Perfect Portrayal: A Photographer in the Making

Owen Moore

Artistic/Creative Endeavor

My STEP project revolved around taking photography workshops and spending more time with my camera to become a better photographer. As part of my project, I offered free photo-shoots to friends and peers in exchange for the opportunity to photograph them and use their portraits in my project. The last part of my project was learning to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to edit the photos I have taken.

The biggest thing about photography that I learned is the relationships that surround light. Being able to recognize how shutter-speed and aperture and ISO all affect each other and the end result of each is a huge part of becoming a successful photographer and imparting your personal taste into each photo you take.

One thing I uncovered about myself was the sheer amount of interest I have in photography, specifically portrait photography. I grew up loving cameras and photography but didn’t quite know how much passion I could have for the art until I was doing it twice a week. My love for communication and interaction was bolstered through this project, as I would plan with others for photo-shoots and we would tell jokes and stories as the shoot was happening.

Between my Shutterbug workshops and my field experiences, I learned that good photography doesn’t necessitate an amazing setting. A good photo can be taken anywhere, with any subject. One of the greatest things I learned from my workshop was to keep a sharp eye, even when I do not have a camera in-hand. I’ve learned to keep a close lookout for interesting phenomena and to look for beauty in the mundane, which I can honestly say has translated to an appreciation for my daily life.

After explaining the camera’s instinct/desire to average the light in every picture to grey, Braddley, my Shutterbug photography training instructor for both workshop courses, had us experiment with priority modes. These priority modes allowed us to set either aperture, shutter-speed, or ISO, and auto-determined the other two. Brad instructed us to look through the viewfinder and watch the tracker raise or lower shutter-speed as we moved the camera from light to darkness, or as we decreased or increased the size of the aperture. Even this simple activity was enough to teach the relationship between all three aspects, giving us the proof but also being present as a backboard for uncertainty and/or confirmation. A better understanding of these elements makes a photographer faster and more adept at creating the circumstances desired for any given photo.

This huge impact of seeing beauty in the mundane was set in motion by Braddley. One night, during instruction, he stopped in the middle of explaining a slide, and told us he wanted us all to look out the window. The light was coming over the trees in such an extravagant way. He explained to us that he spends five/six days a week in the same building, so the surroundings get somewhat commonplace, but that the image of the sunset made even power-lines and asphalt look peaceful. Braddley continued to explain the importance of always seeing beauty in your surroundings, as a photographer and otherwise. Surroundings physical and not. He divulged to us that his wife had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, but that the most important thing for her was for him to maintain his outlook and happiness. He and his wife’s friends threw her a pre-surgery party and did their best to see the beauty in an awful thing, and according to Brad this outlook made getting through recovery and remission so much easier for her. I have learned to try and adapt this optimistic outlook, both when looking through a viewfinder and when looking at my life.

I had an epiphany when photographing a couple a few weeks later. They were very joyful, and they laughed so genuinely. I hardly had to instruct them to do anything for the pictures, which made the shoot even better. Michael had told me beforehand that his girlfriend Caroline was moving in the coming weeks, and that he was staying in Columbus, and that they would likely part ways when that time came. This news was very sad for me, and I could sense his hurt in his voice. But once we started our photo-shoot, I could sense their optimism and resolve to enjoy the time they had left together. I was moved and elated, and I had more vision for my photography than normal, taking shots that I loved in front of backgrounds such as sheds and benches that I would have once found dull and wasteful of my time.

After brief posing instructions and minutes of pretending to look through photos on my camera, I disappeared in the minds of Michael and Caroline, managing to catch quite a few genuine moments with this beautiful couple.

This reimagination of scenery and new-found appreciation for the little details in life has sparked in me a new feeling of blessedness, and it has provided me a great bit of new opportunity, as a growing person and as a poet as well. My long-term goal is to attend grad school for an MFA in Poetry, and eventually use this degree to instruct these classes at a collegiate level. Not only is remaining positive and unjaded a huge part of pursuing a Master’s Degree, noticing details in something you’ve seen or interacted with every day makes for both better poetry and a better understanding of other people. Any chance I have to engage with others with empathy, as an instructor, a poet, and a decent human being is extremely important for all parties involved. Trust and vulnerability are a huge part of writing workshop classrooms – and life – and being able to recognize small but important details in the writing, actions, and expressions of others is so much more important than accounting for the amount of light in a picture.

