STEP Project: Rail Experience

I built a website that coincides with this STEP project. It has nearly all the pictures I took as well as my interviews, video reflections and journals from the trip. Please enjoy them at this URL:


The main purpose of this STEP Project was to help create and strengthen interpersonal skills through one-on-one interactions and increase my ability to understand and relate to others on projects and recreationally by expanding my mindset about the world around me. These objectives were achieved by traveling the country by train and interacting with the people on each leg of the trip and those encountered in each city center. Interviews were conducted with several people to firstly talk with each individual and secondly to discover more about who they are, where they come, and how they view the world.


As I traveled around the country there was one particular comment that I heard from nearly everyone that I interviewed concerning their home town. When asked to name one thing about their home town they wish more people knew about I heard, almost universally: people from blank town are some of the nicest people around, they are really given a bad reputation and no one is that distant or cold hearted towards their neighbors. It seems that everyone has their own community to be ingrained in and feels a need to protect it. This commentary was very reassuring while traveling as I felt more confident in my questioning of those I encountered and helped me more fully appreciate the similarities we all share as people. Everyone is trying to define themselves in the crowd while trying to find some group to be a part of.


It would seem strange how the two ideas of defining oneself and finding a group to be a part of would be such close bed fellows but from the conversations I had with people on the trains and in the cities, I have to say that it is actually quite fitting of a pair. The short version is that they complement each other quite well. When looking a little deeper you see people coming and going, looking to identify with a new place’s culture or carve out a place for themselves to truly express themselves. Perhaps there is a slight bias in the people I talked to as they were all trying to get somewhere on the trains but there were a large number of individuals who were moving to a new place to call home. The majority of those were moving within the same state (I went through some really big ones: Montana, California, and Texas so again there may be some bias) but still looking to start fresh.


I bring all of this to your attention because of the implications that arise, primarily that most people want to maintain some level of familiarity when they have to make a great change. For the individuals moving there is a new community that they can come and assimilate with but there is still some familiarity with the land, the lingo, and the societal expectations. The framework for who you are as an individual does not need to be stretched and reformed until after you have worked on who you are in the group. Once they have accomplished this they can move on to finding oneself.


The remainder of people on the trains who were not there for work were there for a vacation of some kind. Here you see the opposite occurring where the destination is a long way away from home and the people they know just as distant. These people want to discover what’s out there to better themselves and bring more to the communities they belong in. With these travelers they are way outside their comfort zone and use that as a way to refine themselves or discover something new in their lives never before seen. This separation from the support of those around you requires that a person pulls from their own well and it is with this that people learn more about themselves and what they can do for the people in their community. Both Ideas, it appears, feed back into each other and encourage the growth of individuals to the benefit of the larger whole to allow the individuals be the best they can be.


As with any type of travel, once you are introduced to something new and different your entire understanding of the world is altered. Sometimes these revelations are small, such as the clarification to why an object or location has the name it does, to the sudden realization why an event is so heavily weighted in a local culture. Whatever the discovery, it is not possible to return to a state where you haven’t learned that knowledge. In many of these cases you are responsible for spreading that new information as a way to expand the views of those around you.


Moving forwards, the experiences that I have acquired by participating in this project are not just my own to take. Others should and will learn about the things I have discovered coming across the country and how unique each corner is as well as how all of us are looking for the same things in life. Each place I visited had its own unique vibe and style to present but none ever disregarded or negated the others. The people I met who were “professional travelers” were the ones with the most wisdom and the most to talk about in a conversation. They felt in many ways that they were ambassadors and had a duty to reflect what they had discovered into their everyday lives for the benefit of all. I now feel that I have a similar obligation to bring this new understanding to the attention of others in the hope of making this large world of ours not seem so foreign and unknown.

STEP Reflection: Piano Lessons

The STEP Signature Project that I did was in the Artistic/Creative Endeavor pillar. I decided to take piano lessons and the goal was to become more fluent in playing different styles of music that I was not already comfortable playing. While taking these lessons. I learned much about music theory and how to put different aspects of music, such as specific chords together to create a certain mood using music.

My view of the world of music has changed while completing this step project. Not only did this change how I saw music, but it also caused me to change my assumptions that I had about myself and other musicians that are considered “advanced”. This project has caused me to look internally on how I approach any problems or difficult situations that I may face later in life.

As I learned I also played for various groups of people in different settings. In doing this, I realized that music is not only about the person playing, but it’s about you and everyone else that is around you while you are playing. Music is so powerful and has the ability to change the atmospheres that people are in. Therefore, as a musician, one actually has a responsibility to steward his gift well and use it for the right purpose.

