STEP Reflection

Paolo Valdez

Artistic/Creative Endeavor Project (STEPmaker)

STEP Reflection

The main objective of my STEP project is to build a theremin using a schematic from an online source. Building a theremin would expand my experience working with soldering tools, perforated circuit boards, and other manufacturing tools. I also set up an opportunity to organize an inventory of all the parts and tools used with my budget. Once the theremin was complete, I collaborated with the Electronics Club at The Ohio State University to do a project overview and demonstration at one of their meetings.

Before my STEP project, I believed my experiences working with lab equipment were not as extensive as my understanding of engineering design and circuit theory I’ve been studying from my courses. Although, I believed many employers valued prospective engineers with experiences with soldering, oscilloscope, and power tools along with knowledge in design. The theremin build project challenged myself as both an engineer and a technician; not only did I apply what I learned from my courses at a design aspect as an engineer, I had to understand my project from a build and laboratory aspect.

There two different methods implemented when it came to putting all of the theremin’s electronic components together on the circuit board: soldering and wire-wrapping. I had prior knowledge of the application of soldering. Wire-wrapping, however, was a completely different process that achieved the same purpose as soldering. Although, the schematic called for wire-wrapping for certain components, it made me wonder why do this over soldering since soldering is a much quicker and efficient method if done well. Wire-wrapping does have an advantage over soldering since it is not affected by poor-conducting cold joints and fumes. Thus, I learned that there could be viable approaches to an electronic build.

I found that inventory is also an important aspect of doing a build project. As an active member of the university’s rocketry team, it’s a common issue to be missing certain tools or parts and can even be problematic when extra equipment need to be ordered for replacement. The theremin build requires various electronic components that are small enough to be lost easily, so purchasing a storage container with multiple labeled compartments would prevent myself losing any components and further spending my budget. Inventory is something not really emphasized in the engineering field, but very crucial in a build project.

As simple a concept using a hacksaw is, there’s much to learn and master when it came to cutting sheets of aluminum for antennas and the plywood base. The overall structure of the theremin build relied how much refining you do with the plywood and aluminum. Most of the time, I found myself sanding off sharp corners of aluminum sheets and plywood to prevent any safety hazards. The theremin would sometimes wobble even on a flat surface, so there was time spent fixing screws to ensure a stable structure.

The importance of my experiencing working with my theremin build is that it would prepare myself in a professional field where there is a possible requirement that I need to handle manufacturing or lab equipment for fabrication purposes. Majority of my studies involves theoretical design and application with CAD software, however, I felt lacking when it came to using a soldering iron, and generally working with electronic components. I expect jobs that would require some extensive experience with these types of equipment when it comes to building and testing a design.

Los Angeles Half Marathon Project

I visited Los Angeles, California from March 22-25 to run in the Rock the Oceanfront Half Marathon in Long Beach, CA while my dad and brother watched. In Los Angeles, I also got to go to a Lakers basketball game and saw one of my sports idols, LeBron James, play against the Brooklyn Nets. During the rest of our time there, we took a guided tour of LA (seeing the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, and ate at in the famous LA Farmers Market), visited the Santa Monica Pier, ate dinner in Malibu on the Pacific Ocean, and took a Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

Me by the Hollywood sign!


While completing my STEP Signature Project, I noticed a huge change in myself and how I perceived my running career. When I was growing up I was always quick to quit something when things got hard. I stopped playing basketball in 8th grade because I was worried I’d get cut from the team. My sophomore year of high school during cross country training, I claimed to have a stress fracture in my leg because the workouts were getting hard. These are just a few of the long list of examples I could give. While the training process for this race was littered with injury, fatigue, and hardship, I made sure to not fall victim to my excuses of the past. Completing the half marathon showed me that if I put my mind and heart into something I’m truly passionate about, I can accomplish anything.

