Another Virtual Explore Columbus?

Due to the pandemic, Taylor and I were unfortunate with an in person exploration of Columbus this semester. Both of us decided not to return to campus for Spring semester. Thus, I held our explore Columbus assignment via Zoom again. Similar to last semester, I would have taken Taylor to two places in Columbus to better the understanding of each other and Columbus. Obviously, it was not the same as being in person. However, I believe this virtual experience allowed for us to still connect and soak in the beauty of Columbus. If anything, this limitation will make the in person experience ten times better when the world returns back to normal! I hope Taylor and I do get the opportunity in the future. 

The first place on the exploration list would have been Columbus’s Palace theater. The Palace theater is this majestic building, which provides numerous events for its audience. The specific event I had in mind dealt with string instruments, more specifically a symphony. Four years ago, I had the pleasure and opportunity to attend the Akron Symphony Orchestra. The experience was beautiful and one that I will never forget. I remember sitting in my seat and being so in love with the sounds of string instruments. I remember feeling the music resonate in the big room. I remember the beauty of it all. The Palace theater would have been perfect for us; Taylor and I both played the violin in middle school. I knew we both appreciated the art of playing string instruments. As I told Taylor, I believe everyone should experience the beauty of string instruments; it has a unique sound to it that I believe is the best.


The second place on the exploration list would have been Johnson’s Real Ice Cream shop in Bexley! First, who does not love dessert, especially around dinnertime? Secondly, I felt the night would have ended perfectly by snacking on some good ice cream! Especially around spring time when the weather is perfect for it. I have a HUGE love for ice cream and so does Taylor!! Taylor expressed to me that the shop was perfect and that she would have ordered strawberry ice cream (her favorite). This shop also serves lunch food, so this would have been a perfect place to snack at after enjoying a nice concerto! Although, I could not find a lunch menu for this location, however I am sure they would have the basic lunch menu (sandwiches, soup, chips, etc.) The shop is conveniently located as well because it is only a thirteen minute drive down the road! The night would have been perfect and it is unfortunate that Taylor and I could not experience it. 

Due to being at home, I unfortunately only had my laptop and google like last semester. We explored each website and looked at the different options they offered to the public. We also explored images to view people’s reactions or to see the place in more detail. It is unfortunate that this virus happened because Taylor and I would have had so much fun at these places. However, the internet resources came in handy to understand the atmosphere of both places. Again, Taylor and I decided to stay at home, so there is nothing new to report in terms of challenges exploring the campus/city. Though, if we were in person, I would have hoped that both Taylor and I have a better idea of Columbus, more specifically the campus. Especially with it being second semester, students in general should have a good understanding of Ohio State life and campus. I know for a fact I would have shown her more of the campus; Ohio State is both enormous and beautiful! 

Last semester, Taylor and I both expressed an understanding of being busy. We both came to an agreement that communication may be scarce, however, that would not take away from the fact that I will be here whenever she needs me. We both came to understand that our lives have priorities, and this mentorship pairing may not be in the top three spots (but it is definitely up there). Because Taylor and I are both quite busy this semester, I believe we mentally agreed that communication may not change compared to last semester. Taylor and I both are already two people who necessarily can go long without communication. Especially with everything online, it has added to that fact about each of us. Again, it is agreed upon that if she ever needs me, she can text, call, or however she pleases! I know I can do the same with her as well. But Taylpr understands that I am always here if she ever needs anything.

 

A New Year; A New Understanding of Mentorship Pair

   It is safe to say that Taylor Johnson did well last semester! I am very proud of her for staying on top of classes, especially during a pandemic. It was not easy, but she stayed focused and came out on top! I believe she got all A’s her first semester, or something close to straight A’s! That is a huge accomplishment, especially at a school as rigorous as The Ohio State University. I was happy to have learned that because she is Black excellence at its finest. Taylor did not do much over winter break! I do not blame her because we all needed to destress over a hectic semester-the one month went by so fast though. Also, there is a pandemic and I am hoping she did not get out much. No need to be out during a virus and winter season-terrible combination in my opinion. I was excited to see that Taylor is managing well, and to also hear her short-term changes and goals. During this brief interview, I did learn a few new things about Taylor- it adds more excitement to this mentor/mentee pairing! 