As stated earlier, overall main goal of this STEP project was to develop my musical skills as well as my overall musical knowledge. I just used the piano or a keyboard to achieve this. However, the foundation of what I learned can be applied to almost any other musical device. Before this project, I was pretty much a self-taught musician. I had played the trumpet in middle school and had learned the basis of how music worked. I learned how to read music on an intermediate level. However, everything I knew about playing the piano came from trial and error or from the internet. Because of this, technique was never a concern or a focal point while teaching myself. Although this would have been fine in the beginner to intermediate levels of playing, during my experience, I learned that in order for someone to reach the next level as a pianist and to become the best player he can possibly be, one cannot ignore fundamentals because fundamentals are a foundation for everything else that is later learned. A great analogy that helps explain this deals with building a house.

If a small house is built without a strong foundation, the builder may be able to get away with not having a solid base. This would be the equivalent of being a beginner or intermediate piano player who can play basic things. He could get away with having bad technique and fundamentals and still be alright initially. However, if the builder were to expand on the house with the weak foundation, he would quickly run into problems. The foundation that he originally built would inhibit any possible growth that he could possibly have. This is the same for the piano player. There is a certain point that you reach in your skill level where if you don’t have a proper foundation, you become limited in your playing. The only way to fix this problem and to add to your skills, is to unlearn habits or bad techniques that contributed to the bad foundation just like the only way for a builder to build more on his house is to destroy his foundation and build a new one. Unfortunately for the builder, if this is the case, usually the whole house must be destroyed. In the case of the pianist, one may have to completely start learning all over from the beginning depending on his current foundation, however most of the time, it involves only a section of his or her playing that needs to be refined. I fell into this category. Because of this, it was frustrating at first knowing that I had to back track in order to progress. But this was a valuable lesson that I learned that can and should be applied to all aspects of life.

Jeremy, my piano teacher, started me off with exercises that developed individual finger strength and control. Different scales were also practiced with these exercises and allowed me to kill two birds with one stone. Although this seemed so simplistic and was very boring, I realized later in my lessons, that the improvisation skills that I originally was interested in developing was based on knowing these scales such as the pentatonic scale. I also learned that the style and feel of the music that one may want to portray had to do with scales that facilitate improvisation and also the rhythm that is played.

As time went on I realized that my improvisational skills were getting significantly better. I realized that one of the most satisfying things in life is learning and developing the building blocks for a skill and then later putting together those fundamental building blocks to create something completely better and unique. While I was learning these skills, I was also able to play for the OSU student organization, The Body of Christ (TBOC). There, I pretty much had free reign to play whatever I felt was needed for the situation. During these meetings I had the opportunity to play with other instruments for a mini worship set. To me, this was the most important part of the experience because originally, that is what I envisioned when I began learning how to play the piano. It was glimpse of what I saw myself doing later in the future.

One of the most important things that I took away from this experience is something that I stated earlier; if you are going to start something no matter what it is, you should make sure that you start doing it right, the first time. Not taking shortcuts is the best option there is to being successful at something. If you do take shortcuts, there is a good possibility that you may run into problems later down the road. However, because of the way life works, we as humans may find ourselves in a bad situation where either we were dealt a bad hand or maybe out of ignorance gave ourselves that bad hand. If either is the case, we should not be afraid or discouraged to try to fix the situation. I have learned that there are three major steps to fixing a situation that one may find himself in whether it was his fault for being in that situation or not. The first thing that has to be done is that one has to reflect back on his situation and investigate why and how he got there. This can be the hardest part because a lot of times depending on the situation, this step involves either letting go of pride and realizing that you did something wrong and or recognizing that you had no control of the situation yet, you still for some reason ended up where you’re at. In this step you are recognizing where in your foundation there are problems. The next step in addressing your situation is to figure out whether or not you have the ability to change the situation you’re in. If you don’t have the ability to directly or indirectly affect the situation, how can you obtain the ability to do so. Also, what is it going to take in order to make a significant change to your situation. The final step is to evaluate yourself and find out if you have what it takes to implement what needs to be done to change your situation. If you don’t have what it takes, how can you develop the character and discipline to do what needs to be done to change your situation. This process is crucial to anyone who wants to excel in their given field of study or in life in general. Because no matter what, there will always be problems ahead of us and everyone will fail and fall. But it doesn’t matter how you fall, only how you pick yourself back up. All this was eminent in me while I was striving to get better at the piano. There are many problems in this world, structurally and socially. My main goal in life is to be an agent of change in this world and in order to that one has to have a solid plan of attack in addressing problems, and I believe that these three steps that I learned is the key to pushing this change.

Here is a link of me playing the keyboard at TBOC along with a sax, bongo, and guitar. It was completely improvisation. It was a powerful moment. If your interested in finding out more about what the recording was all about, come to TBOC on Thursdays in the union.