My original STEP project was to run the Boston Marathon. This required me to run a 3:05:00 marathon time, at a qualifying race. Since the qualifying race was going to be my first marathon, I decided to run it in my home city, Cincinnati, at the Flying Pig. I started training in October 2017, at the same time as my STEP classes were going on. This gave me 26 weeks of preparation for the race. The training session went extremely well. My high school cross country coach, Tom Rapp, worked closely with me during this time. He gave me advice on how to train, what I should eat during the race, and what I should be doing outside of running to prepare. I was able to do two long runs of 20 miles and run a warm-up half marathon in a personal record time of 1:17:10. These events made me very confident going into the Flying Pig.

This picture is of my family (minus my brother) and me after the Flying Pig Marathon.


I ended up running the Flying Pig Marathon in 3:03:50. This was bitter-sweet because I knew I would be cutting it close on if I would get accepted into the Boston Marathon. In the end I felt very accomplished because I went in with a goal of running under 3:05:00 and I did it. Unfortunately, this time was not good enough. My application was denied because they only took runners with a time of under 3:00:08 this year. Due to this, I decided to change my STEP project in an effort to re-qualify for the race. I want to run as many prestigious races as possible so this made the Los Angeles Marathon an easy choice for my next race.

Again, I started my training in October (2018) but something didn’t feel right this time around. I took most of the summer off from running because of the heavy toll the Flying Pig took on my body. Below my right knee cap had been giving me pain for several months of training for LA so I decided to shut it down and see a doctor. She diagnosed me with tibial tubercle apophysitis (Osgood-Schlatter’s disease). Due to the disease, I was unable to train for several months. STEP allowed me to change my project one final time and let me run a half marathon in the Los Angeles area.

The weekend spent in Los Angeles was one of the greatest weekends of my life. Flying there was the first time I had ever stepped foot on an airplane. My dad flew with me from CVG to LAX and my brother met up with us in LA. Hanging out with my two best friends in a city I have never explored was something I will never forget. While every part of the weekend was amazing, my favorite non-running memory was going to the Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. Basketball was a huge part of my life growing up and I am an avid fan, especially of LeBron James. Getting to see him do his thing on the court really brought a child-like sense of joy in me.

My brother, dad, and me at the Lakers game!


My project changed from a story of triumph, to not quite good enough, to finally, a resurgence of my running career. I ran the Rock the Oceanfront Half Marathon in 1:37:38. This not only showed me that injury and failure weren’t going to define my running career, but it re-sparked the passion I had when I first started running in 7th grade. Currently, I’m training for the Flying Pig Half Marathon to pace my friend through his first half marathon. Then I plan to run the Columbus Marathon in the Fall 2019 in an attempt to qualify for Boston. This project really helped me to realize that I’m truly passionate about running and it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life. To quote the best marathon runner of all time, Eluid Kipchoge, “No human is limited.” Knowing that I am without limits, I fully expect to run the Boston Marathon in the near future.

This picture was after the Rock the Oceanfront Half Marathon with my Dad and my brother.


Finally, I want to thank Ohio State’s STEP program for giving me the resources to experience a weekend I will never forget and one that reignited my passion for running. I’d also like to thank my STEP faculty adviser Joseph Ottobre, Toni Greenslade-Smith who helped me with changing my project, my high school coach Tom Rapp, my family, and God.

Disney Backstage Magic

My STEP signature project consisted of a behind the scenes exclusive trip to Anaheim, California at Disneyland, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Walt Disney Studios. Over the course of four days, me and two other friends stayed on the resort at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. We were able to go backstage and experience many parts of Disney that are generally unseen by the public with private tours from adventure guides, cast members, and even a couple Imagineers.

