Creating Art with Food

  1. My STEP Signature Project included me taking cooking classes at Sur La Table with foods from various cultures. I would cook the meals during the class, and then try to recreate them at home!
  2. To me, food is art. Food is a form of expression of a culture, and we can use that to compare our differences among ourselves. I am able to appreciate the diverse amount of foods we have in each society and then be able to prepare them for my friends as well. It was so spectacular that I was able to have this opportunity to learn more about people from around the world through food and the way they make their food.
  3. At the beginning cooking class at Sur La Table, they would start out by telling us a little bit of history about each food we were about to cook. Stories or even tales about how they originated so we would be able to appreciate the people who originally thought it was a good idea! For example, a tale of how Nashville Hot Chicken was told was that a woman found out her husband was cheating and so in the morning when she made him his usual fried chicken she added hot sauce to it. However, the catch was that he actually enjoyed it!

Being able to take these experiences home from the cooking classes allowed me to appreciate all of the              opportunities I have been given while at Ohio State. Before I went into each class, I would research the background of the food I would be making trying to learn a little bit more about the culture. I have gotten to know so many wonderful things about so many cultures through their art of food!

My Korean BBQ class I took showed me authentic ways to make chimichurri and Korean-style beef and was by far my favorite. The chef told us so much about the original way s and even directed us to a Korean market close by where we can shop in order to recreate the meal at home! What an eye-opening experience it has been for me!

  1. This transformation I have encountered throughout the entire STEP process has allowed me to appreciate the little thingsand know how grateful I am to go to a school where we are able to express our creativity through this program. Because of this program, I know I want to be a restaurant owner one day. With my restaurant, I would like to build enough of a profit to where I can have multiple food trucks where I can give hot and healthy meals to people who are less fortunate. I want to be able to give back to the community as much as possible, and STEP has allowed me to see that as my end goal!

Virtual Reality Development and 3D Design

My STEP Creative project entailed diving deep into one of the most up and coming technological advancements, in not only the gaming industry but in almost every industry in the world, Virtual Reality. I wanted to focus on two aspects: first, the programming side of VR, and second, 3D Modeling and 3D environmental design as a whole. Throughout the process, I used what I learned to create a digital re-creation of a disc golf course that my friends and I would play all the time while growing up until it was, unfortunately, torn down for more housing land.


There were a few realizations/changes that I came across throughout my project that revolve around a common theme: Don’t Underestimate. The first change came soon after I began learning 3D Digital Design. I soon realized that design is much more complex than I had ever even considered. The second, came as I got more and more intrigued in VR as a whole and got deeper into researching its uses in every sector. I discovered that although Virtual Reality gets much of its media coverage from its presence in Video Games, gaming is actually one of the smaller uses for Virtual Reality in our society. The last, came slowly to me over the past 6 months after I had gotten a good grasp on Virtual Reality as a developer. This realization was that I was much more capable of learning more far-fetched development skills when I actually put the time in to break it down piece by piece.


After purchasing a few online courses in 3D Modeling and 3D environmental design, I was ready to come out the other side a design genius. My hopes were quickly squashed while the course instructor broke down each and every component/detail that goes into, not only making an environment feel real but even just a simple object look realistic. There’s making of the model (which entails working with singular vertices, sculpting, and modifiers), breaking its UV’s down, creating a normal map, height map, and detail map, creating shaders (how light interacts with it), and painting/designing an entire texture for the model. This is all without even going into the complexities that are involved with an entire scene and lighting. I was able to get a very solid understanding and some serious practice into modeling, UV’s and minimal texturing with some normal/height maps but I barely scratched the surface. Since then, I genuinely haven’t been able to watch an animated film or play a single game without admiring the years of hard work and dedication that gets put into those sorts of high scale projects.


When Virtual Reality was first being developed, many became skeptical of it, given how quick game developers were to adopt it as a unique gaming source. However, under the cover, lies thousands of companies, universities, and organizations using VR to improve/research a multitude of areas anywhere from architect prototyping, to the treatment of PTSD. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about some work going on at the University of Cincinnati, where Physical Therapists are taking advantage of Virtual Reality to make Physical Therapy more enjoyable and simpler for children. Given that my Internship at the moment is Web Development related to Athletic Training and Physical Therapy, I was immediately intrigued. This has resulted in me actually attempting to establish a similar system here in Columbus. While this is still in the process, it gives an excellent example of both what VR is truly capable of when you explore the edge cases, as well as something that I have been able to pursue due to what I’ve learned through this project and STEP’s resources.