STEP Reflection: Data Science Computer Build

Zach Feldman

Creative and Artistic Endeavor

My STEP signature project was a computer build that was tailored for use in data analysis. As a data analytics major and a sports lover, I have written multiple apps that are useful in the sports industry but can no longer run on my laptop due to hardware restrictions. For my build I used 64GB of G-SKill DDR4 ram, a 512GB Samsung 960 Pro NVME SSD, an Intel i7-8700k processor, and a GTX 1080 graphics card. This combination of hardware will be able to run any program I need to with as large of a data set that I will need. I also have a Corsair H150i CPU cooler that will make sure my processor stays cool even if I need to overclock it.

With the large price tag for this machine I have learned to appreciate the opportunities available to me in my life. Because I came to Ohio State and participated in STEP I now got an opportunity that so few people in the world have. In the short time I have had this machine I have taken delicate care of it to make sure nothing wrong happens to it. I spent a great deal of time making it look nice – including way to long on cable management that did not even end up that good – and making it a computer that I am proud to have. On top of the appreciation, I also got great experience with money management and budgeting. While I only spent a little of my own money on this project, I spent a long, long time looking through many outlets that sell PC parts. I found the optimal way to spend the money and ended up saving myself money in the end. Had I bought all the parts from the same place I would have paid a few hundred more dollars of my own money. It was fantastic, albeit a tad annoying, to see all the different email receipts in my inbox with the parts arriving at my house every few days.

One main way I came to the appreciation for this computer was when I was using PCPartPicker to help plan out all of my parts. This is used to make a parts list with projected price, but it also lets you view builds others have completed and posted. Through this I saw many builds with ‘budget’ in the name that were three, four, and sometimes five times less than the amount on this computer. I obtained a good knowledge of the market for PC parts and learned, although it has been inflated due to the crypto currency mining, it is a very expensive market. I soon realized how lucky I was to be able to spend very little of my own money to obtain a PC that was as much as five times of others’ budgets.

When I actually build the computer it was a great organization and planning experience. I ‘mapped’ out the optimal way to route cables and install components for the optimal performance. I could have just dove in and started putting parts together but I am glad that I took my time to measure and plan things out. I researched many tips and tricks for building computers that helped me get comfortable and get an idea about how I would attack my build. I also did a lot of research on airflow techniques to keep my parts cool so they last as long as possible, while not having dust issues or being too loud. This included learning how a water cooler worked for my CPU which has many configuration options and fan types. I figured out which blades were best for liquid coolers and the configuration that will keep my CPU the coolest. I would not have known any of this information without taking the short time to research it.

The whole process was also aided by one of my closest friends from back home that has an extensive knowledge of computer hardware. He helped me throughout and made recommendations that I would not have known about otherwise. He also was there to help me with the physical building process which allowed him to teach me how the parts actually worked together. I learned a lot that ranged from simpler things like how the buttons on the computer case worked to more extensive things like how the VRM heatsinks work on each respective part. It was great to be able to interact with my friend so much and get to spend a few hours building a computer.

This project was valuable for my life because I learned a lot of information that is useful in the tech industry (one industry I am interested in) and because I can now continue to work on my applications that were hampered by my old computer. I learned a great deal about how each individual components of computers work and now can apply this knowledge on the tech side of my life. I have always been interested in the industry and have been able to understand my previous software knowledge a little bit more due to the added hardware knowledge. In terms of data, I can now continue to run the applications I have written for myself without my computer running out of RAM or crashing. While the applications are not optimized completely, they scrape loads of data from the internet and then run many queries on those data that now run smoothly on my PC. As I continue to venture into the sports world (my dream job would be in sports) having as much hands on experience with analytics as possible is best and this allows me to do that on my own.


STEP Reflection: Scuba Certification + Video/Research Project

Riley Fanning

Type of Project: Creative and Artistic Endeavor


My STEP Signature Project consisted of getting scuba diving certified and gathering photography knowledge with a class offered at Ohio State. Once certified, I went on multiple dives with a GoPro to record underwater video and research the different organisms I saw to the best of my ability.

My view of the world was changed during this project since I was literally able to see the world underwater, which was a perspective I have never experienced prior to this project. Seeing the underwater world is something that many people may not be able to experience but is something truly beautiful and inspiring. The variety of structures and animals that are present in a short range from each other gives a little bit of an insight to the many organisms present in the oceans around the world.

I was able to better understand myself as well. Part of the reason I wanted to do a project which involved scuba diving was because I am interested in marine biology and grew up swimming and I loved being in the water. Although I felt excitement when underwater and scuba diving there was also a great calm and ease I felt while being there. I did not think I would be as relaxed as I was since the environment that I was submersed in was unlike anything I have previously experienced but cannot wait to experience again.


The event of scuba diving itself was one of the main events that led to my transformation. I was able to gain a new perspective, literally and figuratively, for the marine life that resides in a small section of the world’s oceans. I was also able to observe a variety of organisms in their natural habitat. Scuba diving was also a new experience for me and a new skill that I can continue to develop and expand with time with other certifications I can achieve. Once someone is certified in scuba diving they are certified for life and continue to build upon their skills and obtain higher and more advanced certifications which is something I hope to do in the future.

