SpringForward Student Spotlight

Student Success Stories

In SpringForward we talk about how the path to success isn’t linear. As student’s embrace “butterfly moments” they will get to experience new, unexpected opportunities that could take them to new and exciting places. Below SpringForward students share their unique stories and their goals for the future.


Cammie Konich (she/her/hers)- SpringForward 2021 Cohort, Major: City and Regional Planning with a Minor in Architectural Studies

What were your major/career goals when entering college? I wanted to be an architect and get my undergrad and master’s in architecture. I started in Architecture, but as I progressed into my first year of study, I realized I wanted to be more personal regarding the city and its problems. I wanted to focus on the problems and issues of the people rather than structures and measurements, so my goals and major changed into a city planning direction. So now instead of aesthetic I am now more interested in sustainability.

What are your current goals? Currently, I want to solidify my portfolio by the end of this month. For next year, I want to get an internship for the summer, and I want to graduate by 2024. I want to graduate with a 3.4 GPA cumulative, and I want to be fulfilled and happy with my progress as I graduate in the fall of next year.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision. It was a lot of learning about myself and who I actually am. I know more than ever what I want and what it will take for me to reach my goals. I learned and learned a lot from my many advisors and mentors over the years I’ve been at The Ohio State University.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far? I am most proud of me not having any student debt (as of now, in my fourth year of college). I am also proud that I got and still have the YSP scholarship, me getting accepted into Spring Forward and my writing being accepted in the Knowlton on the Rocks publication.

Has SpringForward contributed to your success so far? It has changed my mindset; it has made things more recognizable in achieving and has allowed me to connect with more people, that is, advisors who have guided me to become more successful and a better student. Also, the free summer semester allowed me to work towards a better GPA.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to students entering their second year? Listen to your interests and heart, if you find that you have an interest in something recognize that. You should carefully decide if you want to be in a major simply because the payout is amazing or if you should be in a major because you truly have a passion for it.

Any other wisdom to impart? “I’m just a little kid from Akron” -Lebron James

 


Alyssa Bowles (she/her/hers)- SpringForward 2017 Cohort, Major: Food, Agriculture, and Biological Engineering with a Minor in Environmental Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

What were your major/career goals when entering college? Originally I started out pursuing a Psychology pre-med route. Around my sophomore year I made the switch to Environmental Engineering and then transitioned to FABE. I fell in love with it in a way that I never expected. My primary goal was working on ecosystem restoration type projects.

What are your current goals? My current goal is to finish 4 years as an EIT and get my PE licensure

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision. It definitely took a lot of work and determination. Between switching majors while pursuing 2 minors with personal issues and failing multiple courses. It took 6 ½ years, but honestly with the way things ended up, I am happy I stuck with it.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far? Graduating and starting a campus organization and staying involved in several other organizations.

Has SpringForward contributed to your success so far? It gave me the chance to fix my GPA and get on the right track. I probably would’ve ended up dropping out from the discouragement I felt after my first year.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to students entering their second year? Keep going, stay determined, take the failures and tell yourself you won’t do it the next time around. I took a couple of courses 3 times before I finally passed. It is definitely a long road but once you reach the end, I promise you’ll see it will have been just a blip in your life and your future will be better because of it.

Any other wisdom to impart? Even with my less than stellar academic record, just having the degree landed me a job that I am happy in and make more money than I ever had in my life.


Heather Schwab (she/her/hers)- SpringForward 2022 Cohort, Third year Chemical Engineering with a minor in Humanitarian Engineering

What were your major/career goals when entering college? When starting college, I came in with a mindset to continue to be an overachiever, apply for the honors program, make the dean’s list multiple times, and be known to be an incredibly smart human being. I wanted to graduate as fast as possible (3.5 yrs) in chemical and environmental engineering (that’s not even a thing, but I was ambitious to say the least). I had very high expectations and defined my self-worth through grades, GPA, etc.. I had the mindset that if I had a high GPA, graduated with honors, and such, I’d be guaranteed position at some sort of R&D company and make enough money to have a
large family.