   First, I was curious to know more about her academic situation since she did so well last semester! I assisted in knowing whether or not she enjoys her major, and also if she developed successful study habits from last semester! The answers to these questions were shocking and interesting, however. I found out that Taylor switched her major from Psychology to Neuroscience! Taylor explained that she found Neuroscience to be more interesting and understanding to her. More details about the switch come later in the interview! However, she did note that her new major is more workload, but she does not let that slow down her interest and drive. She does not mind because she enjoys what she is learning within her new focus. Because of this switch, Taylor developed sufficient study habits to manage the major and course workload. She uses quizlets, specifically for vocabulary terms, to help study and digest information. Quizlet is an essential tool to use because it gives students various methods (flashcards, tests, games) to study the material. Also, because the topics, such as Biology and Chemistry, are dense, Taylor developed a method to separate pages for the readings based on the number of days before the reading is due-as to not be overwhelmed with all of the information! This is a smart idea, especially for topics like those and I applauded Taylor for carefully and consistently planning that out!

   In terms of involvement, Taylor was able to be involved with some organizations during her first semester! That is dedication in my opinion, especially during a virus. It was shocking because I know a lot of students slowed down on their organization involvement because of this overwhelming pandemic. I assumed a lot of first-year students would do the same; at least in their first semester of college to get a hang of college, and to the pandemic’s effects. However, Taylor does not only want to be subjected to Zoom meetings and homework; she wants to develop her knowledge and leadership skills. She wants to gain new experiences and friends while in college. I respect her for that and that is why I am very proud of her entire being. She joined Empowering Mentors, which is an organization dedicated to mentoring students at local schools. She also joined an organization called Mindversity, which speaks about closing the gap between students of color and topics of mental health. Very soon, she intends to apply to be a University Ambassador as well! I was very proud of how involved she has gotten on campus and I know it will benefit her greatly in the future. 

   I was curious to know how she was doing within ACES, especially on top of classes and other organizations. More specifically, I wanted to know and understand how she enjoyed ACES her first semester-during a pandemic and with everything being online. Taylor simply stated that ACES was “cool I guess”. She did not have much to speak on since time and interactions with ACES have been limited, unfortunately. I told Taylor that I understand because it is extremely difficult to be as involved when everything is computer-based. I let her know that ACES would have been ten times better if this pandemic never happened! Aside from that, Taylor did say that ACES is an excellent way to do service. It is an excellent way for her to accumulate service hours for both ACES and her new major. Taylor also said the ACES events that did occur were fun and informative, which I agree 100% with that statement! Kim and the leadership team, you guys are doing a good job! Keep up the good work and hopefully, things will be back to normal. From ACES, what surprised her the most was how diverse the group is in terms of majors. Taylor initially thought this organization would mostly consist of Education Majors. However, Taylor soon discovered that ACES has an array of majors and that events benefit those other majors as well. That is the unique thing about ACES and I love it!

   Going back to her switching majors, I had to know why it occurred in the first place! I also needed to know of her new career path because her new major is intriguing. I knew she enjoyed Neuroscience, however, I did not think she would pursue a career in it! I had a roommate (Julia), whose major was Neuroscience and I knew that took a toll on her. I was both happy and concerned for Taylor because of that. However, Julia managed it, so I know Taylor definitely can! Plus, it is not my place to question, but to be supportive and proud of her. Taylor’s reasoning for switching majors/careers made complete sense. She stated that Neuroscience was more interesting because she took a neuropsychology class in the first semester. Everything about the ideas and material interested Taylor more than regular Psychology. Also, Taylor made a brief comment that 80% of students get admitted to medical school-Taylor saw this major as an opportunity to accomplish that! Again, I am very proud of Taylor because I could not handle the stress of science…let alone NEUROSCIENCE. I know Taylor is a smart girl and I know she will do well in the future! I cannot wait to see her dreams come true and become Dr. Taylor!