Through this project, I met a variety of people and created new relationships with them. With the scuba diving class I participated in at Ohio State and the photography class I took, I met many people that I will have lasting friendships with. I also created a relationship with staff members and other divers through Florida Underwater Sports which was where I completed my certification and went on other dives. Meeting people of different ages and backgrounds but with the connecting factor of photography or scuba diving was a great experience. One person, Ally, is currently a Dive Master and has been scuba diving since high school since she had the opportunity to scuba dive from living in Florida her entire life. Anthony, who I got certified with, also has a boating license and another woman who came on a dive that I was a part of works on Wicked, the musical. Although these individuals are all Florida native, they each have their own passion for scuba diving and reasons to become certified which was a great connecting factor between everyone.

Another individual that I have created a lasting relationship with is Kendra. She was my instructor during my open water dives to get my certification and was also my “dive buddy” on the boat dive I went on. She learned about my objective for this project, what I wanted to do, and helped me with other scuba-related material while I was in Florida. Kendra is someone that I was able to talk to about scuba diving and is someone that cared about my project and about myself.


With my major of Evolution & Ecology and my continued interest in marine biology having a scuba diving certification will open more doors for me since being certificated is a valuable skill to have when looking for jobs in my field and elsewhere. As well as becoming certified, seeing the ocean underwater gave me a new understanding and appreciation for the world’s oceanic ecosystem. Scuba diving has also helped me remain calm in less than ideal situations. One example of this was when practicing skills underwater with a lack of oxygen but continuing to keep calm and complete the respective skill.

Obtaining a basic open water PADI certification now allows me to expand that and get more advanced certifications such as: Advanced Open Water, Master Scuba Diver, PADI Rescue Diver, Specialty Diver, and more. By recording what I saw while underwater, I am able to look back on my experience and the different organisms I saw to better apply my research to a specific animal or organism. By doing research and writing a report from my own video documentation, I am further developing not only my scientific writing and research, but my creative video editing as well.

This project has allowed me to have a greater appreciation for those who continually scuba dive and help others become certified. I have also re-confirmed my interest in oceanic life by being able to see life-in-action and different species that I have never seen or heard of from living in Ohio. My signature project has also allowed me to explore an activity that I have always wanted to try and skills that I will be able to utilize in the future. On the research side, while that is still being completed, using the research and writing skills from classes I have taken at Ohio State will help me in this project in further developing my knowledge of the life I was able to see and better express information to others.

Engineering Desk Workstation Build

Name: Logan Morris

Type of Project: Arts and Creative Endeavors

  1. To design and build a custom PC workstation from scratch. This includes using CAD to construct a 3D model of the desk, then manually construct the design following a basic blueprint. This desk would then have a custom engineering ready PC built into it, which can be used for many years to come.
  2. I learned much about myself from this project. I grew as an engineer and came to a greater understanding of what I am capable of in terms of design. I have had numerous people ask me how I came up with the design, and I can honestly say that this has been one of the greatest accomplishments of my academic career thus far. I have gained confidence in myself and now know what I am actually capable of.
  3. From the start I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do with my STEP funding. I knew that I wanted to build something, and that I wanted it to impact my career in some way. Sadly, I have yet to really get a chance to design something from scratch at Ohio State, it always felt like I was following some form of template or going through the motions of being in school. This project was a chance for me to create something that was truly mine, and mine alone. I decided to build a custom desk, with a computer workstation inside.

I started by simply hand drawing what I wanted the desk to look like. Afterwards, I attempted to dimension it appropriately, but realized this was nearly impossible to do as one changed dimension changed nearly all of them. I turned to the CAD program called Fusion 360, which provided me with the tools I needed to turn my hand drawings into a digital 3D object which was much easier to dimension properly.

When the CAD design was finished I began to order all of the parts. It took a few weeks to get everything together, and about a month to finish the build completely. I learned significantly more than what I can include in such a small response. What I know for sure is that this project has completely changed my life and given me a chance to prove myself.

  1. This project has helped my in more ways than just professionally. I have learned what it

means to be an engineer. Gaining confidence in myself for design work is the most

significant thing I could have ever asked for. I personally thank all involved in this project

and hope that this type of makerspace project continue so that others can benefit as I



Alex Art – Arduino Controlled Model Railroad (Artistic and Creative Endeavor)

Name: Alexander J. Art

Type of Project: Artistic/Creative Endeavor

For my STEP signature project, I built 4’ by 6’ HO Scale model railroad, with a train that was controlled via a PC and an Arduino microcontroller.  I then demonstrated the layout to the second graders at Northwood Elementary School and talked with them about the importance of science, math, and engineering.


