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. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqtrURpwIEsJI_KZVUYMrWA

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:

http://u.osu.edu/dalic2stepprojectblog/

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: https://capturingwaste.tumblr.com/

 

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:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/153350296@N06/albums/72157687115640475

Dancing My Way Through College

My STEP signature project consisted of developing and preparing a dance performance for my all-male fusion dance team called OSU Genesis, and have the chance to perform and compete at intercollegiate competitions spreading the South Indian Culture. I got the chance to travel to various universities across the country, competing at the highest level while showcasing our talents and spreading South Indian culture through dance.

Ever since I was a child, I loved Bollywood movies and the dancing that is part of it. Never did I think that I would be able to reenact one of my favorite movies by playing the role of one of my favorite actors. STEP allowed me the opportunity to live this dream of being a Bollywood star.

Every dance performance that colleges perform in this national circuit has a theme to it where teams try to tell a story through dance and dialogue. Our theme this year was one of my favorite movies – Once Upon a Time in Mumbai – and I had the opportunity to be one of the lead roles from the movie and one of the lead dancers in the performance. This experience completely transformed my understanding of myself and what I was capable of. I never thought that I would be able to be one of the lead dancers in a performance and act out dialogue of one of my favorite actors, but through this experience I was able to grow as a dancer and performer to live my dream of being a Bollywood star.

I never danced before college, but I fell in love with the art form ever since my first performance freshman year. Dance has taught me to be more discipline, meet amazing new people, and has fostered my personal growth. It has served as a huge part of my Ohio State experience and allowed me to achieve heights that I never thought I could reach.

Dance has taught me the importance of discipline and time management. Having practice for upwards of 12 hours a week, I have learned to manage my time well in order to complete all my tasks and school work with the limited time I have. I am more organized and better at realizing what to prioritize in order to complete everything I want to. As a result, I am more successful in the academic setting and more efficient in completing my work.

Dance has also given me the opportunity to meet new people and foster new friendships. Genesis is like a brotherhood – we care for each other, motivate each other, and respect one another. In addition, going to various competitions around the country has allowed me to network with hundreds of students around the nation and build connections that would last a lifetime.

Finally, dance has helped me grow as a person. I have learned to express my emotions more freely as I immerse into a different world and character when I’m on stage. In addition, I am able to use dance as a stress reliever to relieve my mind after a rough day. Finally, I have grown tremendously as a leader while guiding teammates through choreography and motivating them to be the best dancers they can be.
This transformation is significant and valuable to my life for numerous reasons. I have always wanted to dance on stage and live my dream of being a Bollywood star. I was able to reach this goal through hard work, dedication, and overcoming of my fears of stage-fright and self-consciousness. Dance has taught me to be proud of who I am and to be able to express myself freely without and reservations. STEP has allowed me to continue my passion of dance and be able to portray one of my favorite Bollywood actors in a dance performance representing this university, my friends, and most importantly – myself.

Becoming a Yoga Teacher

For my STEP project I decided to enroll myself in a 10-month yoga teacher training program in Columbus, Ohio. The program lasted from September 2016 to June 2017 and my class met one full weekend every month.

Before I started the program I had drastically underestimated the transformation I would undergo throughout the process. I had been practicing yoga for 5 years and I thought I would go in to the program, learn how to do some unique poses (maybe even a headstand!), and then get certified. My first weekend of the program completely shattered my original preconceptions. Believe it or not, we spent the whole weekend learning how to sit and stand “properly,” or rather, in alignment. I walked away from the first weekend fully convinced I had chosen the wrong program and even entertained the idea of dropping out. Thank goodness I did not because I went on to have life-changing experience throughout the process. I realized throughout the teacher training that I had been approaching yoga the wrong way the whole time prior to that. I had always approach sit from a competitive aspect, always going for the look of the pose, rather than accepting/embracing my body’s natural limits and respecting them. My practice changed forever and became much less stressful when I took the self-judgment aspect out of the equation.