Ever since starting programming at 10 years old, I’ve always been an independent learner. For the past 8 years, I’ve been constantly either taking another online course or learning some new programming language or skill. I’ve always taken smaller steps away from my ‘comfort zone’ when tackling another skill but VR has been the biggest step to date. I spent a large chunk of the beginning of this project breaking down complex code line by line with some scripts being hundreds of lines long. While this sounds mind-numbingly boring, it was a lot of hard work with an excellent payoff. And, without getting too philosophical, that’s the simplest lesson that has stood through this whole project and I believe anyone could benefit from. Sitting down to do the work is the most straightforward way to accomplish so many things but many people just don’t do that. Whether it was practicing my 3D Modeling or spending 2 hours breaking down a single method to learn how it worked, the only thing that got me through the project was sitting down to do the work.


I would guess that the lesson ‘Don’t Underestimate’ is something that most people believe to be beneficial in life. Don’t underestimate the amount of detail that goes into many things that we take for granted. Don’t underestimate the applications and power that some things have when used in a different context. Don’t underestimate your ability to accomplish/learn something seemingly out of reach when you haven’t put in the time.


Check out a video of the project posted on my portfolio website:

Some Renders of some practice 3D Models:

Writing and Recording my First EP

The project entailed writing, recording, and editing a music album. I wrote and played the music for all guitar on the album and my brother wrote and played all drum parts, while I edited the recordings. The final product is more an EP than album, though meeting the minimum pledged number of tracks with five full songs.

I am typically a perfectionist with my music; a substantial reason why I had not recorded music on this scale before, other than funds, was the fact that I usually, before this project, struggled with being satisfied with what I have written as a final product. I had written many fragments I was happy with as individual parts but could never finish them or combine them into a complete song that I could be satisfied with. While I still feel as though I could have certainly improved the songs recorded on this project, I completed multiple songs for the first time, which is certainly satisfying. During this project I also collaborated with my brother on a music project of this scale for the first time. We worked on developing our music as a team for the first time, discovering what sounds we wanted to work with in our music together.

Perhaps the most influential part in pushing me to finally complete songs for the first time was simply having a deadline. The necessity of completing songs on time demanded that I get over my perfectionism, at least enough to allow myself to loosen the unreasonable expectations I have for my music. This struggle is typically unique to music for me; I have no problem finishing my work in other creative projects, and certainly do not in school or on the job, whereas music is the one mode of expression I feel must be perfect before I consider the product finished.

Admittedly, I still struggled with these same concerns during this project. I wrote, refined, and rewrote my music for the vast majority of project duration. I did not start the recording and editing process until late into the project. As one might expect, this was a mistake, especially since I had no prior music editing or production experience. While the level of quality is certainly acceptable for the STEP program, I feel it is the weak link of my music; I am more satisfied with the music itself than the sound quality I was able to produce. If I could do this project again, I would have pushed myself to finish writing and start recording and editing much earlier.

In the process working together as musicians, my brother and I came to develop and define the sounds we wanted not only as individual musicians, but as a joint artist. In a music group, the result of several musicians contributing their own unique ideas is a combined sound that would otherwise never be created individually. Not only does a musician aim to improve their skills and uncover what they want to express in their own music, but while working with others they aim to develop that unique sound expressed by the group as a whole. This is certainly true for us in this project.

Challenging myself in these ways, in developing the music I want to express and in pushing myself to complete my music, has helped me improve in the mode of expression that is perhaps most important to me. I believe that completing these songs, the first of mine, has set a precedent for me for completing more music in the future. Additionally, the experience I have gained in writing in a group, recording, and editing has certainly taught me many great lessons I can carry over to my future projects and continue to develop.

EMT Basic Certification and Internship

My STEP project had two main parts. First, during the summer of 2018, I took a class at Columbus State Community College to obtain my certification as an EMT Basic. Then, the following summer, I was an intern at my local fire department, which allowed me to review the material I had learned the previous summer and understand more about what it means to be a first responder.

