Primate Cognition (PSYCH 3624) at OSU

My spring semester of 2020 I took by far my favorite class so far, Primate Cognition with Dr. Anna Yoacom. Besides the fact that Dr. Yocoam is an amazing professor who really cares about her students and is passionate about what she is teaching, the content was really fascinating to me. We studied everything from basic language and counting capabilities in a range of non-human primates to meta-cognition and morality. We began the class with a brief overview of primate species and learned about not only apes but also old world monkeys, new world monkeys and prosimians. This is the first class I have left wanting to tell more people about what I have learned. There were a lot of research articles that we had to read, which is not a strength of mine, but we always discussed them in class and had fair good online discussions through a website called Perusal. I think this is what sparked my interest in moving away from veterinary medicine and towards psychology. It was not just that I liked learning about primates, I liked the concepts behind the theories and learning about how they think in comparison to humans. A lot of primate cognition is understanding how humans think and comparing that to primates. I would love to go more in-depth into primate cognition specifically, but I realize this is very specialized, so learning more about general psychology and the career paths I can take within the field is how I would like to continue with my newfound interest.

Second Year In Review

I went into my second year excited fr what it will bring me and was not disappointed. I began the year as a peer mentor for my scholars group. I love helping the first years find their way around campus and teaching them all of the tricks I learned from the previous year. I was a co-handler with my roommate and throughout the year we handled two different dogs, Beetle and Groovy. Beetles even went on to be a service dog and is happily placed with a family. Groovy is still in training with my roommate! I took my first set of zoology major classes and quickly learned that I did not enjoy them, so I switched my major. I will now be pursuing a dual degree in both Psychology and Biology. Hopefully, by the end of my four years, I will have two Bachelors of Science. I worked at the College of Veterinary Medicine and learned valuable lessons about parasitology as well as the overall journey to a DVM. I also made many connections that I am very grateful for. This, combined with my new knowledge of the journey to graduating vet school, also helped me to realize another goal of mine, which is to become a clinical psychologist. I still need to obtain more information about the career and other potential careers in the field, but I have found a new love for psychology.

My second semester was full of new excitement and challenges. I started Organic Chemistry, which pushed me to think in a completely new way than either of the General Chemistries did. I took three psychology classes, including one called Primate Cognition which has been my favorite class in college so far. The biggest struggle I have had though, as many others have had, is coping with the effects of COVID-19. It interrupted a semester that was going really well and forced me to move back with my parents. I quickly learned that home is not the best environment for me to be productive and I quickly fell behind in my classes. While I have finally finished them all and can say I did catch back up, it was far from easy. I missed my friends and especially struggled during finals because I was use to spending hours studying in Thompson Library with everyone. I did not realize how much just being around people who understand how difficult college is helped me through my classes until then. We frequently reminisced over text and facetime about the fun we had studying for finals together. I am beyond excited to be able to see my friends again and to move back to campus so that we can continue to have fun together, even when we are in the midst of a stressful situation such as finals.

Overall, I really enjoyed this semester despite the abrupt disruption to my routine because of COVID-19. I was making new friends and becoming closer with those of whom I was already friends with. I learned a lot about myself and my goals for the future and was able to gain experience and connections I would have never thought possible for a second-year undergraduate a year before. I am excited to see where the next two years take me.

Statement of Action for the Next Two Years

My first two years have taught me more than I thought they would about myself. I have gained invaluable experience working at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, changed my major from Zoology to Psychology and Biology,  joined new clubs, and stopped attending others, and overall I have grown as a person. For the next two years, I hope to continue many of my activities such as peer mentoring through the Biological Sciences Scholars program, continue to work towards a Dual Degree in both Psych and Bio and work hard to save for my post-undergraduate education. I have made invaluable friends that I hope to continue my friendship with and I want to continue to make connections in the next two years.