I was fortunate enough to go through the training with the most amazing, diverse group of 14 other humans. The first day we broke into smaller groups of 4-5 called “family groups” who we got to spend extra time with during training weekends both discussing thoughtful prompts and exchanging lots of laughs. My group was made up of another college student my age, a social worker in her mid-twenties, and a middle-aged addiction counselor. We were all coming from vastly different walks of life and that made the experience of sharing our journeys so much more rich. The three other people in my group helped me realize that I was so caught up in trying to control every aspect of my life that I was missing the moments passing right in front of me.  This mental perspective I had was affecting my life both on AND off of my mat.

On my mat, I was constantly comparing myself to others and trying to push my body to its limits. Off my mat, I found myself in a similar situation of always comparing myself to others and pushing my body to stressful points almost daily. I wasn’t taking time for myself. I didn’t know how to sit in silence and just be with myself. Every person in the training program was assigned a personal mentor to help guide you through the 10-month project. My mentor’s name was Emily. She is a massage therapist and an experienced yoga teacher. She taught me that self care is as important as the care we wish to show others and after much urging on her part I tried meditating. Meditating of me wasn’t so much a spiritual practice as it was a tool for getting back in touch with myself on days when I couldn’t tell which way was up. Now, I meditate regularly and it helps my mind stay in touch with my body.

The most tedious part of my STEP project that I dreaded while I was in the midst of the program, but now secretly miss, was the out-of-class work called Integration Assignments. While I was in the program I just thought of the IA’s as extra homework, but towards the end I realized how much of an impact they had on my practice and my mental shift towards a healthier mindset. The IA’s were extended response questions that were assigned each month after our training weekend to help us integrate the knowledge we learned in throughout the weekend. They grew on me because I started to enjoy the process of sitting by myself reflecting on what I had taken away from the teachings. It also provided me with a chance to practice some poses in a quiet space outside of a classroom. Oftentimes, the prompts directed us to tap into our emotional body, our wisdom body, or our mental body so it took some of the focus off of the physical body.

Although my yoga practice has obviously changed and grown much safer and healthier, my life off the mat has been forever impacted by my experiences and the people who were apart of my training class. I am a Respiratory Therapy major and intend to work directly with people in my career. This program taught me how to balance showing others love with loving myself. I know this will be a beneficial lesson that will serve me well of many years to come because it will help me not “burn out” of the direct patient care field. I’ve also learned how much weigh can be lifted when self-judgment is taken out of the equation. I no longer approach situations with such a one-track mind, but I am more well-rounded and accepting of my body. I learned to listen and honor myself and that was a gift that will never stop giving.

 

Emily’s STEP Reflection

My STEP project consisted of preparing and performing a musical theatre recital that included three distinct sets: contemporary musical theatre, musicals based on the novel, The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux, and classical musical theatre. Not only did I have the wonderful experience of rehearsing music in this project, I also had the opportunity to manage the logistics of putting together a solo recital; this included finding a location for the performance, creating my own programs, advertising, etc.

Musical theatre has been a part of my life for quite some time. I began performing when I was only six years old and I have continued to find ways to incorporate musical theatre into my life every year since then, whether that be through performing in a full-scale production or singing a song in a showcase. Despite all of my experience, however, I had never done a solo recital and quite frankly, I was nervous to do one. For that reason, I knew that it would be the perfect project to do for STEP. Before beginning my project, I knew that this recital was going to be challenging, but some aspects were easier and some were more difficult than I had expected. I believed that my perfectionism would be one of the things I struggled with most, but with the help of my voice teachers, I overcame it. They helped me to understand that mistakes will always happen and being relaxed will let you sing better; and they were right! In addition to my perfectionism, I knew that performing 30 minutes of music by myself would be tough; however, I had no idea how hard it would actually be once I was in a dress tighter than I remembered it being and in front of an audience whose faces I could distinctly see. But I continued on with my performance and realized that I am stronger than I thought I was. I can sing and memorize nine demanding songs in front of an audience and enjoy it without my perfectionism getting in the way…and that is empowering.