Before my STEP Project, I didn’t know much about how emergency services worked. I understood that there were different fire departments that were responsible for different areas of the city but didn’t know much about the logistics of each run. I didn’t know how it was determined who was sent on which emergency and about the different types of ambulance services. However, after the completion of my STEP project, I understood just how much goes into appropriately responding to an emergency in a short amount of time and how many people need to work cohesively for a run to go smoothly. In addition, I got to experience the different responsibilities that both private and public ambulance services have and how they operate. Every location that I went to during my certification and during my internship had paramedics, basics and firefighters that were more than willing to explain their roles and responsibilities to allow me to get a better grasp on what everybody did at the fire department.

In addition to having experiences in the field where we got to see paramedics with decades of experience treating patients, we also got to interact and perform assessments on patients ourselves, in preparation for the time when we would need to do it in the field when called to a scene. We had the opportunity to talk and assess patients in the emergency rooms of a variety of hospitals and through this opportunity, I was able to learn how to better communicate with a wide variety of people. I learned how to ask questions in such a way that they would understand what I was trying to ask and learned how to expand on specific questions in order to better determine what may be afflicting the patient. It was also a good opportunity to observe good bedside manner from some of the emergency physicians and was also a good opportunity to practice some of what we had learned in class in a low stress environment. The experiences in the classroom and out of the classroom, during the field experience and my internship exposed me to many different ways of thinking that both changed the way I approach certain situations and improved my communication skills.

Although we were taught and told all of the responsibilities one would have as a first responder and EMT, it was not immediately obvious until we were able to view current emergency medical personnel in action. Watching them talk to patients and bystanders to gather enough information to ultimately begin treatment put into perspective how much information needs to be retained. The EMT needs to continually explain to the patient what they are doing and why they are doing it while answering any questions the patient may have or anybody else may have about the situation they are in, while continually monitoring the patient and providing the appropriate treatment. Furthermore, the provider also needs to understand the current situation and recall the correct procedures and interventions that need to be performed to best help the patient. The professionalism of the paramedics that I was able to have the experience of riding with was demonstrated again and again and deepened my understanding and respect for those in the field of emergency medicine and those that provide treatment prehospital.

Throughout my STEP Project it could also be quickly seen that all age groups and types of people could be affected by medical emergencies and need attention. Previous to this, I assumed that there may have been specific demographics of the population that were more susceptible to medical emergencies, but anybody can experience an emergency, no matter if they are rich, poor, old or young. Often, throughout the 12 hours I spent at the fire department, we were called to assist people that needed help standing and walking, both because of how old they were and because of how young they were. Upon talking to the patients, it could be seen that they were just like everybody else but just had an unfortunate accident that required further medical attention and a trip to the emergency room. This broadened my perspective on patients and allowed me to understand that patients are just like the rest of the population in many ways.

With this in mind, it was also a mind opening experience to meet those that are responsible or would be responsible for responding to those emergencies if they were to ever arise. From the first time I stepped into the classroom and met my classmates to the first time I went to the fire station for my internship, it was a heart warming feeling to realize that emergency personnel are normal people. They are students, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and everything else that you can imagine. They run, read, watch movies and eat junk food just like the rest of the population. They worry about the next test they must take and look forward to relaxing. Rather than treating emergency personnel with the view that they are different than the normal person, they should instead be thanked and embraced as apart of the community that they serve. It should be understood that they aren’t perfect and that they could need help at a point in their lives as well. During the certification we learned that there were many systems in place to help firefighters and other emergency personnel take care of their health and well-being. Better understanding those that work in the field further increased the respect that I have for emergency personnel as they are normal people that put their lives at stake to help those in need.

In having this multitude of unique experiences and having the opportunity to meet all of the people that I have met, I am better prepared for any future endeavors and will be much more comfortable in pursuing my desired profession. I have improved my communication skills which will allow me to better teach underclassmen and aid any that may need it. It has also reduced the anxiety that typically comes from speaking to somebody new or from speaking in front of a large crowd of people. Moreover, through having the experiences of talking and interacting with patients, I will be better prepared for the time when I will have to interact with patients as a physician. The understanding of all the responsibilities of emergency personnel and what happens in a busy emergency room will also aid me in remaining calm if I were to find myself in a similar situation in the future. Being able to become a certified EMT Basic and having the opportunity to intern at my local fire department will be experiences that I will never forget and will continue to influence how I interact with the people I meet in the future and the decisions I will make in the future as well.

