Figure Skating, A Lifelong Project

My name is Kage Brubaker, and for my Creative Endeavor, I started group figure skating lessons, and later moved on to private lessons with a coach. I had weekly lessons and off-ice practices with my coach, and often went to the rink once or twice outside of that to practice the various jumps and skills necessary.

I learned how important it is to find that one thing that really resonates with me as an individual. Prior to these lessons, I didn’t do much as a creative or physical outlet. I learned that both physical movement and creative expression are vital for me as a person and that my life will be geared towards a blending of the two in some manner, professionally or personally. I also learned how important it is for me to be able to set everything in my life aside at some points. This new understanding has allowed me to know when I have to take a step back from my busy life and pour my energy and thoughts into something expressive. It’s helped me to better reflect on where I’m at in life, what I can do to change it, and how to get where I want to be in the future.

I also learned how important it is to make connections with everybody around me, and how our lives can easily and profoundly interweave with one another. I’ve made new friends and connections by skating with people of all ages and developing positive relationships with my coach and other skaters. I have been able to learn how to read these people also, and better understand what makes people do anything, and what drives us forward in life as individuals.

Particularly, with my coach, I have been able to foster open communication with her and learn about her both as an individual and as a coach. By working with the same coach, I have been able to develop a friendship and learn more about the figure skating world’s inner workers. I’ve also learned how to continually push myself forward. Lessons with her have undoubtedly made me more physically in shape, but I was also able to pick up on her perseverance and ability to constantly push forward in life.

The amount of effort involved in figure skating and the amount of practice involved to better myself has also been key in my growth. Figure skating doesn’t really come naturally to many people, and the only way to improve is to put in long hours that are often physically and mentally demanding. Eventually though, I had established a schedule for when I could practice and used that as a frame for the rest of my schedule, blocking out time to study, time to work, time for classes, and time to be myself. I also feel better equipped to pour myself fully in whatever I’m doing and experience it as completely as I can. It can often be difficult, but by taking my time with classes, work, and myself, I’ve noticed that I am better able to improve aspects of each, and better able to adapt to those things that cannot change.

These interactions and skills transformed me in that I know insert myself more willingly into new experiences that I may not have initially been comfortable in. When I do this now, I make sure that I keep communication channels open, both within the new experience and with my current support system so that I and remain grounded and focused on fully exploring the new experience. I have also transformed to seek to incorporate my creative side in all aspects of my life and the direction that it’s going. Figure skating has made me a more cognizant individual and I am vigilant to ensure that I meld creativity event into my hard science courses. Doing this helps keep me grounded in something that I’m familiar with (creativity) but also adds a depth to anything else that I’m doing that I had lacked before. By discovering the importance of creativity in my life through figure skating, I am sure that I will be able to continue to meld creativity into any professional track I embark on and will be better able to find new depts of the field I would’ve lacked without this opportunity to transform and learn to do this.

This project was significant for me in that it (on the surface) provided a physical and creative outlet for me. But beyond that, I was able to meet many wonderful people, learn how much effort is involved in changing anything, and how lasting and widespread those changes can be in all areas of life. I’m also able to better adapt to situations and continue to push forward in them and life. All of these skills and observations about life are useful lifelong, they’ve also been illuminating in my professional plans as well. Figure skating has shown me how important self-expression and creativity are to me. I find myself gearing my professional life towards this now and am planning to obtain and MFA in poetry and then introduce creative writing as a viable intervention method to increase physiologic healing in hospitals and care centers, which will hopefully bring my creativity to others, and allow me to continually be creative in all aspects of my life: the personal and the professional. Future updates (semi-regularly) can be found on my personal blog,


International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference in Los Angeles, CA

Hello! I am Marissa Thomas, and for my Artistic and Creative Endeavor STEP Signature Project, I attended the 2018 International Associations of Blacks in Dance (IABD) Conference in Los Angeles, California. At this conference, I took various workshop classes with companies and artists I admire, I increased my technical skill and artistry by learning renowned artists, I forged connections with artists in the black dance community, and I researched and auditioned for companies that I am interested in dancing for.

As a biracial female, I have always struggled with the complexity of my identity. For much of my life, I have wondered about my own blackness and my fit into the black dance community. Being able to attend a conference that celebrated an enforced my identity as a black artist was transformational. I felt encouraged to engage and share; create and absorb; and most importantly, to enjoy being black. This project has also given me insight to my future career as a performer. I was able to see options that I have – companies and artists that I would love to work with and who are looking to work with me. My view of myself and of my future has definitely transformed through my STEP Signature Project, and I feel inspired to see where dance takes me in the coming years.

The IABD Conference was created to celebrate black artists, choreographers, and companies and to share the knowledge of dance forms of the African diaspora. This was something that I was specifically searching for, because it is something that I do not get to experience everyday at Ohio State. I attend a predominantly white institution, where the black student population is near 5%. I am part of a dance program where the number of black students can be counted on my hands and where focus is on contemporary and Western concert dance styles. Having the opportunity to learn about dance from my own cultural heritage through this conference gave growth my artistry by giving knowledge and substance to my identity.

I think one of the most important aspects of the IABD conference was being able to take classes with choreographers and company directors. Being able to learn from them, talk to them, and engage myself in their work is invaluable as an artist. Dance is a form of oral history that is passed from person to person, and a relationship with a teacher is the key to learning. I took class and learned from great artists like Christopher Huggins, Allyne Gartrell, Rueben Cintas, and Virginia Johnson. I immersed myself within the bodies of the major companies Philadanco!, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and Dallas Black Dance Theatre and took class with directors and company members. Learning from accomplished dancers was not the only benefit from attending this conference. I was also able to connect with dancers like me – college students looking for careers in performance. I made many new friendships and can now consider myself part of the larger community of black dancers.

