The diversity presentation I recently went to was about the journey of Afghan refugees across the globe. The presentation was called Joël van Houdt which translates to “Where are you going”. I think that even just the title of the presentation was a powerful indicator of the struggles that many Afghan refugees have been going through since the United States military withdrew from Afghanistan. There were images of countless refugees simply searching for a place to live with no place to call home. A man spoke about how photographs of people that he took made impacts about the lives of people around him and raised awareness for the refugee situation in Afghanistan and other surrounding middle eastern countries. This brought to my attention problems that were impacting other peoples’ lives that I wasn’t totally aware of before.
Diversity and Inclusion impacts STEM a great deal, especially because STEM is a mainly male dominated field. This can be discouraging at times because of the stereotype about men being “better” than females in science and math while females are “better” at writing and literature. Being an Asian-American female on a pre-medicine track can also be discouraging at times. Although the world has come a far way in gender equality, there is still much room for improvement. The gender wage gap exists, especially in STEM fields. I remember even in my early education, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded that I wanted to be a doctor. To that, I was always met with a “how will you make time to have children?” or “have you considered being a nurse instead?”. This kind of mindset is toxic. Stereotypes and gender roles are not okay, especially in telling a child what they can or can’t do based on their race, gender, or ethnicity. The field of medicine that I aspire to go into is neurosurgery. Neurosurgery is a 90% male dominated field.
Another large stereotype that I face everyday is being an Asian-American. While it is unfortunate, it is true that being an Asian-American is one of the very first things people notice about me and remember me by.
I believe that the solution to ignorance is education. Educating people about subjects that may be “taboo”. Educating people that a person’s race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. does not change who they are fundamentally as people or their ability to perform a job. The views of the world have come a long way in the past one hundred years, however, it seems that in the past few years we have taken steps back. The United States as a country is becoming not only more and more anti-immigrant but anti-anything that is different than what is seen as someone who fits the profile of “an American living the American dream”.
The Ohio State University addresses diversity and inclusion in a very serious manner. Outward discrimination of others is prohibited. There are also countless clubs on campus dedicated to spreading the message of diversity and inclusion. In my own experience, I have seen incredible women in my own field doing amazing things which inspires me. A club called WISE (women in surgery empowerment club) has women who are in the medical field, especially surgery, talk about their experiences of getting where they are and how they have overcome challenges based on their gender. This is just one of many incredible campus resources which have helped me stay motivated in achieving my goals.
Tonight I attended a seminar about climate change and global warming. I went with two friends who are also in STEM EE scholars which made me feel comfortable because I wasn’t alone. There were many other undergraduate students present who attended the seminar, however, another thing that caught my attention was the attendance of older adults as well, some who appeared to be in their sixties and seventies. This reminded me of the fact that you are never too old to learn. This also made me more aware of the widespread issue that global warming is. Global warming affects every single being on planet Earth. The effects of climate change do not discriminate- they affect everyone and everything.
Most of the content was relatively understandable. The speaker used plenty of graphs to show trends over time (carbon dioxide emission, sea levels, etc.). There were, however, some points the speaker brought up that I had no idea what he was talking about- some on the atomic level and others on the macroscopic level. I could have never imagined the countless different effects that climate change has on the world. While the scientific aspect of climate change is immensely important, there is also an economic aspect as well. Humans are not known for their strong-willdness with delayed gratification. This appears in possible to solutions in climate change as well. Why pay more money now to fund renewable energy sources for the longterm when you can buy energy from fossil fuels for an extremely low price now?
Climate change affects everyone. It is our problem and it is not a problem for tomorrow- it’s a problem for now. It’s not only about what may happen in the future, it’s about what effects of climate change we are experiencing now. UC Berkley was shut down for three days due to the threat of wildfires, caused by the drought in California which brings me to my next point: climate change causes drought. Water aquifers have been depleted, leaving millions without water. Drought, heat waves, water shortages, crop failures, and rising sea levels can cause hundreds of millions of refugees to migrate from their inhabitable homes in only a few short decades. The most water stressed areas are those closest to the equator and Ohio seems to fall right on the edge of the trend. Spring rain instead of snow in areas that snow happens frequently can cause glaciers to melt in streams instead of steady trickles which can cause floods. The problem is real and immediate. The projected sea level for 2100 should not occur naturally for another several millennia. The increasing population of the world makes it harder and harder for complete sustainability to be achieved.
There was an interesting quote presented at the seminar that really made me think about climate change. “If you don’t change directions, you will end up where you are heading”. In relation to climate change, if we, the inhabitants of Earth, do not take action to slow the effects of climate change, life as we know it will change permanently and Earth will eventually become inhabitable. We only have one planet. We must protect it.
This past week I visited the Office of International Affairs at The Ohio State University. I learned about the different opportunities there were to study abroad and learn outside of United States. The advisor I spoke with was very knowledgeable about the different programs and helped me find which one could work best for me. I was very unsure of what I was looking for when I first went but after answering a few questions about my interests, where I wanted to travel, and for how long, the advisor presented me with a few different programs that I might be interested in.