Achieving New Heights in Aviation

For my STEP Project I trained on various aircraft types, from G1000 EFIS systems to high-performance, complex, and multi-engine airplanes. It took the majority of the summer, and I got exposed to many airframe types and gained multiple flying skills over the project.

The largest change for me was my understanding of how much I can achieve in aviation. With no prior experience in any other aircraft types, I was nervous moving on to bigger, faster, and much more complicated planes. Starting out I felt overwhelmed learning so many things at once in an already very fast-paced and stressful environment. I had not felt this way since my initial flight training years ago, and at first it was discouraging. However, as the hours passed and I solidified the knowledge and skill sets required to master these aircraft, I gained the confidence in my ability to move up in the aviation world. It was a big leap going from the safe and familiar six-pack Skyhawk to the other aircraft and avionics systems, but one that proved to me I have the ability to master any new system I dedicate myself to.

Until my STEP Project, I had only been exposed to one aircraft type: a conventional six-pack Cessna 172 Skyhawk. A very common training aircraft, it has many limitations which consequently make it an easy plane to fly. It is slow, simple, relatively light, has basic avionics (parts like instruments, radios, GPS, etc.), and was the only type of plane I had ever flown. For clarification, a high-performance airplane is one with greater than 200 horsepower and a complex airplane is one with three systems installed: flaps, an adjustable-pitch propeller, and retractable landing gear. The Skyhawk does not meet the criteria for either of these ratings. In order to achieve the goals I have in aviation, I needed to advance my capabilities by flying new systems along with larger and more complicated planes.

The first major obstacle was learning how to fly with a G1000 “glass cockpit” or EFIS, essentially an avionics system focusing around computers and screens rather than the typical round-gauge instruments and older radios. Learning how to work with an all-digital system after flying planes from the 1970s was a massive step for me. I was learning how to use everything again and was uncomfortable with the system until I had a few simulator and live flights with an instructor. During this process I also obtained my high-performance certification. By the time that training was done I was certified in the Cessna 182 Skylane, a bigger, faster, and more complicated version of the Skyhawk I was used to flying.

I then moved on to the biggest leap: flying complex, multi-engine planes. I learned very suddenly when I first started flying the Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche that two engines means there is more than twice the workload of a single-engine plane. Coupled with me still adapting to the glass cockpit and now complex airplanes as well, and I was in for the biggest test of my skills in all my time as a pilot. Unfortunately, due to maintenance issues with the available aircraft, I was unable to complete my multi-engine training. In fact, on my last flight I experienced my first (minor) emergency, when after takeoff my landing gear failed to retract. With the ability to get my multi-engine rating out of the question, I moved on to a different type of training.

I am currently trained in visual/VFR flight, meaning I can only fly when I have clear visibility. In order to fly in clouds, rain, and other times of poor visibility, one must have an instrument/IFR rating. This is a requirement for many volunteer aviation organizations due to the safety factor of being trained to fly in inclement weather, as VFR-only pilots flying in instrument conditions like clouds is the largest killer of general aviation pilots. Obtaining an instrument rating is a long process, and so I decided to start working towards it by the end of my project. I practiced instrument flying, doing approaches (landing in low visibility), and other aspects of instrument flight. I did not obtain my rating, although I did get a head-start on it as I start my official training this fall. During this time I also got certified another more advanced airplane, a Diamond DA-40 Diamond star.

The experiences I gained from this transformation have brought me closer to achieving my goal of using aviation for public service. As a member of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), I needed to build time and get trained on new systems in order to fly the CAP aircraft on missions. Now that I have experience with the G1000 and Cessna 182, I am currently preparing to take the CAPF-5 test to fly on missions. The hours and experience I got for instrument training also help me achieve my goal of flying for Angel Flight, a volunteer organization where pilots fly pediatric patients in need to their care centers. They require an instrument rating and also prefer flying larger and faster aircraft. With the jumpstart on multi-engine, complex, and instrument flying I received through my project, I am now even closer to achieving that goal of flying for Angel Flight.

STEP Reflection: Yosemite National Park

My STEP signature project was a hiking/backpacking trip through Yosemite National Park. I flew from my hometown of Dayton, to the park which is located outside of Fresno California. While there I experienced a variety of beautiful terrain and met many interesting people.