Shot on a column of stairs set back in the northern Olentangy Trail, the hopeful curiosity of the girl contrasts with the lack of light and the feeling of fear to discuss the loaded complexity of what night means for women.

If interested in seeing a brief snapshot of my work over the course of this project, you can find my portrait Instagram account @omensphoto or at

Impact of Toursim on Yellowstone and Mesa Verde

Maggie Tullis

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavor

1)For my STEP project I traveled to 2 of our National Parks, Mesa Verde and Yellowstone, to assess the environmental impact our tourism has on the sustainability of our land. I randomly surveyed 50 visitors from each park and took pictures of tourists breaking the Leave No Trace guidelines.

 2) This trip was one of my first solo cross-country trip so that alone empowered me travel the world and seek my own truth without relying on another person to coordinate logistics. The opportunity to plan every detail of my 7-day journey has given me transferable skills to running my nonprofit organization, Fresh Start, and my on campus job within the Office of Student Life as the Student Lead for Student Organizations. One skill that grew immensely while organizing my STEP project was my ability to diligently and independently craft and manage a project. This skill will help my future career within the pharmaceutical business as a Project Manager. Another ability I cultivated on this trip was the ability to network with strangers and asking them to take my survey while they were on their vacation. Prior to this trip, I have always been more reserved and always very considerate of others time. This project allowed to me expand my networking capabilities and has given me the confidence to go up to strangers and talk to them. Finally, this project allowed me to view people objectively and assess their actions to analyze their respect for our National Parks. Classic parks like Yellowstone has been a tourist attraction for decades. Upon entering the park, I was stunned how much infrastructure was built in the park and how close the attractions were to the animals. I felt extremely saddened that we have left our greed degrade the originality of these lands.

3)There were three main events that lead me to really realize the personal transformation that occurred while completing this project. The first of which pushed me to expand my network and enhance the relationships I already had. My STEP mentor, Greg Booton, was a vital source to helping me coordinate my project and allowed me to expand my vision. Over this year long interaction with him, I formed a friendship with him that has set me up for success. He became the Faculty Advisor for my student organization and is now my President’s Prize letter of recommendation. This mentorship that developed because of STEP will always be one of the most valuable aspect that came about because of my project. With relation to the expansion of my network, I reached out to Leave No Trace prior to my trip and I was able to communicate with an employee there to learn more about their guidelines to accurately create my survey to assess the effect of tourism on our National Parks. While at the parks, I met multiple park rangers to get an insider’s perspective of the impact that the tourism has on the ecology and environment within the grounds.

 Secondly, on my project I gained immense self-confidence and self-assuredness while traveling alone across the country. I had always dreamed of doing a solo trip where I could explore the world without the expectation to conform to another person’s agenda of the trip. Throughout the academic year, I formed my proposal and began planning all of the logistics of my project. By meticulously going through all of the details that I gained many administrative skills and the ability to generate surveys that would accurately depict what I was seeking to find out. This project has allowed me to embrace my self and the ability I have to be independent. As I was traveling out west, I met many people who were vacationing and one event that really surprised me was that nearly all of the people I had met were foreigners and came from across the world to drive across our country. After multiple conversations, many of them stating how beautiful our country is and how excited they were to be here. I came to two conclusions, one being that as Americans we are taking our country for granted. I don’t mean politically, we take nearly every park we have for granted by underfunding the upkeep and preservation of their environment. Secondly, I decided that I need to do more research to analyze the public’s opinion on how important the parks and other American attractions because I know many people who have never traveled even a few hours to see our country’s capital. Conversely, I met multiple families who had travelled across the world to see our National Parks.

Lastly, while traveling alone, driving 14 hours a day and camping by myself were all challenges that I was excited to tackle. I found myself day by day getting more comfortable being alone and surround by nature. The second night I slept in my tent within Yellowstone, I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard a rustle near my campsite. I immediately turned on my lantern and peaked out from my tent and I saw a buffalo walking around the campgrounds. I was obviously very scared, but I soon realized that he was just wandering throughout the park and I was in his territory. I became very grateful for the land that I was sleeping on and found a new respect in the nature that surrounded me. This realization has changed my perspective on the National Parks and infrastructure in general. I have decided to seek out environmentally conscious companies for nearly everything I purchase to try and ease the impact our industrialization has on the rest of our world.