   Lastly, I wanted to focus on her goals for this semester, especially since she switched majors. Taylor stated that she would need to learn and truly digest the material. She said that the MCAT is cumulative, thus she needs a good base to understand the material so she does not do terribly on the test! That is her number one goal for the semester; nothing else came to mind for her. I respect her goal because I understand how difficult the MCAT and how stressed people are with studying for it. I am happy she is taking this initiative so early in her college years-it goes to show how invested she is with her new major. Taylor already told me that she studies a lot throughout her day and even stays up late to do so! I know she will manifest her success very soon and I cannot wait to see her fully live it. Taylor is a special mentee, simply because I see myself a lot in both her personality and work ethic. I am happy to have gotten paired with her and to see her thrive in her Black excellence. I am excited for what the future holds for both of us; I will forever bask in the glory that we both will receive one day! 

   I tend to use this information to help Taylor along the way if she possibly needs it. I state it a lot, but Taylor is a smart and hardworking girl. Based on this new information, some future days will not be easy. However, I plan to provide advice and knowledge on how to manage all of that. I may not have the same major or organizations, but I understand the difficulty to manage all of those. I have no doubt in Taylor’s ability to manage all of that-but I will be here to pick her up and to guide her if times are rough. I believe Taylor and I both developed ways to manage online schooling that will help this semester. However, times are tough and times do change-I will make sure to be an attentive and supportive mentor during (hopefully) this last semester of online schooling.

 

The Beauty of Virtual Reality

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, Taylor and I did not get to physically explore the city of Columbus this semester. Due to COVID-19, I moved back home and Taylor informed me that she stays at home as well. It may have been possible if I lived in Columbus like Taylor, but unfortunately, I live two hours North. However, I did enjoy our time during Zoom, exploring the locations I would have taken her. If in-person, I planned to have taken Taylor to two locations that are not far from campus or far from each other. I decided on two locations because I have yet to explore the Columbus area myself; this would have been a new experience for both of us to enjoy! I decided on two locations that had an African or African American authenticity. One fact that I appreciate about our mentorship is that both Taylor and I are African American females, and are passionate about issues surrounding that identity. I believe Taylor and I deserved to enjoy African authenticity and beauty during a time of social unrest.

The first location I planned for the night was at Kings Arts Complex. I decided on this location because I knew Taylor enjoyed art, especially art from Black artists. I am not artistic as Taylor, however, I do not mind performing or viewing artistic pieces. Taylor commented that she heard of this location via Twitter. It is a new building that replaced an old clothing store and currently only has one exhibit: The Elijah Pierce exhibit. Again, this was a virtual exploration of Columbus, therefore, we looked through its website to see what it had to offer to the public. Kings Art Complex offers various activities for its guests, including but not limited to, a Gala event, a Heritage Festival, a First Tuesday Tea event, and other events. Due to COVID-19 pushing events to next year, we were only able to watch videos of people performing for the Gala or Heritage Festival. We also explored the internet to look at paintings from its featured artist, Elijah Pierce! Though it was virtual, Taylor and I were able to experience that sense of appreciation by listening and viewing African beauty via the website.

The second location I planned for the night was at Madison Soul Food Kitchen. It is directly down the street from Kings Art Complex, which makes it even more convenient to go to. Everyone loves the essence and taste of soul food, especially Black people. Its taste is rich and connects us to a warm ancestral feeling. I believe it would have been the perfect place to feed our hunger and end the night! Like myself, I learned that Taylor does not indulge herself in soul food as often. Mainly around holiday times, specifically Thanksgiving or Christmas, is when we can enjoy authentic soul food. Therefore, Madison Soul Food Kitchen would have been another new experience for both of us! Unfortunately, it did not have an official website, however, I was able to find a bit of information via a third party website. We viewed the menu, and read reviews regarding its food and service. It did not offer much, however, it had a sufficient variety of food. Almost all of the reviews were four stars or above with excellent commentary from customers.