My relationship with my voice teachers was one of the most essential aspects of my transformation during this project. Emily, my voice teacher from last summer, helped me to envision the type of stories I wanted to tell through this recital and started me on the track to stop worrying about doing everything perfectly. She introduced me to one of the most helpful tricks in conquering this need: looking into a mirror when you sing. I used this throughout my preparation for the recital, so that I was able to see when my face was getting tense from overcorrecting vowels and prevent myself from stopping after making a mistake. My voice teacher that I see during the year, Dan, only continued to help me transform. He helped me to get to a point where I did not need to use the mirror and could sense when I was starting to get tense. He also helped me to delve into each of the characters and their songs so that I could perform them with a true understanding of what they were about. With their assistance, I was able to stop being so perfectionistic and learn more about how to convey the meaning of these songs to my audience.

Not only did I learn a great deal from my vocal coaches, I also learned a lot from organizing the recital by myself. I found my own accompanist and created a weekly schedule for us to run through and rehearse the music I had chosen, which taught me a lot about managing a rehearsal schedule. I also worked with the Short North Stage to rent one of their performance spaces and determined how the space would be set up. I quickly learned that there was more to this than I expected and figured out how to solve problems quickly and strategically. For example, some of their equipment had been damaged the week of the recital and I was able to borrow equipment from a friend, which fortunately solved the issue. Additionally, I learned how to write and format my own recital program; in the process, I did a lot of research on each of the shows so I could include relevant information in the program and I figured out how to organize the Word document so that it would print like a book. Through planning the logistics of this recital, I was able to learn a lot about how to manage a performance of this kind and I developed organizational skills that I will be able to use in many other aspects of my life.

The largest and final part of my transformation took place at the recital itself; I discovered how arduous it is to not only perform a solo recital, but make sure everything else is organized for it as well. Before I even had the chance to warm up my voice, I had to make sure that the stage was set up to my liking and that the microphone was actually picking up my voice. I also had to help set up the food for my guests, as well as a few other other small things. Then I had to arrange the video recorder so that you were able to see me and hear my accompanist and me clearly. This ended up taking me about 30 minutes longer than I expected and then cut into some of my warm-up time; but, as they say, “the show must go on”…and it did! Once people started to arrive, I started to feel the nerves kick in; I did not realize that I would be able to clearly see everyone’s face from the stage! I was also suddenly forgetting some of the lyrics that I had had memorized for weeks. Fortunately, I was with my accompanist, Harrison, who reminded me of how hard I had prepared and how well this was going to go…and he was right. Though my first set was a little shaky, it still went well and I only continued to feel more and more confident as the recital went on. Once I had finished my final set, I felt a wave of accomplishment wash over me. Despite some set-backs in the beginning, the nervousness, and the difficulty of the program, I completed my own recital! This valuable transformation made me realize how capable I am of performing such a difficult task.

This transformation is significant to my life for numerous reasons. First, my life goal is to become a Speech-Language Pathologist that works with singers and this experience has given me an opportunity to further relate with future clients. Second, I have learned that it is possible to sing well without worrying about making mistakes; it actually makes it easier to sing well. I have always enjoyed singing, but this change led me to love it even more than I ever thought I could. Getting over my perfectionism in singing has also carried over into other aspects of my life and has allowed me to be more easy-going; thanks to this, my anxiety levels have decreased and I have been overall happier, which is always a good thing. Additionally, this project has shown me how much my mind and body is capable of; I was able to memorize and sing nine songs by myself and do it well. This has inspired me to create more difficult goals for myself and to maybe do another recital again in the future. Overall, this project has been one of the most empowering and transformative things I have ever done in my life!

