learned that energy is like a boomerang. She told us that she was 5 foot 7 in the seventh grade. She was already taller than most of her teachers, and was called Big Bird and Tree Woman during her childhood. When we exhibit anger and hate, we will get it in return. That is why we cannot allow our negative energy to linger. Our session was just an hour and it was too soon. The kids really enjoyed being with her as well.

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The Buddha is doing the mudra of No Fear. Sometimes He is portrayed having both hands up.

Here are Rebecca Reynolds’ websites to find out more about her.

– Movie with Discussion
We watched a movie that was planned to have a discussion along with it, but this did not happen. Gattaca is a 1997 sci-fi, drama, and thriller movie. The plot summary provided by IMDB:

Gattaca Corp. is an aerospace firm in the future. During this time society analyzes your DNA and determines where you belong in life. Ethan Hawke’s character was born with a congenital heart condition which would cast him out of getting a chance to travel in space. So in turn he assumes the identity of an athlete who has genes that would allow him to achieve his dream of space travel.

Friday, 7/14 
– Breakfast
– Check-out
– Tour of NEOMED
I have been to NEOMED three times before. I have fond memories here. It was fortuitous to me that I saw an incoming med student there who actually spoke to me at my high school a few years ago while he served in AmeriCorps. He’s now starting medical school. He looked familiar and then I saw his name tag, and indeed it was the same guy. I should have wished him kind words and good luck for school, but I did not stop to talk to him.

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NEOMED new campus

– Back to Cleveland State University for the Summer Internship Celebration
– Lunch
– Speeches
– Videos of Amish Farm trip and Water Balloon Fight were played.

A post assessment evaluation will be emailed to us, asking us about how our experiences went.


The five weeks being with NEOMED were short. I had a splendid time with CHAMPS and the other camps/excursions in July offered me new perspectives on underserved communities. This was also my first time being a camp counselor (supervising people on an overnight visit.) I was responsible for knowing the whereabouts and activity of the four girls in my suite. Other supervisors had to handle six kids, or even another group altogether in addition to their own. I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses. An example of how I employed professionalism and maturity is when I put the girls’ needs above my own. One of them forgot her jacket in the dorm, and I finished my dinner abruptly to let her into the dorm across the street from the dining hall. Supervisors are the only ones with keys to the building and the suite. I have to listen to them and if they are not comfortable with something, I have to try to help them feel safe.

Overall, the girls I had were easy to get along with, and posed no major issues. An issue I personally had was not being in the camp counselor group chat, which included the program/camp coordinators. Sometimes the supervisors themselves were not sure of what was happening because the schedule was adjusted if we finished an activity early or events are cancelled. There was confusion but we went with the flow.

A huge challenge was the loud, disrespectful campers. On multiple occasions, we reminded them to be quiet and listen when a speaker is talking, yet they did not obey. I often heard cursing from a few people, such as on the bus and around the college. People continued to talk during the movie too. Additionally, some did not keep hands and feet to themselves; I noticed girls lounging in a chair with their feet on the wall or on a school bus with their feet dangling over the top of the seat. I was frustrated and enervated. But they are high school students, and rowdiness and hyperactivity is expected. I actually played the game of Telephone with the other Cleveland campers.

Another problem was when I had to clean up scraps of candy wrappers left over from the children’s messes. When it was time to check out of the dorms, I did a final sweep of the suite, and noticed leftover water bottles and granola bars. We had to leave the room in the exact same condition as it was when we entered the dorm. Even though I conveyed to my suite-mates that I was sorry for being a bad supervisor since the camp was not going as smoothly as expected, and that I myself was unsure of what to do at times, they said it’s 50/50, meaning that both sides have to put in effort.

I did enjoy my experience at Hiram College and NEOMED. While I wasn’t the best supervisor, and also possibly the least experienced, I am glad to have been a part of the camp. I got to walk my suite-mates around Hiram to our various scheduled events. The knowledge about Amish people and rural life will carry with me during my career. I want to help ensure that people in the country also receive quality healthcare, which can be problematic since they’re surrounded by fields of corn or wheat or cows. They could be miles away from a primary care provider. There also may not be a grocery store nearby. When we went to NEOMED in Rootstown, Ohio, gas stations and convenience stores, along with a smattering of pizza parlors, were lining the main road. It’s a different way of life in this rural area, and I want to gain more experience working with the rural populations in the future. A possible entry-level job for me can be Community Health Worker. My desire to work with a variety of people and travel the planet still remains strong after these past few months.

I hope to positively impact my people of Ohio.