Stepping into Funk

Through my piano, composition, and Alexander Technique lessons, my goals were to develop a new style of workflow composition which captured ideas I had as fast as possible, so that I could move onto later stages of composition more quickly, and to be able to play with the freedom I could muster in a music ensemble. The Kawai ES8 Digital Piano that I eventually decided to purchase was extensively used throughout my project to develop composition ideas and practice set lists in apartment settings where nearby access to a decent piano was out of the question, and headphone use was strictly enforced. Due to the injuries I sustained, the scope of the project changed fundamentally, from results oriented to learning more and becoming a better human being.

I learned that thinking too much confuses the mind and makes my tension worse. Through my lessons, I came to realize that after a couple of iterations of mentally thinking about the process, the body must be the one to take up motions and knowledge and turn that into music. Secondly, I became acutely aware of the amount of physical tension I was holding as a result of my perfectionism, anxiety, and unconscious repressed emotion. By letting those things go through use of the Alexander Technique, QiGong meditation in Kung Fu, mindfulness, Sarno’s MindBody approach, Gallwey’s Inner Game of Tennis, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I realized that the body holds tension to distract us from thinking about the problems we’re having in our minds because it deems that they are too scary to deal with. I was able to progress quite a bit by switching up my approach between different philosophies and attacking the issue from multiple different angles. I learned how powerful attachment and judgment of thoughts could be. As I improved my mental hygiene, I began to notice dramatic improvements in my quality of life and overall mood, which helped me play much more expressively and freely as a result.

Before dealing with my injuries became the main priority of my musical pursuits, I always moved quickly from event to event in my life, with a mind so cluttered that I couldn’t sit down and not do anything without feeling overwhelmed and anxious. As a result, I kept working so that I wouldn’t have to think of anything. Combined with an attitude of setting unrealistic goals for myself and absolute perfection in whatever I was doing, it became very difficult to move forward. As I began to heal myself from my pain, I realized that a full change in my value system had to take place. I began to see “mediocre” work as “good enough” and learned that reasonable time and energy limits to several tasks that required a lot of concentration did indeed exist. Secondly, I became less anxious of the future by realizing that I am also defined by what I do, not only by what I think. Once I understood that all I must do is focus on today’s tasks that are achievable and realistic, and the rest will take care of itself, my concentration became much more narrow and I actually achieved more while being less tense and anxious.

Throughout Spring 2017, I played with a friend I met in the winter Alexander Workshop. We played a mixture of music improvisation bordering on jazz fusion, jazz, and blues. We also shared each other’s compositions and I learned a lot about how a singer-songwriter makes their music. The experience broadened my view of how music could be made, and that music could also not be taken as seriously, but could be just as fun. It was around this time that I realized that while I wanted to take my music seriously, the music-making process itself didn’t have to be as serious or restrained. As a result I loosened up and learned to have fun even if the theory behind the improvisation wasn’t very complicated or I didn’t play the perfect solo.

At the beginning of June 2017, I joined a funk group called “180 Funk and the Supreme Court Jesters.” While I was in Columbus taking classes Monday through Friday, I would drive to my hometown where practices for the group were held every Friday and Sunday. I also didn’t have much time to practice the set lists, which were fairly large (9 songs each). We had performances planned in mid-July, and set lists were announced a couple of weeks before the performance date was set. My experience with ear training and music theory was put to the test as frequently I had to listen to songs via offline playlist in my car as I drove to practice. I was also tasked by the leader to come up with ways to make the overall group sound warmer and fuller. I had to combine my knowledge of classical/jazz piano and music production to come up with ways to make the sound better. Many times I would transcribe the horn melodies and play them with both hands. As a result of all of this my ear became much sharper and my technique improved.

Secondly, my joining the group was purely by fluke, and the group leader emphasized that very serious commitment was only optional. I was able to practice taking one day at a time and trying just to be good enough. Many times I allowed myself to play what I could for however long I could, and I didn’t push myself beyond that. While progress was slower, it was meaningful. I was surprised to see that other group members were sympathetic and supportive of me as they knew the other activities I was involved in. At the beginning of practice, I didn’t really know how to play in the groove of each song very well, and I was so focused on playing my parts right, I barely even paid attention to the band sound. But as I practiced by listening to the songs more, I realized how I fit into the overall band sound and found myself not being able to hear individual parts anymore. It was also very enlightening playing with other people. I learned about other projects that musicians might pursue, got feedback from a lot of different sources, and met people with vastly different skillsets than mine.

I also jammed with 180 Funk’s drummer a few times over the summer, who is quite experienced and played in many bands. For most of my life, I had played music by myself, and as a result I kept learning theory and focused less on the actual function of each note and chord. A golden piece of advice I received from him was to not create complicated structures for songs, but to keep the structure and harmony simple, while adding in more complex things as a spice. This mindset opened my eyes to a whole new world of music that I had previously thought was uninteresting.

Firstly, I am now able to play piano and work with no pain, and limited capacity. The fact that I am able to function at all has tremendously impacted my quality of life. That combined with all that I have learned in the past two years has also given me the opportunity to enjoy and excel in very different fields while spending about the same amount of time on each activity as I did before. Music is more fun to me, and I enjoy the simpler things in life as a result of my experiences. It has also made me more focused. By focusing on things one day at a time and not worrying too much about the big picture, I’ve been able to get more done in a shorter time and churn out higher quality work. I understand my limits much more, and am more comfortable doing work that does not meet my perfectionist standards.

Here are some of the videos of the band and my recording over the summer: — Recording session, Early May — Practice session, Mid June — Gig #1, Late July — Gig #2, Late July — Gig #2, Late July — Recording session, Late August

Artistic and Creative Endeavor App Project

For my STEP signature project, I designed an application using equipment and licenses. I developed an app using the newer coding language created by Apple, Swift (2014), using the IDE Xcode created for developing iOS apps.