The main point that first prompted my visit to the Office of International Affairs was when a speaker came and talked to my college seminar class about the opportunity to study abroad. Study abroad has always been something that I have thought about in the back of my mind but never something that I really took seriously and considered doing. It was an option that always interested me but in the past I always brushed it off as unrealistic because I believed I wouldn’t have the time. It was one of those “it would be nice” but probably won’t happen thoughts. The presenter spoke about how education abroad has a range of different programs that go to different countries and last for different amounts of time. Some people study abroad for a year and some go for only a few days. The thing that all students who had traveled abroad was the out of classroom experience to learn not only about another subject, but about another culture. The advisor even explained that many of the programs to study abroad count as credit, the same as a class would and factor into your GPA. Learning that there were some programs that could count as credit towards my major and wouldn’t take up too much time was what made me want to pursue more information about possible education abroad programs that might be right for me.
The program that sparked my interest is called Scientific Roots in Europe. There is a spring semester long on campus course that pairs with the education abroad program which counts as biology credit which ties in perfectly with my biochemistry major. The first half of the semester is spent learning about the context in which biological scientific discovery has taken place in Europe, specifically England and France. Over the week of spring break, the class travels to England and France and visits multiple historic sites where scientific discoveries have been made. The British Museum, Down House, and the Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle are just a few of the historical sites which will be visited during the trip. After returning, the class resumes and a final project that ties the content learned in the classroom with the content learned in Europe is completed.
I would love to be able to study abroad sometime within my next few years at OSU because the mix of travel, learning about biology, and immersing myself in European culture is something I hope I get the opportunity to do.
My first real college experience at the Ohio State University was with the Ohio State Welcome Leader (OWL) program. The program started two days before official move-in day which meant I got to move in two days early. These two days, while not seeming like a lot of time in the long run, helped me tremendously in becoming more acclimated to campus. I had more time to walk my classes, learn where buildings are, how my mean plan works, and transition from living at home all of my life to living in a residence hall. Familiarity is a rare feeling after making a huge life change, but the people I met through the OWL program made me feel like I had something familiar going into my first days of classes.
I first found out about the OWL program during orientation when my peer leader recommended it to me. She suggested the program because it allows students to move in early and gives extra time to get adjusted to life on campus before classes start. Through the Ohio Welcome Leader program, I met a tremendous amount of people. I became familiar with other OWLs that lived in my same residence hall and floor. I also had a sophomore mentor who helped with the transition into college and gave advice from personal experience as well. Most importantly, I gained friends through my OWL small group who are some of my closest friends now. Spending more than 36 hours with the same people in a span of two and a half days allowed us to become fast friends. Going into the first day of classes was much less stressful because of the friends I met through the OWL program. I felt like I wasn’t by myself on a huge, brand new campus because I had already made friends and walked around campus.
The OWL program mainly takes place over a two and a half day timeframe. We moved in on Thursday instead of Saturday which helped avoid the move-in day stress because there were significantly less people moving in at the same time. Thursday night we first met up with our “OWL flocks” (small groups of other OWLS) and OWL-C (OWL coordinators, one mentor for each group). We had bonding activities and went to Hoot Fest together where we met even more people that same night. Friday was OWL training day where we had a series of activities that trained us on how to assist others on move-in day and more bonding activities. Saturday was move-in day. From 6:30 AM to 7 PM, we welcomed students and their families and helped them move into their residence halls as quickly and efficiently as possible. The days are busy and tiring but the experience was worth it. The extra time on campus, learning where everything is, and making new friends has still impacted me today. The friends I made through the OWL program are now some of my closest friends that I have in college who I talk to daily. The OWL program made the transition into college much easier. Getting involved with the program gave me an early support system on campus. My OWL flock became yet another group of people that I had something in common with so I have never really felt alone on campus.
I recently made a visit to the Chemistry Learning Resource Center to get help on a lab report. It was nerve wracking at first because I was not familiar with the procedure for getting help in the LRC and I went by myself. The aspect of the open tutoring session that made me feel most comfortable asking for help was the relaxed environment. Each student brought the chemistry material that they needed to work on and worked individually or in small groups at tables that were marked by section (1210, 1610, 1220, etc.). There were several tutors in the room that would walk around and make sure everyone was doing well. If there was help needed on a particular question or section, a student simply had to raise their hand and a tutor would be around to guide them through the problem within a few minutes. The tutors were all very patient and happy to help when it came to aiding in students’ understanding of content.
Asking for help is not a thing that comes easily to most people and I fall into that majority. As a person who wants to figure everything out for herself, I find it difficult to reach out and seek help, even when I know I need it. Throughout high school, I rarely sought out help for anything except calculus. If there was material that I was confused on, I would struggle through it and try to self-teach. This approach caused more frustration and took more time than simply seeking help would have. I also found that I develop a deeper understanding of concepts when I engage in a conversation about them, rather than simply hearing them from a lecture or reading them from a textbook.
I believe that knowing when to ask for help is a vital skill, especially in college. There are several hundred students at a time in the majority of classes which makes it extremely difficult to get individualized help from the professor during class. With the advanced pace of most college classes, the material is taught one time in lecture and review and mastery of material is expected to be completed outside of the classroom. For this reason, getting help with harder classes especially with material that is not well understood is vital to academic success.
At The Ohio State University, resources to get help in different subjects are widely advertised and attendance is encouraged which makes academic support very accessible. The message that there is no shame in asking for help is very present here on campus which has made me more open to seeking help. My reluctance to seek help originates with a fear of looking like I don’t know what I’m doing and being judged for the lack of knowledge. The tutors that I worked with at the Chemistry Learning Resource Center reassured me that it was okay to not understand concepts immediately- that’s what seeking help is for. It’s always better to speak up and take extra time with a tutor to understand material than being confused in silence.
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