To check out my recital, follow these links to my YouTube videos:

Contemporary Set: https://youtu.be/oR87rVfxNmQ?list=PLwrfJj9gwe7D9xZetO97eQQElfxGn5txo

Phantom Set: https://youtu.be/ftIe4M4TueE?list=PLwrfJj9gwe7D9xZetO97eQQElfxGn5txo

Classical Set: https://youtu.be/CMzHBDba3aA?list=PLwrfJj9gwe7D9xZetO97eQQElfxGn5txo

The Ascent: Climbing to a Better Life

The objective of my STEP Signature Project was to further explore my interest in rock climbing that I started developing during my second-year. I hoped to grow my climbing skills, and in the process use climbing as means of pursuing adventures. The bulk of my project consisted of me pursuing climbing training more deeply than I had before (at indoor climbing gyms), and in the process learning more about the sport and myself. My project also included a handful of trips to outdoor climbing locales, where I could enjoy the fruits of my labors in the gym and fully experience true rock climbing.

As a result of this project, not only have I found a new passion, I have found that climbing has allowed me to forge new friendships, pursue new adventures, and challenge myself in new ways. It has also played a significant role in changing and developing my personal philosophies and objectives in life. First off, while pursuing climbing I have discovered an over-arching love for outdoor activities in general. My continuous perusal of climbing literature and articles has led me to realize that there is a whole world of worthwhile activities to be pursued outside. Subsequently, I have found myself going on multi-day hiking trips; going for long, challenging bike rides; and just enjoying the natural world and the outdoors more than I ever have before. In short, this climbing experience has been a gateway drug to a broader interest into all of the adventures that the world has to offer.

I have also seen my philosophies on what I seek in life evolve over the course of this experience. I’m a mechanical engineering student, and prior to this experience I lived a life that was very focused on – and very dependent on – my engineering career goals. I invested almost all of my value and self-definition in these goals; they made me who I was, and as a result I clung to them intensely. Any time I felt like I was falling short on those goals would lead me to stress, frustration, and depression. But – at the risk of sounding cheesy – climbing changed me. It gave me a new outlet, something more to invest myself in. From a day-to-day perspective, climbing at the gym gave me a chance to rest my mind and clear it the stress that often felt like it was consuming me. In order to climb well, I had to put all of my mental efforts into figuring out how to ascend, leaving no energy left to be spent dwelling on whatever troubles I might have been experiencing. It was a simple release from worry, and a time to slow down and to enjoy myself. But even better, as time went on I found that that release from worry was not a transient, fleeting thing that only existed during the act of climbing. It started to become a part of my mindset. I started to worry less in all situations. Even in the face of tough times during both my summer internship and the ensuing academic year, I found that this mentality I had found through climbing really helped me to mitigate my stress levels. To put it in colloquial terms, climbing and the other outdoor activities that climbing has led me to have made me a much more “chill” person. They have allowed me to retain my motivation to achieve my goals, but in a much more sustainable and enjoyable manner.

Climbing also changed my philosophy about what defines a life well-lived. If you had asked me prior to this experience, my answer would have been something along the lines of how life is all about achievement and doing great things. But, like my tendency to stress out over career success, that philosophy changed. I realized that there are too many things worth experiencing in life to put all of your effort into one single thing. I realized that this was exactly what I was doing, and while that lifestyle definitely comes with some rewards, it just wasn’t worth it to me. It wasn’t what I wanted. I made up my mind to start living for more. I went on cool trips with friends, and climbed all the time just because it was what I felt like doing, and started developing this idea that I should do whatever feels right to me at the time (within reason), and not waste any time regretting it or wondering if I could have been doing something better. Because what I’ve realized is that whatever feels truly worth it to you is actually what you should do.

Before this experience, I used to just do school work and other engineering-related things all of the time. Even if I was well ahead on my school work, I would often abstain from things that could have been fun just because I didn’t want to feel like I was wasting time where I could have been productive. But now I know better. As long as all of my responsibilities are taken care of, I’ll do whatever I feel is worth doing. If some friends want to go wander around, go on a hiking trip, go climb, go for a bike ride, play music, hang out, or do whatever, I’ll do it. Life it way too short to not spend it doing what you want, and it sure as heck is too short to be spent worrying about what you should and shouldn’t do. [end impassioned rant]… So anyway, if you were to ask me what defines a well-lived life now, I would say this: “The best life you can possibly live is the one where you put all of your time and effort into doing the things you find enjoyable, worthwhile, and rewarding, and sharing those experiences with people you care about.” I like this philosophy a lot more.