I learned that time is a very valuable resource.  Something I did not anticipate when planning my STEP project was the extent to which I would have to balance progressing on the project with school, work, extracurriculars, friends, and family.  I anticipated being able to complete it without problem throughout the school year, but soon found that my project did not fit in my apartment.  Therefore, I had to work on weekends/breaks from school when I visited home.  In short, I learned a lot about time management and how to make time for important activities.

Additionally, through this project I became more comfortable engaging with the community.  I sometimes have a bit of social anxiety, so being in a situation where I was forced to reach out to the principal of an elementary school, plan and coordinate and event, and give a short presentation helped me to overcome my fears.  The presentation to the students went very well, and Mr. Donaldson and the second grade students were all grateful for my time and effort.  Through this community engagement, I learned how to give back and engage with the community I grew up in.  Going forward, I am the Community Outreach Chair for the Running Club at OSU this fall and spring, and my experience with STEP will definitely help me excel in this position.


At the beginning of the school year as I was preparing to move into my apartment, I came to the realization that my STEP project would not fit in my apartment.  Originally, I had planned to gradually complete this project throughout the school year.  This plan had to be reevaluated, and I needed to map out specific weekends and breaks throughout the year to return home in order to complete the project.  Thus, the project taught me a lot about time management and how to be adaptable in changing situations.

In planning and giving my presentation with the second graders, I learned how to be an ambassador to the community.  This presentation was very personal for me, as I gave the presentation at the elementary school that I attended when I was young.  I greatly enjoyed sharing my passion for engineering with these young minds.  It was fun to watch as they were amazed by my display of science and technology, and it took me back to when I was their age.

Overall, this project taught me how to use my skills as an engineer to complete a project that I was personally passionate for, and how to share my passion with others.  I shared it with my family, Principal Donaldson, and the second graders of Northwood Elementary School.  I learned that even though things don’t always go according to plan when completing a project like this, things can still work out and the project can still be a success.


As I have already learned through both STEP and my past internships, communication and time management are key skills for an engineer to possess.  An engineer must coordinate with other engineers when completing design projects, be it designing a car or designing a spaceship.  Coordinating with Mr. Donaldson to plan this event gave me much valuable experience in this regard.  Additionally, I feel the experience of explaining engineering to second graders and answering their questions helped me to become a more effective communicator.  Throughout my career I will work with many people who are unfamiliar with concepts I know well, so it is important that I be able to break down and explain these concepts so that progress can be made on the project.  Additionally, engineers must be able to multitask.  I’ve found in my internships that I often have several projects going on at once, and I need to be able to prioritize these various activities.  Balancing this project with school, work, and extracurriculars helped me to practice time management.


Bellamoxi Dance Convention

Name: Maxi Riley

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavor

1. In my STEP signature project with the Dance Convention Company, Bellamoxi, my main activity included assisting the esteemed faculty during their convention dance classes. I also provided help during the Bellamoxi Competition Awards ceremony in passing out the respective awards to each solo, pairing, or group dance. My specific job title, Bellamoxi Corp Member, did not only hold physical duties, but also projected responsibilities. It was my personal obligation to demonstrate and uphold the values that Bellamoxi Dance Convention created under their brand name: “beautiful grit.” Throughout the first year of this experience, I expanded and refined my integrity, professionalism, artistry, and work ethic.

2. Bellamoxi Dance Convention consisted of visiting six different United States cities for a weekend long set of classes and competition. The six cities were Bowling Green, KY, Chicago, IL, Charlotte, NC, Dallas, TX, Torrance, CA, and Phoenix, AZ. With my funding from the STEP program, I was able to attend four of these six cities. Each city brought a new set of people, all coming to share their passion for dance. Dance is truly a universal language. I gained new understandings of my personality through this experience. I can be equally assertive as I am encouraging. In the dance classes of the Bellamoxi Convention, I took on the responsibility of controlling the energy and atmosphere of the room, same as the faculty member I was assisting. Prior to Bellamoxi, I hadn’t considered the necessity for me to educate young dancers and share my artistry with them in an authoritative/mentoring manner. Getting to inspire young dancers, simply by my presence and demonstration, means the world to me.

During this artistic and creative project, my view of the world has changed slightly. As mentioned before, dance is a universal language. The power of performance art is unlimited. I learn so much about people from all areas of the world by collaborating artistically with them through dance. Everyone has a story to share. Oftentimes, one’s story is similar to your own. I formed a lifetime’s worth of connections with those I met through Bellamoxi. I never doubted the ability to do so, but to physically witness the transformation of relationship-building go from surface level to deep rooted in a matter of minutes is priceless. My view of universal connection is now more open-ended. I have the eye-opening experience of Bellamoxi to thank for it.