Part of the reason I drew to engineering was from my love for Disney and my experiences with Disney at Walt Disney World on several trips as a child. I was always very fascinated about the rides and attractions themselves and what went on behind the scenes. I loved the rides where I could learn new things, especially about science. While there, my parents would tell me about the people who helped design the parks, rides, and every little detail about Disney World and that they were called “Imagineers.” Ever since that point, that job has always been a dream profession of mine. I have been to Disney several times throughout my life and every time my family goes on vacation there, the trip feels magical and each trip is more unique than the last. This feeling is something that only Disney can create consistently and everyone working there does a fantastic job to help create a magical experience. I would love to be a part of causing that experience and happiness for many families to come in the future.

Being able to see and experience Disney from a new perspective changed the way I view everything they do. I was able to first experience the parks and attractions there, and then I was able to go backstage and see where all of the magic I just experienced comes to life. As an engineer, I love to learn about how things work and take things apart to see all the moving parts. These experiences allowed me to do just that. Disney, as a company, is often very secretive when it comes to their attractions and theme parks, making sure to hide the very things I was able to see from the general public. In several of our tours, we were not allowed to photograph certain areas, the most restrictive being the Walt Disney Imagineering building tour (my favorite unfortunately) Below is a picture of my friend, Joe, and I in front of the aforementioned building. I now am familiar with Disney as a company and how many of its parts work, such as Disney Studios, Imagineering, and many of the rides and attractions at Disneyland. I have gained a new appreciation for Disney and re-sparked my love for it as a whole. Hopefully, this new understanding will benefit me in my ultimate goal of one day becoming and imagineer.

Our first stop on our tour was a day at Walt Disney Studios. This lot is completely closed to the general public and other tours besides our own, Adventures by Disney. This was very cool to see since everyone else there besides our tour group worked at Disney. This tour definitely focused on the history of Disney and Walt Disney himself. We were able to see their corporate headquarters were many important decisions are made. We were able to see lots of older and cooler Disney entertainment props and items that are no longer in the parks or have been retired in the Vault. This was particularly neat because I remembered some of the animatronics and props from when I was a kid. Finally, we finished our tour getting lunch on campus at the same place Walt would eat at up until his death. It was surreal to sit and eat surrounded by Disney employees going about their day and eating lunch too.

Next, we made a visit to Walt Disney Imagineering. This was my favorite visit and part of the trip because we got to see what goes on behind the closed doors of Imagineering and what Imagineers do every day. We were introduced to two imagineers who would give us a tour around campus and being able to meet them and talk with them about my goals was awesome. Inside, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures but were able to see a scale model of a section of the new Star Wars Land that will be opening in Disneyland in June. Getting to see how detailed the model was and how many hours were put in on just a model and not even the real thing was eye-opening. We were then showed a room of many clay models, busts of presidents, and several small statues. It was very cool to hear the background of many of these creations. After this, we went listened to a sound sample of a ride at another Disneyland in their sound mixing studio with surround sound. Finally, we were able to take a tour of Disneyland and ride the initial proposal of the Cars ride in a room with augmented reality. This was fascinating to see since the room would shift to the perspective of whoever was wearing a hat with a sensor on it.

On the last day, we visited both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure parks and were able to get backstage access to several rides and attractions there. We saw the inner workings of rides such as Indiana Jones Adventure, Radiator Springs Racers, and Soarin’. We got the chance to speak with those crew members who work on each of these rides and their ride vehicles. I learned so much about what all goes on behind each ride. After seeing the behind the scenes of the attractions, we then got the chance to ride them and see everything we had just learned and talk about come to life.

Being able to see the history of all the decisions and what went into the Disney that it is today was fascinating. Seeing the behind the scenes gave me a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into making the parks and the company running well. I also gained a ton of knowledge about how the attractions, parks, and company works as a whole. I learned about all the different types of jobs and imagineers and what it takes to make just one ride work well.

Seeing the ridiculous effort that Disney puts out to create the best experience for their fans and park goers definitely inspires me and encourages me to be passionate about the work that Imagineers do for Disney. Disney is able to make money but also be incredibly meticulous about their level of service, holding themselves to the highest standard and making sure to not disappoint their fans. This inspires me to be driven and passionate about whatever I will be doing in life. Speaking with each of the imagineers was also quite inspiring to hear where they came from and how they got involved. Hopefully one day I will get the chance to share my story with others in the same way as them.