Taylor and I recognize issues that arise due to meeting only virtually. I informed Taylor that we would have been down the street from each other if we both decided to live on campus for the school year. I would have made occasional pop-ins at her dorm building and did more mentor/mentee activities with her. It is unfortunate because Taylor is an amazing girl and we share similar things in common. It has been hard forming a deeper bond with Taylor due to everything being online. Plus, with our separate and busy lives, communication is not where I would like it to be. I take full responsibility for that, however. I apologized to Taylor for not reaching out as much like I said I would during our first meeting. I explained how mentally drained I am this semester because of COVID-19 and other issues. Taylor completely understood and offered support. We both made it aware that we are there for each other, even if communication is little. Taylor is aware that I mean well with our mentorship relationship. I promised her that I would do better and Taylor made the same as well. Hopefully, next semester offers new opportunities to further develop our relationship.

Due to neither of us being on campus, there was not much to discuss in terms of challenges faced while exploring a new city and/or campus. I have been on the Ohio State campus for about a year and a half, so I would have loved to have shown and explored the campus with Taylor. Taylor is fortunate though because she is from an area within Columbus. Therefore, she is more experienced in this city and I would have enjoyed sightseeing with her. It is unfortunate that I could not stay on campus longer this school year. It would have been a great experience for both Taylor and me, and it would have made it a lot easier to form a bond. I believe those two locations would have helped to form that bond as we connect with each other, and our African stories and identities. Though, I am still happy to have introduced these two locations to Taylor via Zoom call. It was nice to share information with her and experience a bit of what it would have been like. Hopefully, when the virus is over, I can take her to those locations and enjoy the night properly!  

 

A Flourishing Mentorship Pairing

My mentee’s name is Taylor Johnson, she is a first-year student, and is majoring in Psychology. She is nineteen years old, African-American, an only child, and lives in the Columbus area. I was nervous about meeting her, yet, I was not at the same time. I was nervous because I was meeting someone new. However, I was not nervous because I felt like everything would be fine. I believed nothing would be awkward in our first meeting because there is a reason why we got paired as mentor and mentee. Plus, her description was intriguing, and I was interested to have her as my mentee. I could tell we would have most things in common, and she looked like a genuine person from her picture.

During this interview, I did learn that we have some interests and ideas in common. Which led me to conclude that this mentorship relationship will work out great in the school year. The first question was, How did you decide on the major you have chosen?”, and I learned that she majored in Psychology because she was fascinated by it when she learned it in high school. It interested her to learn those facts some more and inspired her to be a psychiatrist. When we discussed her involvement and volunteering, that is when I discovered that we are both women who love to keep ourselves busy and engaged!

We both were active with tennis, National Honor Society, leadership teams, senior class officers, and volunteering during high school. Of course, she was involved with more, which I also came to another realization; she is an exceptional young Black female. I also learned that we both chose ACES for the same reason; we both value education and love learning new facts about anything. We also enjoyed being able to help others through volunteering and hands-on work with others. Taylor stated she was excited to get more involved with the ACES and learn more ways to help the community.

Taylor has an interesting idea on what route she would like to take for her dream job. She also has a backup plan just in case things do not turn out accordingly. Taylor’s dream job is to become a psychiatrist. She plans to go to graduate school and hopefully get a degree that leads her to secure a position in her dream job. If for some reason that does not work out, she would love to be a forensic psychologist as well. It was fascinating to learn this about her because I find this career interesting, in both aspects. I enjoyed psychology when I took it in high school and thought I would pursue a career in criminal justice. However, education was my calling, and I am glad Taylor figured out hers and has a plan for it.