This whole journey began with my first climbing experience, almost two years from now. It was early in the fall semester of 2015, my sophomore year. Some friends and I were looking for something to do, and one of them had climbed at the Outdoor Adventure Center at OSU before. They suggested that we all go try climbing. Up until that point I had never even considered rock climbing, but I found my first experience to be pretty enjoyable. I wasn’t absolutely blown away by it at first, but there was something appealing about climbing that made me want to keep trying it. So, over the course of the next few months, I continued to pursue climbing and quickly made progress. I learned how to belay, and my climbing abilities improved markedly as I found myself able to climb increasingly difficult routes.

Over those two semesters, climbing became increasingly important to me. I found that I enjoyed the combination of mental and physical challenges into one awesome activity. I also loved that the time I spent climbing really helped me clear my mind. It was an opportunity to focus on nothing but the task at hand, and let everything else fade into the background. Climbing also became a great way to socialize; it gave me time to hang out with friends I would go climbing with, and also gave plenty of opportunities to meet interesting new people.

In spite of all of these benefits, I was really only climbing once every few weeks or so. I came to realize that people who take the sport more seriously tend to go the gym to climb multiple times a week. I started to wonder if that was a lifestyle I would like to commit to; I wondered if I would enjoy that commitment, and if it would make my life better overall.

So that’s where this STEP experience comes in. I used my STEP funding to acquire some basic equipment necessary for me to further delve into climbing. I purchased a harness, shoes, belay devices, and also got a membership to a climbing gym near Detroit, where I spent the summer of 2016 on an internship. Those first steps to taking climbing more seriously came at a very opportune time. I was experiencing a lot of stress from work, school, and some of my extracurricular engineering activities. I was so stressed that my head would physically hurt for long periods of time. I was having breakdowns somewhat regularly. The 2 or 3 times I went to the gym to climb each week were a great relief from those issues. And I was discovering more about climbing every day. I was constantly learning new skills and techniques while training in the gym, and seeing myself be able to climb progressively harder and harder routes was very satisfying. I also was spending more time reading climbing literature and articles; learning new techniques, and being inspired by the adventures of other climbers that I read about. My transformation was beginning. I had a growing distaste for my over-worked lifestyle which brought me stress and frustration, and I was finding relief in climbing. I was starting to wonder why I would put so much of my mental effort into something that made me feel bad, when there were plenty of things to do, like climbing, that felt so much better.

When I got back to school following the summer, I was still in a pretty high-stress state. But I was ready to find something better. I made a commitment with a friend of mine to go climbing at least two days a week, and stuck to it in spite of what else was happening in my life. The relaxed mindset climbing gave me allowed me to find all kinds of enjoyable and meaningful experiences through that semester. I decided to take a step back and decrease the intensity of my involvement in extracurricular engineering activities. I also made an effort to spend less time worrying about being perfect at school; I told myself that as long as I was up to speed on my academics, I should let myself be free to do whatever I wanted. I continued improving as a climber, and continued to find relief, fun, and meaning every time I went to the gym to climb. I still found myself struggling with stress and depression, but I often had this strange feeling that I was somehow starting to work through it. Outside of climbing and school, I spent more time exploring the city and going on random adventures with my friends. The mindset of “do whatever feels worth it” that learned from climbing was starting to influence the rest of my life as well. Climbing was the backbone of my greater transformation.

