TEDActive 2014



For my STEP Experience, I went to the TEDActive 2014. This is the annual TED conference where TED enthusiasts and TEDx organizers, like myself, go to not only watch TED Talks live but also where we can learn how to improve our own TEDx events. The TEDActive conference, which takes place in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada is a simulcast of the TED event, which occurs in Vancouver. TED is primarily focused on TED sponsors, donors, and the actual speakers, while TEDActive is focused on TEDx organizers. By attending this conference, I was able to be the license holder for TEDxOhioStateUniversity

This week-long conference started at 7 AM on a chilly Saturday. My flight left from Port Columbus Airport, and headed to Dallas (where I had a 4 hour layover). On the flight, I sat next to this gentleman, and in order to make everything more comfortable (as we were about to be sitting next to each other for nearly two and a half hours), I introduced myself and he did the same. Through out conversations about food, languages, culture, and the world, I discovered that he was a cultural anthropology professor at Duke University who could speak English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Yerba (a Nigerian language). For most of the flight, Dr. Matory entertained and informed me of his stories around the world and all the fascinating cultural anthropology research he has done in his lifetime.

While waiting for my flight from Dallas to Vancouver, I emailed Dr. Matory thanking him for sharing his stories. My flight to Vancouver was rather uneventful as it was late in the evening. Walking into the Vancouver airport was absolutely amazing as it was my first time in the Pacific Northwest, and the airport itself took pride in its Pacific Northwest heritage as the airport was filled with art and sculptures from the indigenous people of the area.

Indigenous Art at YVR

Indigenous Art

After getting much needed sleep, I woke up the next morning and headed to the Vancouver Convention Center where TED had planned a special day-long workshop for TEDx organizers specifically. This first started with showing us the behind-the-scenes of the TED mainstage. Afterwards, we were all taken on coach buses to Grouse Mountain where the actual workshop began with breakout sessions on different topics that pertain to TEDx organizers such as how to raise money, ways to improve audience engagement, facilitating discussion around your talks, etc. In addition to the various workshops, TED had activities for us to do in the mountain such as snowshoeing.


Snowshoeing at the top of Grouse Mountain, BC


After a day of learning, meeting people from all over the world, and adventure, we were taken from Vancouver to Whistler, a resort town two hours north where I would spend the next five days.

The next five days were the actual days of the conference over the course of which I watched nearly 120 TED Talks about things which I study like neuroscience and public health to fascinating things like architecture, artificial intelligence, and social entrepreneurship. Every day would start at 7 AM and end around 2 AM. From 8 AM to 7 PM, we watched TED Talks, had breaks to eat and socialize, and attend different workshops not only hosted by TED but also by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Vice. From 7 PM to 11 PM, there would be social events that included dinner and fun activities. On one of the days, we were allowed to skate on the Olympic ice rink. On another, we were taken up on gondolas to the top of Whistler mountain where the vistas were breath-taking to say the least.

Whistler Mountain

Whistler Mountain

From 11 PM to 2 AM almost every day, my fellow TEDActive attendees and I had conversations about so many things, and this was the time where we got to know one another very personally and deeply. After repeating this crazy schedule for five straight days, I headed back to Vancouver.

After spending a few hours exploring Vancouver I started my journey back home the next monring, which started with a 12-hour layover in Dallas. During this layover, I met another TEDActive attendee (who was also stuck on the delay) with whom I decided to explore downtown Dallas. While she and I were riding a train from Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport to the heart of the city, we ran into a man named Stuart, who was in town for a technology conference. After bonding over the 30-minute ride, the three of us decided to explore a cool, eclectic part of Dallas. While lounging and eating from various food trucks, I got to know my TED friend and Stuart much better. In fact, I found out Stuart is a senior director at Apple, and is the man who pioneered the technology that allows one’s phones, tablets, printers, and other devices to talk on the same network. I was a bit star-struck. After an enjoyable evening, Stuart actually let us crash on his couches in his suite at the Fairmont before my TED friend and I left for the airport the next morning.

After an exhausting yet invigorating nine days, I finally concluded my STEP experience.

So What?

