OSU Aphasia Initiative

This past summer, I served my internship as an undergraduate assistant for the OSU Aphasia Initiative, a group therapy program for persons living with a neurogenic communication disorder as a result of a stroke or brain injury. In addition to handling administrative duties, as well as assisting with supportive communication strategies during sessions, I partnered with one of our members to help bring his vision of a self-defense class for the group to life. We worked with the Columbus State Police Department to create an adaptable class for people of all ability types. 

I was exposed to the importance of interdisciplinary team care for speech therapy as I watched this project grow from the early idea stages through the final product. David and I collaborated with professionals from diverse fields, including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, police officers, jiujitsu world champions, caretakers, and members of the community. Not only did this project help demonstrate the benefits of physical awareness and engagement for members, it showed me the positive impact that community access and involvement can provide as well. 

This has been transformational to me as I begin to form my professional identity, as I now view recovery from a more holistic lens. It has transformed me into a future clinician with interprofessional values, which will assist in giving clients the best quality of life possible. My hands on experiences will translate into the classroom and beyond, and I will carry these perspectives with me as I move into higher education, and an eventual career.

My partnership with David helped our relationship grow immensely, and led to the aforementioned transformation. He helped my view of the world transform as I learned to focus on the “abilities” portion of disabilities. Planning and organizing this project with David taught me the importance of the life participation approach to aphasia, in which intervention is aimed towards a more rapid return to active life.

 For David, this meant continuing his passion for physical fitness and jiujitsu, and manifesting that interest in a way that allowed him to teach his peers. Furthermore, I was an active participant in the sessions with the members. We learned fundamental body movements that carried over into self-defense techniques. The agenda included how to fall safely, how to get back up, how to protect our heads and necks, and how to adapt to the vulnerable parts of our bodies to defend ourselves. 

Furthermore, the self-defense event itself was incredibly eye opening to me. In our program, we are constantly advocating that having aphasia indicates a loss of language, not a loss of intelligence. Therefore, seeing members use their voices to speak up as confident individuals who are capable of defending themselves was inspiring. The active participation from the entire group reminded me of the tenacity and willingness to improve that each individual possesses, and that was incredibly empowering to witness. 

The change that has come about within me will be vital to my future. I am an aspiring speech-language pathologist, and after volunteering at the Initiative for two years, I have formed a deep interest in working work with and furthering research on adults with neurogenic communication disorders. I was honored to have the opportunity to serve this incredible organization as an intern, and was even more thrilled to be included in the implementation of this specific self-defense project. David’s drive to execute the class in a way that was beneficial to the entire group has motivated me to be self-determined in my own goals, learning that the path to achieving them can always be adjusted.

Summer Internship at Equity Resources

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at Equity Resources, Inc., an esteemed Ohio mortgage firm. I worked in the Closing Department on a variety of tasks with my main responsibility completing Verbal Verifications of Employment. I also had the opportunity to manage my own pipeline of work in which I updated and validated important realtor information to ensure future business for the company. Each week I participated in a professional development seminar given by a leading executive in the company on topics to improve professionally, personally, and prepare for future career endeavors. 

My STEP project was transformational in terms of my understanding of myself and my assumptions of work in the business sector. As an International Studies major I held concerns with whether my major would prove to be applicable to organizations not directly related to international affairs. I was interested in pursuing this opportunity with Equity for a variety of reasons, but especially curious to see how my educational experiences in International Studies would correlate in a corporate realm with domestic interests. My assumption, or fear, was that my education would be difficult to transfer to a corporate workplace. I was very excited to see how well my natural skills and those refined through my time at Ohio State prepared me well to be an active participate in the mortgage sector. Through helpful and patience leadership I was able to learn how to succeed in this environment and complete my tasks in an effective and efficient manner. Through my time at Equity I was grateful to learn how I could be a contributing and valuable member on the Closing Team. 