This conference also gave me insight to my future as a concert dance performer. Advice that has been shared with me many times is that opportunities are given not only based on how good of a dancer I am, but my chances rely on who I know and my expressed interest, or passion, for these opportunities. Some of my favorite companies were at this conference, and I was able to engage with them in various ways. Not only through taking class with their directors, but by seeing their company perform works in the repertory, by learning about their history and mission, and by talking with current company members. Next fall, I will be entering my senior year of college and searching for companies that I can join and work with for my future career as a performing artist. Having been able to research these through this conference and by being able to introduce myself in these ways has already given me an advantage for my job search far before the audition has even started.

I more ready than ever to dive into the world of concert dance. This opportunity has helped me grow artistically through all that I have learned and experienced. And this transformation that I have gone through, where I have found my place as a black artist, is extremely significant to my development as a dancer. It is reassuring to know that I can make a place for myself in the dance world and can depend on a community and network of people who support me. The technique, knowledge, and connections that I have gained have driven a newly revived passion for dance, and I am ready to take what I have gained with me to every studio and stage.

Culinary Boot Camp

Hi, my name is Cathy and for my STEP Signature Project I participated in a Food Enthusiast’s Boot Camp Course at the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, NY.  It entailed two 9-hour days learning and practicing in a professional culinary setting, a tour of the school, and dinner in one of the student run restaurants. During this time, I had the honor of being instructed by Chef David Bruno and working with other food enthusiasts.

I have never deemed myself a creative person when referring to the arts. An aspect of college that excited me was the thought of being able to focus on courses that were heavily math and science involved. However, my STEP project helped me to realize that I’m actually more creative than I had thought. I had always regarded cooking as an art form but that was not normally my focus when I would make food. My instructor helped me realize I can represent myself by what I make and how I make it look. Food is so much more than just something we need to survive. It tells a story, can invoke emotions of memories, or can be a representation of one’s background.  In today’s world that seems very disjointed at times food has the ability to bring people together because of those traits.

One of the best interactions I had was among the other class participants. I had the pleasure of meeting people from other states and even foreign countries. The one similarity we all had was our interest in cooking. It was really cool to discuss and work alongside people who are passionate about cooking. In my normal college environment there are not many people that I can talk to about new recipes or techniques. Each enthusiast brought their own personality and skills into the kitchen.  I learned a lot from their different styles and taste profiles. The group that I worked in was very interested in putting our own touches on the recipes. So we would bounce ideas around with each other, Chef Bruno, and the other assistant Chefs.

Getting to work in a professional kitchen environment was one part of the project that really brought out my creativity. On campus I am fairly limited to the space, equipment, and produce that I can use. The student kitchens at the CIA are stocked with every piece of equipment and produce you could possibly want. It allowed me to venture off more than I normally do especially having the assistance of Chef Bruno to guide me through a new technique.  Being able to have this experience has only made me more interested in continuing my culinary education and experiment more with my own recipes.

The final portion of my STEP project consisted of a meal donation project for the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. This was an incredible project because I not only experimented for a week learning to make fresh pasta, but I was also able to share it with the group I went with and families staying at the RMH. I learned that providing a hot meal was one less thing that the families needed to worry about. It was also a way for them all to come together and relax for a little bit. For me it was an incredible feeling to make something and have others enjoy it. The meal also gave me more confidence in my culinary skills and abilities.

My STEP Signature project only fueled my passion for cooking even more. It gave me the desire to pursue a culinary education because of the increased confidence and new skills I was able to develop. Part of my funds went towards skill development and taste profile books. I’m looking forward to learning from these, and also attending more professional culinary courses. My end goal is to one day open up my own café.

I believe that having a good creative outlet is an essential part of a balanced life. It helps relieve stress, can allow for meeting new people, and is a great way to express feelings or emotions. Cooking is my creative outlet that I’m excited to pursue. Besides being a great way for me to express myself it is also one way for me to connect with my heritage. With almost all of my family living in Europe, making Polish/Ukrainian food will be a great way to learn about my family traditions and connect with my heritage.

My group picture with Chef BrunoMy dish from day 1







Hello! I’m Taylor Edington and for my Artistic and Creative Endeavor STEP project, I attended BroadwayCon in New York City. BroadwayCon is a conference about all things musical theater. During the conference, I had the opportunity to take part in workshops, sit in on interviews and panels of people from all across the industry, meet others with similar career interests, get information about working in theater and to see exclusive performances. I was able to learn a lot about different career paths in the theater industry and potential routes to get there all while making new friends and meeting some of Broadway’s biggest stars.

While at BroadwayCon, I found out a lot of information about jobs from stage manager to prop master to dramaturge. I realized that I have a lot of options for career paths in the theater industry. But, BroadwayCon also taught me that there are a lot of other ways to be involved with the theater community without working in it. During the trip, I realized that I really do love theater but I don’t know if I want it to be my career. Meeting all of the other fans from all over the United States that come from different backgrounds and have different career aspirations made me see that I have different aspirations too. I will always have a passion for Broadway and I know that it will always be apart of my life. But, I love other things too and have career ambitious in other areas. BroadwayCon reinstalled my love for theater all while showing me it’s realistically not the right path for me professionally.

I tried my hand at performing at a few workshops during BroadwayCon. While I used to be a part of the choir in high school and really enjoyed singing, even for an audience, I quickly realized that I was not cut out for Broadway performance. I realized I was having a better time watching the other people in the workshop singing and dancing, than when I was participating myself. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast during the workshops but they very clearly made me realize I am much happier being a fan than an entertainer.

One of my favorite parts of BroadwayCon was getting to see the special interviews, panels, and performances. There was a wide range of dialogues from stage crews to huge stars but they were so interesting. I got the chance to hear what it’s really like to work in many different areas of the industry from first-hand accounts. Not to mention, they really entertaining and it was fun to hear some of my favorite theater icons speak. As much as I loved hearing all of the stories and tips and advice from the professionals, I realized that I was just watching as a fan rather than an aspiring colleague.