The main change I underwent throughout completion of the project was learning how to program a graphical user interface (GUI) and learning that it is not where I see my career going. Although I’ve been programming for many years, I’ve always done small command-line programs that completed different simple tasks. The closest thing I had ever done to creating a user interface was creating html websites. Although I enjoyed creating this app and learning the new language Swift, I realized that this isn’t the type of work I want to do in the future. There are many specialized fields that a programmer or software engineer can go into, and I learned throughout this that I do not want to do higher level programming, but would rather work on things at a lower level. I completed this project while I was at an internship with Intel working on firmware validation, and I found that I preferred the lower-level C code and thought it was more enjoyable to creating an application with high-level Swift.


Throughout completion of my STEP project, I realized that I struggle with programming graphical user interfaces (GUIs). I’ve programmed a small calculator in Java before starting on my STEP project, but I only created the logic, not the appearance. When I originally started programming the app, I thought I would struggle with the language the most, but as I kept working, I realized that picking up the new language was simple, but when it came to the UI, I had no idea where to start, despite the templates available. I followed tutorials having to pause every few minutes and even now, I feel like I don’t truly understand how the connections were made between the controller and the view. I ended up running through the tutorial multiple times to try and grasp what I was doing instead of just how to do it. In an attempt to push myself and learn how to program an application without a guide, I tried to modify the app created at the end of the tutorial to have a small change that I preferred, but struggled with build error after build error. I ended up having to look up a multitude of tutorials to then figure out how to make the changes that I thought were simple. Of all the things I have programmed, creating this incredibly simple app was the hardest. Not only did I struggle to grasp it, I felt frustrated that the final product I produced could not be as perfect and as new and creative as I had imagined.


This change is valuable to my life because it opened my eyes into what I want to go into. Although creating this app did not make me realize that I want to go into application development, it did show me where my strengths and weaknesses lie as a programmer and what I get joy out of working with. For the longest time I thought I wanted to go into higher level programming because it is easier for you to see your progress and final result, but I have come to realize that my passion for C throughout my coursework and my enjoyment of computer networking classes could be a more suitable career for me to pursue. Although it may be harder to see progress, it is what I am more passionate about.







If The Mountains Bow in Reverence, So Will I

Lily Jones

Artistic and Creative Endeavors

I’ve never been good at journaling. Let me be honest, I have always wanted to be a journaler, and it made sense, I have a passion for words. But even with my love for creating a world out of paragraphs I never have taken the time to let my pen be apart of the everyday, from the mundane thoughts as I walk to class, or in the deep soul churning revelations the God of the Universe whispers to my heart before I get up out of my half-conscience, post-alarm morning nap. A heart and mind together have so much to go through in a day, at least mine does. But I’ve been realizing more and more in my failed attempts at creating this new lifestyle that maybe reflection, though beautiful, can be almost bitter-sweet. That a life constantly in the why and what is harder and more tiring than being on auto-pilot. Numbness and the mundane are enticing, something a college girl like myself can invite in pretty readily. But though easy, a deep sigh of peace never seems to fill my lungs as I sit mind turned off in front of a screen. The mundane isn’t cutting it and maybe the pen to the paper is much more than an exciting lifestyle change. What if real peace is met in a life constantly stimulating the brain towards a greater connection? What if it comes from taking each moment captive and tossing it high towards a loving Creator? What if the greatest peace you will find, Lily Jones, is when you are trying to fall asleep back against the cold dirt of the mountains of Washington, listening to the pitter patter of rain against your tent and asking to the quiet, who are you really God and who am I to be in the midst of that?

This summer STEP with Ohio State gave me the opportunity to travel out West with a friend for a part of our summer in a tiny red Toyota with a tent, some paints and canvas, bread and PB&J and a journal and Bible in hand. Have you ever had expectations be not only met but succeeded? That was this trip out West for my friend and I. We had the opportunity to travel through as many national parks and major cities as we could hit throughout the entire western side of the United States. New cultures were put in front of my eyes, cultures that were stunningly different then mine though they were in the same country that my very different culture existed in. I was placed time and time again in front of such a diversity of scenes, whether that be the wonder of a mountain range or the vastness of an ocean, and each time I would simply state, “Has this been here all along? I have lived a life where this and I have existed separately?” I was hooked, my heart intertwined with the west coast each day I spent there. My vision I cast as I daydreamed about this trip years, turned months, turned days in advanced was one of my lonesome and I, accompanied by a journal and Bible atop a mountain. I believed the beauty I would see and maybe even the height of this massive rock would bring me the closest to my Creator I have ever been. To sit would be enough and no step on my part was necessary besides the climbing itself. I would physically take my body to strengths I had never tested to reach my God yet I would not ask myself to take my mind and heart anywhere further than the thoughts that flew throughout my subconscious as I climbed and eventually sat. I begged my mind and heart to understand God more fully but in the midst of my plea I was asking God to do all the work. I was asking for His masterpiece to change my heart as I sat and thought about how in the world I would be able to capture this on a camera for my friends and family back home.  But what if the times where I felt like my face couldn’t be any closer to my Savior without smashing together with His was when I sat in traffic in the middle of South Dakota listening to a podcast about a heart becoming whole, or when I lay awake in a less than ideal hotel in the middle of Nebraska allowing myself to be honest with God about fears and doubts I have grown to befriend the past couple of years? What if the heart of mine that I had caged, and tamed for years out of my fear towards its rebellious nature broke free not atop a mountain at all, but in the midst of my reflection beneath? For a daughter had a dream of knowing her Father, a dream of her heart bursting into praise atop a mountain, into the worship her Father finally deemed as worthy. For this daughter would be healed because she finally understood. Her heart would be new. But this Father had a different plan, and this plan didn’t begin in the funny way he surprised this daughter in meeting her in the mundane of a road trip, but it began much earlier atop a hillside called Calvary.