Through the course of those few days, I developed strong friendships with absolutely amazing people from all over the world. This experience, which STEP allowed me to do, has been one of the hallmark experiences of my career here at The Ohio State University. Not only did I learn how to be a better TEDx organizers and bring that back to my peers on the TEDxOhioStateUniversity team, but I was able to grow as a person.

The environment throughout the conference was so warm and inviting. So much so that I was able to go up to a random person and spark up a conversation for two hours. The energy was electrifying, and it allowed me to learn and explore even on five or fewer hours of sleep. I made deep connections with people from all over the country and all over the world. I still keep up with several of those friends like Sonia from San Diego, Lyn from the Yukon Territory, Brian and Eli from George Washington University, Norberto and Pedro from Porto, and Paul from Cyprus. I was able to meet so many people who were enthusiastic about TED like myself, and all of these people are doing great things all over the world and making an impact in their communities.

I am truly humbled and grateful to Ohio State for providing me the opportunity to explore this experience. I hope to be able to go to a TED conference many more times.


Now What?

This STEP experience has already affected my academic, personal and life goals in innumerable ways. The biggest impact deals with all three of these aspects. By talking to so many unique people who all have very different perspectives, I was able to learn lots and able to do quite a bit of introspection. I was in an atmosphere that was filled with people who did what they loved. It got me thinking about what I truly wanted to do, how I wanted to impact my community. Because of this personal experience, I decided to abandon my former career path of becoming a doctor and made changes to my academic goals. I realized that being a clinician would not use my skills and personality to impact the most people. Since then, I have added public health to my studies. Through these academic changes, I was able to see how wealth and health are intimately connected in the United States. I believe that healthcare is a basic human right, and was disturbed my the inequality and inequity I have read about and I have seen. Because my academic goals were affected, so were my personal goals. I have decided to pursue a life in public health policy and law, so that I can hopefully break the intimate connection that wealth and health have in this country. After graduation, I plan to pursue Master’s degrees in Public Health and Public Administration.


This STEP experience has completely changed the trajectory of my life, and for that I am deeply grateful to The Ohio State University.


NASM CPT Experience

STEP Reflection Name: Patrick Barton

STEP Experience: NASM Personal Training Certification


For my STEP experience, I decided that becoming a certified personal trainer would give me great chances to become a leader amongst my peers. With my STEP funds, I purchased a class with NASM to become a certified personal trainer. Although I have yet to take the exam, a local gym has hired me where I will be able to apply what I’ve learned by teaching fitness classes.

So What?

Over the time that I have spent studying for my NASM personal training certification, I have learned way more than just how to become a personal trainer. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned through my experience is how to relate my knowledge from other classes into this experience. I was able to apply the knowledge I have learned in anatomy, physiology, and physics in order to understand the actions of certain muscles as well as fulcrums for muscle movement.
I know that it will also give me the knowledge for future classes and life experiences. I know that for instance I will have to take a biomechanics course and I’m sure I will have many other opportunities to use what I’ve learned through this experience. I can’t wait to further my knowledge and experiences through my personal training certification.

Now What?

During my STEP experience, I was able to learn more about how and why the body moves the way it does. This is very important for my future because I need to use this information in order to become a great healthcare professional. Although in my short-term plan I intend on using this personal training certification to help me pay for tuition, I know that the information that I am learning will help me a lot with my future profession. In learning about the biomechanics of the major muscles through this program, I will be able to better understand rehabilitation and strengthening exercises for the patients I will treat.
For my future academic success, I know that I will need to take a biomechanics class for my major. My certification has given me a head start for that class because I have learned about the biomechanics of many of the muscles in the body. Using my knowledge from my personal training certification, I will be able to succeed in the classroom in the future.
Personally, my NASM personal training certification will give me a ton of help in paying for my tuition. For this summer, I was fortunate enough to get a job at a local community gym thanks in part to working towards getting this personal training certification. I can’t wait to begin working with them and using what I’ve learned through NASM in order to help the clients at the gym.
Also, the personal training certification will give me a great opportunity to build closer relationships with the coaches who I work with being an athletic trainer. It is important to know what your coaches are doing in order to build important professional relationships. I look forward to using the knowledge I learned through this experience in order to help build these relationships in the future.