4) As stated above, I gained many transferable skills by completing this project ranging from building interpersonal relationships to gaining administrative experience. Prior to going on this trip, I hade been on the fence about becoming a physician and attending medical school post-graduation. After completing my project, I realized that I did not want to go into the medical field and wanted to pursue my other passions. One of those being the expansion of my nonprofit organization that focuses providing essential hygiene products to the homeless population. This trip gave me the confidence in my leadership abilities and management skills to start this process. Since then, my organization has donated 2,500 GoBags to the Columbus homeless community.  Another passion of mine is the pharmaceutical impacts on the neurologic systems and nervous system. This project allowed me to expand on my networking abilities that will help when seeking a job after I get my MBA next year. I’m really grateful for STEP for giving me the opportunity to expand my horizons and enable me to gain invaluable skills that I plan to take with me in my future endeavors.

Matt’s STEP Project: Produce and Release Guitar Instrumental

My step project was to develop my guitar skills and create a song and have it produced. In order to get the skills, I needed to make an instrumental song, I took lessons from Dan Peters, a renowned guitarist in the Chicagoland area. I also went in to a music studio to have my music recorded and produced.

This project taught me that there are so many aspects of life, and that what I choose to spend my time on is what will shape who I am. For example, when I saw the expertise that the producers in the studio had, I was amazed. They knew all the ins and outs of producing music. This is a rather specific skill to have, and made me realize how many potential paths that I could take in my life. They chose to spend much of there time becoming experts in the art of music. My guitar teacher spend much of his time becoming an expert in playing guitar. What I choose to spend my time at is what will define who I am.

My interaction with the producer at the studio changed the way I saw the world. As I mentioned in my previous response, I was amazed at the expertise that they possessed. Not only that, but the specificity was very impressive and intimidating at the same time.

It is such a specific field, and takes thousands of hours to become proficient at. The same idea applies to my guitar teacher; there are tons of instruments, all (arguably) equal in value. So why do people chose the instruments that they choose? Why do people decide to put tons of hours into becoming so proficient in a particular art form? These are questions that I never asked myself but now find myself asking constantly.

And finally, I realized the importance of family, and that they are my number one support network. I came to this realization from both positive and negative experiences. One of my parents was very supportive of my music and made me feel good and like what I was doing had meaning. My other parent made me feel like I was wasting my time and all this effort that I was putting into this was useless.

This transformation is valuable to my life because it not only taught me a different way to look at myself, but also it taught me a different way to look at others. We are all different, we all have different interest. What I might find valuable and “cool”, another may find worthless and “lame”. This project taught me the importance of acknowledging that not everyone has the same objective reality. When communicating with others, I must realize that we both don’t see the world the same way, and that I must appreciate what is important to them, even if it isn’t important to me.


Plant-Based Nutrition Certification

For my STEP Signature Project, I enrolled in a Plant-Based Nutrition Certification course through eCornell.  The course was entirely online, and consisted of three two-week sessions which focused on different pillars of Plant-Based Nutrition. The material was taught through online lectures by healthcare professionals, discussion posts, and quizzes.

While completing the certification course, I found my views about nutrition to be somewhat challenged.  While I had already heard of and mostly understood the benefits of a plant-based diet, I was unaware of the true nutritional and environmental consequences of the Western diet. Food plays a massive role in culture and togetherness; so learning that the food and eating habits that the American culture is based on have severe detrimental effects was a difficult reality to face.

Over the six weeks of courses, I was repeatedly reminded of the magnitude of the problem at hand, relating to both our individual health and to the health of our planet.  As a result of this course, I have transformed into a more knowledgeable, introspective, and conscious individual. I understand that the choices I make, however small, may have a dramatic impact on my health and even on the environment.

Being that the entirety of my STEP Signature Project took place in an online learning environment, it provided me with the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with students and teachers from all around the world.  Each two-week lesson consisted of several online discussions, similar to what many online classes have on Carmen here at OSU.  The discussion prompt would typically ask for a summary of a topic that we had covered in depth that week, while also asking students to expand upon the topic and provide their own insight.  Being that many topics in nutrition are contentious, the content of the responses varied dramatically from student to student.

While students were required to post their own response to the discussion prompt, they were also encouraged to respond to others’ posts.  This online discussion provided a productive dialogue among individuals who came from any walk of life. Some were health care professionals and others were just beginning their health journey – and many more were somewhere in between the these two points.  We were all learning the same content, but the opportunity to see how each individual interpreted and internalized the material was a truly unique learning experience.

