I met with my mentor Brooke Evelyn Kauchak, who is a sophomore and an EEDS major. The five questions I chose to ask her were:
- How did you decide on the major you have chosen?
- What type of volunteer hours, internships, etc. have you done since you have been a student at OSU? How did you first get involved with them?
- How have you grown because of your participation in the ENR Scholars?
- What do you plan to do with your major after graduation?
- What is one of the most important things you have learned thus far at Ohio State?
Brooke decided that she wanted to go into environmental science her senior year of high school. She loves everything about the EEDS major because it covers sustainability through the economic perspective which she believes is very important. She has a concentration in international development which accounts for her love for travel. I really like that Brooke’s major is such a perfect fit for her; I believe that you should center your life around what you are passionate about. I am passionate about the wildlife aspect of the environment, which is why I chose to major in forestry, fisheries, and wildlife. The fact that Brooke did not decide on what she wanted to do in college until her senior year of high school shows that you do not need to have your entire life figured out right away. While I knew I wanted to do something with animals and nature from a very young age, not everyone is that certain about their career path and that is completely okay.
Brooke did a lot of volunteer work for Arnold Air Society. She chose to be a part of the club her freshman year and went through a long recruitment process. Through Arnold Air Society, she has done a lot for veterans and volunteered at both a 5K and a 24-hour run. The internships she is interested in doing are for the Licking Land Trust and the Soil and Water Conservation District. Again, Brooke shows that you should do what you are passionate about, whether for your major or for your internship/volunteer work. The way I have gotten to be part of something I am passionate about so far is through Pets for Vets, an organization that pairs veterans with PTSD with emotional support animals rescued from shelters. As someone with PTSD who loves animals and is passionate about making sure shelter animals get homes, Pets for Vets is the perfect cause for me to be able to contribute to. I volunteered at and ran in the Mutt Strut, a 5K to raise money for Pets for Vets, and hope to do more for Pets for Vets in the future. I also plan on doing an internship that involves helping wild animals and their habitats, because that is another cause I am passionate about and want to obtain a career in.
Because of ENR Scholars, Brooke has gotten better at pursuing things she loves. She has gained the confidence to look for activities that involve the environment and outdoor education and also tries to get her friends involved with them. She has met many great people through ENR Scholars who she is still friends with today which makes her feel better about being on such a large campus. Though I have only been in ENR Scholars for a short period of time, I understand how it has been so helpful for Brooke because being part of a supportive group passionate about things I am passionate about is what got me through high school. I loved running cross country and track not just because I love running but also because the people I ran with were so loving and supportive. The people in ENR Scholars all seem great so far and I look forward to forming good and lasting relationships with them.
After graduation, Brooke plans on working for an NGO and traveling abroad to help developing countries be more sustainable. She is also interested in environmental education and wants to teach children to be conscious about nature and to be sustainable from a young age. I think what Brooke is doing is absolutely incredible; I come from a developing country (India) that is not the most environmentally friendly and it is people like Brooke who will help it become a better place. It is also extremely important that people be educated to be sustainable and about why sustainability is important from a young age. The sooner and longer people are sustainable, the less damage the environment has to suffer. Also, the more people who are knowledgeable about sustainability, the more people there are to educate others on how to take care of the environment and why we should.
The most important thing Brooke has learned at OSU is to make time for yourself every day. It is important to focus on your education, but it is also important to focus on your mental health by doing what makes you happy and you should not forget that. I completely agree that taking care of your mental health is the most important thing you can do for yourself; as someone who has struggled with mental health disorders for a long period of time, I know that not giving myself time to recover from my struggles will only drag me further from my path to success. I even have a piece of paper in my wallet with these words written on it: “It’s okay to put your health first. You need to to succeed.”
Brooke is a great person and friend who I am very glad to have as my mentor. I definitely plan on taking her advice to heart throughout my years in college.