That semester, in late November, I had my first experience climbing outside. There’s not a ton of climbing to be had in Ohio, but I heard of a small place to boulder called “Witch’s Peak” in Athens. So one weekend, I loaded my bouldering crash pad into my car and drove out there. It was a gorgeous fall day, with crisp, cool air and the ground covered by warm-colored leaves. I hiked my way up a still trail to the top of a hill that overlooked all of Athens, where I found the boulders I was looking for. I didn’t have any real plans of what I was going to climb or what I was trying to do. I just wanted to be out there climbing something. So I spent that day completely alone up there, with no sounds but that of the wind and my hands and feet moving along the cool surface of the boulders. I was able to climb some of the boulders, others were way too difficult for my skill level. But it was awesome. I was having fun and feeling at ease; it was a relieving, meditative experience. This reinforced my notion that life should be lived through experiences like this, and assured me that climbing was a great vehicle for those experiences.

Atop Witch’s Peak in Athens, OH. Some of the boulders I climbed are shown in the background.

I continued to climb regularly in the gym for the rest of the academic year. My next experience was not planned as part of my STEP project and does not involve rock climbing, but I give my pursuit of rock climbing full credit for leading me to do it. Over the course of my reading about climbing, I also started to learn a little more about hiking. In particular, I learned about the Appalachian Trail and became fixated on it. I was talking about the trail with a friend who is an experienced hiker, and he proposed the idea of hiking a section of the trail in the Smoky Mountains after we finished our finals. Instilled with my new “do whatever is worth it” attitude, I immediately agreed. We ended up spending four days hiking in the Smokies, with a large portion of our hike being on the Appalachian Trail. And it was splendorous. It was my first time doing a real, multi-day hiking trip, and actually my first time camping as well (and by camping I mean sleeping on a hammock in the woods). To be out in nature with a good friend, experiencing the beauty of the natural world around me in complete isolation from everything else, was amazing. We had nothing to do but hike, think, talk, and look at nature in awe. It felt more meaningful than anything I had experienced in a long time.

At Clingman’s Dome – the highest point in the Smokies – on my hiking trip with my friend, David.

 

My next great set of climbing experiences happened this summer. I was fortunate enough to have an internship in California, where I knew there were some cool rock-climbing experiences to be had. I met a friend with some experience top-roping outside, and together we explored some of the climbing locales in the area. Our first trip, and the most significant one for me, was the trip we took to Castle Rock State Park. I had never actually climbed large walls outside, so this was my first time doing any sort of roped-climb outside. I won’t deny that I was pretty nervous climbing outside for the first time, but the experience overall was totally worth it. I felt pretty darn cool actually climbing on real, large rock faces for the first time. It felt like everything I had been working for climbing in the gym was culminating in the ultimate experience of actually being out there having a good time working my way up the rock. It felt like the realization of a goal, and the end of a crazy transition state in my life. I had started this experience wondering if I could find something meaningful in rock climbing. I had to work through tons of mental and emotional health struggles I was having with other aspects of my life, and I had to learn to let go and just enjoy life. I did all of this with my pursuit of climbing as the backdrop. Now I was realizing one of my main goals I initially had when I first took up climbing, and I felt at peace as a result of the progress I had made in reshaping my life philosophy into something I found enjoyable and meaningful.

Rappelling down after setting up a top-rope while climbing at Indian Joe Caves (in Fremont, CA).

In summary, this experience began with me wondering “what will happen if I start getting more into climbing?” And it evolved into an experience that would have an impact on me far beyond just the sport of climbing itself. The way I live my life was transformed, very much so for the better. Right when I was at what might be the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life, climbing showed me another path. And I have chosen this path and although I am still working on refining my approach, I feel so much better about the way I live my life than I ever have. Also, I now think that climbing, hiking, and all of that fun stuff is totally rad, and I plan to pursue them even more as my life progresses.

As for my academic and professional goals, I believe this experience is helping me to achieve those as well. While I worked towards those goals almost ceaselessly for the first few years of my education, that lifestyle felt like it was quickly burning me out. By giving me additional things to devote my time and energy to, and also teaching me to be more relaxed, my STEP experience has led me to a more balanced lifestyle. It is this shift, I believe, that will allow me to stay motivated to work towards my goals without burning myself out. In conclusion, my STEP experience has shown me new passions that can coexist with my existing passions, and the combination of the two will allow me to sustain and enjoy both for the rest of my lifetime.