I am a girl who never enjoyed the silence, this personality of mine thrives off the beauty of relationship with humans. And even though my friend and I knew each other well, to only be with her for this length of time invited in many times of quiet. As I walk out of that I realize now I just didn’t know how to let my soul rest in the beauty of being in the quiet, to see the goodness of letting a mind truly wander. To sit in a truth read about my Creator for longer than a few minutes, what would that do to my body? Usually the silence was met by a constant knock of a familiar companion of my heart and mind, a companion that a lot of the times sounded great, creating stories of a better life that enticed this daydreamer to set aside the book in hand and walk through the painting being put in front of her. A painting of a girl who was enjoying the blessings of the Earth in fullness, the gifts she yearned for daily, for that one relationship to happen or that aesthetic of life to be achieved. Or the days when this heart would read a hard truth which was met with doubt to then be walked down a path with this companion to show her a painting of a girl who knew how to love her God perfectly in the midst of what she read. As time went on in relationship with her God this heart and mind of hers walked so often down these paths with the companion. She recognized the companion was not a friend at all, and each time she walked with him shame would create a shadow behind her. Her time set aside for her Creator was tainted and broken, for she knew she was choosing something before Him. Did she run? Oh boy did she run. She caged her rebellious heart and mind. She taught herself that to love God was to hate what her heart could produce in the process and to push it away each day. She would daydream about when she could finally stand atop a mountain in Montana and that which her eyes would see would fix this evil heart of hers and perfect worship would follow, a worship that wanted God alone. But what if this God of hers was in the quiet, asking her to practice coming to Him before mending things by sight alone or in conversation with a human, to choose Him first? But how could she arrive at his arms with a mess of sin in her own, she wouldn’t be able to return the embrace. But what if in the mundane of a road trip, the God of the universe painted a new picture for her heart to see, one of Him taking a look at the mess in her arms and scooping her up to hold her close. For He held her as she still clung to the broken pieces in her arms, and softly whispered, “My dearest child, do not be afraid of being a broken thing.”

Maybe a heart transformed and made whole is different then what I had imagined. Maybe this God loved despite my rebellious nature, and maybe even, he chose to love this broken thing in full awareness of the harm it could produce. That a heart made whole does not have a finish line I believe I will eventually reach one day, but what if that marker is in fact behind me? Sitting atop the hill called Calvary with a God turned man, choosing to suffer and die so He may take this heart into an eternity of relationship and intimacy. Maybe this in fact isn’t a maybe at all but a beautiful reality. There is a new way to live, a way that was in place since the beginning, one of better hope in intimacy with God, this new way being the truest desire of the human race, to know God and enjoy His Presence. And the God of Creation whispered these things to a heart of a scared girl, through His book and books of people that love Him so, to start from rest and walk forward in this intimacy. What would life look like then? What about when she still takes those deeply engrained paths with the companion trying to bring her back to the old way of blessings? What would life look life then? Relationship? “Yes, sweet child, relationship with me.”

This daughter is free in the midst of a mind and heart that will never understand. I will never understand why this is the way the Creator is, my heart cannot comprehend it. As I sit atop and even below the mountain I hear myself say, the mountains in my life are far too big, the suffering is too great, will I ever make it up and find relief? The pieces of my life are shattered and jagged. As I sat on a plane headed home, with eyes that had seen so much beauty, I fell into doubt once again and watched as the shadow of shame begin to form behind me. I, in little strength, brought this to my Creator and he chose to paint something in front of my eyes. There I sat with many broken pieces of glass, these to my understanding represented my life, undeniably broken. I sat in a room a corner behind me filled with darkness and above me shone a bright beam of light coming down. I further understood that I had two options. One, I could take my broken pieces and bring them to the dark and try to make them into a whole piece again. I of course attempted and try as I might I could not put them together on my own in that dark corner. So I turned to the light beam thinking, ah yes, I can use this light to fix these pieces. Then God stepped in and asked me something that didn’t make sense. He wanted me to take my broken pieces and simply hold them up to the light. Hesitant in seeing how this would solve anything I reached my arms up and placed these pieces of glass where the light could hit. What produced shocked me. These pieces, because of their shattered state, reflected and refracted creating a beautiful masterpiece. The understanding flooded through. Wholeness does not come from myself fixing my brokenness. Wholeness does not come from freedom through a life without brokenness. It comes from the light of the Father. I have to recognize my brokenness to then not ask for the blessing of my life here on Earth to be fixed, to gain a smooth piece of glass, a comfortably life free of suffering and hardship. But, I can accept my brokenness and hold it up to the light of God’s love. The Lord then began to pick up the most jagged pieces from the pile. An interesting combination began to flood through me of the familiar pain of knowing exactly what part of life they represented, the parts that had hurt the most and stayed with me the longest, yet a warmth came of knowing how much I had learned about my loving Father in the midst of them. He would then hold them to the light. He sweetly stated, “Look how they shine sweet child, look how far the light they produce reaches!” They would reach to places they could never obtain if they were made into one pane of glass.

The Lord has a plan to reveal Himself to my heart and others in the midst of brokenness, in a way I could never and  would never want to understand if my life was full of ease. As I stood the last days on the tops of those mountains, I didn’t fully get it, and I still don’t. But, I could stand and say the best life is one in relationship with my Creator. Blessings, though sweet, are not my greatest treasure. The heart of God in relationship with my own is the better way, looking towards the better hope of heaven. As I sit now in this truth I can rest. My heart is a mess but how much I can understand my Father in the way He knows this fully, yet scoops me up and simply whispers in love, “How I adore you child, do not be afraid of being a broken thing”.

This project may have seemed different than what one would think to give me an academic experience. For me, I desire to go into full time ministry after school. This trip gave me an experience with God that I will carry for the rest of my life to use in my career with students on campus ministry, teaching them the things I learned on this trip and the ways I learned how to study the Bible on this trip as well. Also, I desire to paint as a side job in my life and this trip gave me the opportunity to use new mediums of art and scenarios that I have never tackled from an artistic viewpoint. This type of art was challenging for me in a new way and broadened my horizons that I will use for my paintings later in life. This trip transformed me in so many ways, transforming my skills and my heart. I was able to become comfortable in my own skin in the midst of what I learned here and I think that trait I will carry with me in every aspect for the rest of my life.


Painting in National Parks

For my STEP Project this summer, I spent 6 weeks on a road trip out west with my best friend painting and reflecting in National Parks and experiencing the diverse cultures that exist in our country. I visited a total of 22 parks and several cities. My goal of this project was to grow in not only my painting skills, but also to grow spiritually and have the opportunity to reflect on my experiences in nature through many different mediums.