Having the chance to learn from health care professionals from across the globe provided me with immense insight into the health epidemic at hand.  Being able to discuss what I learned with likeminded individuals challenged me to be more receptive to new ideas, more empathetic, and more knowledgeable in my field of study.

I am currently studying Nutrition in Industry with a minor in Public Policy; my goal is to use my education to positively impact communities that are lacking access to healthy, fresh produce and to nutrition education.  Oftentimes nutrition education involves telling people things they don’t exactly want to hear about their health and lifestyle – taking part in this certification course has enhanced my communication skills, specifically when speaking with people who may have differing views than I do.  I think this skill will be beneficial throughout my career.  Additionally, I am now fully versed in a whole new sector of nutrition that many people don’t know much about.  I believe that this new knowledge on Plant-Based Nutrition will make me an attractive candidate for future healthcare positions, and make me more of a reliable and educated healthcare professional in the future.

American Public Health Association Conference

       For my STEP Experience, I traveled to San Diego, CA to attend the annual American Public Health Association Conference. This year’s topic was “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now.” As an undergraduate student, I attended to gain more knowledge about topics discussed in major course classes and received numerous networking opportunities with public health professionals. I also had the opportunity to present my research about African American women and health disparities.

        Through this STEP experience, my understanding of public and all of its sectors has drastically changed. It has been amazing to see that public health and the professionals in this field are not only epidemiologists, but nurses, doctors, social workers, community workers, and policy makers. Meeting all of these people have pushed me change how I look at my future decisions towards my specialization in my master’s program. I was able to change my network for public health and high-standing individuals in public health come see work that I’ve done.

        I stayed in a hostel that was in downtown San Diego and 10 minutes from the convention center. I met different people who were from different countries coming for the APHA conference as well as just in the area for tourism. I loved the people I got to meet in the hostel, especially one doctor from New York who offered me an internship next summer based on a passing conversation we had. The location of the hostel put me relatively close to historical sites in San Diego such as the Museum of Art, The History of San Diego Museum, and Japanese Zen Garden that were either free or very reasonable priced.

         I also loved going to different seminars about topics that I love like African American women’s health, community health work, and restorative justice. The US General Surgeon, Jerome Adams, gave a great speech about restoring health disparities in the US from a economic standpoint. One thing that I loved about the seminars was that everyone got to freely share their opinions and felt safe to ask any questions. There were a variety of events you could attend, from films/documentaries to lectures to caucus debates to official policy meetings. I had the chance to meet one of my biggest public health inspirations, Dr. Camara Jones.

         The most exciting section of the trip was being able to present about my research entitled Inclusion of health status to ‘Black Girl Magic’ movement: An innovative method to improve and transition the future health and wellness of African American women. The presentation was on a poster board. People were able to read my abstract online and come prepared with questions and comments about my research. I had one woman walk up to me and say, “I favorited your abstract. This research is so beautiful.” The director of the Black Caucus of Community Health Workers came up to me and even took a picture with me. She told me my work was strong. She gave me suggestions on how I could improve and even told me that I should make corrections and apply to present again this year at the conference in 2019.

          All in all, this experience changed so much for me. Professionally, it allowed me to get to meet professionals and put my name out into the field. Personally, it showed me how much I  love my major, public health, and the health care sector that I currently work in. Thanks to STEP, I was able to take a risk and think creatively about what I could do to immerse myself more in public health. This experience even led for my college to write an article about me. Since I have come home from APHA, I have had more opportunities to help with new research, receive a promotion in my job, and even opened my world to more summer internships. I appreciate everything STEP has offered me, and I hope this opportunity is open for future Ohio State students.