During my time at Equity Resources, Inc. I experienced a variety of events and interactions that I believe will prepare me well for future endeavors. In particular, the work and tasks I completed helped me to refine skills of timeliness, prioritization, and attention to detail. My main role of completing Verbal Verifications of Employment involved a timely balance of meeting deadlines and protecting highly confidential information. In order for a loan to close I was apart of the last steps before a customer signed. My job was completing the process that assured the borrower still maintained a job in order to ensure their credit would continue and they would be able to repay their loan. These calls involved me having to quickly establish a professional repertoire with outside organizations and utilize problem solving skills. I needed to be persistent in obtaining the information through calling back and reaching the qualified individual to verify the information all within the timeline that matched the closing date dictated by the rest of the company. I had to manage conducting over a hundred calls a day while also being able to instantly switch into a different task and retrieve information on a moment’s notice when a returned call came in. This required me to be incredibly organized, think quickly on my feet, and be able to come back to the task I was doing before being interrupted by another call. These skills of being able to establish rapport with other organizations, manage multiple tasks at once, and maintaining quality customer service as all skills I will take with me in my future career. 

In addition to learning skills to complete my assigned role, I also learned how to work on  a team in a corporate environment and interact with managers. My role of Verbal Verifications of Employment needed to occur within a certain timeline of the closing date of the loan. Each loan was different in the number of days I had before the loan closed to call, the number of companies I needed to call to verify employment, and who I needed to speak to verify. The varying nature of loans meant that sometimes all the information was readily available to complete the verification, but there were other times when I needed to reach out to other members of the Equity team in order to have all the information I needed to complete the calls. Since each loan was so different through this process I learned how to balance researching information on my own and at what point it was appropriate to ask a fellow employee to stop their work in order to help me with my own. This taught me the importance of asking questions. But also ensuring my questions were thoughtful and well researched as to ensure that each member of my team had the time they needed to complete their own tasks. Not only did I discover how to be creative in my research, but I also learned how to distinguish patterns and be creative in problem solving. 

Creative thinking and problem solving were important skills I refined during my internship. These skills will prepare me to be a contributing and thoughtful member in my next job. Typically, loan files follow a certain protocol according to each state the loan is being processed in. Since I was working in the main office I was completing verification for loans across the country, which accounted for 16 different state procedures, that were funneled through the main office. Differences in state procedures lead to some verifications being more straightforward to complete than others. There were times I was not clearly provided all the information I needed to complete a verification, but I learned where else I could look within the loan file to obtain the information. In this creative problem solving endeavors I learned how to read tax forms, self-employment licenses, and a variety of other government forms in order to find leads for verifying employment. Although I had never personally filed the majority of these forms for myself, I learned how to decipher their complexity. This taught me how to be courageous in learning new things and to be creative in finding solutions. 

Another set of events that helped to open my worldview were the ‘Lunch and Learns’ that took place during my internship. Each week all the interns at Equity would come together to eat lunch and hear a presentation by an executive leader of the organization. The topics were all professional development related and varied from learning more about the mortgage industry, personal finance, establishing credit, interviewing practices, and much more. Each presenter shared their information and then allow time for the interns to dialogue and ask questions about the presentation. It was wonderful to hear insight from top level management on how they were able to improve the lives of families while finding personal, professional success. As an intern, it can be very intimidating to reach out to upper level management, but having these intentional times to network helped to break these barriers. The presenters were also able to give us insight on how each of our roles as an intern fit into the goals of the company and were helping other employees. I also found these presentations incredibly helpful in terms of learning best practices to prepare myself professionally and financially for life after graduation. Overall, the ‘Lunch and Learn’ program was an excellent way to grow professionally and learn good practices for future financial endeavors. 