I had the chance to meet so many people at BroadwayCon. I absolutely loved getting to meet some of the celebrities in attendance but I was surprisingly excited to meet the other attendees. I had a great time getting to know some of the other people at BroadwayCon. I enjoyed learning about where they came from, their different backgrounds and why they came to New York City for the conference. I figured that most people there were just aspiring performers and a lot of them were which was really awesome (all of them really talented). But, I was shocked at how many people were just fans and only came to meet other fans, see some of their favorite stars, and feel apart of a community. Most of them had other jobs and other passions and didn’t live in NYC but still had a love of theater. I really resonated with these people and realized that I also really loved feeling like I was a part of the community. Future theater professional or not, it was really great to be in a place where I could ramble on about the latest Broadway news and everyone knew what I was talking about. Or I could sing a few lyrics and everyone around me (literally everyone) would break out into song in the middle of the convention center. It was really fun and felt good to know that even if I don’t live in New York City and become a big stage manager, that I am still a valued part of the theater community.

I know it seems kind of silly that this trip helped me realize what I don’t want to do for my career, but it also helped me realize that I love what I am already doing. For the past several years in college, I have been wanting to go into High Education and Student Affairs. Which I absolutely love and have a real passion for working with students. However, in the back of my head, I always thought that I was just settling and giving up my dream of being on Broadway (I know, it sounds cliché.) I thought that HESA was the next best thing because I didn’t think it was realistic to go into entertainment. So that is why I thought I would take a chance on my STEP project and explore my theater opportunities. While the options were plentiful, I realized that being on Broadway wasn’t actually my dream. I just wanted to be a part of the community and always felt like a faker because I don’t actually participate in any kind of performances. But BroadwayCon helped me see that being a part of the Broadway community is much more than performing. If there aren’t people like me, fans, then there is no one to perform for.

I love theater and I am a huge part of the community, but I don’t want to be on Broadway. Of course, I am not shutting the door on any opportunities or signing any contracts. I know that I am young and anything could change at any time. But, I really love the idea of being able to make an impact on students by going into Student Affairs. I am passionate about helping people and that is what I want to do. But, I am still going to see every National Tour that passes through my town and spend one or two weeks a year in New York City supporting my other passion of Broadway.

Me on the last day of BroadwayCon in the main concourse of the Javits Center.

A panel of leading women in the theater industry. Featuring (left to right): Composer/Lyricist Lynn Ahrens, Actress Christy Altomare, Actress Hailey Kilgore, Radio Show Host Julie James.

Building a Chair

Hi, I’m Laura Lenhart and for my STEP project, I chose to create a chair from an idea I had in high school and have wanted to create since then. The chair is made of molded plywood and steel legs. This project allowed me the opportunity to learn how to bend metal and wood. It also afforded me the opportunity to network within the college of arts and science to get access to the tools that I needed to finish the project.

With this project I learned a fair amount about myself, how I creatively problem solve and how my motivation is affected when a project is not associated with a job or school project.With this project, my creative problem solving skills were challenged on multiple occasions. The first being when I first started working with the bending lauan, I quickly realized that it was not going to bend the radius I needed to get the chair right. Instead of panicking, I started to develop a plan to figure out the best way to work with the wood. This required me to plan more than I normally do. I had to figure out what portion of the wood could be used to experiment on and how much I would need for the actual chair. After I portioned out the wood I was able to work with some of the excess and realise what allows the boards to bend the way they do. They have a series of lateral cuts that allows the bend to flex but not break. From this exploration I was able to deduct that the boards were to thick to get the radius I needed.The excess wood was getting in the way in the interior of the bend. I knew it needed to be thinner. I had to stop and go through the Rolodex of woodworking tools in my head to figure out what would allow me to make the boards the correct thickness. I knew the plainer would be to aggressive as the boards were soft so I opted for the thickness sander. Lucky This allowed me to get the boards to the right thickness. I did have to do some experimentation however to figure out the right width. Many boards were snapped along the way but through patience and perseverance I was able to get the boards to bend the way I wanted them to. This part of the project not only helped me to strengthen my creative problem solving skills but also my patience as it taught me the importance of not freaking out when things are not going quite right. The process for the legs was a little different, for one they were made out of a different material, one that I was far less familiar with, metal and unfortunately, I was unable to have extra to practice on. So it was do or die. I wanted to make the legs out of one continuous piece, in retrospect I would create them in two halves and join them together. By doing them in one piece I was hoping to help maintain structural integrity, however looking back I think that doing the legs in two pieces would not decrease the integrity at all. However by doing the legs in one piece it certainly challenged my spatial awareness skills. This segment of the problem once again reinforced that patience is key to getting the desired final product. Overall the actual fabrication process truly helped me to feel more confident in my ability to bring my ideas to life. I don’t feel that I would have been able to learn these lessons if it was not for this project. I feel this because, unlike a school project there was no deadlines and I could work at my own pace and be patience and take time to do things the right way. That being said I do think this project also illustrated to me that I need to become better at self motivation. What I mean by this is because there was not truly a hard deadline of this needs to be done by blank or your not getting a grade/ fired I found myself kind of pushing it to the back burner. It also made it difficult because I had to work of the summer that I was planning on creating the chair and most of my work hours were when the shop was open. I found myself having to take off time at work to complete the project which was frustrating because I needed the money. This is the main reason it was not completed over the summer during the time I wanted to complete it. When school started I had to prioritize my school work over the project and I found myself have a hard time to fit it in. What I did gain from the stress from the experience is that it is important to find ways to make deadlines feel like heard deadlines even if they are not. The moment you go over them a little bit is when you have a hard time meeting them at all. I have found myself carrying this mentality with me continuously after this project. Overall on a personal level, this project has helped me to grow personally illustrating the importance of patients and proportions as well as the importance of being aware of timelines and staying on track with them.