Here is my article:

Here is my research abstract:


New York Historical Trip

  1. My project involved traveling to New York City to visit many of its world famous history and art museums. From my experiences I was able to produce a variety of creative writings, pictures and journal entry posts that I plan to put together into a blog that I can share with others online. The blog will also discuss how my experience has influenced my decision to stick with becoming a teacher and how what I have learned can be used in the classroom.
  2. Through my trip I learned a lot of valuable history and how it affects our everyday lives. I was able to learn more about my own interests and why I had decided to pursue a teaching career in the first place. English and history are my two passions that I hope to share with others someday. In order to do this, I have to extend my knowledge to the best of my ability as well of be aware of how others learn and what they view as important. While walking through the museums, I also studied the people that were there and what they found to be most intriguing. Some exhibits were more popular than others and I wanted to find out what made them more interesting to people. New York is a world cultural center and people from many diverse backgrounds come there to see its sights. This reminded me of how my future students will all come from various backgrounds and learn in different ways. As teachers, we must accommodate all of ours students to make them feel valued and part of the classroom community. It is important to show to your students how passionate you are about what you teach so that they know how much you truly care.
  3. During my trip, I was greatly taken aback by how much history lies behind each and every piece of art or historical exhibit in a museum. There was so much more beyond what was written on the little descriptions beneath. They had multiple links and resources for the viewers to find out more information if they so desired. I will greatly keep this in mind when I am a teacher one day to encourage my students not to overlook things and to always look beyond what is given to them. The trip gave me a lot of valuable tips when it came to the resources I could use when teaching my students. Not all students are able to benefit from lecture and worksheets, and instead need a lot of variety in their instruction. Students can also learn a lot from hearing other students talk about their own experiences. They could discuss their own travels and connections they found while they were there, and how this could relate to literature being discussed in class. In the classroom, talking about our own experiences and backgrounds can build a sense of community and bring students together.
  4. The changes brought about by this trip were valuable in my life because it allowed me to explore my passions in a new place. Each place holds its own history and its important to explore it to become a well-educated person, especially if you plan on teaching others one day. My experiences on this trip reminded me of my love for History and English and reminded me of why I had decided to become an educator in the first place. Throughout college, it can be very challenging to doubt your major and start to wonder if you chose the wrong path for yourself, and it is very rewarding to be able to have experiences that reverse the doubts you had. We become so caught up in the original goal we set for ourselves when we entered college that we forget that most goals need to be reworked and rewritten. It is okay to change our minds and change our plans. We have to allow ourselves to experience new things, so that we can truly figure out what we want to do with our lives.



The purpose of my STEP Signature Project was to build a powerful PC capable of 3D-Modeling, Software Development, and game design. The project entailed researching the various components necessary to build a PC, followed by reading and viewing guides on how to properly assemble the components. After researching, I compared and selected the components I wanted based on price, reviews, and benchmark tests, and the next step was to complete the build.


Successfully building a computer changed my views of myself and led me to be more confident in a few ways. As someone who is majoring in CSE, and mainly interacts with software rather than hardware, I have never seen myself as very good at a hands-on approach to building things. This project helped me develop a sense of confidence in my ability to work with hardware and brought out a skill I never knew I had. In addition, the process of building the PC itself and researching to understand the purposes and function of each component, and how they interact, was beneficial to my education as a Computer Science major. Working with software can often have some hiccups which are hardware-related, so developing a better understanding of hardware is undoubtedly a good experience for me. Ultimately, I ended up having a lot of fun while completing the build as well as learning a lot, it was a good experience all around.


While the nature of my STEP project did not involve much physical social interaction, I interacted with various tech-forums and communities online in search of which components to purchase and in my research. The research for my project led me to discover the true breadth of the online tech community, as well as their willingness to offer insights and opinions to complete strangers. I also learned a great deal about computer components in general, one of the biggest things being that selecting the “best” components is not in any way cut and dry, and that a variety of builds using different components can yield the same performance.


Going into sophomore year, I feel that I often “played it safe” in life and didn’t step out of my comfort zone as much as I could. The STEP project, as well as everything surrounding the build itself, led to a profound change of character for me, and I feel I am much more outgoing and willing to put myself out there now. This was provoked by both the meetings with the STEP Cohort and private lunch with my advisor, Tim, which led me to social interaction and a broader world-view, as well as by the need to take initiative during the STEP program. During the process of STEP I was pushed into taking initiative in many ways from the social interactions and planning described above to the need to reach out and interact via email whenever I had questions, I became much less timid about communicating with strangers.


Finally, the build itself was a great relationship-building experience for myself and one of my best friends. My friend helped me complete the build- which ended up taking about 8 hours because we spent hours looking for a cable we lost which turned out to be right next to us buried under some papers…- and my friend’s patience and willingness to assist me for such an extended period of time really led to the development of a deeper relationship between us. In addition, I also felt that my communication and teamwork skills were enhanced by the interaction required to successfully build the computer.


