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.
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.
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