I seriously appreciate STEP for providing me with this life-changing opportunity! Both STEP and Disney were able to make one of my dreams come true. Thank you!

Behind the Magic: My Disneyland Adventure

1. My STEP Signature Project consisted of a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim California. Me and two close friends structured our experience around a trip called the “Southern California Short Escape” through Disney’s travel company, Adventures by Disney.

The trip was a 5 day, 4-night experience that gave us and our tour group the opportunity to learn about how Disney creates that magic that is their parks and films. We had the opportunity to tour the parks themselves behind the scenes, several popular attractions, as well as Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering in Burbank. These incredibly exclusive backstage opportunities also gave me the opportunity to meet several Disney professionals, including Imagineers and Disney Parks professionals. I was able to gain incredibly valuable advice and insight into what led them down their path and had the unique opportunity to learn about how Disney operates its studios and parks. As an Operations Management major, this was a truly eye-opening project.

2. I think the most transformative component of my experience was the day that I toured Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. What was so transformative about this tour was the conversations I had with some of our guides. To provide a bit of background, being a professional for Walt Disney in some way or another (but especially Walt Disney Imagineering) is a longtime personal dream of mine. Before the experience, I had a good amount of doubt that i could turn a business degree into a job with Disney Imagineering. What I quickly learned, however, is that Imagineering is not a company that only hires those with engineering degrees. Our guide for the Imagineering portion, Jonathan, explained that there are over 100 job titles in Imagineering, many of which include titles like “Artistic Director,” “Project Manager,” “Constraint Management Analyst,” and of course, “Operations Manager.” It became clear to me that the career path I am headed down is absolutely compatible with my dream of a career with Disney, and this realization is something I would not have had if it weren’t for the unique opportunity this trip gave me — to talk face to face with real Imagineers and soak in their stories and advice.

3. I already touched on one of the main interactions I had that led to the transformation I described in the previous paragraph, but this was one of many. Another powerful interaction I had during my experience was in the cafeteria at Walt Disney Studios (where Disney’s global corporate headquarters is as well as where they make their films and TV shows).

Our tour group was eating lunch on a Wednesday morning in the middle of the work week, so we were surrounded by busy Disney professionals. A gentleman noticed my Browns jersey (the OBJ trade had been completed the previous evening so I was celebrating) and used the recent OBJ trade news to start a conversation with me. He asked where I was from, and the usual banter, but he then was kind enough to share his own story with me. He began his career as a janitor at Walt Disney Studios but honed his talents in art to over his 24-year career at Walt Disney Studios become a creative art director. His story inspired me to have more confidence in myself and my background to fulfill my dream.

The other impactful interactions I had applies to literally every single Disney employee I encountered. Every single one was fiercely passionate about their career. Their passion was contagious and ignited a newfound passion to continue in pursuit of my dream within me. It was a privilege to hear how each employee, even our tour guides, had their own stories and backgrounds that fueled their passion. It helped me realize that passion and drive come from within, and my drive to one day join their team has never been stronger.

4. This transformation is valuable to me because it comes at a critical point in my academic and early professional career. I have finally committed myself to a major here at Ohio State after a difficult and turbulent first two years, and I occasionally become filled with self-doubt and regret. The “What if?” question seemed to compulsively appear in my head. For the numerous reasons outlined in this post, I finally have a newfound confidence that through my experiences as a student here at Ohio State, I can, through my own drive and passion, open doors to fulfilling my dream of joining the team at the Walt Disney Company.

I want to sincerely thank STEP for making this experience and dream a reality for me!


Please enjoy some of the amazing photos I captured! Also, if you are interested in more detail about my experience, please head over to the site where I created daily updates during the experience itself. There you will also find a link to a YouTube video vlog that I created about my experience.