As mentioned earlier, the entirety of the STEP project I completed, from cohort meetings to development events to the build itself was beneficial to my development as a person as well as my education as a CSE major. Learning how to build a computer and better understand hardware could be very beneficial in the future should I end up in a career in the tech industry. On the other hand, the social interactions and responsibility necessary to complete the project successfully and make it through STEP also contributed to the development of my character in an invaluable way. Overall, I am surprised by the impact STEP had on my professional and social development, and am very satisfied and happy with my decision to participate in the program.

STEP Computer Build


1. I built a computer from scratch through researching the correct parts and learning how to undertake such a project. After acquiring the parts I took an afternoon and put it all together and built a working computer.

2. During this process I needed help to ensure I was going about it the correct way. To make sure this was the case I talked to my brothers for advice on whether the parts I had chosen were the correct options. This was a huge step and change for me as it brought me closer to my brothers and that is one of the best things I can get from life. I knew being close with them was important but I didn’t know how much until this project.

3. Interacting with my brothers over the years wasn’t always easy. With them being seven and ten years older than me I always wanted to hang out with them, whether or not they wanted me to or not. Working on this together strengthened the feeling that I belong. It was always important that they accepted me. We enjoyed our time together and working on this computer with them made it feel like we were younger again.

Another part that is important was my choices working out as well as I could ask for. My choices in parts were new for me and I had to research and learn what would work for the computer. Seeing I could find the parts I needed and the right ones to choose to be successful in this endeavor was a great boost for me. I was proud to see my investigations paid off and I could find the parts efficiently. The ability to find things on the internet is vital in the world today, and I am glad I have that capability.

The last part that helped in my change was working with our good friend, Nick. He has always been apart of our family due to being close with my brothers and being someone I could look up to. He was always helpful to me even when my brothers wouldn’t necessarily be. Working with him took me back to being a child and it was incredible to share this experience with him. He is practically a brother to us and it made my day getting to work with him.

4. This is huge for me as I love being able to come home and spend time with them. I love being with them, whether this is at our grandma’s, their house, or at a friends house. I love the time spent with them and the rest of my family. This connection is so significant to me and growing this relationship is huge in my growth as a person as well. Growing relationships is very influential for my future and this just continued to grow my skills and my ability to show what I can do.

Grace Brott – Growing with Ballroom Dancing

My STEP Project focused primarily on improving my skills of ballroom dancing. This was done by taking private lessons throughout the summer and fall semester and serving as a student mentor on DanceSport, the ballroom dancing club at Ohio State.

As this project took place, I soon realized just how little I actually knew about ballroom dancing going into the project. I ended up going back to much of the fundamental basics of the various ballroom dance styles. Learning the fundamentals in a way I had previously overlooked allowed me to understand more complex moves or technical aspects of dance I struggled with in the past. Furthermore, this allowed me to learn more complex moves that were beyond my prediction going into the STEP project. As I grew in skill level, I also found myself more equipped and able to teach others in a coherent way during mentoring sessions in which I helped incoming members to the team.

I now also feel much more confident dancing with others I may not know as well during classes or competitions because I have gained confidence in myself and a greater understanding of what is expected of me as a follow in a ballroom dancing partnership. Additionally to this I have learned how to practice efficiently in a way that retains and can be implemented into the next lesson or practice session. I also grew closer and more comfortable with my dance coach Jeff Goltiao who I also took lessons from, and found it easier to ask questions that were actually impactful for me to grow and learn from.

Throughout my time dancing before my STEP project, I rarely attended events held by the club or even classes if my close friends were not able to make it. Despite wanting to dance, my struggles with personal body image have also impacted my participation and attendance. This STEP project forced me to contact my coach, one of our team’s professional dancers, for a private lesson. My first lesson I was extremely nervous and unconfident with every step I took. Jeff was always supportive and willing to slow things down enough that I could understand, but always made sure to keep pushing the borders of my comfort zone. By the end of the project I looked forward to the lessons and learning new moves and styles of dance. I also felt much more comfortable with myself and being in the mindset of dancing and not worrying about my body while I danced. I also felt more encouraged to attend events outside of DanceSport sanctioned events on my own time to continue learning and dancing.