Along the process of completing this step project, I was able to create and develop relationships that I would not have been able to otherwise. There were three important people along the way that truly made this experience possible. The first individual that I would like to single out is Nate Gorgen, the woodshop director at Hopkins Hall. Over the course of building this chair, I was able to get to know him a little better which in turn helped me to feel more comfortable asking for help and getting his opinion and expertise. The stand out example of this was when I had to use the Mig welder to connect the two ends of the rod for the legs together. I had only done a little welding before and it was a different style. So needless to say I was over my head but Nate was patient and showed me how to do it and in the end, I was able to successfully attach the two pieces of metal. Working in the shop over the summer with him was really cool because I was able to have conversations with him and the grad students that I would not have felt comfortable having if it was not for the time I spent around them. It was super cool to watch someone so gifted with woodworking make the pieces he did. I think because of the time I spent with him I now feel more comfortable to ask questions and learn more about woodworking, something that I truly love doing. Deb Scott was another individual that was intriguing in the construction of the chair. In the spring I had her as a Professor, which was amazing, over the summer I was able to access her vast knowledge of woodworking. She helped me in many different facets of the experience. The first being with the finalization of the design. She voiced her concerns about the comfort and safety of the piece (primarily with the pointiness of the chair and what I could change if I wanted to mass produce it, in the end, I decided to keep the design as is.) She also was integral in the vacuum pressing process. She showed me that there needs to be a membrane in between the wood and the beg so that air doesn’t get trapped in pockets. We ended up using felt. She also helped me create a system that would force the wood into the mold to make sure the bends were consistent. Without her, I don’t think I would have been able to pull off this project whatsoever. The final person that I would like to talk about is Andrew Newbold. He is one of the sculpture instructors. If it was not for this project I would have never met him. I ended up meeting Andrew because I needed to find a way to get metal for the legs of my chair. He was super nice and was able to give me a couple suggestions on how to get the bends I needed. I ended up getting the material I needed for free as they had extra from one of the last projects which were super helpful and nice.Overall the people I met along the way not only taught me new skills and tricks for fabricating but they also helped me to be okay with asking for help. They showed me that it is not a sign of weakness and that it is a super important part of finishing a project. I feel that this project has helped me to be better at communicating. It was because a lot of the time during this project I knew what I wanted but did not know the proper words for them and it has taught me to be better at describing what I need.

Overall this STEP experience has afforded me the ability to be more open with my personality and how I relate to people as it has shown me it is okay to be vulnerable. In fact, in a lot of aspects of life, it’s incredibly beneficial. This STEP experience has also taught me to be persistent. Every time I have tried to make this chair in the past I gave up when I hit a road bump. This time I was able to get a little help over those bumps and be successful.

Producing and Performing A Musical Project

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.

My STEP Signature Project consisted of me and a colleague of mine, using our very own talents, to produce a musical project.  In addition of producing my own work, I would also perform live in front of an audience for the first time.


2. 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.

The first thing I learned was trying to make music with intent is a difficult and long progress.  I always looked at music as a leisurely activity and nothing but fun.  I was very wrong!  Another thing is throughout my STEP experience I feel as if I tore away a mental barrier for myself. I became more intact with my emotions and feelings. lastly, I have come to realize is that it is not that difficult for me to perform in front of others and I now believe is I am a decent musician.  Before step, I had only ever sang in front of a couple people and I thought my first time performing would be terribly difficult but I came to find that once I got rolling it was very easy and I was almost more comfortable doing that then asking a girl for her number in front of all her sorority sisters or something along those lines.

3. 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.


I initially intended to get this project done by the end of the summer.  I was sure by that in four months I could have a tight project completed with time to spare.  That was very wrong.  It was difficult enough to find a concept that I wanted to roll with that I could deem provoking or insightful.  It took about a month I would say to develop a plot line entirely.  During that time the practice had to start.  The main producer of this album would be me but I didn’t want to go in it alone(or learn drums) so I sought to recruit a band. Unfortunately, few of my friends are musicians and the ones that are play the guitar as I do.  Needless to say, I never found a drummer.  It was decided before the launch of the project that my friend Cody, another guitar player, would be an integral part of it.  This is where functional challenge number one hit.  Cody was far less developed into his playing as I was at the time so his fluidity and technique was not great.  It took us a very, very long time to build up chemistry in the playing.  I distinctly remember at times thinking to myself “Sh*t this was a bad move”.  Cody and I proved myself wrong though as at the end of the summer we could practically tell each other what chord switches are about to happen telepathically and we both sounded ten times better than when we started.

Functional problem number two was the actual production process. It took a long time and I really don’t like percussion so I had to watch a good deal of youtube videos.  Trying to add electronic sounds to some recorded through a mic was hard given our intended genre was not pop or hip hop.  Eventually I gave up mostly on trying to fill out the sound electronically and focused more on the intricacy of the guitars. By the end of the progress my music is still far from where I want to be but on the bright side I’ve became 1000% more efficient at the producing process.  These two paragraphs seem to put the process in a negative light so I would like to close this part by saying I had a blast making this music.  It could be quite stressful, but It was a very rewarding process.

During the music creation process I became much more aware of what is going on inside of my head emotionally.  I attribute this to the fact that I was constantly probing myself for ideas.Often I would start by trying to figure out how I am feeling.  Great, today I’m feeling sad, why? Today I’m happy. Why? how would I describe my feeling? How could I visualize it? Personify it? What color is it? Etc.  It sounds very cheesy or odd but I think it helped me substantially in focusing my intent and also knowing myself and why i am feeling certain ways.   All in all i think the process made me more self aware than I’d ever been.