As my new course of action, I would like to start working towards obtaining a Masters or Doctorate in Psychology. I have recently thought more about becoming a clinical psychologist and helping my community in this way, rather than through veterinary medicine. I am going to continue taking the necessary classes for vet school, but I feel as if my career trajectory has shifted some since coming to college. I recently took my first few psychology classes and have found a love for them. I do not want to completely discard my goal of obtaining a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, but I do want to shift my focus to learning more about careers in Psychology. Therefore, my new goals for these upcoming semesters is to look into careers with psychology, join new (maybe non-career related or psychology-related) clubs, talk with people in the field of psychology, and overall broaden my horizons as I mentioned in my “About Me” section earlier in my portfolio. I just want to open myself up to new experiences and opportunities to ensure that I am making the best ones for myself, while also enjoying my time at OSU to the best of my abilities.

Working at The College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU

This past year I have had the opportunity to work in a 3rd-year parasitology lab under Dr. Marsh and Catherine Bremer at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. My main responsibilities include cleaning and preparing the lab, but this past semester I was able to sit in during class. During the lab, I was able to help teach students various diagnostic tests that they will later use in their careers. Some of these included a double centrifugation fecal float, the Modified Stolls, direct smears, and simple sedimentations. I learned how to clean and prepare a graduate-level lab and was able to observe one throughout the semester. This also allowed me to also learn alongside the students. I also made valuable connections in the vet school and spoke with many students about their experience so far. Over winter break this even gave me the opportunity to help with some research on canine parasites. I really enjoyed my time this past year working with everyone and learning about veterinary parasitology.

SP ’18 Semester in Review

My second semester flew by even faster than the first. I took a much heavier class load than the fall semester. My schedule consisted of Spanish 1103 (Spanish III), Chemistry 1210 (General Chemistry I), Biology 1114 (Form, Function, and Ecology), and Math 1149 (Trigonometry). I was much more busy than I was first semester and that resulted in a few more challenges than I initially faced coming into college.

I was always prepared by my teachers, parents, and older friends that college is a lot harder than high school. Therefore perfect grades, while always the goal, may not be achievable. Yet, my first semester seemed to go pretty well for me. This made it even more difficult to face the notoriously difficult classes at OSU though, because it may have given me false hope that college isn’t as hard as everyone makes it seem. Also, I missed out on the initial shock of receiving a horrible grade that my peers had in the autumn, which made it a little bit harder to cope with the failing averages on some of the chemistry midterms, because I did not have peers that were facing the same challenges at the same time as I was. Although because I took many of these harder classes my second semester, I did know a little bit about how hard it was going to be from my roommates and friends who took the class before I did. Despite the shock of much more difficult classes, I managed to pass all of my classes knowing I put forth as much effort as I am capable of, which is all I can ask for I suppose.

Another downfall of the heavier course load is the fact that I did posses some of the time management skills I thought I gained my first semester. I talked about how I had learned to manage my time and balancing school and social life, yet I did not know what it was like to take classes that require hours of studying and preparation outside of class. My first semester, while was not easy by any means, did not require the extensive number of hours I spent in Thompson studying this semester. While this was yet another shock, it taught me valuable time management and perseverance when all I wanted to do was to go spend time with my friends. I had to make difficult decisions to study instead of going out with friends, which was hard at first but paid of in the end. Also, not that the semester if over I can see that I still spent a lot of time with friends and even learned how to do both study and hang out by taking trips to coffee shops in Columbus.

In all, this past semester was full of even more learning curves that come along with beginning college. I thought I had a handle on time management, but quickly learned I had a lot of improving to do. Also, I was quickly humbles by the grades of much harder classes, which pushed me to work even harder in my studies. If I learned one thing from this semester, it would that I can achieve what almost seems impossible (decent grades in difficult classes for example) if I am willing to put in a little effort to get there.

Also, below are some pictures from throughout the semester. I went to Hocking Hills for Spring Break, where I became even closer with my new friends from last semester. My roommate received a 4 Paws dog to begin training. His name is Beetle and he lived with us after Spring Break, and will continue living with us for a few months next semester. He is what encouraged me to finally submit my application to be a part of the organization so I can help in training him and future dogs!