My internship at Equity Resources, Inc. was instrumental in preparing me for my future career. This transformational experience taught me skills of professionalism, managing and completing multiple tasks, creative thinking, and gave me hands-on corporate experience. I am very grateful to have been a member of a company that strives to improve the lives of families in the community and across the United States. In terms of professional goals, this internship helped me to see that my degree is applicable and valued in a corporate and domestic setting. At the end of the internship I received feedback of things I did well at Equity and was awarded the title “Outstanding Intern”. According to my manager my strengths included my eagerness to learn new things with a special attentiveness and taking notes during trainings. In addition, my manager included I was valued as a hard worker, a driven and goal oriented individual, having high attention to details, and successful at multitasking and prioritizing with a sense of urgency. In fact, as senior interviewing for future jobs, I have been able to draw on my lessons from Equity as valuable experiences that have prepared me for my career. The STEP Transformational Experience gave me the opportunity to grow professionally and personally as a contributing individual to the workforce. I now have the skills and the confidence that my experience interning has well prepared me for future professional endeavors and personal success. 

STEP Reflection Post of Summer 2019

My STEP Signature Project was an internship with The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company world headquarters in Akron, Ohio. I worked in the Global Procurement department and had the opportunity to experience a summer of what it would be like to work and live “in the real world” where I rented an apartment by myself and went to my job 7:30AM – 4:30PM every day.

My view of myself transformed through two main aspects over the summer. One through my personal habits and another through my professional development. Having no official obligations every Saturday and Sunday, and no homework or assignments to complete when I got home from work every night, I quickly realized that I had plenty of time for exercise and home cooking. This led me to undergo my first change in healthy habit development. Every Sunday I would go to the grocery store and come home with food for the week and I began to meal prep my lunches every week. My lunches always consisted of some kind of protein, a serving of white rice, and some kind of vegetable. Eating consistently balanced lunches and dinners along with exercising three times per week really boosted my energy throughout the day, and I saw improvements in my stature as well.

As for my professional transformation, being free of the stressors of school related tasks allowed me to really focus on work when I went to work, and truly relax when I was not at work. During the internship, I had a mid-performance review, and a final performance review. In my mid-performance review, my supervisor gave me feedback about how I could be more confident in the things I am doing and how I shouldn’t be afraid to lead the room if the room is lacking a leader. I was grateful for the feedback because it gave me the last half of the internship to adjust my habits and start actively thinking about how and when to be more confident. Another area where I grew was in my professional communication. Every day I had new emails and phone calls to return to people inside and outside of the company. After the first few attempts and with some tips from my co-workers, I quickly fell into a rhythm of how to talk the talk as if I were someone who had been with the company for years. I even had one supplier that admitted over the phone that they did not realize I was an intern until they saw my signature in an email.


In relation to my health and well-being, I attribute my transformation to my absence of homework assignments and weekend obligations. During the fall, the marching band has a vigorous schedule that usually results in members really only having two completely free weekends during the whole semester. Between marching band and classes, or just classes in the spring, I seem to never have just quite enough time to do all the things I want to do (like cook my food at home and exercise regularly). Because a lack of these obligations, and my only focus really being my job, I had lots of time to contribute to things I wanted to do for me.

As for my professional development, I think working in such a collaborative environment the entire summer really helped me to extinguish any stereotypes about working at a large company. Whether it was talking with Goodyear associates or with suppliers that have had a long relationship with the company, I felt right at home after the first week of experience began to fuel my development. My team held weekly meetings that brought everyone up to speed from the previous week and gave everyone a gauge of where we wanted to be by the end of the week.


Both changes are significant and valuable to my life because it really showed me that a healthy lifestyle is not that hard at all to maintain like many people would argue it is. With that, I think the positive effects of a healthy lifestyle led me to success at work and on the job. With the right schedule and prioritization of commitments, I can easily transfer this lifestyle change into my life during the fall when I have marching band or over the spring when my class load tends to be heavier. The growth I have experienced in professional communication also has made me a fierce contender for the work force upon graduation because I now know how to present myself the best way possible in a professional setting. My signature project has honestly gotten me even more excited for graduation because I know that the lifestyle I lived and the success I saw over the summer is something totally achievable and would be a great start to my post-college years. I know no matter where I go and who I go with, I can carry the healthy lifestyle choices and professional development I experienced over the summer to my life as a graduate and reap the benefits of living a balanced life.

Interns had the chance to visit the Goodyear Blimp Hangar

Fellow interns and myself with CEO Rich Kramer.