I think my favorite part of this experience was performing in front of others.  I performed a total of 3 times (not including by my fire pit) in the summer.  I was incredibly nervous before my first performance because I had no clue how well I would do or what people would think of me.  My first performance was at a grad party and as I was shaking before I began, thirty seconds in i realized “I have been playing for ten years and most of these people probably don’t know much about music” and boom I was comfortable. That performance also couldn’t have been a better one to start on because the focus of the room wasn’t entirely on me as the next two were.  On my third performance I was confident enough to ad-lib songs about my audience members and they loved it. All in all it was a good experience and even when I messed up(which I did frequently) I never got discouraged and kept going. I got alot of positive feedback and finally came to the conclusion that I am a good musician and that was groundbreaking for me because I was always skeptical of my ability.

4. 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 experiences provided to be very valuable to me.  In terms of the creating progress, I learned that “You can’t rush a good thing”(that is also the title of one of our songs).  If you want something to be good you have to put a lot of time and effort into it.  Good does not come easily and I believe this to be true about all aspects of life.  You want that A in Chem 1220? Its going to take a lot of time and effort.  You want to have good relationships? Time and effort.

When looking at my newfound awareness of my Feelings and emotions I find that to be very important in terms of self regulation.  If you are mad for no apparent reason, you cant address the reason why you are mad! Confronting your feelings head on makes it much easier to conquer them.  Negative emotions can have high impacts on all aspects of life as well.  It is harder to focus on the task at hand if you have something in your subconscious that you need to work out.

Finally, Being able to perform easily in front of others will translate in that such way.  A crucial component of being successful is your ability to present and speak publicly.  This was great practice for anything where I am vulnerable and in the wake of others opinions.  I have gained much confidence in myself from performing in front of others and I think that confidence will take me along way.  Thank you to Ohio State and  the STEP program for providing me the opportunity for this transformation experience. 



The Best Damn Band in the Land

Last summer, I spent my time playing music in Columbus – for hours.  This was my STEP project.  I decided to use the money to live in Columbus so that I could learn Baritone and try out for the Ohio State University Marching Band.  

This was a largely transformational time for me.  For the most part in music and life, I have not had to try very hard to be good at something.  I rarely practiced Saxophone in High School, but I was first chair in multiple bands including Kent State’s Community band full of college students and retired band directors.  Furthermore, I managed to pick up other instruments quickly as well.  I learned Ukulele to the level of being able to play a concert in a matter of two weeks.  For some reason Baritone was different.  I spent hours and hours playing music trying to get better at it and for a long time, it seemed as though it was not getting any better.  But through the help of some of my friends living in Columbus and my persistence, I was able to get much better at the instrument.  This was motivating for me since I ultimately made the marching band.  It showed me what all I could get accomplished when I really put my mind to it.

Some of the biggest events that lead to this change all had to do with interactions that I had with people already in the marching band.  For example my friend Bailey Clanin helped me tremendously improve my tone on the instrument and overall sound quality.  He showed me how to have my embouchure, which is essentially the shape of my mouth for playing.  Next, he taught me the major differences I needed to have between Saxophone and Baritone which helped a lot.  After I worked on what he showed me for hours, I eventually got much better at having a whole sounding and quality tone.  For a long time, I practiced

Later on in the summer, I met with Adam Verbsky, someone who I would eventually become rowmates and good friends with.  Adam taught me how to get better dynamic changes and better articulations on the instrument.  I practiced that for a couple weeks and the next time I played for him he noted, “you have definitely fixed everything I had for you to work on.” and it was in that moment that I realized how far I had come and that all of my hard work had paid off.  He also told me that he noticed I had come a long way in my playing ability.

Right before tryouts, I met with my future squad leader Zack Joseph and he listened to me play through the music sheet.  I was extremely happy to find that he did not have anything to tell me to work on and even noted I could play a couple of the songs better than he could.

If it were not for this project, I would not have realized just how far I could push myself and how much I could get accomplished if I really put my mind to it.  I’ll be able to take that with me to every aspect of my life.  Furthermore, I got to improve my ability to play Baritone and I am extremely thankful to be a better musician now.  Also, thanks to this project, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of being part of Script Ohio as well as the ramp entrance into Ohio Stadium.  It really is like nothing else I have ever experienced and I am so excited to be part of TBDBITL as well as the alumni organization, or as we call it, The Big Red Blob.

Researching and Building a Computer to Educate

Name: Rebecca Danik
Type of Project: Artistic & Creative Endeavors


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.

My STEP Signature Project consisted of researching parts and how to best use the funds provided to create a parts list for a computer.  These parts were then purchased though MicroCenter and Amazon and the actual computer was put together.  I then created parts lists for builds at different price points that people could utilize if they were interested in building their own but had little knowledge.


2. 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.

As a result of this project I have learned to be more patient when it comes to building things and to take my time and to really pay attention to the little details.  It helped me understand that I also need to dig deeper then what I find just on the surface of information because there may be better options.  Another realization was that society is all susceptible to markets that we may not even know about and while things like cryptocurrency may be confusing, it is affecting everyone, even those that just want to build a computer.  I’ve now started to take my time and do a lot more research than I would have done when buying things such as electronics.  This project has also made me a lot more cognoscente of my surroundings.  My project also confirmed the value that there is in doing something yourself versus buying it or paying someone else to do it.


3. 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.

One of the first things I realized while doing this project was that I need to be a lot more patient then I normally would be and pay attention to little details.  I was impatient in the fact that I bought my parts before I even received the funds, but this was due to the fact that there was a really good sale going on, so in the long run I had more to gain from buying early.  I ended up saving a good bit of money.  As soon as I did start the project though, I went right into it.  While I did read all the instructions and utilize the internet and friends for how to start, I ended up missing a few things.  One major thing that I missed was that I didn’t realize a cover had to stay on until I installed the processor to help ensure it was placed correctly and that no pins in the socket on the motherboard bent.  If a pin was to bend it would render the entire motherboard useless unless the pin could be bent back into place, which can be risky.  I accidentally removed this cover, but luckily I was able to install the processor correctly.  This did cause a lot of anxiety though and I was really worried about making sure I put it in right even once the computer was running.  There where also a bunch of other little things that I overlooked but did not affect the computer in the long run.  When I installed the motherboard into its back I/O plate, I accidentally got a piece of the plate stuck in an input port.  As a result I can not plug anything into that port, but I also was not able to fix it because by the time I noticed it, the motherboard was screwed down and other parts had already been installed.  This is not a big deal though because I actually don’t ever need to use that port.  Another small detail was when I installed the RAM.  I thought I had plugged it in but my computer refused to boot up.  After moving the RAM around a little bit and putting a lot of pressure, i realized that it was not fully locked in and one could tell by the fact the snap wouldn’t close.  After a lot of pressure the RAM snapped into place and the computer booted.