Throughout the course of this project, I learned much more than I had ever expected. Before even beginning the trip, I learned so much through the process of preparing. I was able to better develop my planning skills which was challenging for me because I have never been much of a planner, but the nature of this project required a great deal of planning. I developed a knack for attention to detail and research. Once the trip began, I experienced even more growth. Aside from honing my artistic skills and deepening my relationship with God, I experienced a great deal of personal growth. I learned a lot about myself throughout the six weeks. I learned more about what I am comfortable or uncomfortable with. I also gained a better understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. And through unexpected situations, I was also able to gain better conflict resolution skills and I learned how to respond better to these situations that interrupt what we had been planned.

Aside from learning about myself, I was also able to learn a lot from the diversity in our country. It was very interesting to see how different the lifestyles were as we moved from one location to the next. I had never realized that, though one nation, our country has so many diverse cultures. And not only does our country have diverse cultures, it also has so many diverse landscapes. Seeing and being among these landscapes was an experience that nothing else could compare to. Whether it was a snowy mountain range, a deep, blue lake, an empty desert, a vast ocean, or even great sand dunes, I was left in awe at the sovereignty of God after seeing how truly beautiful our country and our world has been made.

This project led to many challenges that required flexibility and critical thinking to quickly and smoothly solve. Although these challenges seemed to be quite a nuisance at the time, these instances allowed my friend and I to hone our problem-solving skills and to learn to enjoy these unexpected changes. One of the first few days of the trip, we had been driving to our next destination for many hours when we hit a “road closed” sign only 30 minutes out from our destination. This road closure had us backtrack and added another 3 hours to our drive. At first this literal roadblock led to a great deal of frustration and annoyance, but as we drove the last 3 hours, we encountered so much beautiful scenery and ended up laughing about the situation and greatly enjoying the detour. Small moments like this were what truly made this project meaningful.

One of my favorite things about my project was deepening my relationship with God. By spending time in nature and reflecting on this experience through painting, I was able to learn a lot about God and my position in Him. Seeing the vastness and greatness of His creation in America made me feel so miniscule. And at the same time made me feel so amazed and awe-inspired by the vastness and greatness of my God. I was able to reflect on this not only through my paintings of this creation, but also through journaling. The time spent in reflection was very crucial to my growth throughout this project and led me to deepened relationship with my friend, with God, and a deepened understanding of myself.

Some of my favorite experiences of the trip came from interactions with strangers that we met from all over the country and even the world. I have never been someone who loves meeting new people and I am definitely not the type of person who jumps at an opportunity to talk to a stranger. However, after spending so much time with only one other person, the opportunity to talk with a stranger seemed a lot more appealing. The conversations and interactions I had with some of these people left an impact on me. Some were drawn out conversations getting to know the people next to us on our bus ride. Others were short interactions with someone we passed on a trail. However long or short the conversations were, it was very intriguing to hear a piece of someone else’s story and journey. There were so many different people that I interacted with who came from many different walks of life. There was a large group of middle-aged siblings from Cleveland, a young man from Massachusetts, an older couple from Utah, and even a family from Sweden, just to name a few. I loved seeing the diversity amongst these people and learning about their different ways of life. It was also really cool to see how random strangers impacted our journey and how we impacted other’s journeys along the way. Through things as simple as a tip about a certain hike or advice on the best place to go to things as kind as helping us set up our tent while huge gusts of winds worked against us, it was heartwarming to experience the goodness that can be found in all corners of the world.

The experiences I had and the things I learned while completing my STEP project will be significant throughout the course of my life and career. I have a better understanding of myself and the world around me which is extremely beneficial in all areas of life. My future career as a child advocacy lawyer will benefit from the skills I learned in the planning process, such as attention to detail and the things I learned during the project, such as my understanding of the world around me and the diversity in our country. This project has had a huge impact on my life and will continue to influence the way I see the world and how I interact in everyday life.

STEM YouTube Channel!

I constantly use YouTube as a resource for learning about science and electronics, and have always wanted to be a contributor to this online community of hobbyists and professionals. Using STEP funds, I kickstarted my own YouTube channel on which I post videos of electronics tutorials, science demos, and also related adventures of mine. The goal of the channel is to be a source of information and inspiration for those wanting to learn more about STEM.

I dedicated many weekends to this YouTube channel. Usually I would try and make a demo on Friday night and finish it Saturday afternoon, and then do video editing and post the video on Sunday. This is a TON of work for one lousy video, which indeed was often times lousy! So, I have learned a ton about what it takes to produce YouTube content; it is way harder (for me at least) than the YouTube pros make it look. I am at a disadvantage to some of the senior guys making content because they have, for example, an entire career’s worth of electrical engineering knowledge that they can use to whip up a quick lesson or demo. For me, however, I must read about the subject I want to talk about during the week, experiment and build something that hopefully works on Saturday, and then finally edit and post the video Sunday.

As such, I have learned that I must work consistently and hard in order to get the most out of this experience. At first I would just make videos on the weekends, and not think about the project much during the week. But I quickly got addicted to the process and began doing much more work for the videos during the week. This is a pivotal transition for any hobby or learning experience, because your project becomes a regular part of your life and is always on your mind. Because of this, learning takes place much more efficiently, one progresses faster, and ultimately learns things permanently. I have vivid memories of the projects I did for this YouTube channel, and also vivid information and knowledge in my memory. I unfortunately cannot say the same for all of my classes I was taking last semester, for which I had homework and tests! Truly, the best way to learn is to “do it yourself”, ask your own questions, and have fun!

Definitely working long hours to get this project going was a sacrifice. I spent many weekends inside building circuits or programming the next demo. Some of the time it was very stressful, because things don’t work as expected or sometimes not at all. But, the feeling of getting a demo to work is so rewarding. I learned much perseverance and determination while getting this channel to where it is because I pursued the completion of a video relentlessly each weekend, which forced me to struggle through the challenge and get things to work!

Pointing the camera at myself was very uncomfortable at first, and I still have trouble acting “naturally” in front of a camera. In editing the videos of myself, it was interesting to see me from a third person view, as other people do. This is a rare experience, and I think I am still learning from watching myself on the screen. Namely, I am learning how to better express myself to and communicate with people through a screen. I am usually pretty good at explaining things in person, but for some reason (for me, at least) it was much harder to communicate through the camera. At first my videos took a lot of editing and re-shooting footage in order to string together a coherent video. I have since then honed in on my “formula” for creating and editing video, and I think it is getting much better. In all, this project has helped me communicate and teach not just through the camera but also face to face, as I can picture what I look like from the third person and adjust my communication style to make the delivery (i.e. when explaining something) the most effective and coherent.