3. The biggest transformation I had during my STEP project with Bellamoxi Dance Convention is my shift towards a more active role in facilitating the structure of the dance classes. The faculty member I would assist trusted me to help maintain the integrity of their dance practice each class. In a way, I required the same amount of respect from the students as the faculty. In the eyes of the dancers, I am on the same level of authority. They give me an equal amount of respect and attention throughout class. Feeding off such energy pushed me to be a strong example for the young dancers coming from all over to dance with us for one weekend.

The faculty member I assisted the majority of the time was urban flow artist, Justin Conte. Justin is extremely hard working, detailed and thorough in his work. To be so, Justin demands the necessary respect and attentiveness in class, all the same with different age groups of young dancers. Working by his side meant I was held to those exact standards. Being his assistant, Justin expected I follow his example and demonstrate the same values. The relationship I’ve established with Justin is both professional and amicable. A relationship I know will last a lifetime.

Connections in the dance world are vital. It’s a business where it’s good to know someone, but better to know everyone. Something as simple as an interaction with a professional dancer/artist one time can leave a lasting impression. Under Bellamoxi, I’ve had the great privilege of interacting more than once with artists of different backgrounds, genres, locations, and professional credentials. These artists have seen me dance, handle the responsibilities of a Bellamoxi Corp member, and express all parts of my personality. It’s safe to say Bellamoxi was an opportunity allowing me to make important connections.

4. My personal goals and academic goals coincide. I am an extremely persistent, focused, and hard-working individual. I believe everything happens for a reason and that God wouldn’t give me any opportunity I couldn’t handle. I learn a lesson from everything I do, and carry those values in my heart as I go through different events in my life. Bellamoxi was achievable because of accomplished academic goals. Bellamoxi expedited my lifelong personal goals. Therefore, anything I do influences what is tos come. The Bellamoxi experience molded me into a more mature version of myself. My future plans are to be a professional dancer and performer. Those plans start with the interactions I have during something comparable to Bellamoxi.

Health and Wellness Blog

My STEP project entailed a variety of activities that relate to my area of study and those that helped me to develop new skills. The goal of my project was to create a blog about healthy living with a focus on nutrition, as my major is Medical Dietetics. In order to achieve this goal I took cooking classes to learn different cooking techniques and then also used funds to create a website where I can post recipes and about wellness.

While completing my project, I realized that health is not one size fits all. As I looked at other blogs and articles on wellness to give me direction for my own blog I realized that there are so many different opinions and schools of thought when it comes to wellness and nutrition. Seeing many of the different opinions on the blogs and various websites helped me to refer back to my education and see the importance of evidenced based practice. I also learned that there is much more work that goes into writing a post and taking photographs than I thought. Having this project along with difficult course work and my responsibilities as a group fitness instructor I learned that sometimes I had to make compromises in the quality of pictures I took or the time I spent cooking in order to keep up with my other responsibilities. This helped me to see how many people find it difficult to have the time to cook healthy meals and stay active. Having this experience will help me to keep this in mind when I speak to patients and clients as a registered dietitian and as I continue creating content for the blog.


While I was contemplating what I wanted the message of my blog to be I used other blogs as a resource. I found things that I liked and disliked on each. There were many that I found recipes to be complicated and impractical for a college student. Some also advocated for foods and patterns of eating that did not have a strong scientific backing. The informal research that I did helped me to discover that there was a large amount of information circulating about health and nutrition. This solidified that I wanted my blog to reflect evidence based practice so that it could be a reliable source of information. I realized that there are many different ways to eat healthfully and that the way I eat may not work for everyone. This helped me to understand the importance of being open minded and to try new things to appeal to a broader audience.

While working on the blog I was also in my major classes and learning about nutrition for health and the dietitian’s role in the medical team. My formal education helped to shape some of the things I decided to write about and the ingredients I used in foods. I wanted everything I wrote about to be backed by science. For example, the use of coconut oil for cooking is very popular because of possible health benefits compared to fat sources like butter. However, scientific evidence has not shown any results that would indicate coconut oil is more healthful than butter. Therefore, I strayed away from using this ingredient and sticking to the sources of fat that have known health benefits like olive and canola oil. I used a large amount of plant sources in my recipes that I have created so far because of the health benefits of a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetable. Most Americans do not eat enough of these foods so created plant-based recipes that would help people increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet. However, with being a busy college student I also wanted to create a recipe that were easy to follow and not very time consuming.

While I was taking cooking classes at Sur La Table, I learned about a variety of cooking techniques and the use of different ingredients. Learning many of these techniques was very useful and helped me to better my cooking skills. However, some of the ingredients that we used were not something someone would have on hand or were also more expensive to purchase. This was frustrating because I could not recreate many of the recipes at home or would have to spend money on an expensive ingredient I would only use once. I think that many people would feel the same way that I had. Also, some of the things we cooked took a longer amount of time that would not be very simple to whip up on any weeknight. These classes helped me find a balance between the quality and taste of recipes with time spent and simplicity. I have gotten much better at cooking efficiently. And will continue to be better at this as I become more experienced in the kitchen.