Even though Taylor is not physically on campus, she still learned something important that is valuable to her understanding of Ohio State. She learned the importance of time management. She learned that it is not so easy to slack off with classes, especially the ones she has this semester. She emphasized how much reading and work is required in each of her classes. Her goals, of course, are to not fail, and she realized that she needed to get herself together and not be high school Taylor. Ohio State, she learned, is a different and special university due to being a top school in academics, thus having rigorous courses. She now has set aside different times to do her work and scheduled leisure time when she knows for a fact that she is available to do so.

In conclusion, I would definitely say that I see myself in Taylor as we both grew through high school and now. I learned and observed that we have minor and major similarities in our lives. We both feel strongly about Black lives and everything that encompasses their life. We speak about what is right and cannot hold our tongue if something needs to be said. Funnily enough, we both have been dating our boyfriend for about four months and both their names start with a J as well! The list of similarities could go on! I definitely do find Taylor cool and interesting to speak to. We both have the same drive in our academic and social life. It was refreshing to have a mentee I can get along with easily and who I am comfortable being myself. I look forward to this year and getting to know Taylor better. I cannot wait for this to be an amazing learning experience for both of us.

Artifacts

The first artifact of mine is a journal. In high school, I took an educational class at the University of Akron and for that class, I had to keep a journal of observations I made while observing two of my high school math teachers. A lot of sweat and tears went into perfecting this journal. This journal is filled with more than just observations that I wrote down about both of my teachers, but it is also filled with comments, questions, and concerns that occurred to me while I was observing.

This journal is important to me because it is one of the many stepping stones to becoming a high school math teacher. Aside from wanting a good grade, I invested a lot of time in making sure that this journal was perfect for personal reasons. I wanted to make sure that teaching was something that I could see myself doing. This experience has allowed me to observe and learn different types of teachers, students, teaching methods, and other things. It made me fall in love with teaching more because of the environment that was created in both of the classrooms. I am big on inclusivity and the two classrooms that I observed had a lot of inclusivity with the students and engagement between everyone. I strive to have a classroom setting similar to that one. This artifact secured my decision on being a high school teacher. The entire experience and the journal inspired me to continue to do something in a similar manner at local Columbus school in order to further my teaching and leadership skills. A lot of work went into perfecting this journal and I am glad I got the opportunity to share my thoughts, comments, and questions with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second artifact of mine is a pin. The pin says “First Gen: Ohio State”. I got this pin while I was tabling for another organization that I participate in, which is the Buckeyes First Student Organization. At the beginning of the semester, I participated in the Buckeyes First Early Arrival Program and it was an exciting experience for me. I also got a free shirt too! I decided to participate in that program because I did not think in-depth about that particular identity. I knew that neither of my parents went to college, but I did not know that would introduce me to a new identity at Ohio State University. I am considered a First Generation college student and I am proud of that.

This pin is important to me because it allows me to show others that I am first and that I will lead future scholars. The pin reminds me that I have an identity that I am allowed to embrace and be proud of. The Buckeyes First Early Arrival Program introduced me to other people who share the same identity as me and it allowed me to form meaningful bonds. The organization and the program allowed me to share my story and feelings about this identity. Both allowed me to network with others that will help me create an environment for future first-generation students. Both taught me how to embrace and appreciate my new identity and that I am not alone in this process. Both taught me how to navigate through college as a first-generation student. This pin is a reminder of important lessons and tips that both the program and the organization shared with me. Not a lot of students can say that they are a first-generation student and I am proud to hold that identity. I am the first one to set the path for future generations to walk down. I am the first one to live out the dreams that my parents and I have. This pin is now displayed on my bookbag for everyone to see. As I continue through my years at OSU, I will lead and teach other first-generation college students who may not have had the opportunity to be a part of two amazing communities.