Thanks to the STEP program, I was able to travel to Ho, Ghana for a service-learning trip through Cross Cultural Solutions. This was such an incredible experience that I expanded on in a reflection in the following link. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity, and I truly feel like it changed my perspective on certain aspects of life.
I began volunteering at Nationwide Children’s in October of 2017, and it has truly been an incredible experience. I am assigned to a floor in which I go around and hang out with the kids who could use some extra attention. My floor includes a wide range of illnesses, from mental illness such as eating disorders and depression to babies with respiratory infections. My floor also includes the rehabilitation unit. What I do each time I go in truly varies based on the needs of the day. Sometimes, I spend the whole time playing with and comforting infants whose family members were not able to make it in that day. Other days, I hang out with toddlers or young children to give their parents a little bit of a break to go eat something or make some phone calls. The most important part of my position is making sure that every patient has some attention and is able to have a fun time despite the situation they are currently in. One of the experiences that has touched me the most was when I hung out with a young boy in the rehab unit who wasn’t vocal. Although there was an obvious barrier for communication, we were able to communicate in other ways such as hand motions and facial expressions. I felt as though I was able to make a real connection with him even though it was not through the traditional route of talking. Another experience that has stuck with me was also in the rehab unit, where I spent most of my shift walking around the floor with a little boy in a wheel chair. He was full of energy and so happy to be out and about. My experience at Nationwide Children’s has been an incredible one, and I look forward to the connections that I will continue to make with the patients and the nurses.
I had the wonderful opportunity to work in a lab in the Neuroscience Department for about 6 months. I started in the summer of 2017 and was immediately intrigued by all of the projects going on. I was assigned to help a graduate student with her project involving the mTOR pathway and oligodendrocyte regeneration. She had several projects underway, which involved the spinal cords of either rats or mice. I was trained to work with the animals, and was even able to help prepare them for surgeries. My main duties in the lab included blocking and cutting spinal cord tissue, staining slides, and counting cells. I learned to identify and count several different types of cells, and mostly focused on counting the areas where two different types of cells were overlapping. I learned so much about the scientific process in this lab, and even gained some important skills in interpreting journal articles. Every other Wednesday, the grad students in my lab had a journal club in which I was allowed to participate. I would read the selected articles to the best of my ability beforehand, and listen as the grad students explained the figures and discussed the articles. This was extremely helpful for me because listening to their discussions clarified so much about the articles and figures that I was not too sure about when I first read them. Ultimately, this lab was a great experience, but a combination of several factors lead me to make the decision to step away from it in my second semester of sophomore year. I had learned so much about the research process, but I had also leaned a lot about myself, including the fact that this lab was just not the best thing for me at the time. I knew that there were definitely students out there who were 100% sure they wanted to pursue a PhD that would be ecstatic to be in my position and would be passionate about taking over the project that I was working on. This, along with my desire to become more involved in volunteering and other activities outside of research helped me make my decision to leave the lab. Despite this decision, I am so grateful for the time I spent in this lab and for all of the knowledge I gained from my incredible P.I. and all of the graduate students in the lab.
I have been a Neuroscience Ambassador for a little bit over a year now, and it has a great experience that has taught me so much and introduced me to so many amazing people. As a Neuroscience Ambassador, it is my responsibility, along with my fellow ambassadors, to represent the Neuroscience program at OSU. From working orientations, to events throughout the school year, to open houses, I am always available to to the new Neuroscience majors to answer any questions and to act as a mentor to guide them through their first year. Working as an ambassador is great because we get to make lasting relationships as we talk to some of the same students at each event. For example, the picture below shows me and a couple of my fellow ambassadors with a group of freshmen. We ended up making a group chat for the freshmen to ask us any questions they had throughout the year, which I hope was a helpful tool for them. At orientations, we helped each freshmen schedule their first semester of classes. At open houses, we talked to prospective students about the major and about OSU as a whole. Lastly, at events throughout the year such as the Pancake Break in fall Semester and various picnics on the oval we talked to the new majors and checked in to make sure everything was going okay for them in their first year. Being a Neuroscience Ambassador has given me so many great opportunities and connected me to some incredible people and I look forward to seeing what it brings in the future.
In the fall of 2017, Buckeyes Against Alzheimer’s put on a senior prom for the residents of the Inn at Olentangy Trail. As a member of the board, we worked together to plan the best prom that we could. We decided to make the theme a masquerade, and had our members help to make masks for the students and residents. We invited the families of the residents, and worked with the staff at the Inn to make the event as comfortable as possible for the residents. We had a playlist of songs that we thought would be familiar to them, and we brought lots of good food. On the day of the event, we went early to set up and we went all out with the decorations. We had streamers, banners, masquerade themed posters, and LOTS of balloons, which ended up being a hit among the residents as they tried to keep them in the air and occasionally hit them right at the students with mischievous grins on their faces. We had the opportunity to talk to the loved ones of many of the residents as well as to watch the residents’ faces light up as they danced and talked to their family members. Overall, we had a great turnout at this event and the smiles on the residents’ faces were enough to prove that the prom was a huge success!