My project also showed me that I should always dig a little deeper when doing research and to research more even though I think I have enough information.  There is always something small or new I may find that I wouldn’t have expected or thought of when doing my initial research.  A big example of this would be in choosing my graphics card.  I am really happy with the graphics card I chose, but I was always under the belief that the Founder’s Edition was the best version of a graphics card and it seemed to be the cheeping plus I was also able to get it for 100$ off retail.  As my usage of the computer went on, I noticed I was getting higher temperatures then expected and after doing some more research, I found out that the Founder’s Edition actually have the worst cooling system.  While the card itself is amazing, its cooling system is sub par compared to other aftermarket graphics cards of the same type which have had new cooling systems added.  This would explain why they were about $100 more.  It wasn’t just the added lights, it was the face that the cooling system made a big difference.  Now that I know this I have looked into purchasing my own cooler and adding it to my card as a next step in my build.

As a result of this, I have realized that I need to take more time when doing research, and when I had to buy a new pair of headphones I thought about this and did a lot more research then I typically would have done.  I wanted to make sure that the headphones I was spending a lot of money on, were truly what I wanted and if everything about them fits the bill.  In researching aftermarket cooling options and other builds after I had built my computer, I noticed that the price of graphics cards has risen between $200 and $600.  This is due to the cryptocurrency market.  It has been discovered that graphics cards can be used to mine and people are buying out all of the graphic cards on the market because they can make their money back within a month or two.  I was lucky to get my graphics card back in May when I did, because now all graphics cards are either sold out or unreasonably expensive.  This means that people currently looking to build a computer just for personal use either can’t buy a graphics card or will be paying heavily inflated prices.

Finally, this project has made me a lot more cognoscente of my surroundings in a couple different ways.  When I was actually building the computer I had to be very careful about where I was setting stuff down along with the fact I had to make sure I wore and electrostatic band to ensure that I did not accidentally discharge electricity and ruin expensive parts during instillation.  Once the computer was completed I also had to make sure that when I use it, it is getting good airflow.  Since it used a lot of electricity, some of the parts generate a lot of heat and I need to make sure that there is proper ventilation for this air to be blown out of the case, but also for cool air to be brought in to keep it cool.  This means I can’t put the back against anything because of the heat my graphics card generates along with the fact I can not place anything on top so hat the radiator that cools the CPU gets proper airflow.  I also had my home broken into after this build was complete.  I was incredibly lucky that this build was not stolen and while I am very responsible and make sure that all my doors are locked, I do live with roommates and it turns out one of them had not locked a window.  While this is something I would have done when I shut the window, now I have to make sure and check even the small unexpected things to make sure my house is secure, and things that I have put a lot of time and handwork into are not taken.  This project has really shown me the value of doing something yourself when it could have easily been done by a company or someone else.  I also saved money by doing it myself instead of just buying a new computer.  It was something new, tough, and a learning experience but in the end I have an amazing final product that I did myself that I am really proud of.


4. 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 really valuable moving forward in my life.  From my personal life to my professional future, all of these can be utilized in one way or another.  Patience is a virtue, and being able to combine patience along with the ability to thoroughly research before doing something can be very beneficial as I graduate.  If its small things like headphones or a computer, to big things like buying a house or a car, the ability to wait and do research will produce the best results in the long run.  This also applies to problems and solutions in the workforce.  The ability to take my time and pay attention to little details and my surroundings is also very helpful as I age and enter my career.  It will help set me apart from other employees.  Along with this I am now more willing to do things myself.  When you do things yourself you get that sense of accomplishment but also the possibility to spend money and customize what you are building to your specific needs.  This computer itself will also aid in furthering my career as a software engineer by providing me a top of the line and stable lace to code.


Pictures to come.

Hawaii’s Tourism Industry and How it impacts me.

  1. My STEP signature project was learning about the tourism industry in Hawaii. I was able to go to Hawaii and meet with Nathan Kam, the president of Anthology, a marketing group that works with promoting the tourism industry in Hawaii. In addition to this meeting, I was able to take part in tourist activities and interact with the locals to hear about how tourism, Hawaii’s largest industry, impacts them.


  1. Prior to my STEP signature project, I had done a lot of traveling both within the United States, but also internationally. With most of my traveling it had been all about me: what do I want to do, what do I want to see, what can I do so that this will be a great experience for me. This was true both with traveling that I was doing for pleasure, but also for traveling that I had done with service organizations. I never really thought about what I was leaving behind, or taking back home with me and how this might impact the people local to the place that I was visiting. My STEP signature project changed that for me.


Each stage of my STEP signature project slowly changed me. I began to think about how what I do during my travels really does impact other people. While booking tours and setting up the meeting with Nathan Kam I began to think about the different aspects of tourism and how these people would be taking their own time to share with me about their own lives, culture, and the place that they call home. While traveling I began talking to other tourists: why were they traveling, what did they hope to get out of their trip, how did they think their travel was going to impact their destination after they left. While in Hawaii talking with the tour guides and hearing about their experiences and sharing what they know about the place that they live. While talking with Nathan and his associates to hear about who they target as tourists, how they market to them, how they think that their industry impacts the locals and how they think that the locals impact the tourist. Even coming home and sharing what I learned with my friends and family was transformational. I finally saw the bigger picture.


