Lydia Deppert STEP Project Reflection

Lydia Deppert

Type of Project: Internship

  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.


My STEP Signature Project was to become STNA certified through Alia HealthCare in Columbus, Ohio so that I could gain experience and expertise in order for me to get an internship at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. My internship is to work as a Patient Care Associate in the UH/Ross Float Pool where I work with patients in the medical/surgical unit as well as the Ross Heart Hospital. In my internship, I spend a lot of time with patients who are dealing with mental illnesses and I help with their daily cares as required by the nursing staff. In my project, I was required to gain an internship where I would be using the STNA skills I have acquired and work 20-40 hours per week for 6 weeks. I currently work 24 hours a week and have worked 24 hours each week since July 23, 2018. By the end of my project, I had completed not only 6 weeks, but 9 weeks in my internship. That is a total of 216 hours of direct patient care experience and learning about who I am in the medical world.


  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.


The understanding I had of myself was transformed through this project by finally realizing how important it is to reach out to others when I need help. Taking on this internship was really challenging for me because it is so much more advanced than anything I have ever done before because I am actually taking care of my own patients now. Before, this job, I was very much stuck in my own comfort zone and I wasn’t really good about asking for help because I didn’t think I needed it. My view on that was completely when I realized that the work I am now doing can potentially save someone’s life. Even though there have been some difficult days with patients, I love this internship and all the things I am learning from it. My view on the world has drastically changed and I have learned to listen to people instead of automatically make assumptions.

I learned a lot about what it means to be a kind, sympathetic nurse but also be able to do your job versus just coming to work to make a paycheck. When I go over and above to care for patients, smile, and help them to the extent that I can, my internship is the best thing reward I could get. I am a transformed individual in the sense that I have grown more sympathetic and understanding. This project has taught me so much about how to deal with people when the circumstances are less than ideal and how to respond in happy, sad, scary, etc. situations.


  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.


An example of these things and how I have been transformed is from my first Friday night shift of the Academic year. I was very tired and it was nearing time for the next person to come and replace me when all of a sudden, I hear “CODE BLUE” ringing through the hallway. One of my co-worker’s patients’ heart had stop beating and immediately every nurse, doctor, and PCA on the floor ran to the room. I was so nervous and I knew that this was something I would remember for the rest of my life. I immediately got in line to help with chest compressions if necessary while my heart was racing faster than it ever had. It was in that moment that I knew, no matter what it took, that I would save that man’s life if it were my turn. Thankfully, his heart began beating again and the nurse was able to stabilize him.

From my internship, I have also learned a lot about resume building, interviewing for jobs and with big companies, and what makes a successful unit/ organization. My nurse manager is someone who was very helpful when I began my internship in helping me understand the way that a hospital and different units’ work. I have learned from the way she deals with employees and what some of the things she does that are working really well in our department and what don’t work so well. She has been an amazing leader and especially helpful in helping me balance my internship/ project life with school and extracurricular activities.

Even though I have only been at this internship since the end of July, I have matured in ways that I didn’t even think possible for such a short time. I have gained so much more respect for the people that work in the health care field and the hours that they put in to taking care of the people of Columbus and I have also grown myself to be able to handle an internship that requires at least 24 hours of my week while also being a full time student. I have learned to sympathize more, listen more, and to never be afraid to ask for help in any situation.


  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 change is very significant to my life because these are the building blocks of where I hope to be someday as a Physician’s Assistant. Even though my internship may seem lowly and boring, I have learned the basics of the medical world and have been able to take care of patients/ see things that I would have never guessed I would be able to at only 20-years-old. I now am even more passionate about the career I am pursuing and I am also learning that I want to work with a pediatric population in hopefully oncology. This was a goal of mine that I wanted to be sure of and I am even more certain through my STEP project.

The connections I have made through this internship are more than I could’ve ever imagined before and it will be amazing as I go into the end of my junior year, beginning of senior year in 2019. I hope to get transferred either to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in downtown Columbus, or just a few hundred feet away from me currently at The James Cancer Hospital. Through my internship, all the goals I have for my future are much more realistic and I have grown into a stronger, more mature student and woman. I know what I want to accomplish in my future and I am ready to work even harder for it.

Internship at Nationwide Children’s

Through STEP, I was able to fund a project that explored my career goals, provided me with hands-on experienced and ultimately offered professional development in the field of nursing. I was a PCA, patient care assistant, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a position I will be able to keep over the school year. I assisted nurses and provided direct patient care. I interacted with the pediatric population, communicated with family support, collaborated on care and enhanced my nursing skills.