Another big component of this transformation experience was getting feedback on the channel. It feels really good to get emails and comments from people who either have questions about the demos or just want to say thanks and good job. I feel accomplished when people say my videos helped them, and I think that just encourages me want to try harder and make more videos. I also can’t help but feel good about getting more subscribers and views, and strive to make my videos as good as possible as to attract more viewers and subscribers.

I have grown as a person and also as a professional as a result of this project. I have not just learned about analog to digital converters, low level programming of microconrollers, serial communication and software development for data acquisition hardware, etc., but I have also learned a lot about problem solving and perseverance, two of perhaps the most important character traits of a professional physicist. I have no doubt this project has and will continue to make me a better physicist and prepare me for my future in grad school and beyond. STEP has truly been a great learning experience, and it has been undoubtedly a milestone in my personal and professional development.

Sewing Time is Fun Time

Name: Alyssa Dalic

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavor

The objective of my STEP project was to refine my sketching skills and learn how to sew, so I can make my own clothes. The STEP funds covered the cost of sewing lessons, sewing tools, fabric among other sewing essentials.   When I started the project last summer, I could only hand sew, but now I can sew full garments using a sewing machine.

I have always loved to draw and do arts and crafts. Sewing has become my favorite hobby, where I can express my sense of style and let my mind escape from the stressful life of being an engineering student.  Over the course of the project, I have learned to be more patient. Learning how to sew took a lot of time and practice.  I found that if I got frustrated, I should just walk away for the day and pick up where I left off another time.  This was difficult for me at first because once I set my mind to something, I like to finish it (most of the time, in one sitting).  Another thing I have learned about myself is that I have an eye for color and pattern combinations.  I usually buy clothes that perfectly match or have basic patterns like stripes or polka-dots. However, when I was faced with rows of unique and sometimes crazy fabrics, my eyes were drawn to bright colors and interesting patterns.

I have also gained more confidence throughout the course of my project.  I never imagined that I would have created four wearable garments during my project.  I thought I would have made garments that were unwearable like ones with uneven sleeves and crooked seams.  It was super rewarding when I finished a project that I could actually wear since I am so new at sewing.  I would smile all day long when I would wear my projects to research and when my friends and coworkers would complement what I was wearing. Showing off my garments to friends and acquaintances showed everyone that I have a light and creative side to my usually very serious and school-focused persona.  Another assumption that I had that has changed is that sewing is for old women only. Overall, I learned a valuable life skill and found a fun and relaxing hobby.

There were many things to learn about sewing like how my sewing machine works, the different stitches I can use and when to use them and all the lingo used in the sewing community. As with learning any new skill, there was a huge learning curve.  Learning everything I could about sewing by taking lessons last summer about how to use my sewing machine and basic sewing skills and experimenting with making doll skirts taught me patience and made me realize to be successful at the benchmarks I stated in my proposal will take more than a year and a half. It also made me to be less of a perfectionist because my doll skirts did not come out as they should. There were unfinished edges at the waistband and crooked seams and hems.  Also as a beginner, it takes me 6 to 10 hours to complete one garment. For example, I made a dress this summer during my private lessons with took about 9 hours to finish, when I planned for it to take only 6 hours.  I have learned not to get frustrated when I don’t understand a pattern direction or when a stitch doesn’t come out right. With sewing, I found that I can always take out a stitch and try again. If someone were to look at the bottom of my skirt, they can see little holes where I used a seam ripper to remove the hem because the fabric creased into the hem.

Learning to sew with the help from my sewing instructors Jessica and Kathy helped me avoid making mistakes and showing me how to fix my mistakes. This led to the gain in confidence because I made garments that are wearable, and my pullover even looks store bought.  Having guidance allowed me to learn correctly instead experimenting on my own, which was unsuccessful and discouraging.  Taking classes with other people as I did with the skirt that I made also increased my confidence.  I had the opportunity to meet other women who were beginner sewers that struggled with the same things I have been like understanding the directions that come with the pattern. It felt good to know I am not they only one struggling with learning how to sew.  They also made me feel good about my progress because most of the other students have been sewing for several years, yet I had a better understanding of sewing. We also provided each other with support by complementing each other’s fabric choices and cheered when someone finished their skirt.

Like I have mentioned above, while taking my sewing lessons at Sew to Speak in Worthington, I met many young women like myself in the Columbus community that loves to sew.  This proved that sewing is not just for old women. I have always been told I have an old soul and it is refreshing to find that there are other my age that enjoy sewing just as much as I do.   I am also introverted, so meeting people at sewing classes gave me the opportunity to make more friends.

Learning how to sew is valuable life skill.  Back in the day, every woman knew how to sew because clothes were made and mended at home and not bought at a store.  In the future, I plan to make my future children’s Halloween costumes, clothing, etc.  Being able to make and alter my own clothes will also help me in my professional career.  I have always had a hard time finding clothes that fit and are age appropriate because I am very petite.  With knowing how to sew I can ensure my clothes fit perfectly, so I can look professional and feel confident.  Learning how to be patient will help me in every aspect of my life.  I’ll be a student and employee because I have the discipline to work through challenges and learn new skills without getting frustrated when things don’t work out as planned or I don’t have the solution right away. I hope to continue to sew and learn how to make other, more complicated garments and maybe one day join a sewing group/club.

Here is the link to a blog I created documenting my entire project:

Here are pictures from one of my projects:

Capturing Waste

Name: Allison DeLong

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavor


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

For my STEP project, I wanted to gain a new skill and explore a long-held passion of mine by purchasing a used DSLR camera and lens. I also wanted to explore not only perceptions of waste through brief and informal interviews, but also how different types of establishments (apartments, retail stores, restaurants, municipal locations, etc.) handle and dispose of waste through capturing images of their behind-the-scenes waste handling.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Through the course of my STEP project, I gained more confidence in myself and my ability to learn a new skill, practice it, and get better at it. When you don’t attempt new things, you start to lose confidence in your ability to pick up new tasks or skills because you haven’t done so in a while, so it was good to get a refresh and replenishment of that confidence.