These realizations and changes are valuable to my future and I will work with a wide variety of people in my role as a dietitian. Evidence based practice should always come first and foremost when creating goals for patients and clients. Creating recipes that reflect the evidence helped to solidify the recommendations and will help me to communicate them to patients in a way that they can understand. It is also important to understand that some individuals may have financial restrictions or time restrictions. Learning to make compromises in the recipes that I made and the expense of ingredients will help me to relate to these patients and create goals for them that are manageable and will help to improve their diet and hopefully their quality of life. Creating this blog has helped me to learn flexibility that will be useful when working with clients to improve their lifestyle behaviors.


My Blog: The Mind and Matter  –


Fashion Book in New York and Columbus

My STEP signature project allowed me to create a photography book about fashion, diversity, and people in general. During this project, I was able to travel to New York City where I spoke with a fashion industry professional as well as locals and took photos of the people I met with and my surroundings.

I had never been to New York before or reached out to someone professionally let alone spoken to so many people in my life. I think that I learned about the world is that there are so many people in the world who are willing to help you. I am an extremely anxious, shy person so the idea of reaching out and speaking with a bunch of people I didn’t know was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I had always been afraid to do so because I thought no one would give me the time of day or they would be rude (hello Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada). But, I was met with so much kindness and openness it was almost overwhelming. Also, I was worried I would never be able make the right connections in order to create a strong network that you need to be successful in the fashion industry. However, I learned that it couldn’t hurt just to reach out and speak to someone. I obviously faced a lot of rejection and possible embarrassment, but I also gained a lot. . Personally, I feel like I transformed myself by doing this project because I am more willing to accept opportunities. This is because before I was afraid to even run the race, but now I realize that winning the race is great, but you should be proud you even ran it in the first place.


At first, I was only excited to do this project because I wanted to be able to take photos. That was the number one thing I was interested in, and I was honestly more afraid of the other aspects. I hadn’t realized what I truly signed myself up for. I was going to talk to a bunch of people I didn’t know, some of them being fashion professionals, and traveling to a huge city alone. Luckily, my dad offered to go with me otherwise I don’t think I would have survived the city on my own. However, I am truly grateful for the whole experience. After buying a new camera, the first thing I did was reaching out to industry y professionals. The first step I took was taking advantage of my resources here at Ohio State. I reached out to one of my professors, Alex Suer, and that was one of the best things I could have done. She connected me with several people, both in Columbus and out of state, that were willing to take time out of their busy schedules to talk to me.


After that, I was able to email these people in hopes that they would allow me to interview them for my project. As I mentioned before, there were a lot people who didn’t respond, but there were a lot of people who did. After some brief email conversations, I ended up meeting with five industry professionals here in Columbus: Rob Smith, Lisa Messmore, Tracy Risaliti, Melissa Koch, and Amanda Williams. Two work at Express, one at Abercrombie & Fitch, one from La Senza and one from Atrium. These interviews were some of the best experiences I have ever had in both my personal and professional life. I had this amazing opportunity to sit down and talk with some people who are active in the fashion industry like I hope to be one day. I was even allotted the opportunity to tour the Express building and meet with some extra people. It was amazing to hear all of their stories on how they ended up in the current position and for them to give me some insightful advice.


While I was in New York, I was meant to meet with a few more fashion professionals, but their schedules didn’t allow for it so I only got to meet with one. Her name is Tiffany Thomas, a friend of my STEP Advisor Nancy Fisher, and she is a merchandiser at American Eagle. I interviewed her while I was in New York, but we also had a bit more of a casual conversation before and after which was nice. I also appreciated how she suggested some things for my dad I to do with the rest of our time in the city. She also rode the train with us to SoHo. While there, I got to experience one of the fashion capitals of the world, and it was amazing. I got to visit The Met, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Chelsea Market, and all of the greatness of New York City. Besides being a tourist, I also got to speak with a few people for my book as well as take photos. I’m not going to lie, this was the hardest part. A lot of people were not receptive to speaking to me nor me taking photos. So, a majority of it was me snapping photos, Bill Cunninham style. However, I did get a few quotes from people, which I am very grateful for.


As someone who lives their life in constant fear (thank you anxiety), I would say that this transformation matters to me in every aspect of my life. Although I am still very worried and apprehensive about what is to come, I feel like this experience has proven to me that I can go on and do anything, and I will be fine. I am able to speak to people a little more freely, which is a simple but very important skill. Also, if I ever end up living in New York for a job, I will know how to ride the subway! On a more serious note, this was an incredible experience for me professionally. How many times do you get the chance to speak one-on-one with multiple people who work in your dream field and ask them anything you want as well as receive advice from them? I was also able to start working on my network, which is critical to my career. I will be attending the Fashion Affair this year and without this experience, I highly doubt I would be as prepared as I am now to speak with hundreds of industry professionals. Lastly, I think this experience has given more confidence than I have ever had before. I am sure of what I want to do, and I have faith that I will be able to do so because of this project.

link to a digital version of my book:

South By Southwest in Austin, Texas

For my STEP project I attended South By Southwest (SXSW) a conference/festival in Austin, Texas over spring break. The majority of the conference focused on technology and innovation from large companies and startups around the world showcasing all kinds of new technologies. I attended a multitude of events that focused on different topics from specific technology such as Artificial Intelligence to lectures by executives on how to encourage more women to go into STEM, for example.