While in the park I experienced a shift in my perspective of the world and myself. I have always believed myself to be an independent person, and this trip solidified that sentiment by building on my self-reliance. Now that I am back at school, I feel confident in my ability to control my own path and continue to follow my aspirations. Even though this trip grew me as an individual, I feel it also reinforced the value in meeting diverse groups of people. I find myself seeking personal connections with people whom I would not expect myself to be drawn too. Everybody has their own life experiences, and each of them brings value because of those diverse backgrounds. Everybody has some sort of commonality, (whether it be a love for nature or something else) and it is important to realize that.

Prior to my backpacking tour, I camped three nights at the historic campground Camp 4. While at my campsite I shared space with dozens of other campers who filtered in an out throughout the week. One of my neighbors was a climbing couple who were from France and Canada. They met through their worldwide travels. The Canadian spoke multiple languages and taught English to school children around the world. She met her boyfriend in a climbing group while teaching in China. I was amazed to hear all the amazing places she has lived when only being a few years older than myself. It was inspiring to see someone who had a dream to see the world and was actually able to do it. Meeting those climbers showed me that traveling across the US did not have to be the end of my travels; people travel to follow their dreams and so can I.

My favorite interaction of the week was with my neighbors the last night at Camp 4. They were a large family from Los Angeles who were visiting just to have a good time. The older family members immigrated from Hong Kong and raised their kids in California. They invited me to their campsite for a cookout where they proceeded to feed loads of grill food and shots of bourbon. Maybe it was the altitude or maybe it was liquor they brought but I was “feeling myself”. I spent hours around the campfire in tears from laughing alongside these people I never met. I never expected one of my favorite nights of my life to be with some strangers who spoke broken English at a park. I learned that everyone can get along and enjoy each other’s company no matter how different as long as they have a good heart.

On my backpacking tour I was with a diverse group of people: a father and son from San Diego, a couple from Britain, and a nurse from Kentucky. Trey, our tour guide, was the definition of a mountain hippy. He lived out of his Subaru, carried an acoustic guitar everywhere he went, and probably hasn’t worn closed toed shoes in his life. The other guide Sophie was equally “outdoorsy” but in the opposite way. She was an Environmental Science student who spent her summers guiding trips in Yosemite. Over the four days I spent with them I got to know everyone very well. It was surprising how many personal conversations and how close I grew to these people in such sort time. I had many interesting conversations but one stuck out the most. While hiking with Trey we started talking about our lives. I told him how jealous I was that he had so much freedom. I envied his ability to pack up his Subaru and drive anywhere he pleased and experience so much beautiful nature. My envy was ironic in that he envied a lot of my life. He told me he thought it was cool that I had a contract with the Air Force and how no matter what I will have a good paying job and a secure future. Trey said he worried a lot about his future because he had no idea how he could reach his goal of having a wife and a big house for his kids someday. It was interesting that our lives were so different yet we each envied the things each other had. I think there is a balance between our lives we need to find. I need to continue to find ways to balance my passion for the outdoors with my fast-paced life. I hope Trey will find his balance too.

I think this trip has forever changed my values and aspirations. I never realized how capable I am on my own. Thousands of miles away from anybody I knew, I was able to travel and meet so many amazing people. I am now confident enough to start planning a cross-country road trip next summer. This experience and the people I met showed me how possible it is to follow my aspirations and I am excited to continue to travel and meet new people. Additionally, I am more outgoing now. Before the trip I had a really tough time meeting new people but now I feel that the task of making connections with others is not so daunting. If I can share my life with so many great people while traveling, there is no reason I cannot continue this here in Ohio. Going forward I will be more confident in my ability as an individual and in the value of meeting new people.step reflection

Exploring Ohio Through Photos

Hocking Hills State Park

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. 

My STEP Project took place from May 1st – July 31st of this year, and it involved me learning the art of photography and exploring different areas of Ohio to create my own photography portfolio. Over the course of three months, I captured moments of cultural, environmental, and historical significance while practicing new photography techniques and camera settings.


2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

Through this project, I was able to explore more of Ohio than ever before. This changed my view of the state because I realized that there is so much more history and tradition than I have seen from campus.