Girls on the Run Leadership


For my STEP experience I participated in a leadership opportunity where I was an assistant coach for Girls on the Run at Beacon Elementary School in Hilliard, Ohio. There were a total of fourteen, fifth grade girls, two head coaches, two other assistant coaches and three running buddies. Every Thursday and Tuesday starting the first week of September until mid-November we all met from 3:15-4:45 in the afternoon. Girls on the Run is a program that helps girls become confident, independent, and integrates running where it prepares them for an end-of-the-season 5k race. As an assistant coach, I helped lead meetings and help explain the learning objective of the day. I also lead stretches before and after our workouts.

Girls on the Run is not just a program to get girls to run or to become fit and active. It is program that helps with anything and everything third through fifth grade girls might be dealing with. This includes and is not limited to: confidence and self-esteem issues, respect, nutrition, exercise, bullying, understanding that everyone is different in their own way, and so much more. Every time we met, we started with a healthy snack, which consisted of bananas, and granola bars most of the time. We then all got together in a circle and went over the lesson for the day that could be about any of the topics I stated earlier. After the lesson and discussion, we then proceeded to do a warm-up, which incorporated the lesson of the day into it. One day, the lesson was confidence and the girls would run about 50 yards and at the end was a coach. When the girl reached the coach they had to say something nice about themselves before they could run back. After the warm-up were the stretches, which I lead most of the time. When the girls were ready, the actual workout part followed the stretching and also included the lesson of the day. One day, there was a scavenger hunt, another day the girls had to run/walk alone to let them reflect on their day and about themselves. Every session was completely different which made it so much fun and kept the girls engaged.

After 12-weeks and 24 sessions, all of the Girls on the Run girls in Franklin County came together in downtown Columbus to run a 5k together. In our group, each girl was paired with a coach, assistant coach, running buddy, or parent. I was paired with a girl named Sarah who was so excited to accomplish this goal that they have all been working towards for weeks. There were over 1,000 Girls on the Run girls who participated. As part of my STEP funds, I put together tutus and headbands for each girl, coach, and running buddy to wear while running. All of the girls absolutely loved them! The celebration race was the end of the Girls on the Run fall season. However, I hope to help out again for the Fall 2015 season or Spring 2016 season as an assistant coach.


So What?

From this opportunity, I was able to learn and understand what girls at the elementary age are experiencing. I was able to see what problems they face. What seems so petty to me might mean so much more to them. Being a girl around that age is very difficult and this program really opens their eyes and helps them through those tough times.

The most moving and amazing thing I witnessed was watching them grow into more confident and independent girls. Most of the girls that came in had their own cliques and groups of friends. This caused divisions between them. It seemed as if there were always a few who seemed to be left out or were more intimidated/shy by the more outgoing girls. However, as the season went on, I got to see all the girls’ transition. They were all helping one another out with problems they expressed, became closer, and really understood each other more.

I gained experience leading a group of girls and watching them socially and emotionally develop into strong and confident girls. I have learned that I need to be more assertive and secure about my abilities to lead. I was able to practice this and get over my fear of messing up or making a fool of myself. This opportunity was beyond gratifying. Not only was I able to grow from it, I was able to see the impacts I and the other coaches had on these fourteen, fifth grade girls.


Now What?

I have always been interested in promoting health and wellness and this program was a great experience of doing so. I was able to practice my leadership skills and was able to express them across a younger population. This experience not only made me realize I was in the right path with majoring in Public Health, but it also helped me build a connection with the staff and students at Beacon Elementary School.

Being an assistant coach for Girls on the Run was a great leadership experience where I was able to build my own confidence in leading a wide-range of individuals all with different backgrounds. The diversity within the group forced me to lead in many kinds of ways, which will help me in the future. Being able to understand the individuals/communities I will collaborate with in the future will help me decide the most efficient way information should be delivered. Whether this is with leading a group of adults, teens, children, or a combination. Professions in public health protect and impact the health of individuals, families, communities and populations locally and globally. This whole experience as an assistant coach helped me become a better leader for future endeavors I intend to encounter.