I had always heard about the city of Austin and SXSW from friends, family, and information online, but it wasn’t until I was there that I really understood what the event entailed. I thought every day was going to be very structured with different lectures and presentations happening in a centralized building, but it was far from that. Every day the schedule was released, and I had to pick and choose carefully where I was going to spend my time because so many incredible talks on amazing subjects were often at the same time and in different hotels or buildings around the city. It was overwhelming all the opportunities to take advantage of, but that was what I went to Texas for and learned more about myself along the way.

I know I am a very independent person and was excited to be exploring alone and enjoying some personal time during the week, but I learned that a week alone is too long and unrealistic. My ability to talk to anyone and make friends at different events I attended was something I’m very proud of and definitely took advantage of because I learned I am too social of a person to enjoy the week by myself.  I never truly felt alone during the week, but I realized the importance of sharing experiences with people whether they are strangers or not makes moments much more powerful. I networked and connected with some amazing people that hopefully I can stay in contact with and have in my network for both personal and professional things in the future. Going forward for future trips I take or events I attend I will make a point of finding people to come with me or continue to reach out to strangers, so I can make new friends and develop a community of people from all over.

Austin is known for being a blue dot in the sea of red of Texas and attracts people from all around the world from every walk of life. It is a funky city with very cool buildings, artwork everywhere, and many large festivals throughout the year such as SXSW. I very quickly learned that everyone around the city was incredibly friendly and willing to help with directions, suggestions on places to go, and just willing to chat about happenings in the city. My goal for the week was to network with people in the industry of engineering and find inspiration for what I may want to do with my degree post-graduation. I did not know how I would necessarily go about this, but as I previously mentioned I’m a very outgoing and social person, so I wasn’t afraid to strike up conversations with those around me.

A particular interaction and event that impacted me the most was at an event run by a company called The Female Quotient. It’s a company of women based in California that travels around the country to put on interactive and engaging events on a variety of topics about women’s empowerment. They bring powerful women from different fields to speak on panels and network with the attendees who are both men and women. At SXSW the event they put on was easily one of my favorites of the week. They took over a building for three days and created an inclusive environment for women and allies in STEM to come into the building and watch a variety of panels covering different topics. They also had places to sit, free food, water, charging stations, and a perfect area to network with amazing women from all over. The event I found most inspiring and impactful was a panel full of female executives from different technology companies who have come together help lead an initiative to encourage young girls get interested in STEM careers at an earlier age, so they hopefully pursue it in the future. I was amazed and inspired by the women I was hearing speak, and there was even a male film director who spoke who has created an online television show centered around women in STEM. As an engineer I am not typically around males who are as welcoming as they should be into the field, but it is because of these women and initiatives like these that will help the representation improve.

After this particular panel I wanted to go and talk to a woman named Ann Rosenberg, a SVP who has developed a program with the goal of encouraging young girls to go into STEM. While waiting to speak with her as everyone who attended had a similar idea, I struck up a conversation with a woman from Austin who works a software company in the area. She was incredibly impressed that I was using my spring break to come to a technology conference to begin networking and thinking about post-graduation. We exchanged contact information and connected on LinkedIn as she offered to help me with anything I need when I’m in Austin again or want any career advice. Although a small gesture on her part, it felt so good to be reminded that I am not alone in engineering and that there are women who are already in the workforce ready and eager for my generation to join and only increase and encourage young girls to follow and lead others to do the same.

I wasn’t sure when I went on this trip what exactly I was going to bring back with me, but I learned that even with so much negativity in this world and how much stress I face between my personal life and school life, there is so much positive still out there. There are people everywhere who even after just a few minutes talking could have a large, positive impact on your life. Everywhere I went during SXSW I met some amazing, inspiring people who not even knowing their name have left me with some incredible memories. I want to continue to return to SXSW for professional development and networking, but to bring friends and family along to enjoy it with me. I grew so much in this week traveling alone and have learned how to appreciate my alone time, while also understanding the need for companionship during experiences like these. I look forward to trying to utilize the connections I made in the future, and absolutely want to get involved in continuing the wonderful work the women I saw speak are doing to increase the number of women in STEM. I felt rejuvenated and re inspired after going to SXSW as it has only reaffirmed my passion for engineering and innovation.