This trip was also an amazing opportunity to explore an art form that is very technical and complex. It was exciting to see the progress in the photos I took at the beginning of the project compared to those I took toward the end. I learned so much about myself spending hours in gardens and at historical sites playing with settings and trying to capture the exact photo that I envisioned. I have a new appreciation for angles, positioning, and lighting and how each aspect interacts with the others to create unique interpretations of the same scene. While this project was short, I am looking forward to continuing to explore cultures around Ohio and the rest of the world through similar self-guided trips in the future! I owe this new confidence to the life experience I gained during this STEP project.


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?

Traveling around Ohio, it was interesting to see how culture impacts all aspects of life; I loved exploring new cultures in food, buildings, art, and nature. Exploring new areas and meeting new people introduced me to identities and experiences that I have never interacted with before. I met a number of other photographers while out on trips, and I was able to talk to many of them about their techniques and interests. While hiking in Hocking Hills, I had an opportunity to meet a young honeymooning couple with the same camera as me. As we talked, I was even able to show them some of the techniques I had learned in my photography classes to get better portrait style photos!

I also really enjoyed the opportunity to work one-on-one with my mentor during this project. It was nice to have an expert to talk to as I searched for a camera and lens that would be easy to work with and suit my photography interests. I was also nice to be able to show someone else my progress and get advice on new ways to frame a shot or play with natural lighting. Our discussions really helped me to learn from my mistakes and improve my speed and technique, and they were a huge factor in increasing my confidence behind the lens.

The photography classes I took over the course of this project also served as a great tool as I explored my camera and how to take advantage of certain subjects and lighting scenarios. While I initially planned to take a different set of in-person classes, that program filled up quicker than expected. To rebound from this situation, I found a similar set of online courses offered that were designed specifically for the camera that I purchased. What started off as a setback quickly became a highlight of my experience because I was able to watch and rewatch the class lectures as I became familiar with every knob and button on my camera. It also found it very helpful to rewatch lectures about certain subjects before going to each site. This allowed me to remember and apply the advice given from the lecturer during each shoot.


4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

My main goal for this project was to be able to rekindle my love for art through photography, a medium I was never confident that I could pursue. This transformation is significant to my life because I now have a new outlet for releasing stress and taking time for myself. Art, photography in particular, is therapeutic because it allows us to look at the world differently. As I stood behind the lens of my camera, I often found myself paying attention to details that I don’t normally notice in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

This experience was also socially expanding because I built relationships with people of varying ages and backgrounds. This was transformational for me because I had the opportunity to become more confident in my ability to connect with new people and learn from their experiences – a skill that I will be able to use in my future personal and professional life.

The Columbus Park of Roses

Woodstock Reimagined: My STEP Experience

1. For my STEP project, I attended Lollapalooza, an annual music festival held in Grant Park, Chicago, on August 1-4. I adopted the role of a photographer and I took photographs of festival-goers and am composing a portfolio comparing the pictures I took from Lollapalooza to iconic pictures from the 1969 music festival, Woodstock. My goal for this Artistic & Creative Endeavors project was to analyze generational, fashion, pop-cultural, political, and self-expressional disparities evident in the photos that exist between two generations.

2. Partaking in this STEP project was undeniably life-changing. Through my past experiences with videography and photography via a personal YouTube profile and my role as Visual Imaging Program Coordinator for Student-Alumni Council, I have developed a passion for capturing moments through a lens, and through the development of my portfolio, was able to bring the quote “a picture is worth a thousand words” to life. The project was the perfect harmony of my passions for photography, for music, and for analyzing artwork with a critical eye.

Furthermore, partaking in this project was an excellent practice in expanding my horizons and getting out of my comfort zone, as engaging other festival goers in being photographed and understanding the premise of my project was a critical aspect of this project. Developing these interpersonal skills will undeniably benefit me as I work toward a career in the healthcare field, where I will be expected to communicate efficiently and clearly with patients of all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.


3. For a project with traveling at its foundation, I was forced to “fledge the nest” and fully immerse myself in the world of public transportation. I became keen on navigating the airport, ordering rides in Lyft cars, and interpreting railway maps for trains that run through the Chicago metropolitan area. Creating a budget in the proposal portion of the project and adhering to it was an excellent practice in conscious money spending and is a tool I will use in the future to hold myself accountable for the things I purchase.