I have gained hands-on experience in the field of nursing through this opportunity which has been priceless. By seeing the way nurses interact with children while still providing critical care for them has shown me another side of nursing I haven’t previously experienced. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses in regards to my communication, knowledge, demeanor and interactions with children. I have interacted with patients and families of different races, ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic statuses, which has taught me diverse cultural norms and ways to provide appropriate care. I have also learned to look past the medical diagnoses and see the child for who they are and address their non-medical needs as well.

Although my career goals weren’t transformed, they were solidified, I personally have been transformed in my views and approaches. I was now able to explore an area of nursing I am most interested in, pediatrics. My nursing approach has adapted and grown to encompass the different needs associated with pediatrics. I have learned time management and prioritization of care skills that will propel my nursing career. My overall nursing judgement and skills are enhanced from this hands-on experience. This opportunity has introduced me to the nursing reality of twelve hour shifts and the struggles that comes along with it. I saw different perspectives of the nursing role and teamwork within a multidisciplinary approach to care. Overall, my views of the world and our society have grown, as did my love for nursing and pediatrics.

From dealing with chronic illness and cardiac defects, I have learned the importance of effective nursing care and communication. I have developed a deeper sense of patience and empathy as seeing how hospitalization affects the family dynamic. I aspire to be available, mentally and physically, to assess situations and make appropriate nursing judgements to meet the needs of my patients and their families. I had the opportunity to see the sacrifices and adaptations of the parent’s lives and realized how much communication effects their fears and stress level. My view of hospitalization and family-centered care has really grown and adapted which is important for my future career. I have been able to self-reflect and work to improve my communication skills to allow for a patient, and family, connection.

The biggest growth I have seen in myself is my ability to apply the knowledge I have received from nursing school. I am learning new things every day in regards to the medical field, but I am also learning how to apply and adapt my current knowledge and skills. I have put countless skills to use in my internship, as well as learned new skills, such as preparing formula feedings and lab collections, that I can add to my resume. The amount of patient care hours I have been exposed to greatly enhances my critical thinking and communication development. From being a PCA, I have seen ways nurses collaborate on care, delegate nursing tasks and interact with support staff in positive ways. As a nurse in the future, I will have a greater appreciation for the PCA role because I have experienced it myself.

I assumed new financial responsibility as I now pay rent and utilities, as well as furnish an apartment. This was a big step for me to increase my independence and become more responsible. I have a new appreciation for money management. I have to balance school costs, and social activities with my work earnings which improves my time management and financial management skills. This financial maturity will help me in the future as I look for jobs, housing and providing for a family. The biggest takeaway I have learned from nursing is that you can’t help others if you do not take care of yourself- financially, emotionally and physically. It is important to learn these concepts and apply them to your life so you are more available for your home and work life.

This internship experience has opened my eyes to a different hospital and their views and operations. This prepares me to look for an institution that values what I believe about nursing and the care we should provide. At Nationwide, I have made connections with the nurses, ancillary staff and patients, helping to grow my confidence and expand my abilities. I have received the basic knowledge that I can carry with me throughout nursing school and to other units. By having this experience, my career path has become focused and solidified. As I continue to pursue my dream of neonatal nurse practitioner, I will be able to carry these skills and experiences with me, making me a better student, and nurse. Every day I become more excited with my career aspirations through experiences such as this, and I thank STEP for affording this to me, and my advisor for instructing me to pursue my dreams. I plan to continue my educational adventures by studying abroad my senior year through the College of Nursing, to gain a global perspective regarding healthcare and the needs of different populations.

Career Launching Internships at Bricker & Eckler: Attorneys at Law and FrazierHeiby

This summer, I interned at Bricker & Eckler: Attorneys At Law as the Marketing and Public Relations Practice Development Intern and at FrazierHeiby as the Public Relations Intern. Through these internships, I gained valuable skills that will be applicable to my future career path.

Through my STEP Signature Project, I had the opportunity to engage in professional development and become a more well-rounded, independent individual while sharpening my critical thinking and collaborative skills. Both my internships placed immense trust and responsibility in me to perform tasks and complete projects that genuinely mattered to and advanced the respective businesses. With great responsibility comes great power, and I learned what it truly meant to have others depending on me more than any classroom experience could teach me.

Several events, interactions, relationships and activities during my STEP Signature Project led to the transformation that I experienced. Aside from the explicit skills and strategies that I learned through the technical components of my internship roles, I also challenged myself to go above and beyond my given responsibilities or expectations. I engaged in extra opportunities for professional growth like networking and participating in different business charity events. The technical skills I learned are also immensely valuable for my future career – especially including new digital marketing skills such as SEO and video editing.

One of the biggest learning lessons I experienced during this summer was the value of mentor relationships. At both my internships, I had mentors, but different experiences with each. At one internship, my supervisor unexpectedly left the company. I had considered her a mentor and looked to her for guidance, so her leaving was upsetting, but also a great learning experience about appropriately managing change, one of the biggest challenges in workplaces.

At the other internship, I still have a great relationship with my mentor. As our relationship grew, she increasingly began to value my ideas, trust my skills and give me decision making power. Through this relationship, I learned the importance of positive communication and not being afraid to share your perspective (respectively of course) despite your age, position or any similar hierarchal categories. Everyone has a valuable perspective to bring to the table, and the fact that someone high up in an organization valued mine has taught me to value myself and others’ perspectives more.

Although I have always prided myself on my work ethic, I have struggled with other components of professional development in the past. Namely, I have found it difficult to collaborate with others, share perspectives and compromise or adapt rather than just getting frustrated and/or stubborn when situations don’t go perfectly. Through the power of challenging real-world experiences where I needed to handle professional situations appropriately and transformational relationships with mentors, I believe I bettered myself by improving my listening and collaboration skills, and the value I place on others’ perspectives.

I know these internship experiences and not only the technical skills I learned throughout them but the life lessons will help me immensely with my professional goals and future plans. These internships gave me not only the tools I need to succeed in my future career but insight on how to be a better person.

And here is a picture of me at an extra opp I took advantage of with my FrazierHeiby internship – attending the Central Ohio PRSA PRism Awards. FrazierHeiby took home best in show!

Columbus Crew Match Activation Internship

 Over the 2018 summer I was able to be an intern for the Columbus Crew FC soccer team. Walking into the internship, I knew almost nothing about how professional sports actually work on the inside as well as knew almost nothing about soccer. I knew that I would have many challenges ahead of me. Lucky for me, I had a great team that I was working with and they helped me grow and succeed. I am extremely grateful to the Columbus Crew organization for the opportunity and to STEP for allowing me to work with a professional organization that is established so that I can make a decision on if I want to work in sports in the future.

While the fans are the number one priority, lots of companies are paying mass amounts of money so that the fans are seeing and interacting with their products as they make their way to their seats. The biggest responsibility that my team had was making sure that everything is laid out correctly when the fans arrive so that the fans have an aesthetically pleasing view that also encompasses the marketing of the companies that are paying the Crew to get their material in the stadium. Facilitating fan experience from the second that they enter into the stadium was our number one goal. This means planning where the mascot will be at all times, what will be occurring on the field during breaks, fan giveaways, halftime promotions, and end of game promotions. Soccer was very unique because in America there is a smaller fan base and not every game is sold out. This means that if one fan has a bad experience it is much more costly than a fan having a bad experience at a Yankees game.

Because it is a sporting industry everything has very hard deadlines. The game will start whether you finished your project by the end of the week or not. Working in a face pace environment can be stressful or exciting depending on the type of person that you are. The last thing that this internship provided me was professional experience. Working in an area that does not require you to be in a suit at all times does not mean that you can stop being professional. I learned that there are different ways to get your message across to different groups of people. I recommend everyone to work for an industry that they feel truly passionate about and see if they enjoy what it is like. A lot of people will never get to test a job before they enter it and that is why I am grateful to STEP for facilitating this amazing opportunity.


Jared Williams’ Internship reflection

  • My STEP signature project entailed me having the opportunity to work in the computer science industry and learn how computer science techniques are applied outside of university. I was able to do this by interning at a software company throughout the entire summer.Here I was able to develop real applications that would go on to be used by real customers.
  • I assumed that many of the techniques learned in computer science class would directly relate to the work that I would be doing at my internship. As it turned out the techniques learned in classes were more subtly applied in industry than I had initially thought. I was surprised to find that some of the techniques that I learned about in class were actually frowned upon at my internship. That being said I was able to utilize several of the concepts that I learned in class, and this allowed me to transform my thoughts of “boring classroom material” into thinking of said concepts as tools that could be used to solve problems.
  • The relationships that I was able to foster with my co-workers ultimately led to the transformations in terms of my thinking about computer science. My co-workers had far more expertise than I did, but many of them had not too long ago taken some of the same classes that I was taking or getting ready to take. This allowed them to relate to some of the work that was being done at my internship, to concepts that were being taught in the classroom. This proved itself to be a critical transformational experience because it allowed me to further bridge the gap between what was being taught at school and how I would apply it in the real world. Additionally the fact that my internship allowed me to work on actual projects along with the other employees at the company added so much value to my experience as it allowed me to see how projects were actually worked on in practice rather than only allowing me to see projects specifically designed for interns.
  • The change that took place proved to be very valuable, especially after returning to school, because it gave me a renewed sense of interest in the material that I was learning in classes. Prior to my experience with my internship, I didn’t know the magnitude to which I would use the skills learned in class out in the field. My experience with my coworkers allowed me to see how the skills that I was learning in class, as well as some that I hadn’t learned yet, could be used to make practical applications at work.

Caroline Bentlage STEP Reflection

The intention of my STEP project was to obtain my Ohio Real Estate Licensing and complete a summer internship at a real estate firm. I obtained my licensure in the beginning of the summer and over the course of the following months, I helped agents in all aspects of the real estate business. I worked with both buyers and sellers, and commercial and residential properties.

At the beginning of the project, I expected the lifestyle of a real estate agent would be a major aspect of the business that I would enjoy. As an agent, you make your own hours and schedule. I grew up with both of my parents working 9-5 jobs and during the work week, their schedules were run by their jobs. However, I learned that although you can choose your own schedule, it is mainly run by your clients. I found myself working late nights and weekends, an aspect I found to be extremely unappealing. As someone who really values spending time with my family, I felt as if this aspect of my life was lacking this summer.

Growing up, my parents always taught me that higher education is a non-negotiable. I always knew that I would go to college and complete my degree. However, many of the people I worked with this summer did not have a college degree. One of the agents that I worked most closely with, Bill Snow, never completed his college degree. To my surprise, he was one of the wisest and most successful people I have ever met. I learned so much from him this summer.

My interactions with my boss taught me how important work-life balance is. As an intern, I felt as though I was expected to work long nights and weekends to simulate the experiences of a young realtor. However, I was not building a client book or making sales to fulfill the rewarding aspect of the hard work. I was helping other agents with their clients, assisting buyers and sellers. While I learned a lot from this, I felt as though I was lacking family-time.

In turn, I learned how truly important this aspect of my life is. This summer marked my older brother’s last summer at home before he moved to New York City for a full-time job. I was really hoping to spend time with him before he left and make lasting memories. However, I was very disappointed with how much time my job took out of my life. I missed family reunions and more as a result. I truly recognized how important spending time with loved ones is to my personal happiness.

My relationship with my coworker, Bill Snow, taught me how much you can learn from someone. With a background in Oil and Gas, I did not think we would have much in common at the start of the summer. However, he ended up taking me under his wing and teaching me beyond what I imagined I could learn. Bill mainly worked on the commercial end of the real estate business, a side that I did not expect to have much interest in. However, the tasks he assigned me to ended up being the most exciting projects I worked on throughout the summer.

The lessons I learned as a result of my position at Stouffer Realty have given me more direction in my career. While I am not planning to pursue real estate post-graduation, I spent time reflecting on what aspects of the business I did enjoy. Working directly with clients taught me how much I truly enjoy working with people and understanding their needs. The unstructured aspect of my summer taught me that a 9-5 job is more fitting to my lifestyle. While it would be nice to build my own schedule, I cherish family time on the weekends and evenings. Now, I am looking for more of a corporate role analyzing consumer behavior.

Evan Collins Stratus Advisors Internship Reflection

Name: Evan Collins

Type of Project: Internship


Last summer, I used my STEP funds to support my internship with AXA Equitable in downtown Cleveland. I worked with a high achievement dba known as Stratus Advisors, and my official title was Sales Force Intern. During my time with Stratus Advisors, I gained experience by collaborating with coworkers to accomplish projects, learning to always ask questions and be open to things you’ve never tried before, and learning the financial markets better through research and experience with different kinds of investment packages.

Through my internship, I gained a better understanding of exactly what I want to do with my degrees after college. Going into the internship, I thought financial advising would be something I would love to go into. The people to people connection and the rewarding nature of helping individuals meet their retirement goals was what initially drew me to the field. Although I enjoyed my internship and truly gained a lot of great hands on experience, I truly realized that I could not go into financial advising.

In addition, I realized how I am most effective as a worker. Over the summer, I was either doing work that I was told specifically to do, or I was given a simple task and was told my objective, but not specific instructions on how to get there. Although I was effective at both types of projects, each with different amounts of room for freedom and responsibility, I realized that I like to complete large projects and given the freedom to work however I want to accomplish said project. This information is useful, because I now realize how to steer my career path to positions where my strengths are better accented.

These key aspects of my experience come down to individual moments or sections of my internship that really impacted me. When I initially started my internship, I had some growing pains, as in I was unsure of my whole roles as an intern, how involved they wanted me in projects, how to communicate both in person and through emails with team members, and the information and work flow of Stratus Advisors in general. As I began to acclimate to me setting, I began to understand how I should ask for more work, how I can be best used in the company, and how to be my most impactful self.

Halfway through the year, I was assigned to lead the way in updating Stratus Advisors website and overall online presence through social media, Google, and other aspects. I was given what they would like the result to be, but not how I should go about it. This was an impactful moment for me. I decided to organize a meeting to discuss the matters, which I invited my bosses, our technology officer, and our compliance officer to. I created the meeting itinerary and headed the conversation, something I could never have seen myself do during the beginning of my internship. From this experience, I gained confidence and the realization that I can make an impact in a company even if I am an intern, and it made the corporate setting less intimidating.

Lastly, the biggest learning curve for me was learning the different investment vehicles Stratus Advisors used for their clients. From knowing whether an account is for a Qualified or Non-Qualified account, to whether a mutual fund product was actively managed, and so on. There was a lot of material to digest to do many aspects of my internship. In the beginning, I just read about the products, as well as shadowed the assistants to know how to open different kinds of accounts. Then I began to attempt to work on my own, and eventually became fluent in opening many different account types, as well as how to use the many software’s we used, such as Salesforce. In the beginning, I felt almost hopeless, like I would never be able to full grasp all the concepts, but I was surprised at how quickly I was able to make an impact in this area.

Throughout my internship experience with Stratus Advisors and AXA Equitable Holdings, I grew a lot professionally and individually, and am now never more certain of the path I want to go in my life. Although many people would look back and be discouraged that they no longer want to pursue the career they interned for, I am so thankful, because now I can focus my energy on the next big thing for me. I am so thankful that I had this internship experience, because now when I am in my career, I know I will be a lot happier.

STEP Project Reflection: Research Internship at the National Institutes of Health

Name: Mahin Hossain

Type of Project: Undergraduate Research/ Internship

Where: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Program: NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP)

My official federal NIH ID

My STEP Signature project revolved around my summer internship experience at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland as an Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP) Scholar. At the NIH, I was trained in the lab of Dr. Daniel Reich under the mentorship of Nathanael Lee, MD/PhD candidate at Georgetown University. Dr. Reich’s lab is known as the Translational Neuroradiology Section (TNS) and focuses on understanding the mechanism of inflammatory demyelination in Multiple Sclerosis patients by combining radiology, basic wet lab research, and an animal model of MS known as Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis. The main goal of my summer experience was not only to gain research experience in the fields of neuroimaging, neuroradiology, and neuropathology, but also to gain a better understanding of career goals and of the myriad of career options that are available to me.

Before I left for my internship, I was very uncertain about my future career goals. While I was certain about pursuing the field of medicine, and had been taking active steps to fulfill my pre-med requirements, I enjoyed research a lot more than I had originally anticipated. Yet, I wasn’t sure of whether or not I wanted to make research a part of my future career as well or render it a mere experience of my undergraduate schooling. I was also unaware of the options that were available for me to combine both medicine and research. While I had heard about dual admission Md/PhD programs in the past, the time commitment of obtaining the PhD deterred me from pursuing such. I had also been convinced for a long time that obtaining an MD/PhD would force me into a career as a physician-scientist where I’d be primarily responsible for the research aspect and thus have limited time for patient/ clinical interaction. My time at the NIH, however, showed me that I myself am responsible for the direction of my career and that even if I obtain an MD/PhD, I do not have to pursue primarily research. Not only would pursuing an MD/PhD degree make me more competitive for research based residency programs, it would also provide me with the ability to address medical/ healthcare issues from an analytical and scientific standpoint.

I also became more confident in my ability to not only describe my research, but answer questions with confidence. My mentor coached me each and every day by providing me with research journal articles to read and then quizzing my on my ability to describe the project’s methods, discussion, and results. I was also challenged by presenting some of these articles in front of the whole lab and among other peers.

There were several events, interactions, and relationships during my project that led to my transformation into a more confident scientist. First of all, the NIH as a whole provided several workshops and events that were conducive to both my personal and professional growth. One such activity was a journal club. All summer interns were assigned to a journal club regarding a disease, or field of biomedical science, and every week, we read a published journal article within that field. Groups of students would take turns to present their article of choice each week. This activity allowed me to improve not only my reading comprehension, but also my ability to present my own research by allowing me to practice how to understand the purpose behind studies and how the purposes were accomplished. Second, the NIH provided additional workshops on how to present a poster, how to create a dynamic poster presentation, and how to keep a lab notebook. I had never presented my research to anyone before, and had never made a poster. With this summer experience as well as the guidance of my mentor, I learned how to display my summer research effectively as well as how to communicate my results concisely. These skills are critical for me especially in my career because I will be able to utilize them in my undergraduate career at Ohio State if I present at the Denman or fall/ spring research forums.

Poster presentation

Second, the coolest thing I got to do was shadow and attend Neurology Consults and clinical care consults. At these consults, all of the doctors, students, and researchers get together to discuss the latest patient cases, detailing past and current medical history, diagnoses, possible diagnoses, and plans of action. This was a rare experience because not only was I allowed to listen in to how doctors make such decisions, but I also got to witness and observe MRI image analysis and understand how doctors come up with diagnoses. Many of these patients were also patients in the clinical trials of our lab, so to see how the researchers and doctors choose test subjects was a rare and unique opportunity.

Another aspect of my summer experience that led to my transformation was the ability to make connections and relationships with experienced scientists at the NIH. Firstly, the UGSP program had weekly “Discussion with a Scientist” events where we got to meet a researcher or principal investigator at the NIH and not only discuss their research, but also their academic background and how they got to where they are. Several of the doctors were met were UGSP alumni so it was inspiring to see how, despite coming from their disadvantaged background, they were able to utilize the supplies UGSP provided them to build a successful career for themselves. It was inspiring discussing what got people interested in studying what they were studying, or passionate about studying medicine, or how they chose between MD, PhD, and MD/PhD programs. This dialogue was extremely conducive to my development as a researcher but also my own understanding of what I want in life and how I can achieve my goals.

Lastly, the greatest aspect of my experience was that I was able to attend guest lectures and lecture series from scientists around the world who came to talk at NIH. The collest part however was that these lectures varied in topic, so I gained experience not only in interacting with world-renowned doctors and researchers, but also the ability to learn about fields of which I had no previous exposure to. The opportunities I had here at the NIH are not readily available here at OSU and the fact that I got to experience these things this summer makes me more passionate about going back in the future.

In the end, I learned the importance of never giving up and staying determined in my accomplishing my goals. Many times, I lose motivation to continue my hard work or struggle in my classes, but it is important to never give up and understand that failures are only the stepping stone to future success. My summer research mentor challenged me a lot, to the point that sometimes I severely doubted my own potential. However, I learned so much from the experience and gained the confidence to stand with my answers and responses. I learned how to answer questions confidently, without fear of being incorrect. Not knowing something isn’t inherently bad, but it is critical to recognize when you don’t know something so that you can ask for help. I greatly appreciated how the program didn’t only focus on the research experience, but provided the opportunity for summer interns to develop relationships with potential future bosses and to learn about topics they have no prior knowledge of. The ability to work at the largest center for biomedical research in the entire world is something that I will never take for granted. This internship reaffirmed by passion for pursuing an MD/PhD to become a physician scientist. It reminded me that my goal is to not only provide medical care, but to understand the mechanisms that underlie human disease so that we can better target treatments and interventions for those who are suffering. I am not only a better scientist now, but a better student, thinker, and innovator.

Me at the National Harbor, experiencing D.C. and its surrounding areas

NIH Campus – there are over 80 buildings/ centers on the main campus

This is Building 10: Clinical Center. It is the largest building on campus and is where NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke) is located.

Presenting my summer poster to a Judge during the symposium

Two fellow summer interns who worked in my lab

Group Photo of the NIH UGSP Cohort for 2017-2018


STEP summer project reflection

My STEP project revolved around exploring the various pathways of the pharmaceutical field. I spent my summer experiencing not just the community-based side of pharmacy, but also the research side of pharmacy. I gained this experience by conducting research in pharmacoepidemiology as well as by working as a pharmacy technician in a real pharmacy.

Prior to the start of this project, much of what I knew of the pharmaceutical field was simply what I was taught in class. Beyond this, I had very little exposure to the real-world aspects of pharmacy. I assumed that pharmacy was limited to local CVS’ and Walgreens. Not only that, but I also had the misconception that the majority of the duties of a pharmacist were to count pills. What I did not understand was that pharmacy is and will always be at the forefront of medicine; pharmacy is vital in the healthcare field and in everyone’s day to day lives. This is exactly what this summer made me realize.Taking on a job as a pharmacy technician brought me closer to the realities of working as a community pharmacist. It taught about a multitude of drugs, gave me a taste of the world of drug interactions, and introduced me to the many duties that a pharmacist has. I learned that it is not just counting pills anymore that makes up their duties, rather they are responsible for being a primary healthcare giver within communities. They often serve as community’s go to healthcare provider. With this in mind, they have to be fluent on medicines and what interactions they have with each other. In addition, a pharmacist’s duty extends beyond the pharmacy. They are team-based practitioners, often collaborating with other healthcare providers. All of these realizations came from working side by side with a pharmacist. Training as a technician put more perspective as to how many components there are to community pharmacy.

Moving away from community based pharmacy, embarking on research within pharmacoepidemiology exposed me to a much broader area of pharmacy. I have always wondered how much research is reallyneeded within the field. Dr. Donneyong opened a whole new world for me. He showed me that many areas of pharmaceutics are still lacking and are overlooked by many. I realized that this is an area of pharmacy that is still in dire need of attention. By having the opportunity to assist Dr. Donneyong in his research and put my input into it showed me the impact that even I, as an undergraduate student, can have. I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to begin a research project that serves to make healthcare more efficient. I was able to apply myself on a larger scale. Just from conducting research, my outlook on pharmacy went from simply counting pills to changing the way healthcare works.

Many of the pharmacists I worked with showed true passion for their work. They took each and every question handed to them by patients and answered them with utmost care. Similarly, many of the technicians I worked with have been in the field for 20+ years. They, too, showed the same sort of interest in their field and the same sort of respect towards their patients. This was inspiring and motivating. It made me realized that the field of pharmacy is more than just a job, but it is a relationship you build with the patients. Not only that, but many of the pharmacists that trained me showed the importance of the small things in pharmacy, such as the rewards that are awarded to patients and making medicine as affordable as possible. Seeing their thirst to improve the field convinces me even more so to join this career field.

Research allowed me to build a relationship with Dr. Donneyong that provided even more insight into making successful projects. He showed me the power that every individual in this field has when it comes to bettering it. By going to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and seeing him lecture and interact with other researchers/ doctors was a new experience. Many of them, I realized, came with the intention of employing his discoveries. He has truly created a ripple within the study of pharmaceutical sciences. It was this one – on – one interaction that taught me the ins and outs of research. Prior to this, I had virtually no idea what pharmacoepidemiology even was. Though this term sounded quite specific, I realized that it encompassed more than I can think of. This interaction solidified my interest in going into the research industry pathway in the pharmacy field.

After spending over three months diving deeper into learning more about pharmaceutical field, I asked myself, “What does all of this mean for my future and I?” The answer to this was easy – the more insight I gain, the clearer I am about which path I want to take. Pharmacy is an upcoming and dynamic field. With all of the changes that are occurring, I realize that my personal interests are changing as well. From the time that I first entered college to now, my goals have changed.  I can now confidentially say that pharmacy is definitely the area of specialization for me. Even more so, I can know say that I am not just interested in the clinical side of it, but even the nitty-gritty aspects like research and development of drugs. Both of these projects I took on for the summer taught me a lot about myself and what I identify most with. I realized that my mind needs more creative outlets than community pharmacy necessarily gives. However, I also need that patient- caregiver interaction as well when considering a future occupation. By recognizing this, I can say I am closer to choosing one pathway to focus on. This summer provides a solid understanding of the field prior to entering graduate school. Not only that, but it reminded me of why I chose pharmacy in the first place. It stripped the books, exams, and lectures away and allowed me to see things more holistically and in a real-world lens.

Community Insurance Group Internship

This summer I was awarded with the opportunity to work with Community Insurance Group in my hometown of Minster, Ohio. I stepped into the role of a Client Account Processor primarily helping with our clients’ policy changes as necessary. I also helped with creating and implementing new techniques with Excel sheets to increase efficiency across the company.


While in this role I worked together with our Account Managers so I would be able to provide excellent customer service for our customers. Given that all these managers were women who were anywhere from 15-35 years older than me, it gave me a unique insight to their professional viewpoints. Most of these women had been with Community Insurance Group for their entire careers so they had a deep understanding of not only the insurance industry but the company as well. They all stressed to me the importance of developing a personal bond with the clients, so we do not just have a client and company relationship but so that the clients are our friends. This was a new concept to me as most business is often cold and driven only by the bottom line. It quickly became clear to me that CIG has not been in business for so long in a competitive field because of their excellent prices or even excellent coverage packages, they have been in business so long because of the quality of people they have hired and the close relationships they have formed with their clients. I feel like these aspects of the financial sector are often over-looked in the modern business world and due to that the overwhelming distrust of financial professionals has resulted.


Not only did I realize the importance of customer service first hand, but CIG also taught me that the fastest way of doing things is not always the best. In my life I always have tried to find ways to become more efficient and to do things faster, so I would be able to do more. My thought process had always been that if I were able to free up more time in my day I could accomplish more and therefore be better off. However, the older generations I worked with taught me that it is okay to slow down for a second and smell the roses. In our technology and innovation driven world where everyone wants the next best thing now and not a second later, this may have been the most profound life lesson I learned over the course of the summer.


The Account Manager that trained me and who was my mentor over the course of the summer is a lady named Mary Prenger who had been with CIG her entire career and had worked their over 32 years. This relationship started off fairly interesting because it was obvious that they was a large gap in our knowledge and experience levels on multiple different fronts. Mary knew a lot more about insurance than I did but I also knew about technology a lot more. Given this difference in knowledge we were learning from each other the entirety of the summer. Since we were working so closely together, she really taught me what it meant to deliver the level of customer service our clients expected. Mary knew every one of her clients by name (easily over 200 clients) and not only that, but she knew their families and situations personally. It also did not matter to her what type of day she may be having, she understood and exemplified that the clients’ needs and wants always come first.


One moment comes to mind that fully shows how deeply Mary cares about her clients. A client came in who recently had a rate increase on their premium and wanted to quote some other companies and would not talk to anyone but Mary. Mary had her disk filled with work that had been piling up due to an abnormal amount of client phone calls the last few days. Instead of blowing off her client and telling them to meet with a difference Account Manager, she walked out of her office with a smile on her face and took care of her client that she had serviced for over 20 years. Not only did she take care of her client’s needs, but they also had a personal conversation about their home life and their families just furthering that personal connection Mary had with them. It was obvious during this meeting that the client would not have left CIG no matter the rate increase because they loved our company so much. That is completely due to Mary’s dedication and care for her clients and it is employees like Mary and interactions like the one described above that has allowed CIG to flourish for so long.


The main coworker who taught me how to slow down and appreciate the little things in life came from a lady named Jan Bidlack. Jan has worked for CIG for over 40 years and is just a few short years from retirement. She taught me this lesson in a nonwork related incident. It was on a busy Monday and I was flying through all the changes to our clients’ accounts I needed to make like usual, but it seemed like no matter how fast I went I just could not keep up with my workload. This went on for a few hours and as my desk was near Jan’s she was able to clearly see that my frustration was growing. Jan was busy that day too because Mondays are always our busiest days and she came over to me and told me to walk outside with her. She began to explain to me our importance to this town and the difference we make in our neighbors’ lives every day we go into work. She went on to tell me that this is what got her out of bed in the morning and why she does not feel overwhelmed or disgruntled when work gets rough. In that moment I realized that she has stayed with CIG so long because she sees the bigger picture and the difference she has made throughout her career. It allowed me to take a step back and see that with every transaction I made for my clients, whether that be adding a new car or even their children to their policies as they got their licenses, I was helping them along through life. It was my job to give them reassurance that when something went wrong in their lives, they would have protection because I helped update their policies to keep them current and thus protected. After that point I realized the importance of my job even though it was monotonous and I never once questioned my duties or my impact on the company or community again.


These lessons I learned while at Community Insurance Group extend well beyond just a business setting. Providing excellent customer service is not just to have a good client relationship, but it is much more to know how to care for others in a way you would want to be cared for. Appreciating the little things is not just to find purpose in my work but to have a constant reminder in my life as to why I work as hard as I do and to keep me grounded while still reaching for my goals. These life lessons that I gained over the course of the summer are of the type that will stick with me for the duration of my life and are applicable in any given situation. If I remember to care for others while constantly deriving meaning out of what I am doing, I will always be able to follow my passions and achieve my goals, and for that I am forever grateful of Community Insurance Group and the opportunity afforded to me by the STEP program.