Me (right), Joe (Center, and Ben (Left) in Disneyland on our first day.


We made sure to represent the Bucks at this historic street-sign at Walt Disney Studios

The front facade of Disney’s Corporate Headquarters. The building is symbolically supported by the Seven Dwarves because Snow White is the film that raised enough funding for Disney to become what it is today.

The front entrance to Imagineering (the only place we were allowed to photograph at Imagineering).

The three of us standing inside Walt Disney’s private apartment in Disneyland park.

On Thursday, we said goodbye to our amazing tour guides Michael and Lori.

We closed out our adventure with the World of Color water and light show


Utah Canyon Exploration

Name: Allyson Marth
Type of Project: STEP Creative and Artistic Endeavor
  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

During my Ohio State spring break, I participated in a hiking, camping, rock climbing adventure in Nevada, southern Utah, and Arizona. During our time there we slept in 30-degree weather and prepared almost every meal on our own. We explored a variety of places, from hikes at Zion National Park to climbing at St. George, Utah to hot springs in northern Arizona.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

One day prior to the trip, I remember screaming “WHO SIGNED ME UP FOR THIS TRIP?” To be completely honest, I was panicking a bit. I had signed myself up… but, I was starting to regret it. The thoughts that were running through my brain included as follows: I have never camped. Not even once. I will not be sleeping in a bed or showering for 9 nights! What! Who does that? AND, on top of all of this… I chose to do this adventure will 9 complete strangers! Why?

Then we left. And I loved it. Seriously, by the grace of God, I loved it. Camping was not just sleeping on the ground in cold temperatures… instead, it was an experience of close bonding with peers. Hiking was not just exhausting, but recess as the mountains were playgrounds for adults. During the incline I had never felt so weak, yet the resilience I experienced at the peak was unbeatable. Rock climbing was not as daunting as I thought, but instead was a time of teamwork building with the belayer and myself. The view from the top of a rock wall was humbling as I had never felt so small, observing the world around me.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

There were so many key aspects of my experience with STEP that changed me. One relationship was my friendship with a girl named Marissa. Marissa is spunky and wild. She is so unashamed about who she is and freely embraces her identity. Marissa was eager to ask me questions about my faith in Jesus Christ and was open about her personal Jewish upbringing. She even taught me Hebrew! The reality is that when you go to a new place, share a tent with, and breathe in God’s creation with other people there is no way to not grow close! It is crazy how open you can be with a person that was a stranger a week ago. Since then, I have been put out of my comfort zone by going to a sorority variety show in support of Marissa and our friendship continues on!

Another interaction that led to transformation for myself was all the vocabulary I learned over that week away. I made sure to keep track through a word bank during my time in Utah. I learned the difference because sport and ‘trad’ climbing! ‘Trad’ stands for traditional. I learned about the specifics of climbing on a rock wall and the necessities of quick draws, alpine draws, nuts, hexes, and cams. I learned about different mountains and the differences between multi-pitch or single pitch climbs. I was made aware of climbing techniques such as smearing. And I was taught about the variety of terrain, from 1stclass (flat horizontal) to 5thclass (straight vertical).

Additionally, I learned more about Jesus over that adventure. I find myself often asking questions out of curiosity. Also, I think my outgoing, goofy personality can make me come off as unintelligent at times. While, I seriously was a major fan of each member of the trip, I think at times I was seen by them as lacking wisdom. This made me think of scripture from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31… “for consider your calling, brothers; not many of you were wise, according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world… so that no human beings might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” I might not be seen as wise to the world, but I am chosen by God. I am fully accepted and loved by God in Jesus. This is not due to my own works or my own knowledge, but this is due to God’s abundant love. This trip helped me believe that a bit more! And I get to boast in God!