I would also say that one thing that happened as a result of this project was my sustainability bubble that I get trapped in sometimes, whether it be through my major classes, my involvement in internships, or my involvement in student organizations, was popped and I was brought back to reality of how the rest of the world handles waste and even just how they view it. It is easy to become surrounded by likeminded people and forget that not everyone has the same beliefs and values when it comes to any particular subject – for me it was treatment of the environment and waste recycling and reduction. This is in part why I did this – to have my eyes opened to what other people and places do and how they view waste (and in turn handle it). I learned that outside of an environmentally conscious circle, even though attitudes are beginning to lean more environmentally-centric, people don’t think much about waste and its implications and don’t make reducing it or recycling it a priority. Through this I also learned that there is much room for improvement with regards to how society views waste, which can lead to changes in how actors (whether they be individuals or groups) in our society handle waste.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

The entire project overall led to these changes that I discussed in #2, especially the “popping of my bubble”, however for the first change I discussed, the increase of my confidence in my own abilities, came from the beginning of my project through learning how to use the DSLR camera. I was originally going to take a class through the store that I purchased the camera, but the person who had been putting on the class moved away before I was able to sign up for it and take it. Therefore, I had to teach myself how to use a DSLR because I was unable to find another class in Columbus at the time. Through reading online articles about the mechanics of photography and specifically that of a DSLR, and through consistent practice, I was able to hone my photography skills and I got the hang of using the camera and taking professional looking shots.

Through picking up this new skill, as I already mentioned, I increased my confidence in my ability to learn new skills and I now have more confidence that I can learn new skills in the future, rather than feeling like I won’t be able to get the hang of or even “master” something new. Through school, there is a lot of learning and memorizing new information, but not much of learning new tangible skills. Being able to learn new skills is important in life, whether it be in your career or personal life. I know that I am competent, and that with persistence, I am confident that I can learn new skills.

With the second change described in #2 – popping my environmental bubble ­­­­– this was gained mostly through the latter part of the project of actually talking to people and seeing how waste was handled. I only went to Grandview, so this poses an element of bias, the same way only looking and talking to people in Columbus overall would pose an element of bias, as people and businesses and governments in different cities, maybe larger than Columbus or maybe smaller, would likely have different attitudes toward waste and whether they are concerned with reducing their environmental impact. I have been to Traverse City, Michigan a few times before and have found many attempts at reducing waste, at least by the city’s effort. I’m sure if I were to conduct this project there, I would find different results, just like I might find different results if I went to a different suburb of Columbus or even Downtown.

This project has affected me in that it has made me realize (or has reminded me) that not everyone has the same attitudes toward the environment that I and the people that I surround myself with have. I know that some people actually do care about the environment and don’t want to harm it, but don’t necessarily incorporate it into their daily lives or have knowledge that extends further than “don’t cut down forests” and “don’t pollute the water and air”. When I asked people whether they thought America has a waste problem, many people just didn’t know because they don’t know anything about waste in America. When I asked what could be done to solve this issue, they all mostly knew that we as a society should recycle more, but that was as deep as their knowledge typically went. Most didn’t think about the problem as a system like I and my friends have learned to think about it through the classes we have taken – that you need to start by reducing waste in order to curb the problem at the end – where you decide whether you should or can recycle. Through this project I have learned that there is much progress to be made with these attitudes and actions, but also that I may want to help actively push that progress along in some way.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

These changes are valuable to me because it’s a nice reminder of reality – that not everyone prioritizes sound environmental conduct like they should, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t care – it might just mean that they are ignorant to the facts of the situation or they aren’t educated about their options. For instance, a business or household may not be aware of local recycling options, or they may be ill informed about the economic feasibility of recycling and reducing waste. Personal implications of this for me are that I might want to become involved in helping people become more aware of recycling options and their ability to reduce waste as well as pushing for businesses and municipalities to make reducing their contribution to the local landfill more of a priority. My course of study has really revolved around the environment and sustainable action, as well as the business and economic implications of that kind of conduct. Through this project, I have decided that at some point in my career, I want to help impact how much waste is diverted from a landfill or even created to begin with. I have always been drawn to waste and have done an internship that revolved around educating the tailgaters at OSU football games what they are able to recycle and physically worked to help increase the waste diversion rate from the tailgate parking lots.

Another way these changes are significant to me are the increased confidence in my abilities to pick up a new task or skill, which will follow me far in my personal and professional lives. This will help me to be more willing to take on new or different tasks in a job and not be afraid try something new because I am worried about failing (which is sometimes inevitable anyway). Without taking on new things, it is difficult to grow personally or in a career, so to have this new confidence, I will be more willing to say yes to opportunities rather than no because I am afraid I won’t be able to do it.

Here is the link to my tumblr blog, further detailing my project, including pictures and quotes from my interviews:


Worthless Freedom

Artistic/Creative Endeavor:

I composed a choreographic work that unveiled the silenced historical battle of the Africans in America. Simultaneously, my own personal experience and extensive research highlighted the struggle of what it meant to be African-American in the 16 century and in present day America. More specifically I create a work that challenged the ideas that privilege has the right to ignorance titled Worthless Freedom.

My artistic process occupied transformational qualities by its ability to help define who I am as a choreographer, activist, and historian. My project challenged my abilities to convey such a serious yet controversial message to an audience while dodging anticipated expectancies within my movement. More specifically I evolved my abilities to create unique abstract movement rather than choreographing literal movement. My project was such a self-defining experience that has started me on the path of creating a career through my desire for advocacy for the African-American race. Through the completion of such a revolutionary experience, I also gained hands on training in the creation of independent research, costuming, and movement expression.