4 Paws Introduction

Coming to college I always planned on joining a club on campus called 4 Paws For Ability. The club is through an organization outside of the university, but has a chapter at OSU. The purpose of the club is to help train and raise dogs that can go on to become service animals. These dogs are trained to perform tasks like closing doors, opening handicap doors, and tracking. First semester I refrained from applying to focus on school though. This semester my roomate, who was already approved through the organization, received a puppy to train. She was the main handler for this dog, named beetle, which means he lived with us. This experience really pushed my to apply to become a handler (or sitter) for the organization. Because of this, I have now been approved and will be attending orientation in Xenia this may, so that next semester I can begin participating in this club! I am very excited for the chance to hep train these dogs to help someone who really needs them.

Autumn ’18 Semester Reflection

This first semester of college was filled with a whole set of new experiences, as the first semester of college typically is for any first year student. My class load was filled with mostly general education credits, which means I am taking classes that push my outside of my typical comfort zone of energy levels and osmosis labs. I am taking two art classes, one of which is a history of art course. These classes are very different than anything I was ever exposed to before because I am encouraged to think outside of the box and create my own projects, rather than following a strict rubric. I had to memorize a hundread works of art, where they are from, and analyze the works based on my own knowledge of the topic and culture rather than based on what my teacher told me to remember. My photography professor regularly gives us a broad idea to follow for our projects and expects us to come p with a good idea to express the idea through our art. This past project was to create an imitation of another photographer’s work and then make it our own. Other than that little bit of direction, the project was up to me. I love being able to take my education in the direction that I want. If i put little effort into my work, I will get little out, and vice versa. I am given the freedom to think critically on my own and discover what I like to learn about. Also, I have been pushed to think in a completely different way than I would have to in my science and math courses.

Another personal development I have made in the past four and a half months involves my ability to cope with less privacy, being exposed to more diversity, and a much faster pace of day to day living. I was use to having a room to myself, a cat that would sleep next to me, food in a fridge with a kitchen to cook, and the ability to take time to myself on a daily basis. Now, everyday is fast paced and something is always happening. Whether that be drama with a roommate, a residence hall activity, or a new test to study for. I have to actively search for a time in which I slow down and relax, something I never had to actively do before. I have found that at times I need to say no to going out with friends and instead spend time just relaxing, or I will get burnt out very quickly. It was especially hard around my firt midterms because I never wanted to say no to spending time with friends to study, but quickly found that I had to do so in order to save my grades. In all, I have found that I must take more control of what I am doing on a day to day basis in order to spend my time on what is needed in the moment.

Biological Sciences Scholars has really encouraged me to continue pushing towards my goals in the future. In high school I found it fairly easy to concentrate on preparing for college and gaining the experience I needed to become a good candidate for vet school. I always knew what I needed to do and how to find the resources to get me there. Beginning college was a whole new set of obstacles though. There are so many more opportunities and people whom are smarter and more qualified than I am, so it was very easy for me to slack off at the beginning of the semester. Going to class and learning about all of the opportunities I have for the future, gaining ideas on how to make myself tad out and survive some of the more difficult classes I will eventually have to face, kept me looking forward. My scholars seminar encouraged me to begin looking for internships and thinking about how I may want to spend these next four years in preparation of grad school. While I still feel overwhelmed and underprepared for the future, it has given me a place to ground myself and begin to look for ways to become more prepared. Also, it was given me a fairly solid support system of students in the exact same place I am, just as overwhelmed and nervous for the net four years and beyond. So, while I may feel stressed at times, I have a network of friends who feel the same way and that we can both lean on.

Scholars Study Session

In The Biological Sciences Scholars, we held the first study session on September 10th. It can be hard for someone who wants to get involved in everything to make time specifically to study, so this really helped me get work done early into the semester. I also liked how it gave me a chance to meet other scholars and make friends in my program.