What are your current goals? Currently, my goals are mainly to survive, be a good human, and take every day at a time. These goals are quite different than how I went into college. That’s okay, plans change. I am currently working to rebuild myself or rebrand so that I don’t correlate self-worth to academic achievements. Though I may have had honor roll, top 10% of class, and multiple honor societies in high school, I think I forgot to have fun in life. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely privileged to have had those opportunities. However, looking at the future, I hope to be an educator to empower and uplift marginalized communities within academia. I am currently the lead undergraduate teaching assistant for the Engineering Education Department and am navigating the process for applying to grad school for a PhD in Engineering Education while pursuing an undergraduate thesis focused on sense of belonging/ imposter syndrome of LGBTQ+ engineering students.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision. Not sure which rock-bottom point made me realize I set up unattainable goals, but after withdrawing out of a class, I think I started to take everything in and reshape my thinking. Like I said before, nothing was planned. I didn’t plan to struggle with academics. I didn’t plan to struggle with eating. I didn’t plan to not have however many academic accomplishments. I had a little bit of an identity crisis. However, with many friends, mentors (i.e. Paul, Anne, Amanda, STEP mentors, colleagues), and insightful conversations, I found that I don’t need to “beat everyone else”. I can instead focus on my growth as
a human and try to be better each day. I still don’t know how I got here, but I’m chugging along, going to office hours, talking to professors/lecturers/peers even if I’m awkward, and planning out my days/what I want to accomplish. SpringForward not only helped me find a better, more organized way to see life, but also a great community and network of resources to make the most of my university career. Simplifying outlook/perspective makes life so much more bearable, so whenever you’re overwhelmed and having an identity crisis, just simplify and scale EVERYTHING down.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far? I’m most proud of the growth I’ve had as a person. I chose the word “person” instead of “student”, because I am a person first, and a student is just a part of that person. I have grown in mindfulness, empathy, communication, and more soft skills than I would have imagined. Taking each day at a time not only allows me to live with purpose more, but also be more present for others.

Has SpringForward contributed to your success so far? If so, how? Aside from all the academic aid, SpringForward allowed me to accept and grow from mistakes in a safe space. I love working with the team and being a part of a community which encourages each other to keep pushing through, taking chances, and taking time for yourself. It really has kept me at OSU.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to students entering their second year? Take each day at a time. I used to roll my eyes or think I had no time to be present and such, but I hit rock bottom, and that really altered my perspective. Though everyone fails at something at least once, don’t wait for that moment to allow yourself to change perspective/ take time for yourself. You are a person. You can do hard things. Keep going, get connected with your communities, and take care of your wellbeing, there’s only one of you.

If there is anything that you would like to add that wasn’t addressed above, this is your space! Life is rough, but there are good people to make it doable.


JuJuan (he/him/his)- SpringForward 2020 Cohort, Fourth year in Marketing

What were your major/career goals when entering college? My major entering college was accounting and I wanted to work at a firm dealing with audit and sales.

What are your current goals? My current goals are working in a marketing company focusing on either fashion or health. The end goal is to have my own business doing something related to Skating. It’s a passion of mine and I want to bring the feeling I got when I was younger to my community and other communities.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision. During my journey I always knew I wanted to be in business but didn’t know what way I wanted to take it when it came to business. I first took interest in accounting because I thought it was going to be doing math. As I took courses I began to learn that it was not fulfilling when I was in class. During the end of my second year I leaned towards marketing because I was able to be creative and really connect to customers and be in touch with marketing.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far? What I’m most proud of as a college student so far is that I’m the first in my family to attend college and I will complete my degree this year.

How has SpringForward contributed to your success so far? SpringForward has contributed to my success by being a support system and providing resources for me to succeed! If you ever need help, reach out; they are always there.


Chase Pope (she/her/hers)- SpringForward 2020 Cohort, Fourth year in Consumer Family Financial Services

What were your major/career goals when entering college? 

Major: Accounting

What are your current goals?

My goal is to become a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Public Accountant and champion the advancement of minority and women owned businesses. I want to be the financial confidant that those of all backgrounds are proud of.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision.

My experience at the Account Careers Awareness Program and my love for economics lit a spark in me that made me realize there is a great need for people like me in the Business, Accounting, and Finance field.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far?