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This transformation is significant to me. I think this trip helped remind me of what matters in life. While there is definitely a time to work hard and give your all, I think there is a time for rest too. Rest can be getting away from screen time and giving yourself a break. That is what happened over spring break with STEP. I also realized how fun it is to adventure with friends and see natural wonders. And I am hopeful and expectant for my next trip! This helps my come to sense with what my personal goals actually are. I now have a goal of seeing every one of the 59 national parks of the United States.


Experiential Learning for Design Education in Los Angeles, California – Ben Mosher

1. For my STEP project I visited Los Angeles, California to attend a Visual Interface Design Workshop, a Design Sprints Seminar, A UCLA graduate student Design Media exhibition, and three of the most profound Art & Design museums in the country, MOCA LA, The Broad and the A+D Architecture & Design Museum. This experience was a comprehensive educational journey aimed at bringing transformative depth to my experiential knowledge and creative skill-set as an Industrial Design student.

2. Much of what transformed in me deals with the way I accept and process advice, feedback and knowledge. I have found that after many semesters in the same Major, within the same school, with the same people, it can become easy to operate on the assumption that certain people’s feedback is more important than others, I know better than certain people, or that I know what works in a familiar environment. With familiarity comes comfort, and sometimes too much consistency that can lead to halted progression or growth. It is necessary to remove yourself from what is familiar, in order to reset and reassess how you approach problems, assignments, goals and learning.

Stepping outside of one’s zone of familiarity can be shocking and ultimately enlightening, as new viewpoints and perspectives not previously considered can become assets to your own knowledge base and personal viewpoint moving forward. I learned, and transformed in a sense, by experiencing a new city and culture vastly different than the one I all home, and learned that I have a lot to learn. Attending these workshops, seminars and exhibitions put me in the position to hear from, learn from, and get feedback from a variety of accomplished and unfamiliar figures in the Design community, an experience that opened my eyes to the value of seeking guidance and learning in a variety of places, from a variety of people with various skill sets, concentrations and backgrounds. This was transformative in that, it shaped how I will evaluate and process learning experiences and seek out opportunities going forward.

3. The first specific occurrence that contributed to this transformation happened during the Visual Design workshop I attended on March 9th. I remember that it was towards the end of the session, when we were put into collaborative groups to work with Adobe XD software to Design a brand language overview sheet for Hawaiian Airlines. I was unsure of my classmates backgrounds, assuming they were all college students. During the collaborative discussion, I was critiqued on something by another person in my group, and took their advice into consideration, reevaluating my work, ultimately for the better.

I was more accepting and welcoming of critique by a peer in this circumstance than I feel I would have been in class, because I was in another state, attending an unfamiliar event. Following the end of the class, I spoke with this person who I had assumed was another student, but was actually a working professional in the UX design field. This was an enlightening moment for me because I realized that being accepting of critique, and listening to what a colleague has to say is vitally important to learning, especially in this case, because had I dismissed this critique as simple feedback from someone I assumed to be another college student, I would have missed out on what was actually very valuable insight from a working professional.

This experience made me realize that in the future, I need to be open and accepting to advice and feedback from everyone, as you never know what type of skills or experience they have that gives them more knowledge base than you. It was transformative in that I recognize now, and reevaluated the idea of critique and feedback from peers as a valuable element of the learning process. This is an experience that I will remember and apply the learned knowledge to all aspects of life moving forward.

Another learning experience I had that resulted in transformation of outlook on learning and relationships occurred as I interacted with various students within the UCLA Design Media program. I got the chance to talk to a few students and get an idea of what their perspectives are as students similar to myself in an entirely different environment. This was an overarching lesson in the value of connection on commonalities between peers in order to establish enriching and potentially beneficial work relationships. It became clear that networking with other students and figures in my field is a valuable opportunity for growth and professional development.