People To People International

In the summer before my senior year of High School I was invited to participate as an ambassador for two weeks in South Africa for an organization called People to People International. People to People International is a travel organization started in 1956 by President Eisenhower to spread cultural understanding between countries. Now, the program reaches 160 countries and is focused on immersing students in a country’s unique culture, prioritizing education above tourism.

The program I participated in was called “South African Safari.” Within this trip, I visited multiple cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Knysna, George, and Hoedspruit. The experiences I had can be divided into two categories, cultural, and environmental. I learned a lot about the apartheid, and saw first hand the effect it had on citizens. I interacted with so much of the community, visiting not only the higher classes of South Africa, but also the lower. We played with children at daycares/schools, listened to a children’s choir sing, attended a native South African themed dinner where we learned how to drum and dance like past tribes did, and ate food that I would never find in the United States like springbok and ostrich. My delegation also went to a lot of different rescues, rehabilitation centers, and Kruger National Park. I learned about African wildlife and the current dangers much of it faces because of poaching and diseases.

This trip was my first time out of country, so it opened my eyes up to a lot of new experiences. My travel group itself was a national delegation, so I was traveling and befriending people from Massachusetts to California. Being from a fairly small farming community, this was my fist time meeting so many new people between my delegation and everyone I met from South Africa. It was also my first time away from my family for more than a week. I came home more independent and learned a ton about how people lived outside of Ohio. One of my favorite people I met was one of our tour guides when we visited the townships in Cape Town. The city was still fairly divided from the apartheid, leaving the outer parts of the town, the townships, in less than ideal conditions. Yet my tour guide said something that stuck with me, “You look at these and feel sad, because in the states they are a sign of a depression, but here they are a sign of better times.” He told us of when people were allowed to begin moving back into the cities, when families were reunited, is when these makeshift homes were created. He taught me to look at this community in a new light, forcing me to challenge stigma behind what I previously thought. Another community I visited was the Rastafarians, of whom live a very different lifestyle than us. Everyone I met viewed the world in completely different ways than I, exposing me for the first time one of the Honors and Scholars G.O.A.L.S, Global Awareness. It sparked my passion for travel so much that not even a year later I visited Costa Rica. Becoming globally aware is one of my biggest goals to get out of The Ohio State University and my career. I knew of the endless opportunities I would have as a scholar and plan on continuing to pursue this passion of mine.

My visit to South Africa also had a large impact on my career goals. Before going, I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian, most likely small animals. While there, I learned not only about South Africa’s history and culture, but also about their environment and wildlife. In fact, one of the reasons I chose this trip was because of the immersion into African wildlife I would receive. We visited national parks, sanctuaries, ranches, and reserves. Some of my favorites included Kruger National Park, Tenikwa’s large cat sanctuary, an Elephant Sanctuary in Plattenberg, and The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. I walked with elephants, went into cheetah enclosures, and raced through Kruger with my guide named Roxi to find a sleeping male lion. While all of these were exhilarating and sound cool, I learned a lot about current issues in Africa’s wildlife in doing these. At the Elephant sanctuary I met elephants of whom had been stripped of their tusks, caught in traps, and simply couldn’t live o their own anymore because of ivory poaching. I leaned how this affects not only the animals directly affected, but by removing large tusked elephants from the breeding pool, how this affects the overall population of elephants. In Hoedspruit I encountered rhinos and learned of the poaching for their horns, as well as how current specialists are trying to prevent it. I also learned about a current problem they face with wild dogs and a disease they spread because of unique behavioral rituals they perform every morning. At Tenkikwa I saw the wildlife people once kept as pets and then got rid of once they became too big, and learned about the detrimental affects this has on the animal as well as the surrounding community. Reflecting upon my experience, I realized how much I cared for these issues and found my love for zoo and exotic animals. I saw how many opportunities I had to help these animals through visiting so many different places. It opened my eyes up and helped me find my passion for wildlife and zoo veterinary practice.