As a result of my recent artistic transformative project, I have been granted the opportunity to study abroad/present my work in Brazil, in partnership with the Brazil touring ensemble. I will set my quartet on four new women, as well as choreograph an entire new section. I have three goals in mind: to understand how my historically relevant work will be received by a group of individuals whose history is relatively similar to mine, to employ movement as a vehicle to share history that is not otherwise shown properly in history books, and lastly to propose dance as an art capable of exploring politics and social messages. I am elated about my opportunity to take all that I have learned from this process and place it into the ongoing nature of this transformative project.

The premier night of my dance within my department had me radiating with excitement and nervousness. This piece was my baby and I wanted everything to go perfectly. We had been rehearsing for months and creating this quartet felt like one of the longest dance processes that I had been a part of. However, that night, when the dancers actually set foot on stage, it felt like everything leading up to this performance happened in the blink of an eye.

As the dancers came out the crowd fell silent and at that moment I realized this is what I lived for. At that point in time, there was no place I’d rather be than in that black box theatre. My nervousness paired with the dancers’ professionalism and commitment to such a serious and meaningful work was outstanding. After the performance concluded the crowd gave a standing ovation and stomped as much as they could. Worthless Freedom was the only performance that had such an amazing reaction.

It was in this experience that I realized activism was accessible through art. The response of the crowd helped me to understand that dance really can be utilized for addressing social justice issues while staying relevant and valid. As a result of my STEP project, I stand by my word that dance should not be used just for showcasing bodies; and my work made it known that movement with substance speaks more clearly to an audience.

Making of a Marathoner

Name: Quinn Harnett


Type of Project: Creative and Artistic Endeavor


My STEP Signature project was to train for and run 3 marathons over the course of a year and a half. The goal was to see what I was capable of physically and mentally, and to train myself in achieving goals in general. My project definitely strayed from the original plan, but I feel that that is a part of the experience, learning how to adapt, to change my expectations and to deal with obstructions. I originally planned on running the Twin Cities Marathon in the fall of 2016, the Big Sur Marathon in the spring of 2017 and the Grand Island Trail Marathon during the summer of 2017. Because of scheduling conflicts and injury, I ultimately ran the Columbus Marathon in fall of 2016, the Asheville Marathon in spring of 2017 and the Mt. Nebo 10k in Arkansas in the summer of 2017.

Through my involvement in STEP and in the execution of my project I came to learn a good deal about myself, and my attitudes towards the things I did. I found out that something as big as a marathon required more dedication and priority than what I normally gave my hobbies. It wasn’t something I could do for a month and then just set aside and try playing the guitar (I have a habit of switching hobbies about once a month). It took a lot of strength and will-power to get up and make time to run three times during the school week and then another run on the weekends that always lasted more than an hour. I always thought that I was a pretty fit guy and that running a marathon could be done without too much effort, and simply with grit and some good shoes. When I took two weeks off from running four weeks before the Columbus marathon, I didn’t think much would change, but I was wrong. Marathon day hit me hard, and though I finished, it was not the best I could do, and I knew it. I found out that some things deserve more respect than I gave them.

Another place I noticed transformation was in my body, physically. I grew more fit, aerobically, if not aesthetically. I did not lose any weight or get a six-pack, but I gained the ability to run 12 miles easily, when before this project 5 miles was a whole lot to even think about. Training worked to an extent to make me fitter. I thought I was healthy and fit and able-bodied, and then the Asheville Marathon happened. When I felt a pinch in my hip at mile 13 I didn’t think much of it. But after a long downhill at the end of mile 17, I could barely walk, and I had to drop out of the race. That was a tough battle because a huge part of running a marathon is telling yourself over and over that you cannot stop, even if you’re hurting. Obviously, injury is not a game and it was definitely the right decision to stop, but that didn’t make it easier. I discovered that for me, training for a marathon would mean much more than just running, that cross training, and weight lifting, and hill runs, and speed work weren’t just made up things that people talked about to mess with me. Overall, I learned that running marathons takes much more dedication and time, and deserves more respect than I had given it.

My project was all about training for and running marathons, and therefore all the learning and transformations that I encountered came through training for and running in my marathons, and all my mess-ups along the way. Training for the Columbus marathon based on a simple training plan that I found by Googling “Marathon Training Plan” was the first place I saw growth. I didn’t think about any other aspects of training besides the miles on the schedule. I did not respect the weekday miles I was supposed to run, I thought that they were just good suggestions, meant to help you run faster. Since my goal was just to finish the first one, I assumed that skipping some (or many) wouldn’t be so bad. But like I said, my two-week hiatus from running so close to the Columbus marathon was not a smart move on my part. I learned to respect the advice of the many runners who made these training plans from their previous experiences, and further, to respect any advice from someone older or wiser than myself.

Me, post-Columbus Marathon, ’16

Training for my second marathon In Asheville, North Carolina brought about my second change. By giving myself only 12 weeks to train for that marathon, I disrespected every piece of advice I could find that said that any successful plan should be 18 weeks long with a solid base of running (20-25 miles a week before week #1). I thought I would be fine, seeing as I had just run in a marathon 3 months prior to starting this new training plan, while totally ignoring the fact that those 3 months had included about 20-25 miles of running total. The result of this carelessness was an injury that caused me to drop out of my second marathon, and eventually to skip my third. I learned that not respecting the advice of others could lead to more than just a hard time, but to actual injury.

In my training for the Asheville marathon, I also learned the importance of cross training. I saw the value in being a well-rounded athlete, ironically from the hindsight of an injured athlete. My IT Band Syndrome was the result of a lack of muscle in my hips and glutes and other core muscles, as well as a lack of hill preparation in my training runs. Through my ignorance of cross training, I discovered the value of spending time on other parts of my body. Stretching, strength training, hill workouts and good rest are all vital parts of being able to run a marathon, not just running. This idea can be seen in the rest of my life too. Without a balance of school, work, friendships and rest, things tend to go poorly, and that imbalance leads to weakness that is often not evident until something breaks down.

Me again, pre-Asheville Marathon, ’17

In the end, because of my lack of training, my high expectations of myself, and my desire to move on to something else (I suppose that is just a nice way to say quitting) every time I was too tired to run, I learned to respect the Marathon, the training required, and anyone with the dedication to attempt it. I learned that receiving advice is not the end, that advice is meant to be used and acted upon, and for good reason. Most people know more than me, and part of living is growing through the help, advice and teaching of others. I learned the importance of dedication, and perseverance and I learned to love running, even if not the marathon distance.