Growing as a dancer encouraged me to attend group dancing events out of my comfort zone, and not only has that strengthened my presence in the club, it has also showed me that I can be a capable mentor to others in the club! Through my STEP project I applied to be a student mentor to newcomers in the club. I primarily taught rhythm dances to others, but also taught smooth and standard dances as well. Serving as a student mentor was a cool experience because not only did it allow me to practice and better my skills through teaching, but I felt that it helped strengthen my relationship as an older club member and as Vice President with DanceSport with younger members. Creating relationships with older, experienced members with newer members has always been a topic of discussion for our executive board, so I feel that it is impactful that my STEP project could help bridge that gap between members. I also went to an event put on by Dance Edge Studio that connected Columbus high schoolers interested in dancing with college students. It was really impactful to interact with high schoolers and learn from their perspective while serving as a role model as well.


I chose to participate in Level Testing on our DanceSport team to check for improvement throughout the duration of my STEP Project. Before my STEP project, I had attempted to test into the Bronze class level three times and was not successful each time. However, this time during my STEP project I was successful and tested into the Bronze level! I feel like this moment was impactful in my transformative experience because up until that point I did not feel like it would be possible for me to successfully test into Bronze classes. However, the amount of practice over the summer and into the fall semester showed and was demonstrated through this successful testing experience. Moving forward past my project, I now feel inspired to keep working and eventually test into silver classes and continue to grow as a dancer.


Practicing Rumba in Lesson

I feel that my STEP project will impact me down the road because the entire project was not anything I would have considered to attempt on my own, but has taught me several lessons on healthy independence, confidence, and how hard work and practice pays off to grow with a skillset. Learning how to practice a little at a time over the course of a period of time through repetition has reflected in the way I do classwork or prepare for examinations or other noteworthy events. My STEP Project has instilled healthy habits that has impacted much of my daily life. Additionally, my STEP project has given me independence and confidence to learn things or attend events because I am interested in the material, not necessarily if my close friends are attending. I also would like to note that my STEP project has helped better my body image with myself because I discovered that my body type isn’t necessarily what was previously preventing me from growing as a dancer, it was more the way I was practicing and how I was learning. I believe that my STEP project has allowed me to grow more confident of a person and more determined to put in the work to grow better in whatever I hope to do, and to continue growing to be a better person along the way.

The videos posted below are my first and last lessons that show my progress over the course of the project.

Building a computer

1.) My STEP project entailed the research, purchasing, and execution of building a desktop computer. I researched what type of parts I should buy and what types of parts were compatible together using online and local resources. I then put the parts together using the knowledge I had gained.


2.)  The most important transformation that happened during this project was gaining a realization that a computer’s hardware and complex concepts in general can be understood given the time and effort to do so. I believe that we put limitations on ourselves by thinking thoughts like “that’s too complicated for me” or “I could never figure that out”. Before I researched this project, I had little idea of how a computer’s hardware worked and had some doubt as to whether I would figure out how to do it. However, as I put together the parts of the CPU, motherboard, power supply, etc together I realized it was feasible to learn and not nearly as difficult as I had imagined it to be. This has given me confidence going into new projects that I know little about that I will have the ability to learn as I go.


3.) As parts that I ordered came in one by one, they formed a daunting pile of  various sized boxes at my house. When the time came to finally start to begin the process of piecing them together, I was questioning whether or not I had done my research right. After double checking the compatibility of my parts online, I was ready to begin the process.

The first step that I attempted to complete was inserting the CPU into the motherboard. This task is as simple as dropping the square-shaped CPU into a motherboard slot and dropping a lever down onto it. As simple as this task was, I was very nervous to mess it up. After all, these parts were expensive and sensitive. After I finally dropped the lever down and heard a satisfying click, I started to relax. This was the point when I realized that I was able to go into the rest of the process with a peace of mind that the tasks would not be impossibly difficult.

This idea helped me when I ran into my first couple of problems. The greatest problem I had was that when I was finished with the build and nothing happened when I turned the switched the power on. Instead of panicking and giving up, I started researching for answers online. After a while, I realized I only had loose cables and was eventually able to get my first power up. These problems and solutions only reaffirmed that I should and could be more confident in my ability to problem solve.


4.) This transformation will help in me in all aspects of my life in the future. It taught me that I shouldn’t fear subjects I don’t know whether that be in my career or personal life. In my career, that may mean broadening my perspective by taking on tasks that I don’t know much about in order to increase my abilities. It has given me confidence that the unknown is not as terrifying or dangerous that I imagine it to be. Overall, this project has taught me both about inside of a computer and the limitations that we put on ourselves.