4. This change is significant and valuable to my life because it will shape how I go about interacting with others within a learning capacity, school environment or professional sphere. The idea of constant and perpetual learning and adaptation is an important value that I feel I may have lost sight of to some degree as a student who may become comfortable with the idea of just wanting to finish school, get their degree and move out into the real world. I feel this experience opened my eyes to the immense scope of opportunity for learning and experiential knowledge development that can come from travel, attending academic or professional events, and interaction with peers in one’s field. There is always more to be learned, and knowledge must be sought out in all parts of the world, and from all types of people. This experience has been entirely transformational in that it sparked the drive to continually seek out learning opportunities, and value the insight and knowledge that people can offer through collaboration and interaction. I will take this with me to all other aspects of life, both personally and professionally as I work to become an Industrial Designer, operating in a highly collaborative field in a dynamic work environment where continued learning, external feedback and idea development are of the essence.

The Dollhouse: Our Community

Name: Abigail Wagner

Type of Project: Creative and Artistic Endeavor

1. My project was to produce a full print, intersectional feminist art and culture magazine. The magazine showcases works from artists and writers who belong to marginalized groups in hopes to give a platform and create space in printed media for all people. I collected art and writing submissions, designed magazine pages, and planned a release event.

2. Using the funding I received as a springboard, I was able to support artists in our community who I would have otherwise only dreamed of working with. I developed a real sense of pride in my project, and saw that pride reflected in the women who contributed and the people who now own and support the magazine. I feel a deeper sense of agency in the Columbus arts community, and it feels good to have a real product to help me navigate through it. Meeting and getting connected with people through the context of the magazine has helped me be seen through the lens of what I most care about- expression and social justice.

Secondly, I became much more aware of how important cultural competency is. My project aimed to showcase the work of gender variant people and women of color, but I am a cisgender, white woman. I had to be careful that my submission choices were based on celebrating important, relevant art, and not tokenizing any of the artists for their identities- chosen or prescribed. Also, when I held the event, I had to be sure that it was a space where all people could feel welcome. I realized that many arts spaces in Columbus (and elsewhere), whether they be galleries, venues, or publications, are fundamentally not inclusive of important people within the community. Seeing the ways that other spaces could do better in terms of cultural competency has made me reflect on how the magazine will serve all people in the community going forward.

3. When I first moved to Columbus, meeting people who I connected with was challenging as OSU is such a large campus. I used the local art and music scenes to find people who I saw myself reflected in, though it took time. Women who made art and music helped me feel capable of doing the same, and made me feel a sense of place here in Columbus. Eventually, I started noticing that there was a sheer lack of women and people of color in these spaces, or those people who were involved took secondary roles (i.e. audience members instead of makers). I made a point to seek out and draw in other women and people of color who I thought may not otherwise feel welcomed. I eventually saw the people take ownership of those spaces, and take up more active roles. For example, my roommate attended the magazine’s release party and bought a piece of art from one of the vendors. She was amazed at the community event I was able to create, and was inspired by the support that people gave to artists. A month later, she planned her own community event that showcased art, music and poetry by all women of color. It was an amazing success, and I was so grateful to have another woman doing the same work I was doing in her own way.

Another thing that pleasantly surprised me was other people’s willingness to hop on board with my mission to help make the magazine a success. I went into this project with no knowledge of how to use InDesign, and every time I met someone who knew the software I was offered help. I was so moved by other people’s unsolicited generosity and willingness to support the magazine with their various talents and resources. It made me open myself up to other local projects, and encouraged me to reach out and be generous to others. My circle of creative and activist peers has expanded tremendously since the beginning of this project, and I am grateful.

The release event itself was such an incredible part of this project. I am not myself a writer, but some friends helped me get in contact with a few poets in the area who were interested in doing a reading. All I could hope for was that the crowd at the event would be respectful and attentive. When the lat poet took to the stage and recited their poems, everyone in the room was engaged, humming affirmations, laughing along, and giving the writer all of the respect they deserved. It was everything that I knew a poetry recitation should be and I was proud that it happened int he Dollhouse’s name. Also, my friend sold her first ever painting at the event. It was sold to my roommate, and the painting hangs in my house as a reminder. Another friend brought enough paintings to fill a whole table, and they sold every one of them. That event, I feel, wrapped up in one night what this project meant to me; support, recognition, visibility, and community.