My worldview has changed because I now have an understanding of how tourism isn’t all about me. It is a business, an industry.  Tourism is how people make a living, from the people who work in marketing to get people there, to the transportation and hotels, to the tours, to the small businesses and restaurants. If tourism doesn’t exist in Hawaii, a whole state is out of a job. The people of Hawaii need the tourism industry in order to survive. This being said, not everyone in Hawaii likes to the tourism industry. It brings in more people causing crowding and traffic and takes a little bit away from the culture that they have been building for centuries. There is a give and a take to tourism and it is all much larger than me as a girl who wanted to see a new place.


  1. Throughout my STEP signature project, there were several specific experiences that lead to my transformation. Each time I met with somebody and actually got the chance to sit and talk with them for a while it really met something to me. When talking with Nathan Kam he brought up how it’s the personal experiences that really make a trip worth wild. When your trip is over and you go home, you might tell your friends what you learned from the scripted tour, but odds are you won’t remember too much of that. What you do remember are the moments where you got to know someone and shared the “aloha spirit”.


One of these interactions that I had was with Nathan Kam and his associates at the Anthology Group. They took the time out of their very busy day to give us a tour of their offices, an overview of what they do, where they came from, and where they want to go. Then they sat down with us and just answered the questions that Katie Bochnak and I had about tourism, the tourism industry, and Hawaii. They were honest and truly just as excited to talk to us as we were to talk to them. They wanted to know more about our project and our trip. They gave recommendations of what we should we doing and where we should be going while visiting based on what they had learned about us and what they, as locals like to do. I can honestly say that I learned so much from them.


Another interaction that I had the was transformational was with one of the guides. She gave Katie and I a private tour snorkeling and hiking to a waterfall. I was interesting getting a tour from somebody my own age with similar interests. She gave us insights about what is was really like to grow up on the island. She told us about her favorite places to go and it seemed like she really enjoyed spending time with us as much as we enjoyed spending time with her. It was crazy to think about how similar we were. She was in college and this was her part-time job when she wasn’t doing homework or in classes.


Finally, the last interaction that was transformational was with Katie, who I was traveling with. We worked together to plan this trip and spent the whole time together. I think we got to know each other a lot better over the course of the trip. I was encouraged to work with someone else while planning and traveling. We worked with each other’s strengths and weakness so that we could get the most out of the trip and learn from each other as well as from the people that we met.


  1. The transformation the I undertook with my STEP signature project was very valuable to me. I am a person who really enjoys traveling and seeing a new place, but with my engineering schoolwork, I don’t always have the chance to take to opportunities that come up. With my project, I was able to pursue my passion for traveling and learning about new places, but also really understood the impact that tourism and myself as the tourist have on the destination. This is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and with every traveling experience that I pursue.

Becoming an Expert on the Tourism Industry of Hawaii

Name: Katie Bochnak

Type of Project: Creative and Artistic 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 signature project, a fellow student and I took an informative trip to Hawaii as a continuation of our research about its tourism and hospitality industry. During our trip, we took several guided tours in different sectors of Hawaii’s tourism industry and met with the president of one of Hawaii’s top marketing companies. The goal of this trip was to gain knowledge of the structure and makeup of the tourism industry and how Hawaii kept a thriving economy while standing on the shoulders of its tourism industry.

  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.

While on this trip my eyes were opened to the reality of island living and the many implications it came with that often went unspoken. Hawaii was by far the most unique destination I have yet to visit. Its’ diversity stood out to me because its cultural background is a mix of Polynesian, American and Asian cultures that blend so seamlessly together that you never felt a sense of majority from any one culture. To me it was beautiful to see so many cultures living in harmony, with no angst, anger or resentment. This immense assortment of culture all occupying the same space was something I was largely unfamiliar with, and truthfully did not think existed within the United States. What locals deemed as the “aloha” spirit was truly in the air as many people carried a happier demeanor than what you would see in people day to day in places like Cleveland and Columbus. Nonetheless, whether it be the sunshine or water, the native people of Hawaii seemed more hospitable, open minded and patient than what I would label the typical person in the Midwest. As one tour guide described it, the mind set of “live and let live” is possible wherever you go, it is just a matter of having respect for others and always remaining humble. I found the naturally blended population on the island and the fact that no single culture is deemed “native” to be a key reason why there is no angst/anger for others  However, living the island life does not mean your life is free from any complications or hardships.

Before this trip, I also assumed all those who lived in Hawaii took on a casual, easygoing lifestyle and most of its residents were those from the upper class that could afford the expensive cost of living on the island. However, what I found was that the island is also plagued by an increasing number of homeless individuals and those struggling to make ends meet in the lower class. I learned that the homelessness epidemic on the island is growing so rapidly that the government is getting involved and taking vast measures to alleviate the issue. Many of the permanent residents of the island are limited to taking jobs within the service and hospitality sector due to its overwhelming presence, and unfortunately many of those jobs do not provide the income necessary to support the cost of living. From this starts a vicious cycle of people needing the get multiple jobs to make ends meet and being unable to send their children to college, which requires their children to miss out on a college education and start work within the service industry as well. I was also shocked to learn that many of the students attending BYU Honolulu were required to work at the Polynesian Culture Center as part of a scholarship that pays for their education. One thing I noticed while on the trip was how frequently we were being thanked for coming and visiting the island. It was in those moments I realized how much a place like Hawaii, who’s number one economy driver is the tourism industry, needed visitors like us to keep a living and a thriving economy.

Lastly, the in-depth research I did on the tourism industry allowed me to gain a sense of appreciation for the field and see it as a multidisciplinary sector that entails more than what meets the eye. I found it refreshing to get out there and learn about something that does not pertain to my major (engineering) yet I have a genuine interest in. I felt as if this research gave me the knowledge I need to put more thought into the traveling I will do and have a deeper appreciation for those who work so hard to put together such an amazing experience for others when they travel. This research taught me that it is not solely the destination that makes a trip or vacation worth it; it is the individuals who dedicate their lives to shaping the tourism and hospitality industry of the location you are visiting to give you the opportunity to enjoy the best of what a destination has to offer.

