A Year in Review

Global Awareness

Of all the categories, I need the most work in global engagement. I will continue to select classes that include a global awareness component. I won’t be doing study abroad so I will have to make a careful effort to seek out enriching activities.

 

Original Inquiry

These last two semesters, I worked several hours a week in a spinal cord injury lab. Having spent a portion of my first year in the same lab, I decided to finish up in the lab this past semester so that I can pursue other commitments. The last project I worked on was definitely my favorite. My grad student wanted to lay groundwork for a study using DREADD mice, which stands for Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs. The mice have been engineered to express receptors which respond to designer ligands. The ligands are not naturally produced by the mouse, so this powerful tool gives the researcher the ability to selectively stimulate the receptors. My contribution was quantifying images using a software called ImageJ. ImageJ is becoming quite popular for image analysis in laboratories but my lab had not yet embraced it. I figured out how to utilize the software for cell counts on my own, including typing up a guide for others, and tinkering with automated cell count settings. Using a software like ImageJ for cell counts is a huge benefit because of its speed — but only if the data can be consistent with the human eye. When a researcher decides how to execute a cell count, many factors go into judging whether a spot in the image is “in” or “out”. While these judgements are split-second for a human quantifier, the software needs the boundaries to be carefully set. In order to find the best settings, I compared manual and automated counts for the samples at the extreme ends of the spectrum. The project was personally rewarding because I was able to make progress with a new technique.

 

Academic Enrichment

This year I made the tough decision to switch from neuroscience to biochemistry major. Choosing to switch was a personal challenge because I was well underway in my neuroscience curriculum and I had found a wonderful community and support network. My plans for undergraduate and beyond were neatly wrapped up in a bow. Switching — purposefully moving into the unknown —  required flexibility and self-assurance. The biochemistry major would require some of the hardest undergraduate classes, including mathematics up to calculus 3 and physical chemistry. Maintaining grades is definitely a concern for me.

The decision become clear when I thought about myself in 5 years, looking back on this. I would either say “I pursued what was convenient and secure,” or “I put myself on the line a little bit to pursue a truer passion.” I want to start off my life off on the right foot, by making a decision that reflects my most authentic self. Switching meant trusting myself to succeed. I decided to use my neuroscience courses towards a minor, and I changed up my course path to reflect a bachelor’s of science in biochemistry.

 

Leadership Development

I’ve continued to invest time in the OAC since I was hired in October, 2017. Fast forward to now, six trips and numerous trainings over the past year, and I’m scheduled to hold my first full Trip Leader position for a Wilderness Welcome trip this summer. I’m ecstatic! Leading trips has improved my self-confidence, assertiveness, and interpersonal skills. In addition to holding my first full leader role, this trip will give me a chance to make it meaningful my two apprentices — both students that have not led trips before. I have spent most of my time up to this point being a learner, but now the script is flipped and I have the opportunity to guide an aspiring trip leader.

 

Service engagement

Second semester, I tried something I’ve never done before: a RAM trip! RAM, Remote Area Medical, is an organization that provides free medical, dental, and vision care to whoever. I traveled with a group of other students to Harrisonburg, VA and volunteered at the week long clinic. I took up numerous jobs during my time there. My favorite things I did were being a greeter and working in the sterilization unit. Being a greeter allowed me to make a connection with people, which is usually my favorite part of any activity. The sterilization unit offered more of an opportunity for learning because you get to work with the the different types of dental equipment and the sterilization process for each. The weekend was long — we worked from 5 am to 5 pm the first day, and 5 am to 10 am the second day. Squeezing it in over the weekend was particularly rough because the drive was 6 hours each way. Nonetheless, I plan to help out again. The organization has a great mission and at the clinic, I saw the impact first hand.

Year in Review

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more information, go to: http://honors-scholars.osu.edu/e-portfolio. Delete these instructions and add your own post.]

G.O.A.L.S.

Global awareness is actively seeking knowledge about other parts of the world in order to broaden the mind. Without global awareness, we are stuck on a very limited scale with which to judge happenings at home. Most importantly, being aware of other people helps us find similarities along with differences, and leads to greater inclusivity, caring, and action. As an avid news reader, I can make a special effort to read more news from other parts of the world. In addition to helping me keep up with my French, TV5 is an excellent global news source. I will also look into clubs, like Mundo, that promote diversity and global awareness. In the classroom, I’ve chosen courses that promote open-mindedness, such as philosophy, and classes that focus on complex worldly issues, such as terrorism.

Original inquiry is the part of education where we answer our own questions rather than internalizing the answers to someone else’s questions. Already assisting in a spinal cord injury lab, I will continue my lab work. Once my research is more developed, I’m going to present at the Denman and check out similar presentation opportunities. I would also like to explore more informal research — the kind that can happen everyday when we explore our passions. For example, I love the idea of researching a current political issue in depth and producing a paper. Projects are an awesome addition to classroom material.

Academic enrichment is choosing a challenging but meaningfully challenging course load. Personally, I prefer honors courses because of the small class size and engaging material. I also chose a challenging major, Neuroscience, although my choice has more to do with my passion for the brain. I love to learn and it is the hardest problems that attract me. I will continue to take challenging classes within my major and GE’s.

As far as leadership, I’m currently an OA in my resident hall, an OAC climbing instructor, and I hold a club chair position. As an OA, it’s my responsibility to look after residents and help them in anyway I can. I’m also responsible for crisis management. Luckily no such situation has arisen, but I know that if something happens, it will be my job to take action. I’m also a climbing instructor. A new climber myself, I’ve submersed myself in the activity and culture, and I’ve done my best to inspire the same passions in my patrons. I’ve never considered myself an athletic person, so I’ve been challenging my own paradigms and growing my leadership skills. Eventually I will be able to lead trips. Finally, I’m a chair position at OSU Circle K, a service organization. For my chair position, I lead by organizing joint service events.

I love community service. Currently I spend a few hours a week volunteering at Riverside Methodist Hospital, attend service events with Circle K, and I’m always on the look out for opportunities from other clubs and organizations. In December, I’ll be attending my first service event with NEURO, a club that offers elementary neuroscience workshops to Ohio schools. I can’t wait to see the look on the children’s faces when they get to touch a brain! I’m also looking forward to my resident hall’s blanket making event later this month. Since I just learned to crochet, I want to take part in more similar projects!

Artifacts

In October, I went on my first rock climbing trip ever — a weekend trip with the OAC to Red River Gorge, Kentucky. My decision to go was completely spurt of the moment, but it has led me to a new passion, countless new friends, and even a new career. I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience and I plan to seek many more.