Though my true passions for both music and photography/ videography were the motivators driving the design of this project, there were other aspects of the project that were uncomfortable at times. The act of engaging other festival-goers, explaining my project, and photographing them was more challenging than I had initially expected. I hadn’t considered how fast-paced music festivals are, and how most people are in a hurry to get from one stage to the next to maximize the number of artists they see perform in a day.

Ultimately, my desire to see this project through and collect the visual data necessary to compile a compelling portfolio overcame my feelings of shyness. After asking several people to be photographed, and receiving positive responses from (almost) everyone, my confidence grew and I was able to reclaim the identity of an investigative photographer throughout the festival. It is indisputable that being a lifelong learner with experience in photography and videography gave me the tools necessary to document the world and criticize captures in a creative yet analytical manner, but it is through the lens of the camera that I have discovered who I am and what I’m passionate about. In retrospect, it is undeniable that the aspects of this project that made me feel uncomfortable are those that have transformed me the most and pushed me to adopt a comfort level with others that will serve me well as a future health professional.

4. Though the course of my STEP project spanned five days, the lessons I carry with me as I take off on my senior year, graduate, take a gap year filled with travels, and attend dental school, are innumerable. The ability to budget my money, navigate big cities, interpret transportation systems and maps, get out of my comfort zone, and communicate effectively and efficiently with others are invaluable aspects of my STEP project that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. As a student, I need to be comfortable asking my professors questions when I’m unsure of a concept, I need to be confident in communicating with my peers to set up study groups, and I need to be able to listen to and communicate effectively while establishing treatment plans for my patients. These are all notions that I’m much more comfortable and confident in achieving thanks to my experience with STEP.

A Summer of Ballroom Dancing

For my STEP project, I chose to expand my knowledge and skill in ballroom dancing (called DanceSport) through a summer of private lessons and one Pro-Am competition. This project took place during the summer of 2019 and the competition took place on June 29th. DanceSport encompasses many different types of dance, so I focused on the American Smooth style, which includes American Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, and Viennese Waltz. The lessons and Pro-Am competition were with my coach, Jeffrey Goltiao from Dance Edge ballroom dance studio.

I had started dance only a little over a year before I began my STEP project. I learned and grew quickly during that year, but my growth was limited to what I could learn from other students. During my lessons this summer, I had the opportunity to study under a professional coach. I was able to learn the techniques involved in the dances I studied more deeply than I had been able to in the past. This study of technique not only helped me to become a better dancer, but also allowed me to understand why certain things are done in dance. For example, when before I had simply memorized when to step leading with the heel or the toe in a figure (or dance step), I can now intuitively determine this type of footwork for figures I had never done before.

Practicing the Waltz routine.

This experience also had some unexpected transformational value. One of my goals in dance was to compete at the Open Novice level, which is the first level where dancers are allowed to stray from the written syllabus and created new choreography. My coach was able to get me to this point in my dance. The unexpected result of this was that my confidence increased significantly. After this program and the lessons with my coach, I feel I can classify myself with the upper-level dancers that I’ve looked up to since I started dancing.

Another major component of my transformational experience was the Pro-Am competition. Pro-Am stands for Professional Amateur and is when a student (amateur) competes with their coach (professional). This being a very expensive way to compete, I had never been able compete Pro-Am until participating in the STEP program. Having competed at the collegiate level only, this opportunity opened me up to the world of amateur DanceSport. The competition excited me, causing me to now be more driven than ever to improve my dancing. In fact, it has helped to shape my view of my future to ensure that Amateur DanceSport will be a part of it.

The Pro-Am competition also helped to boost my confidence in my dancing abilities. At the competition, I danced in five different events. The first four events were four individual dances, one for each dance in the Smooth style. The fifth event was a 4-dance challenge, where I danced all four dances back to back and was judged in all of them collectively. I placed 1st in all five of these events. Off the floor, I had other dancers, both professional and amateur, tell me that they thought I had good potential. Hearing the approval of other dancers, often at higher levels than myself, helped me to feel that all my practice and lessons had paid off. My confidence in my dancing grew along with my motivation to continue to work hard.

A picture from the Pro-Am competition.