  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.

One of the first tours I went on was a motorbus tour around the entire island, stopping at multiple hotspots along the coast. During this our tour guide told us many stories about the past, present and future state of Oahu, all uncensored and eye-opening. While driving around the island, we drove past several beaches casquehead with tents and tarps. I learned that several families who found themselves unable to make ends meet would abandon their homes and live in a tent illegally on the beach. Our tour guide mentioned just how easy it was for a family to have 2 working adults and still not be able to make ends meet largely due to the high cost of living on the island. I was also made aware of a process that was taking place back on the main-land US where several northern states were tackling their issues with homelessness by buying homeless individuals a one-way ticket to Hawaii with the justification that they are sending them to a place where they will not have to risk freezing to death. While this may seem like an ideal situation to some, it truthfully is doing more harm than good. With Hawaii’s limited land, property is sparse and expensive which only complements the increasingly high cost of living on the island. And with many of the jobs taking place in either tourism or hospitality, a high value is placed on a neat, clean appearance and a familiarity with the island so that you may better serve the visiting tourist. These things would be very difficult for freshly aquainted homeless individuals to obtain. Many entry level jobs in sectors such as agriculture and construction are growing more and more sparse too as they begin to run out of land to build and farm on.

Another paramount experience I had while in Hawaii was talking with the many students of BYU who worked at the Polynesian Culture Center to fulfil a scholarship requirement that enabled them to go to the university. Several of the students discussed how this program made affording a college education possible for them. It shocked me to think that there are even students who rely on the continued success of the Hawaiian tourism industry to ensure they can obtain a college education. However, many of the students talked on how happy they were that places like the Polynesian Culture Center existed as a means of sharing authentic island culture with others. Several of the students who worked on the Polynesian Culture Center were members of the cultural groups represented within the Center and they felt honored that so many people took interest in the traditions their cultures practice.

At the beginning of this project, one of the largest questions I sought out to answer was how having Hawaii’s economy rest upon the success of its tourism alters the cultural, social and environmental aspects of the region. After doing an in-depth analysis on the tourism industry and spending ample time researching how its market works, I learned that the tourism industry is a multi-disciplinary structure that expands far beyond just marketing. While on this trip, I was able to meet with the president at Anothology Marketing Group, Nathan Kam, in Hawaii to get his thoughts on the tourism industry. Speaking with him allowed me to gain a lot of incite on the marketing strategies used to attract tourists to the island and get his thoughts on the vital role tourism plays in Hawaii, and more specifically Honolulu. I learned that Honolulu is unique as it is one of the only urban settings that exists among all the islands, housing almost all major corporations that are present on the islands. It was interesting to talk with Nathan and hear the future marketing strategies being developed to keep Hawaii a key place to travel. He mentioned the transition and goal to attract more east coast US travelers and the increasingly important role of marketing on social media. Another topic discussed was the drive to have an NFL game scheduled to take place on the island. While initially this did not seem like a big deal to me, Nathan mentioned the immense impact an event such as that would have on the tourism industry. It was not until that moment that I had the realization that Hawaii seldom gains national attention, which changing that could largely impact the money brought into the tourism industry.

Doing research in a field that is far from my major opened my eyes to how cross-functional many disciplines are. I enjoyed learning more about marketing and advertising, seeing the benefits of having knowledge on the subject even as an engineering major. To gain this kind of experience helped me to see areas as tourism as multi-dimensional and not relevant to simply one kind of major. Furthermore, this research and opportunity gave me the opportunity to connect with individuals and experiences I would have never been able to do had it not been for the STEP program and the knowledge I now haves gives me an entire different dimension to add to my learnings while at Ohio State.

  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.

This trip challenged me to look beyond simply seeing Hawaii as just a travel destination and instead take a step back and look at the larger system I was playing a part in. While many of us millennials like to think we are spontaneous and adventurous with our travel, our arrival is analyzed, expected and planned long before our arrival. Our experiences are shaped to be what others have structured as the best features of the destination we are visiting and the hard-earned money we spend on our vacations are going towards much more than just a deluxe hotel room. Through this trip I learned that my traveling fuels an economy that connects and supports so many individuals. After taking this trip, I have developed the personal opinion that it is far beyond worth it to focus on getting to know the locals, their stories and the makeup of the tourism industry for the location you are traveling to. All too often while traveling we turn a blind eye to the people giving our tours or cleaning our hotel rooms that we miss engaging with the

Island life is not as practical and magical as it appears to be. It is expensive and difficult from an emotional perspective as you become largely limited on how much you can see you family if they don’t live on the island as well. However, while island life has its limitations, it also has logical benefits that span beyond relaxing on a beach. Going to remote places that emit a sense of relaxation, peace and diversity can be highly beneficial from a business perspective as well, increasing collaborative spirits and the flow of ideas

Through this trip I also gained knowledge in a field outside of my major and was able to see the parallels and blend of professions within the tourism industry. Prior to this trip, I thought engineers had little to do with tourism and assumed the sector was largely consisting of marketing professionals. However, after delving more into the make-up of the tourism industry, I learned that there are so many professions involved in the tourism industry I never thought of such as data analysts, programmers, engineers and much more. Having this knowledge now enables me to interpret situations from a customer standpoint in a better light, which is highly applicable in almost any job. Doing this research on tourism helped me really get inside the mind of the customer and see things from the perspective of what they would consider a worthwhile investment (such as a vacation).

Overall, I am beyond grateful for this experience and would do it all over again if given the chance. I highly recommend someone getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on an experience and knowledge they would not typically get the chance to during their current path at Ohio State.