Name: Brady Woods
Category: Artistic and Creative Endeavor
The main activities of my STEP project entailed driving across the country, exploring several national parks, perfecting my photography skills, and journaling/self-reflection. This trip was a solo expedition which challenged me to plan every detail as well as acclimate to each situation on my own allowing for personal growth. This project forced me to grow physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, and more.
This project allowed for much personal growth. Before this expedition, I had never been west of the Mississippi, only traveled with my parents, and never been alone somewhere I wasn’t familiar with. Personally, I grew in several different ways. I grew more confident in skills I knew I possessed. I grew to be more social and confident speaking with strangers. I understand better what my limits are, but also how to push myself to get the best out of me. On this trip, I realized what some of my fears are, but also how to take advantage of my strengths to overcome those fears. I learned a lot about this country and expanded my understanding outside of Ohio and what I have here. I learned how to be more self-sufficient, and figured out what I do need and don’t need in my life. I grew as a photographer and found a passion for nature and the beauty of it. I learned just how great the national park service is and that they are protecting not only nature, but history as well. During this whole project, I acquired and grew in several skills that can directly translate into my life like organization, planning, budgeting, and physical/mental toughness. I realized lastly the importance of several people in my life, but also how to succeed on my own.
During my trip, several changes and transformations occurred. First, I grew socially. As an RA at Ohio State and working several different jobs that require being social I knew I was a people person. Out West and especially in the National Parks it is important not to travel alone due to dangerous conditions whether that be the trail or wildlife. On one hike, I was on a slim trail with two 1000 plus feet drop-offs on either side, and before I went on it I talked and became close with a family from Utah. We looked out for each other, called on dangerous spots, and also they taught me so much about Utah. It was really cool to make a connection like that so quickly.
I grew in confidence in myself during this trip. I was someone who when I got scared, would back out of a lot of situations whether that be running or public speaking. There were a few times on this trip where I was pushed to be uncomfortable, but instead of turning around, I kept going. Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park is one of the scariest things I have ever done as you climb up a rock face. I got to the first look out and turned around because I thought there was no way I could make it, but after a few steps back I realized I may never get an opportunity like this again so I pushed myself and made it to the top. I can use this in my everyday life in that I might encounter a situation that I am not ready for and instead of backing down, I keep going because that opportunity could change my whole life.
My knowledge as a whole for this country grew a lot during this trip. I choose to journal, record, and capture my whole trip. If there was something I wanted to know more about like, how the Arches at Arches National Park were formed, I found it online. The Arches started forming 65 million years ago and through geologic changes with plates shifting and continued to form through erosion with rain and wind. Eventually these arches will fall as they are pushed to their limits. The parks aren’t only beautiful, but have history as well like Badlands/Black Hills and Native American tribes. I also talked with park rangers to pick their brains about what their lives are like and their overwhelming knowledge about the parks. This can be useful in my future in a few ways. First, as a pharmacist I have a requirement to do continual education. I need to be willing to seek out knowledge to be the best at my career. Also, once I graduate I can go straight into the workforce with my PharmD. I think it is important to seek out those who know more for advice and help, and being confident enough to do that is something I picked up on this trip.
As I traveled and learned more about this country, I learned ways to be most efficient and cost effective. I traveled with mostly snacks so this way I didn’t have to stop to eat meals and could eat while I drove. I would begin looking for gas stations as soon as I hit a half tank so that I wouldn’t be stuck in the dessert with no fuel. I always took the fastest route and rarely back tracked. This trip taught me many skills about planning and then adapting that plan so it best suited my needs. I think this is important for my future. As a pharmacist, especially a clinical pharmacist, I may come into each day with a plan of what I need to do. However, at a hospital everything is always changing. I had to adapt to adapt my plan out West a few times due to road closures or severe weather. However, I still greatly enjoyed it. Being adaptable is so important in a hospital as well.
Photography was a bubbling passion of mine before this trip, but through photos this trip is something I will never forget. Taking over 1000 photos and multiples of every landscape can seem time consuming, but when you see that right image it is all worth it in the end. I put together a picture book and also have an Instagram account with some of the images I took. I was able to use the skills I learned from Photo I, enhance them, and have pictures that captured each place and moment. Going forward this project inspires me to do more photography, to continue to learn more, and to travel the world taking more images to remember each trip by.
The end of this journey really summed it up. I decided to drive straight back from Aurora, Colorado which is near Denver to Canton, Ohio where I am from. The drive is about 20 hours and it took me a total of 22 hours to get home. During this time, I did self-reflection and thought about my trip. I am happy I choose this as project because I was able to grow myself so much. I found new passions and grew on old ones. I saw and learned things I never knew about this country that I live in. It was hard being away from a support system, but I did it, I made it. I really learned who was there for me during this trip as people reached out to me throughout to make sure I was okay. Though most not directly, I learned skills that will help me as a pharmacist like physical toughness. Long drives and hikes can be taxing, but nothing will be harder than 10-hour days on my feet the whole time, but I can’t wait to be able to make a difference in my patients’ health. This trip helped me grow.
Here is a link to my Instagram: