STEP Reflection: Nurse Aide Internship

Name: Taylor Howe

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.

For my STEP Signature Project, I choose to complete an internship at a retirement facility in Cincinnati Ohio. I became a nurse aide to better understand the elderly population and what their life looks like on a day-to-day basis. As an aspiring Occupational Therapist, it is important to me to understand the people I will be working with from many aspects and viewpoints to ensure the best care possible. As a Nurse Aide, I spent a lot one-on-one time with resident’s providing personal care in the form of showering, toilet-ing, dressing, medication reminders, transportation, dietary needs, therapy and social activities.

  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 transformation I experienced because of this STEP program was in regards to my perspective on life and what I value. The retirement facility I worked at was home to many very successful residents. The residents here had achieved many groundbreaking accomplishments throughout their lifetime that had a profound historical impact. Actresses on broadway, some of the first women to obtain a doctorate degree, the senator of Ohio- each have made remarkable contributions to the world we know today. By getting to spend intentional time with each resident on a consistent basis, I had the opportunity to hear more about their lives. As a student still in college, many of my thoughts were surrounding my projected future and future success. My mind was swamped with worries of GPA, grad school admissions, career success, etc. When asking the residents about what they valued most and their personal lives, everything they said was related to life, joy, love, relationships and experiences had. These conversations have caused me to view my own life more holistically and has made me question what it is I want to speak of at the end of my days. What will I be most proud of? What will I have done in my life and who will I impact because of it?

  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.

About 30 residents lived on the floor that I worked on over the summer. The relationships formed between each resident, each nurse and my fellow nurse-aides were instrumental to my experience at this internship. I learned a lot directly from serving the residents. I have developed a better understanding of patience and humility by performing jobs that are deemed ‘unimportant’ and ‘unglamorous’. Performing these tasks have reminded me of the independent skills of living I frequently take for granted. This has enabled me to develop a firm belief in the importance of Occupational therapy and how it can impact someone’s sense of independence.  One event that had a tremendous impact on me this summer was when one of the residents that I was most close to passed away during my shift. I have never experienced anything like that day in my life and it spurred me to really consider my life and what I’m doing and if what I am pursuing is worth it.

The relationship I built with my boss, the director of nursing, was transformational to my throughout this STEP project also. My boss was the one to oversee my project and I was able to meet with her frequently to discuss how the internship was going. Many characteristics my boss exhibited were traits I found highly admirable that I hope to live out in my personal life as well. She was very caring and took the time to know each of her workers well and tend to their needs. She is well respected and truly wants the best for each of her employees. She encourages growth and opportunity and helps individuals to meet their biggest goals. I have a better understanding of what it looks like to help encourage individuals in a business setting to prosper.

One aspect of my STEP project that really grew me was the responsibilities I was given in my job. I was in charge of administering medications and when working overnight, would be alone and had to monitor each resident to ensure their safety and well-being. I originally felt very unqualified for this position and it took awhile for me to feel confident in my ability to perform my job well. This discomfort allowed for me to put myself in the role of a student and accept help and training from others. Working with a team of other aides and nurses allowed me to learn from their expertise and prior knowledge in the health field.


  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.

My time spent at the internship at the retirement home this year helped to better equip me for my future, not only as an Occupational therapist that now better understands the struggles of the people I serve, but also as an overall person. I feel that I am better able to encourage people, identify skills people view as most valuable for their independence, understanding the holistic lifestyle of residents, work with interdisciplinary teams and set goals with individuals that are meaningful to them. These skills will likely help me in my future endeavors to be a successful OT that is better able to understand patients holistically and how therapy can merge with their personal goals to give them overall independence and confidence.Related image

STEP Reflection: Systems Co-op at RoviSys

This fall I worked at RoviSys in Aurora, Ohio, as a Systems Co-op. RoviSys is an automation and information solutions company, and as a Systems Co-op, I worked mainly with process control systems. Most of my work fell into one of three categories: PLC coding, graphics configuration, and documentation.

I would say my understanding of myself, in terms of what exactly it is that I want to do full-time upon graduation, grew and transformed while completing my STEP Signature Project. RoviSys is an automation company, as I mentioned above, which means that most of the engineers who work there studied Electrical Engineering. Granted, there were a handful of Chemical Engineers, the majority were Electrical. The connection between Electrical Engineering and automation is one I knew very little about until I actually worked there. This experience helped me realize that although there is potential in the automation industry for Chemical Engineers, like myself, it is not the field I want to pursue for the rest of my life.

As much as I loved the relationships I formed and the events that transpired throughout my time at RoviSys, the day-to-day work was not something I was incredibly thrilled about. The automation industry is without a doubt extremely interesting and valuable, but it is not my passion. Although I did not dread the work I did at all, I would not say I loved it. To better explain the work that I was doing, I will elaborate on the three categories of my work that I mentioned earlier on.

On the process control side of RoviSys, engineers work with PLCs to automate certain systems for clients. PLCs are Programmable Logic Controllers and coding them allows the end user to run their system autonomously. I worked within the Life Sciences division at RoviSys, so most of my clients were pharmaceutical companies that wanted to automate their batch system that synthesizes some medicine or nutrition drink for them. Writing code into the PLCs would allow these companies to set parameters ahead of time and with the touch of a few buttons, their entire system would then run on its own. This is extremely valuable for these companies, as it removes the necessity of having Process Engineers monitoring and adjusting these systems by hand, at all times. As a Chemical Engineer, coding is not my strong suit, but these PLCs do not run on typical, linear code. It uses logic-based code and is often much more visual. I got to work with ladder logic, sequential function charts, and functional block diagrams. Writing these kinds of code was actually somewhat enjoyable.

As I just mentioned, the end user of our services would be able to set parameters ahead of time and run their entire system with the touch of a few buttons. But where exactly are the buttons that they’re touching? And what does that even mean? This is where the graphics configuration comes in. Not only would we write code for PLCs, but we would also create HMI graphics that would allow the end user to easily set up and manipulate whatever system it is they’re working with. HMI stands for Human Machine Interface, and it is how the end user communicates to the PLC and system as a whole. Picture a touch-screen desktop, or a tablet – that is the physical HMI. The end user can configure whatever settings it is they want their system to be under within this HMI. They’re able to start, pause, and stop their whole system using this HMI. They’re able to make changes and adjustments to the system, all through this HMI. This is once again extremely valuable for clients, as it removes the need for engineers to go into the manufacturing area and manually configure valves, pumps, switches, etc. What we would do at RoviSys is create the graphics that show up on this HMI and write the logic within them to allow the user to manipulate the system just by pressing certain buttons. I would say creating graphics was also somewhat enjoyable, as a lot of it was visual and intuitive.

Lastly, as I worked within the Life Sciences division, there was a lot of documentation associated with everything we did, as much of our work ends up being looked over by the FDA. More than any other division within RoviSys, good documentation was incredibly important. At the start of a project, a Functional Specification (FS) had to be written that would outline everything the project was going to entail, and how the logic/code was going to be written. It wasn’t until this document was completed and approved by the client that we could actually start working on writing code and making graphics. Then, as we did write code, any changes or additions that were made to the logic had to be documented and added to the FS. Upon completion of all code and graphics changes, an Installation/Operational Qualification (IOQ) document is created to test every aspect of the code, as well as all major logic within the graphics, to make sure everything works as expected. All tests would have to be conducted and signed before going over the document with the client and eventually implementing the system on-site with the client. This documentation was extremely tedious, and at times not very enjoyable.

This realization that automation is not my passion, and transformation/growth as an engineering student is valuable to my life for many reasons. First, learning that something is not what you want to do for the rest of your life is very common, and a often major step in discovering what it is you want to do. As a Chemical Engineer, I hear time and time again that once I graduate, I’ll never use the knowledge I have from being in school, and that instead, Chemical Engineers are just extremely well-prepared to work in any engineering industry. This is fairly stressful to think about, but I saw it first-hand at RoviSys. There were many Chemical Engineers there who said they don’t use any of the knowledge they learned in school, but they still love what they do. Working at an automation company taught me that automation is not my passion, but it also showed me what it’s like to apply the problem-solving skills I’ve gained as an engineering student towards an industry I once knew nothing about. As far as academics, I now have a better idea of what classes I would like to take as an upperclassman at Ohio State, and how I can specialize my technical electives to learn more about things I am passionate about. In the long run, when I am considering internships and full-time jobs, I will again be better prepared to pursue something I really care about, as opposed to taking whatever positions are open. Additionally, working for a company that prioritizes the customer taught me real-world soft skills like teamwork, communication, and appropriate customer service. I also got to grow my network and form meaningful relationships within a company that I have the potential to go back to.

Civil Engineering Internship at Jacobs

This was my second year working as an intern at Jacobs in Arlington Virginia. Last summer I worked in project management but this summer I worked with the site development group. As part of the internship program at Jacobs I was invited to partake in many professional development opportunities such as conferences, lunch and learns, and project site visits. On the engineering side, I had the opportunity to work numerous federal projects for various high-profile clients. Working on these projects helped me gain exposure to real world engineering problems as well as software used to help solve these problems.
My internship at Jacobs was my first exposure to a professional work setting. I had the chance to interact with multiple employees as well as other interns in different departments. I was awarded the opportunity to work on multiple high-profile projects while gaining experience with important and vital engineering software. Through my interaction with established professionals I was able to learn and absorb a lot in just a few short months. I was most definitely nervous when beginning my internship this summer as it was my first internship within the engineering field and my experience was limited. However, I was eager to learn and aimed to take advantage of every opportunity that arose.
This STEP signature project gave me the opportunity to establish myself as an up and coming professional. I also learned the importance and benefit that can come from networking and doing it effectively. At the end of this summer I believe that I came out with more confidence and experience than I even anticipated gaining. I also felt like I was more aware of how to behave and conduct myself in a professional setting as well as how to stand out as a valuable asset to any team.
I really enjoyed working at Jacobs last summer and was very excited to be invited back. My past two summers at Jacobs have provided me with numerous opportunities to grow and network as an up and coming professional. I first learned about Jacobs in eighth grade after meeting the Vice President of North Atlantic Operations at a professional banquet. After keeping in contact with her throughout the years I was offered a project management internship after my freshman year and then was invited to switch to the civil department after my sophomore year. I chose to return because of Jacobs’ culture of caring as well as their extreme focus on really teaching their interns in the hopes of turning them into productive and successful future employees
Through my involvement with the Society of American Military Engineers as well as Jacobs these past two summers I had the honor and privilege of being asked to attend the Joint Engineering Training Conference in Kansas City Missouri. This was my first professional conference and my first time travelling entirely alone. While daunting, this experience proved to be one of my favorites of the summer. I had the chance to meet so many established and impressive professionals who I truly aspire to emulate when I grow up. I even was invited on stage to accept one of the awards that my company was being awarded at the awards banquet which was surprising and a true honor. I had the chance to network with other young professionals as well who gave me a multitude of great advice and tips.
Jacobs internship program is well established and really aims at teaching and molding young professionals into established members of the Jacobs team. As part of the internship program each department would host a lunch and learn session at some point during the summer to inform us of the part they played and how they fit into Jacobs mission as a whole. The lunch and learns not only taught me a bunch about how Jacobs works and how important teamwork and collaboration is but also granted me the opportunity to interact and befriend the other interns in Jacobs programs. Through these lunches I became good friends with many of the interns and we still keep in contact after parting ways at the end of the summer.
This summer was truly a trans-formative one for me as I gained a ton of valuable experience as well as various important connections. I also was asked to continue interning at Jacobs and become a full-time employee after graduating from Ohio State. I plan on taking them up on this offer and continuing in the intern program and then working as a full time employee. Jacobs also offers a sort of exchange program where they fund my travel and living to work as an employee in their Australia office and I plan on applying to this program once I work full time. This STEP project was very important to my professional goals as it set me on the right track towards an established and rewarding career. Throughout the summer I not only developed professionally but also formed rewarding and lifelong relationships.

                                                  First Professional Conference!

      Private Tour of the construction on the roof of the Russell Senate Building!


Delta Air Lines Inc. Internship

At Delta Air Lines, my main responsibilities included analyzing the current flight schedule, sending out reports, and making changes to the final schedule that ultimately would be sold. I would also be tasked with completing ad hoc needs of my team and automating/streamlining existing processes for increased productivity. My responsibilities on the Out-For-Sale (OFS) team would be primarily focused on the production of “sellable” flight schedules week-over-week.

An extreme benefit of working for Delta Air Lines was that they gave their employees standby flight benefits. Put simply, what this means is if there was an empty seat on the plane, then an employee had the ability to fill it for practically free. This allowed me to travel all over the world for my internship. I would work a typical 5-day work week, and then I would use the weekend to travel to a new place. Throughout my internship, I traveled over 80,000 miles, to 4 continents, and to 8 countries. This was a life changing experience as I got to see completely different cultures, peoples, and geographies.

Some eye-opening experiences I had while traveling included seeing the vast cultural differences of Tokyo, the historical richness of Paris, or the awe-inspiring Andes in Santiago. Growing up, I never imagined myself traveling to these places until I was much older. I thought that my knowledge of these cultures and peoples would be limited to what I could research in the United States. Never had I imagined being able to have these experiences so young. I found myself struggling to override my own cultural norm of walking on the right in Tokyo, where everyone walks on the left and passes on the right. Or having to play a game of charades every time I went to a country where English was not a prevalent language. Simple things like ordering food were now difficult tasks involving a lot of gestures, pointing, and butchery of their native language. Not only was this a humbling experience, but also incredibly enlightening.

One of the best parts of traveling was being able to experience all the different kinds of food that each culture had to offer. These countries had an authenticity that could simply not be replicated in the United States. The vast expanse of flavors, and while this may sound like I’m being over-dramatic, was an emotional experience. My first taste of authentic ramen at Golden Gai in Tokyo easily ranks as one of the best things I have ever eaten. A dish as simple (or not) as ramen possessing so much flavor, for the price of a typical McDonald’s meal, was something I was not accustomed to. Or when I had my first steak in Santiago, Chile where the tenderness and flavor were enough to bring US steak chains to their knees. While food at first glance may appear to not reveal much about a culture, this could not be farther from the truth. The meticulous preparation of dishes like sashimi by expert chefs in Japan, or the artistic and industrious nature of food in Paris, shows the attitudes and cultural values of the native people. I found myself consuming food like how I consume art, admiring the expertise and creativity that went into it.

While I could talk about my travel adventures almost indefinitely, it would disingenuous of me to not mention the fantastic people I worked with this fall. My team at Delta were some of the most helpful and knowledgeable people I’ve ever worked with. It is rare to go into an industry where the employees are so passionate about what they do. It was a pipe dream of mine to be surrounded by so many other aviation fanatics and to learn even more about a field that I am so passionate about. Not only were they always helping and teaching me at work, but they also cared about me a friend. For instance, when I got stuck in Chile, my coworker saw I didn’t make it on the flight and took the time to find a way to reroute me back to the United States. It was this level of kindness that draws me back to wanting to work at Delta. And while I experienced the pros and cons of corporate culture, the people are definitely the distinguishing factor between companies.

To say that my time at Delta was life changing would be an understatement. I learned not only about how modern companies function, but also about the cultures and peoples of the world. I found that despite how different the modern media wants to portray people of different countries from the US, that we all share a common humanity. Almost everyone I met was willing to lend a helping hand to a foreigner and share their culture and experiences. Delta was not only a great way to get my foot into the professional world, but it also allowed me to see the world in a way few get to experience.

Me in Banff National Park out in Calgary, Alberta, CA


Also I got to go to Tokyo for Thanksgiving!

STEP Reflection: Co-Op LyondellBasell

I worked as a Process Engineering Co-Op for LyondellBasell at our Victoria, Texas site (VTO). I intended to gain industrial experience, grow my professional network, and develop my technical skills. Over the course of the semester, I facilitated the revalidation of a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) for our Tank Farm & Pumping and Purification Area. I was able to design, locate, and install a pressure gauge and excess flow check valve in the plant. These projects exposed me to the Management of Change (MOC) and Process Safety Management (PSM) procedures. I collaborated with engineers, operators, and maintenance technicians to implement these changes within our process.

The experience reinforced my decision to pursue a career in chemical engineering. I really had no previous work experience before the term. I learned how to conduct myself and build appropriate rapport with others. I enjoyed the work I was completing and the people I worked with. Part of the challenge for me was adapting to an entirely new region of the country. I built friendships with my co-workers and embraced the company culture. Large emphasis was placed on the details. At LYB, Goal ZERO means we don’t cut corners or take short cuts because those actions can lead to accidents involving business interruptions, personnel injuries, or off-site environmental impacts.

I was able to focus on learning something new each day. From each morning meeting I would hear a new term or technique that I would research through our company’s intranet or ask co-workers about. I was able to explore other potential career paths within the company during a Co-Op exchange program which placed me at multiple sites including olefins, polymers, and acetyls. The program allowed me to further immerse myself within the petrochemical industry and build my professional network to better prepare me for the workplace after my graduation. This fulfills the STEP literature stating an internship experience will aid in “determining or narrowing your career focus while allowing you to gain workplace skills, increase your knowledge of a particular career field, and expand your professional network.” The experience will be highly marketable on my resume, so I will be able to work in a variety of ChemE disciplines and fully utilize my education and experiences upon graduation from Ohio State.

As mentioned in the Pre-Reflection document, I have enjoyed and greatly benefitted from interacting with other ethnicities and cultures. For me, Victoria, TX was no different. From corporate interactions in Houston to the informal night shift banter with the operators, I made friends with a variety of people with immensely different backgrounds. My time at Ohio State living and learning in such a diverse environment has been the best preparation for a future in the global market-place.

Lyondell’s company culture suited me well, and I have committed to advancing my career with them. Upon completion of the fall term, I was extended an offer to return, I have already signed on to work in Houston, TX for Summer 2019. This will further develop my technical skills as I will work in Process Controls and Automation. This previous term allowed me to demonstrate my eagerness and willingness to learn and contribute to anything. I received great feedback from my co-workers about my initiative to jump into projects of which I knew little about. The praise was affirmation that this was a transformational experience.

My mentor, Anthony Zimmermann, was a crucial part to my growth when I was at VTO. He helped guide me through working with other engineers, the importance of operator feedback, and the expertise of maintenance technicians. I was also challenged to refine my problem-solving skills and think critically. One of my projects was conducting a PHA revalidation. As the youngest and least experienced, I was the PHA Team Leader responsible for preparing content, maintaining meeting pace and focus, and documenting findings. We brought in operations, environmental engineer, mechanical engineer, instrumentation engineer, and the process engineer to get their input. I learned the importance of gaining opinions from every level within the company and engage the people running the unit at 3 am on Saturday Night. This project helped develop my management skills. It also helped improve my problem-solving abilities. It is easy to get overwhelmed, like when I saw I needed to fill out a 4-inch binder in 3 months, but when you break down a large assignment into smaller sections, it becomes manageable. I became more confident and efficient with my technical communication in the meetings by preparing myself by truly understanding our production process rather than simply following the previous 5-year old PHA.

At Lyondell, I was able to participate in several community outreach events. Global Care Day is an annual day of service company wide. I was recognized for my extra effort and spirit of service for going above and beyond. Another event was hosting a senior citizen’s lunch and bingo event. Here I was nominated by my coworkers to the position of greatest responsibility, bingo calling. Since I have been in school, I have struggled to find time to volunteer. When LYB offered these opportunities, I knew this was the company for me. I enjoyed the service and was able to serve with friends who shared the vision. The world is too large to be self-centered.

In conclusion, the semester not only served to develop my technical abilities and build my professional network as I had planned. It also exposed me to a company culture that aligns well with my own personal beliefs and values. I felt satisfaction at the end of each day as I walked out of the plant. I was productive and had something positive to show for my efforts. I reaffirmed my love with the problem-solving process and I will continue to carry it with me in everything I attempt. Moving forward, I will continue my academic pursuits Spring 2019 and will further my career with Lyondell Summer 2019.

First Time in Texas, Had to look the part.

PPE in Full Uniform


Co-op at Cargill: My Transformational Experience

I worked as a production management engineer for Cargill the past seven months where I helped increase bulk density of soybean meal, automated our meal load-out, and worked on moisture control. I worked with contractors to facilitate change within our process and inspired engagement with my co-workers.

I have found that while I really enjoy engineering and the application aspect that it has, I feel like I would  like to pursue a law degree. However, before this experience I thought I would like to go straight into law school. Now, I would like to work in industry for a couple of years before pursuing a further education.

I didn’t know how much of Cargill’s values aligned with mine, because of this realization, I have committed to continuing my internships and co-ops with them. I have already signed on to work in Dayton, Ohio for Summer 2019. This will help with my professional development as well as my education. These past seven months have already helped expand on my professional development. My boss made a comment about this in my exit interview. It was affirmation that this was a transformational experience.

One of my supervisors, Stefano Schokman, was an integral part to my growth when I was at Cargill. He helped teach me how to work with contractors, refine my problem-solving skills, and help develop me professionally. One of my projects I had early on was fixing a leak we had on one of our buildings. The contractor that I brought in wasn’t completing the job efficiently, and he was trying to up sell me. Stefano stepped in and demonstrated what to do in this scenario. I learned that it is important to know what exactly the contractors are doing and understand the process, as oppose to trusting them blindly.

At Cargill, they encourage their employees to engage in community service. In my seven months at Cargill, I was able to engage in over 50 hours of community service. Since I have been in school, I have struggled to find time to volunteer. When Cargill offered these opportunities, I knew this was the company for me. This has ignited me with the passion and drive to continue to engage in community service even when I am in school. The world is too large to be worried just about yourself.

Lastly, I participated in a Kaizen at my time at Cargill. This is a week-long exercise where we take a part of the process and try to refine it. In this case, it was rail load-out. We brought in the operators to get their input. I learned how important it was to get input from every level of the operation and to get engagement from the people who were preforming the tasks. I feel like this helped my management skills. In addition to management skills, I feel like it helped improve my problem-solving abilities. It is easy to get overwhelmed, but when you break down a process and see every step, you are better at seeing small details that could make a big difference.

My co-op with Cargill initiated a deep shift in me. I was able to find a new drive and motivation in my career path, volunteering, and potential research I could engage in. Going into this co-op I was unsure if I wanted to be an engineer or pursue a law degree after my undergrad. After completing this experience, I realized that I still want to go into law, but I would like to work in industry for a couple of years. I also realized that after returning to school, I would like to volunteer as a tutor for children. I love interacting with kids, and I feel like promoting education and a passion for learning is important.

In addition, the technical improvements this co-op afforded me was researching skills and topics of interest for me. Through my projects, I learned the vast research opportunities there are in Cargill and some of the skills to execute them properly. Overall, I would say I am a more well-rounded person because of this experience.

Dropping off Cargill Oil to Food Pantry


STEP Reflection

            My STEP Signature Project was composed of three different components.  I was a puppy raising intern for 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia, Ohio, become a full-time volunteer training for this organization, and observed physical therapists.  This project expanded upon my Health Sciences Major and Disabilities Studies minor that I am working towards at Ohio State. This experience taught me the process of training a service dog, allowed me to understand the impact that service dogs have for individuals with disabilities. Lastly, through observing at physical therapy clinics I could to see where service dogs could benefit the therapy process. 

            Completing my STEP Signature Project has given me insight into the world around me and into possibility of my future career aspirations.  My view of the world has changed in that I have realized that the general public has a lack of education and understanding about service dogs.  My assumptions about my career aspirations have positively been changed through the completion of my STEP Signature Project as well.  

            My view of the world has changed through this STEP Signature Project.  Through becoming a full-time volunteer trainer and socializing a service dog in training out in public it has become evident to me that the general public has a lack of knowledge about service dogs, what their roles can be, and general etiquette of how to act around a service dog.  While in public, I have been asked what my disability is, if I am blind, and where did I buy my vest for my pet dog.  All of these questions stem from a lack of understanding of what questions you are allowed to ask an individual with a service dog, of the multiple tasks a service dog has the potential to perform, and of how crucial service dogs are to their person for their person’s independence. 

           I spent many training outings educating individuals on each of these topics and now have a passion to educate the public in any setting as much as I can. I gained the knowledge and support of how to go about educating the public and handling all of the interactions through being the 4 Paws puppy raising intern and through the support of the other volunteer trainers in the 4 Paws for Ability community.  During my STEP Signature Project, I become a mentor in the 4 Paws for Ability community and have become a support to help other volunteer trainers with their training through giving advice and meeting in person, and also support them in educating the public.

            My assumptions about what my future career could look like has also transformed through the completion of my STEP Signature Project.  I aspire to be a Physical Therapist and work with children that have disabilities, while training service dogs.  This project has given me immense insight in what my future career could look like and I now see that it can be a reality.  Through observing a Physical Therapist throughout my project, I was able to observe and ask many therapists where they could see benefits or possible challenges to have a dog in the therapy setting.  All the Physical Therapists could see benefits and applications through having a dog in the setting.  For children, the dog could be motivation to complete an obstacle course or other activities, petting a dog has sensory applications, and throwing a ball to the dog could work on their IEP goals and gaining arm strength.   There are many possibilities for applications and benefits of having a dog in this setting.  Possible challenges would be for the dog to be too distracting for therapy to be completed, the child is allergic to dogs, or the child is afraid of dogs.  These challenges could be avoided by having a hypoallergenic dog in the setting that is kennel trained so it can easily be removed or added back into the setting depending on the child.  Overall, I know that many more discussions will need to happen to make this idea a reality, but from the therapy perspective it is possible.

            These changes and transformations are valuable for my life because it has given me a glimpse and insight into what my career aspirations and future life plan could look like. I aspire to be a physical therapist and work with children that have disabilities, while training service dogs. Through this project, I now see that this is possible.  I see that there are therapy applications with the dog in the setting. Secondly, having a greater understanding of how individuals with service dogs are treated in public and allowing me to experience the lack of public understanding of service dogs has given me a passion and drive to educate others.  All of these changes and transformations are valuable as they give me a drive, passion, and excitement for my future career aspirations and life goals.