I am most proud of my resilience and perseverance. There have been countless factors, including a global pandemic, that have stood in the way of me being the first in my family to graduate with a four year degree. This sheepskin will be a testament to how nothing can stop me.

How has SpringForward contributed to your success so far?

I owe everything to SpringForward, and that is not an exaggeration. After my first semester of my freshman year, I was placed on academic probation due to my unwillingness to reach out to literally anyone — classmates, professors, programs, etc. — for help. SpringForward provided me with a supportive teacher [in ESEPSY 2059] and a close-knit community, some other first-gen students themselves, that catapulted my college career. The semester that I took my SpringForward class (which was also the first semester of the pandemic) I got a 4.0 semester GPA. A complete turnaround. I am so grateful not only for the type of student, but the type of person SpringForward has made me. A student that not only allows help, but seeks it and welcomes it! I have connected with so many wonderful people since then.

What is one piece of advice that you give to students entering their second year?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class. Don’t worry about if you’re annoying the other students; they’re just mad they weren’t brave enough to ask. And definitely don’t worry about annoying the professors, your money contributes to them being there. Get in you professors’ faces even and go to office hours. I wish I did that more often.


Alex Ochoa (he/him/his)- SpringForward 2021 Cohort, Third year Public Health major with a specialization in Environmental Science

What were your major/career goals when entering college? 

I was a biology major with intention to be premed.

What are your current goals?

Majoring in Public Health with a specialization in Environmental Science. I am still pre-med, but with an emphasis on using research to inform policy change while practicing medicine.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision.

My freshman year I was put in isolation — 14 days for contact tracing COVID-19. It was there where I began to struggle academically because I had no guidance on how to use Carmen and Buckeyelink; these are two online platforms that are essential to accessing homework and going to class online. I began to feel underserving of the opportunity to attend tOSU because I was not up to par with my colleagues. I took the time to self reflect and determine what I wanted out of college and how I planned on completing my dreams.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far?

I was given the opportunity to attend the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Research Institution Research Retreat where I presented my research on Assessing the Nutrition Environment in the South Linden Neighborhood. Although it was my first time presenting, I set my nerves aside, and acknowledged the privilege I held in representing and demanding much needed change for a neighborhood in Columbus. I was awarded 2nd place: Abstract of Distinction. I am proud of the connections I have with the ASPIRE Medical Research Program, the Center for child Health Equity and Outcomes Research team, and SpringForward for mentoring me every step of the way.

How has SpringForward contributed to your success so far?

SpringForward has built my understanding on how to maintain a healthy relationship with time and myself.

What is one piece of advice that you give to students entering their second year?

If you don’t fit in, you’re doing something right.

 


Caitlin Boutwell (she/her)- SpringForward 2021 Cohort , Third year Molecular Genetics major

What were your major/career goals when entering college?

I was on the pre-med track and was hoping to go to medical school.

What are your current goals?

I am still figuring that out but currently I am looking to work after graduation and potentially go to grad school.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision.

Throughout the summer into sophomore year and the first semester of that year, I realized that my natural drive for STEM was diminishing. I loved my science classes, but it took 110% of my energy to succeed in them. I had no time to do anything else – clubs, hobbies and even finding time to eat was difficult. I was slowly burning out and could not maintain this lifestyle. This meant that I had to re-evaluate my career goals and I realized that medical school was not for me. Although it was hard to accept that I no longer would fulfill that dream, it helped me grow into a stronger person and led to me finding more balance in my life.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far?

Persevering through challenges and allowing myself to grow and change. Each semester so far it feels like there is a new thing to juggle and I’m proud that I have found a way to not only adapt to change but grow with it too.

Has SpringForward contributed to your college success so far? How?

SpringForward has helped me connect with people and learn invaluable lessons that have helped me succeed in my time since the program. The SF team specifically has helped me navigate my college career, find resources, and make such a large school feel smaller.


Braydon Tomak (he/him/his)- SpringForward 2021 cohort, 3rd Year Arts Management Major

What were you major/career goals when entering college?

Entering college, I had no idea what to do in life. My mother always said I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist, so I thought maybe I’d try and work for NASA. Or, since I played baseball for 12 years, it seemed like a good idea to become a MLB player.