In the end, this experience has been valuable to my life. As my confidence in my dancing grew, it helped to boost my confidence in my daily life. This has been very beneficial as I am taking on a leadership position in the OSU DanceSport club I am a member of. In addition, the skills I learned and improved during my lessons has helped me to find an upper level collegiate partner to compete with in the upcoming competition season. Finally, through this experience I have solidified my love of DanceSport, which has shaped my future goals to include it.

After awards at the Pro-Am competition.

Underwater Exploration Through Videography

  • Brief Description:
    • This Artistic/Creative Endeavor has allowed for me to obtain three PADI Scuba Diving Certifications and to work with Russel Hoeflich, the head of Video Services for Ohio State Athletics, to ultimately create a videography project illustrating my experience examining a WWI shipwreck. The process required eLearning through PADI and in-person instruction for each of my certifications and check-out dives. Also, I learned how to effectively use a GoPro underwater and create a video that people will engage with.

  •  Change/Transformation Due To STEP:
    • This creative endeavor has allowed for me to obtain lifelong skills and certifications, such as open water PADI scuba diving certifications, underwater videography skills, and knowledge on naval technologies of the US in WWI. I have also had the opportunity to gain invaluable connections through the assistance of the Director of Video Services for Ohio State Athletics, Russel Hoeflich, who has advised me on the videography aspect of my project.  With this, though, I have also had a shift in other, unanticipated aspects of my life which have ultimately allowed for this project to enhance my outlook on the world around me. Specifically, I have found that life is unpredictable and that it is never too late to find a new passion. Underwater, too, I have found has the ability to place people in a whole new playing field in which individuals are placed in a much different setting and can have a whole different set of capabilities. Overall, I have also greatly improved upon my creative abilities, a personal weakness that has been identified by a professional source, DiSC, and have been provided with a unique perspective that has allowed for a newfound passion and appreciation for art.
  • How the Change/Transformation Affected Me:
    • These invaluable academic experiences include that of the improvement of the quality of my underwater videography capabilities. Beyond this, through the assistance of Russell Hoeflich who is the Director of Video Services for Ohio State Athletics, I have gained further connections in the athletic department that I don’t believe I would have been able to make otherwise and has ultimately greatly enhanced my professional network and provided mw with a newfound passion for photography and videography. This was, more specifically, through learning how to effectively shoot videos underwater as well as how to edit these videos with the help of Mr. Hoeflich.
    • Also, my personal knowledge on the US History of WWI, specifically the naval capabilities of the US at the time, have been improved by learning of the various shipwrecks that have occurred just off the coast of the US. Seeing this wreck in person has also furthered my education in the history of WWI, which I feel very passionate about because it is the war that my great grandfather fought in. I was fortunate enough to have staff on the boat that took us to the wreck who were very knowledgeable about the wreck and were able to guide me toward important features of WWI naval ships. Also, I was able to find a screw that the ship was carrying before it was sunk, which I was able to take back to Columbus and is a treasure I anticipate to have for the rest of my life as I feel very lucky to have been granted a piece of history.
    • Lastly, my education on PADI scuba diving protocol has greatly advanced, as I previously have had no experience scuba diving.  With the assistance of my various instructors at Columbus Scuba, though, I have been able to gain a lifetime scuba certification which I can continue to advance as I take more courses. Through this aspect of the project, I truly feel as if I have found the most impactful change in my life as I discovered a hobby that I am naturally talented at, likely due to my background in swimming, and which I have been asked to pursue a part-time career as an instructor. Additionally, I really felt as if my life had changed the first time I took a breath underwater and it’s something that I would love to add to future trips/experiences since I personally feel like I will never get bored of exploring the 71% of the Earth’s surface that is water-covered.
  • Why The Change/Transformation is Valuable:
    • This endeavor that took place in the summer of 2019 was designed in a way that it aimed to directly assist in improving my knowledge on three things: videography, WWI, and scuba diving.I also feel that creative thinking and artistic ventures are the missing puzzle pieces when it comes to finalizing my resume. With this project on my resume it will show to my future employers that aside from my academic accomplishments that I am committed to improving upon my deficiencies, passionate about expanding my horizons, and certainly not afraid to go out of my comfort zone. This information I firmly believe will continue to benefit me for the rest of my life. Ultimately, too, this STEP project has provided me a unique perspective that will allow for me to stand out on future law school applications and in various class discussions, which will conclusively increase my chances of getting into law school and succeeding when I am there.