4. This transformation was key in me recognizing my agency as a change maker and as an activist. I realized that cultivating a strong sense of community is extremely important to me, which makes me feel that I should consider entering macro-level social work. I also realized that activism comes in many shapes and sizes. The kinds of cultural messages that resonate with me involve art, music and creativity. Through this project, I realized that I should not deny these things power in my life, but use them as a tool. I now feel that I can harness these interests to create and support the changes I want to see. I also realized that true inclusion involves a lot more than shallow representation. It is not only inviting people to ride along but encouraging them to take the reigns. It is acknowledging that the space I now have with this magazine is worth celebrating, but can only go so far in terms of social justice. I am now connected to a group of change makers in Columbus and I am excited to continue learning and growing.

Adrianne Farwell STEP Creative Endeavor Reflection

My STEP signature project was a creative endeavors project. It included buying a camera, taking a variety of photography classes, and capturing the special moments of my parents’ thirtieth wedding anniversary.

I have always viewed myself as someone who catches on quickly and easily learns new things, but photography was a real challenge for me. Learning to use my camera was the easy part, but learning to have the eye of a photographer and capture true moments was a very challenging task for me to grasp. It is something I have grown a lot in with my mentor’s help, but will always continue to struggle and grow with. Throughout this project I have learned to rely on others. It sounds simple enough, but for a woman raised as independently as I was, it is no easy feat. I can almost always rely on myself to figure things out, but with photography I desperately needed help and sought advice from my instructors. This experience has taught me a lot about myself and how I interact with and view the world.

The first true relationship formed during my project was with my mentor, Braddley Adams. Braddley is a professional photographer that teaches a series of classes to beginner and more advanced photographers to help others learn to use their cameras. He always says that the camera is just a machine; one is not really better than another, it all depends on how you use them. I never knew how involved photography was until I met Braddley and started taking his classes. Each photo I see has a whole new meaning to me now, as I truly understand what the photographer had to do to capture each shot. Braddley helped me to understand that photography is an art that anyone can learn, but few will learn to master it.

Another significant figure in my project was Matt Cangelosi. He is world renowned photographer that teaches beginner and advanced photography courses on the side. The main lesson I learned from Matt’s lessons was how to change my perspective. As humans, we hurry through life and our eyes block out most of what we see. Our brains cannot possibly process all the information we would grasp if our eyes did not do this. But when we truly stop and look, we see amazing things. You can zoom in closely and see every detail on a flower petal, or look up towards the sky and see what the branches and leaves look like from below. Through Matt, I learned to look at the world differently and take in the scenery around me instead of passing by.

As I prepared myself to take pictures of my parents’ anniversary event, I began to feel anxious about my ability to capture each precious moment at the party. Photography was a much more difficult art to master than I had anticipated. I knew I needed to practice, so I did. Braddley was generous enough to provide exercises to practice between classes and offered a free outing to take pictures alongside him as he guided us in the moments we were capturing and how we did it. Without the extra preparation he provided, I would not have been able to capture the moments I did at my parents’ vow renewal with the fast paced and frequently changing environment.

Overall, I learned to truly dedicate myself to a new hobby in order to fully learn it. I learned that not every new task in life will be easy, but that does not make it impossible. I learned that if I want to succeed, I must put in the time and effort to master it. I learned that I need to rely on others who have more knowledge to be able to grow. In all, I learned what it takes to be a more efficacious person.

This change is significant in every part of my life. I have always been an independent person and never asked others for help. Through this journey of learning photography I now understand that I might not need others, but I can greatly benefit from their knowledge. This is really important as I will soon transition into professional life and will be working with several different people daily. One person alone cannot achieve much, but together everyone is more successful. I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given through STEP to be able to gain a skill I can carry with me throughout my life, and all the valuable lessons I learned during it this process.