What are your current goals?

Currently, I am striving to build a national entertainment franchise. After having launched an MVP (minimum viable product), I’ve begun upscaling a small business to accommodate the 10 year plan I’ve developed.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision.

Starting as an Aerospace Engineering Major, I switched to Computer Science & Engineering and then finally to Arts Management. I realized that my passion for music is more fulfilling than acquiring a six-figure salary as a corporate employee. Furthermore, as a manager of the arts, I’ll be able to determine my own route throughout life!

What are you most proud of as a college student so far?

I am most proud of the person I’ve become as a college student so far. I was an introvert in high school, though college quickly taught me that shaking hands and making connections is the key to success (i.e. GET INVOLVED).

How has SpringForward contributed to your success so far?

SpringForward has contributed to my success more strongly than almost anything else. My GPA was at 2.341 after my first semester, and I knew at was at risk of losing my scholarship and inevitably dropping out of college. Nevertheless, the programming provided by SpringForward changed the way I handle life, maintain productivity, and helped me to always keep a growth mindset!

What is one piece of advice that you would give to students entering their second year?

For students entering their second year, congratulations on making it through the first! I would suggest that you ought to Get Involved as much as you can, and remember that “your network is your net worth.” When times get tough, have Grit and persevere with a Growth Mindset. Ask yourself, “When no one else is around, who is going to pick me up when I fall?” The answer is, You.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

College is one of the most important times in your life, when you can explore and learn more about yourself and the world than ever. Try new things (no risk = no reward), never be afraid to ask questions, and know that the parties aren’t going anywhere (priorities first!). Lastly, the only point in life is to be happy and love 🙂


Leslie Aguilar Ramos (she/her/hers)- SpringForward 2021 cohort, 3rd Year, Public Health Sociology Major

What were your major/career goals when entering college?

While entering college I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field. This led me to think about becoming a Physician Assistant and I began taking the prerequisite classes to apply for post-graduate. After an internship experience in the summer after y first year, I began working towards going to medical school after graduation. This too ended quickly as I learned more about the public health field where I found my true passion. 

What are your current goals?

As of now, I hope to obtain my Master of Public Health (MPH) and down the line go to law school to obtain my J.D. This is all subject to change, as I gain more experience in the field and become aware of different avenues I can take. I am also open to a 2 year training program that the Center for Disease Control offers to recent undergraduates. My goal is to expand on health disparities research to help create interventions that help deliver just care.  I hope to make change through policies that expand access to health care and supply equitable care.

Tell us about the path that you took to arrive at this decision.

During my first year, I was in the Exploration major because although I had an idea of what I wanted to pursue after graduation I did not want to limit myself with options. Public health was a major I had always had an interest in but did not have a full understand of the field to commit to. After being admitted in the major in my second semester, I began in the environmental specialization. This aligned with my pre-health prerequisites for PA/Med school. Yet, after various experiences, I recognized my interests bet fit with the sociology specialization.

What are you most proud of as a college student so far?

I am most proud of the community I have built on campus. As a first-generation student, it can be overwhelming to navigate college on your own. I have been blessed to find the best mentors who have guided me every single step of the way. This has not only helped me in feeling supported throughout this journey, but I have had exposure to amazing experiences. My involvement on campus has added to my experience by offering me the opportunity to meet inspiring individuals.

How has SpringForward contributed to you college success so far?

SpringForward has made an immense impact on my college success thus far. I applied to the program when I was in a pivotal moment in my undergraduate journey. It was during the peak of COVID in early 2021 and I was in a bad place with balancing coursework and my mental health. I needed guidance and the program offered support through practices I could apply during the rest of my college career. The check-ins with Paul (DLC-SpringForward Academic Coach) have been a wonderful way for me to reflect on my workload and see how I can improve going forward.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to students entering their second year?

My journey has not been linear, in the sense that my interests have changed as I gained more experience. For this reason my piece of advice is to seek out opportunities that enrich your interests. You may not realize that you are interested in a specific field until you experience it first-hand. Similarly, lean on the SpringForward staff to help you. College can be hard to navigate on your own and there are people on campus ready to help you!