By completing this project, I was able to test myself, my limits, my strength, and my determination in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. I found out that I am not flawlessly dedicated as I like to think I am. I learned that there are more important things to me than being in great shape and being a ‘Marathoner’, like spending time with friends, resting, and learning. I did find joy in running, a sense of peace and a feeling of accomplishment when I finished a long run. I feel that moving on, running the marathon distance is not something I would like to do often, and especially not alone. I think that a shorter distance, like the half-marathon, which still requires high amounts of training while allowing for more error, is more of the stress relieving, satisfying activity that I need in my life. I also think that inviting people into my experience of running, and finding people who would like to run themselves would make it a much more enjoyable pursuit overall. Running is something that I will take with me for a long time, but I feel that it best fits into my life without a schedule or the demands of a marathon. I want running to be an enjoyable activity, not a duty. I want to be able to exert myself to relieve stress and get my blood flowing, not to hit a certain distance or time goal. I want to use running to explore the world around me, especially the natural world, and I think I can find that in trail running. I am very glad that I undertook this project, that I ran in two marathons, that I don’t hate running, that I feel more fit and healthier, and that I know were the enjoyment lies for me. Here’s to a lifetime of running, even if not a lifetime of marathons!

Creative Endeavor Computer Project

This Creative Endeavor Project was to immerse myself in the art of creating a personal computer. This would promote and further creative expression over a multitude of media after networking/researching with professionals/hobbyists and to understand the computer’s components and their functionality between one another.   

The project showed me my capability to shine again as a person and bring out a side of myself I never truly brought forth. Throughout the project I found myself becoming bolder, more confident, and more proficient in myself, my own abilities in computer building, and in my own life. I allowed myself to be more open-minded during this project and it helped me come back to a part of my life that I left behind for the wrong reasons. Creativity was not the only part of me to grow during this project. I also became resourceful during my project by recycling older computers or gifted components to best suit the build I went for. Problem-solving followed suit as I quickened my analysis of issues during my project and the troubleshooting of the completed computer. The computer components were vast in their individual and group functionality, though as I was to build a personal computer, the information was more simply put than that of larger scale projects. I appreciated this knowledge, utilizing it as a way to better myself in life by seeking out what helps me be more myself and build myself in preparation for my focuses in life.  My social anxiety was broken, and I realized this upon reflecting recent moments of my openness towards others in classes, work, and the public in general. I saw the way I dressed and acted as I networked impacted my professionalism and prompted me to me mindful on how I went about my way in life. This has also allowed my view of others to be renewed; as I networked I came across others with their own unique viewpoints and adapted to easily work with them. Furthermore, my well-being was renewed from what it was during the school year as the project not only taught me the art of computer build design, but to improve and optimize myself. This was done by mirroring my life to how I was shown to build computer by each individual I encountered.

I began my project fall semester and had only a few places in mind to go to to accomplish my goals. The main places were computer repair stores and forums to seek out the  professionals and hobbyists, and as I was about to start the first day I came across the idea of really expressing myself through this project. I instead went to the Department of Art, Hopkins Hall to find those who could point me in the right direction of designing and constructing a unique computer case. It was a week later when I had my materials for the design, though I fell short of time of continuing my project and chose to focus on my studies.

From this time, I fell physically, mentally, and emotionally to my lowest point from scholastic and family stress and coping with living on my own. I sought help, and halfway through the spring semester, I came back to complete my project. I felt guilty for not working to complete it and began  incorporating it in with the classwork. I began to meet with professionals at repair stores and hobbyists I were referred to by peers. I was reluctant to meet others for the project, as I still over-worried and belittled myself from the depressed time in my life, though I quickly began to look at life in the opposite sense as I met with Holland Computers. The individuals I met there were kind and promoted the unique case I constructed and were the start of many more interactions. I began to believe in myself again and felt this project could help me in more ways than one, though I was almost deterred by dead end networks from three other locations that seemed promising in helping me.

I finished my project in the middle of summer approximately the time I proposed I would. From spring semester to summer, the project brought out in me the motivation to restructure myself in the same way I structured the computer for immersion into other art media. I knew I was not going towards the future I had wanted at the start of college and the low point in my life pointed to the worst; I gathered what I knew about myself and geared my life toward that. This is similar to how to the project computer needed to lead with a strong processor and needed all other components to support it.

I have always done better with more work and sought out a research assistant position. I lived in a single room dorm the past year, and reflecting back, I remembered I do better in an apartment lifestyle, which I had freshman year. I also took classes over the summer to boost my GPA back up. All these changes and more in the way of how I display myself have all stemmed from learning about how the components promote the computer type. As I continued to open up and communicate with others, friends, family, and strangers alike, I was pushed further to fill my words’ meanings with actions allowing myself the resolution of self -honesty. Others have also shown me that you are never alone as they wished to help me in my endeavor, such as a new friend donating a case or a family member giving me a broken laptop. They showed me that from the project I was learning from that I could do more and my resourcefulness shined as I utilized parts of those gifts into my computer. I still felt I took advantage of allowing my project to halt, but I figured out that not all the media I want to immerse myself in needed money to use the software and from that notion I found free software for all the art media I want to delve into and saved my proposal amount to give back to the STEP program.

As I stated earlier, this project has helped me to become more confident and to push myself in new ways. This has already started to benefit me in terms of being more confident and focused in my studies, and I also believe that this will help me in my professional life as well, now and continuing on after college. The professionalism and courtesy that I have learned through this project will greatly help me in future jobs, such as with interviews and how I communicate with coworkers and customers alike. I also believe that this self-confidence combined with the creativity of this project has helped me to be comfortable in situations that most may not be, such as presenting new ideas during group projects, in class or at work, or even presenting a new idea to the company I work for. It is very important to be able to speak your mind especially professionally and to be able to get your ideas across clearly. Aside from this, the creativity in this project has given me an idea for my very own business, that of designing computer cases and selling them online. Most cases are very bland and boring, usually simple colors like white or black and square. With the media the project computer will run I could create a vast array of designs, models, and video demos of unique case designs.

Photo Albums: