STEP Reflection

What I Did

In the beginning of 2015, I accepted a franchise owner position with College Pro Painters, the largest exterior painting business in the country. As I knew I would not be guaranteed a salary I decided to use my STEP money to finance my living expenses while I ran my franchise.  Franchise owners were responsible for every aspect of their business, from marketing in the winter/spring, hiring painters, estimating houses, buying materials, training workers and selling the product.  The 9 months I worked for College Pro were the hardest of my life.  I always thought I was good at time management, I’m a first born, type A personality, but College Pro taught me how to plan my days down to the minute and use every moment of my time efficiently (during Spring semester I was working 50 hours a week and taking 17 credit hours; during the summer I worked over 80 hours). I learned how to deal with confrontation, both with customers, painters and fellow franchisees, a skill I know most people my age do not possess. As a business owner, responsible for my financials, I had to learn early on how to balance my budget and keep my overhead, labor and paint costs low.  In the beginning of the season I lost money due to overspending but after making some changes I was able to bring paint and labor down to an acceptable range and ended up turning a slight profit.   I ended the summer having ran an 80 thousand dollar business, gained immeasurable business expertise and won Rookie Entrepreneur of the Year for my division.



What it Means

The business experience I gained with College Pro I hope will be a stepping stone toward my future business endeavors.  I want to eventually run my own business so the skills I learned are going to be extremely applicable in my future.  I will be able to multitask efficiently, handle any customer complaints in any industry and most importantly problem solve to keep financials in check.  I have already been offered several sales positions, as companies are impressed with my hands on experience at such a young age.  I am extremely interested in pursuing a career in the cannabis industry in Oregon and I hope my business experience will make me a prime candidate for management positions in the industry.  Eventually, my boyfriend and I would like to establish our own grow operation but this will take several years.


Now What

After graduation, I hope to move to Oregon and find a business position either in sales or account management, preferably in the cannabis industry.  The business skills I learned in College Pro are applicable for pretty much any avenue I choose to go down as time management skills, customer service and confrontation skills are needed in any harmonious work environment.  I now know just how much overhead is involved in starting a business so it will be important for me to save up for several years before I set out to get my own grow license.  The most important thing I learned is that, in sales, one is never really selling a product but rather selling oneself.  We were taught to be continuously building rapport with customers and potential customers, as trust is the most important aspect of sales.  I plan on using this knowledge and rapport building skills in all of my future business opportunities.

The Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

So what was my STEP project?

For my STEP experience, I traveled to Orlando, Florida to participate in the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon sponsored by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH). In addition to running my first half marathon, I interviewed two professionals associated with the race, CMNH or Disney.  I hoped to further understand the connection between three of my personal interests: The Walt Disney Company, philanthropic events, and the support of children’s hospitals.

I had read about races that traveled through the Disney Parks and marveled at what a fantastic accomplishment experiencing one would be.  At the time, I had dismissed the idea of participating completely. I had no experience in long-distance running (or any running at all for that matter), and I did not believe I would be physically able to complete a 13.1 mile trek.  However, I was prompted by my STEP mentor to consider a personal challenge when choosing a STEP project.  I could think of no greater personal challenge than running a half marathon.  Additionally, I was equally fascinated by the Disney Princess Half Marathon specifically.

The half marathon weekend was sponsored by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the same philanthropic organization that sponsored Ohio State’s BuckeyeThon . I had participated in their 24-hour dance marathon for two years and had just recently completed an internship with Make-A-Wish.  I was on the path to declaring a Non-Profit Studies minor and was slowly finding myself enthralled with the world of philanthropy.  Having been inspired by the families I encountered through Make-A-Wish, I was particularly interested in working with organizations that supported children’s hospitals.  So as I researched The Disney Princess Half Marathon and discovered the relationship they shared with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, I decided that I would dig deeper.  In choosing the Disney Princess Half Marathon as my STEP project, I wanted to further research their connection; Why did Disney specifically choose CMNH?  How does the race benefit the organization, if at all? And do families struggling with pediatric illness find support from events like this?  To answer these questions, I contacted three different organizations/institutions to interview professionals in the field.


Why was this project important to me?

In terms of running my first half marathon, STEP provided an opportunity to challenge a deeply rooted perception of myself.  I grew up dreading any situation that required me to run, and I never thought my endurance would last more than a few minutes.  It was a belief I staunchly held even into my college years—until I decided to run a half marathon for my STEP experience.  Over the course of eleven months, I met with personal trainers and created a regimented schedule to incorporate running into my life for the first time.  On February 23rd, 2015 I received my medal for completing my first half marathon (in addition to multiple ice-packs for my throbbing knees). But most importantly, I left Orlando with a sense of accomplishment, confident in my ability to change the way I lived and viewed myself.

The information I gained from my informal interviews was both enlightening and inspiring.

The first of these interactions was with a Senior Director of Corporate Strategy from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  Over lunch, we discussed the reasoning behind the partnership of CMHN and Disney.  Because both cater to a family-centered demographic, the partnership spreads awareness to an appropriate audience.  Additionally, the main priority of CMHN is not necessarily to fundraise, but again to spread awareness of their mission to a very large audience.  (I was personally surprised by this information.  I had assumed the main benefit was monetary!)  The partnership was less than five years old, which was considered “young” by the organization’s standards.  With the spreading of awareness for CMHN and positive publicity Disney received as a result, it was clear to me why the partnership was created.

The second interview was with a team of Child Life Specialist at the Florida Hospital for Children.  A wing of this hospital is known as the “Walt Disney Pavilion”, which drew my attention as I was researching connections between Disney and children’s hospitals.  I spent an afternoon interviewing and observing four different Child Life Specialists at the hospital, all of whom shared with me how they strive to make the experience for hospital patients more enjoyable.  I was told about the Walt Disney Pavilion, and how $10 million had been donated to create a Disney-themed lobby for a wing of the hospital.  Interestingly, the lobby did not contain Disney’s main characters like Mickey Mouse or any of the princesses.  Disney’s thought behind this choice was to allow the pediatric patients to feel that they were the main character of the story.

As I walked the floors of the hospital with the Child Life time, I learned about the events the Child Life team used to make a patient’s stay in the hospital more fun.  For example, characters from various parks like SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and Disney would often visit. That day, I was lucky enough to run into a team of Storm Troopers from Stars Wars that had come to pass out Star Wars action figures!  As fun as these events were, it seemed to me that a majority of the patient activities were hosted by the Child Life team, who would organize daily art projects in their activity room or bring various video games to a patient’s room.  They analyzed seemingly minute details of the hospital experience and strove to make every possible moment less frightening.  As an example, the team shared with me that the patients rarely received any needle sticks or painful procedures in their own rooms.  Many children fear that a doctor may sneak into their room while they are sleeping and give them a shot or “hurt them”.  To alleviate this fear and allow the child to have a safe space, the hospital floor has designated procedure rooms and tries to reserve patient rooms for sleeping or relaxing. There were numerous examples of the ways Child Life Specialists improve the hospital experience, and I was floored by all of them!  But unfortunately, their services are not often covered by insurance.  I learned that hospitals rely on their own funding and outside donations to provide for services such as a Child Life team.  It was here that I understood why the funding that organizations like CMNH and others provide is so vital.


What now?

In terms of my personal life, I know I will be moving forward—literally! I enjoyed my time at the Half Marathon so much that I plan to train for another in coming years. Where I had once dreaded (if not feared) running, I now enjoy the exercise and the stress-relief it brings.  STEP also provided the funds to utilize a personal trainer in the months leading up to the race, and the information I gained throughout those sessions still stays with me.  I know how to train in a healthy way and how to avoid injury when running long distances.  I plan to include running as part of a healthy lifestyle for many years to come.

Academically, I learned so much in terms of professional relationships; the relationship between the race and the charity, the hospital and Disney, the charities and hospital services…the list goes on!  All of these connections not only led to answers, but to more questions.  Questions I hope to answer as I graduate and pursue my career path in May 2016. Every aspect of my STEP experience included something that I hope to expand upon as I move forward.  Whether it’s a healthier lifestyle or a more specific career path, STEP truly provided me with the opportunity to transform.

Want to hear more?

Thanks to OSU’s digital story workshops, I was able to create a video documenting my experience with the half marathon. Enjoy!

A few photos:


Runners were able to run through the iconic Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom right around mile 5!

Runners were able to run through the iconic Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom right around mile five!

The lobby of the Walt Disney Pavilion at the Florida Hospital for Children

The lobby of the Walt Disney Pavilion at the Florida Hospital for Children

Even the team from Children's Miracle Network Hospitals was ready to race!

Even the team from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was ready to race!

2015 International Literacy Association Reading Conference

What? – A detailed description of what you did during your STEP experience.

For my STEP experience, I attended the 2015 ILA Reading Conference located in St. Louis, Missouri. This experience was so inspiring and greatly benefited my aspiration of becoming a reading teacher. The conference was split among three days with the first day including two opening speakers and the last day including two closing speakers. In between these opening and closing sessions were hundreds of workshops and training sessions along with a conference hall full of vendors of all types.


My first EVER flight from Columbus to St. Louis with a layover in Detroit!


Upon arrival at the hotel, I registered and received a bag, ID, and information book for the rest of the weekend!


Opening Session on Day One

On the first day, I watched Shiza Shahid and Shaquille O’Neal present their beliefs and personal experiences on literacy. After their speeches, we all broke out (all couple thousand of us) into the respective workshops and sessions we wished to attend. I attended two poetry ones, one on addressing bullying in the classroom, one on differentiating learning in the classroom, and two integrated subject area ones that included math and science. These sessions were all split between the three days, so I was able attend about two or three a day. Each session was very informational; however, some were better than others. The ones I didn’t enjoy the most were those that were somewhat unorganized and not as engaging. The one I enjoyed the most and thought I could most utilize in my future classroom was the one that highlighted how to differentiate your classroom, especially if you had many ELLs (English Language Learners) in your class. The speaker of this session was by far the quirkiest and most exciting person I have ever met, so sitting and listening to him was very engaging.


My favorite session over differentiated instruction.


Never too far away from a Buckeye!

On the third day, the closing speakers, Octavia Spencer and Stephen Peters also spoke about their personal literacy stories and emphasized how literacy is so imperative to living a successful and prosperous life. Stephen Peters, a public education advocate, made an excellent point to this argument by saying, “Literacy is the vaccine for poverty.” In between the workshops, I had down time to walk around the vendor hall and receive lots of free books and items for my personal use in my future classroom. The enormity of the hall was a little overwhelming, yet it was exciting because I made lots of great connections and received lots of valuable resources that will aide me in my future teaching career. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by thousands of people that wanted to help their students learn how to become better readers and writers and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity, as a pre-service teacher, to really delve into this particular field of study.


Left to Right: Actress Octavia Spencer, Activist Shiza Shahid, Public Education Advocate Stephen Peters, and Athlete and Academia Shaquille O’Neal.


So What? – A personal response to your STEP experience, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, and what you have learned about yourself and your assumptions from what you did and how you reacted.

From this STEP experience, I have a renewed energy and drive to keep pursuing my dreams of becoming a teacher. I was never burnt out from teaching, because I haven’t had the chance to teach yet, but as a pre-service teacher, the whole conference was so inspiring and energizing. I have left the conference with new ideas, perspectives, and mindsets that will help me become the best teacher I can be, especially in the realm of literacy. I have also learned that literacy is something that I want to continue to pursue and advocate for—for the children in my community and those across the globe. I assumed that teaching reading was somewhat of a black and white subject, nothing that was too complicated or you could mess up too much. However, after this conference and seeing all of the vendors and speakers present their products and research about the latest literacy trends, it has shown me that literacy education is constantly changing. It will always be something that is consistently revised so that our students, the ones that we all gather up at a conference every year for, are receiving the best education that they possibly can. I have learned, more than ever after this conference that the only constant in teaching is change and that change is vital to providing students with a quality education that will help them succeed and grow as learners.


A glimpse into the vendor hall full of hundreds of literacy companies.

Now What? – Discuss how the things you experienced and learned during your STEP experience will affect your academic, personal, and life goals moving forward.

From this STEP experience, I will use what I learned in the workshops and received from the vendors to better my craft of teaching. I will be dedicated to learning and reading up on the latest news in literacy and strive to find best practices and instructional approaches to include in my teaching. I want to ensure that literacy is something that all my students will achieve and emphasize to them that it is also something that students around the world should be able to achieve as well. This is often not the case, with eight million people around the word not able to read. I want to inspire my students, through it being a personal goal of mine, to help fight for literacy around the world for the millions of people that are illiterate and don’t have the opportunity to learn to read. Shiza Shahid, founder of the Malala Fund, simply stated, “Literacy is freedom.” I want to take Shiza’s words and emphasize to my students that once one is able to read, the whole world is opened up to them.

I also learned how to differentiate a classroom and include poetry and other subjects into daily literacy practice so that students are receiving an engaging and appropriate education. It is important to gauge where your students are at as well as provide fun and engaging text for students to interact with. This is where differentiating instruction and using poetry or other texts interesting to the students comes in handy. Not every student will love one poem or a certain book, so it is a necessity to determine what interests them and allow outlets for them to express themselves in whatever mode possible. It was nice to have this mindset of differentiating instruction reemphasized because it really does make an impact on a child’s motivation and desire to read and feel successful in their literacy journeys when they feel that their interests and needs are taken into account.

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.






Manifest Destiny in 2014


I had the great opportunity to travel to the west coast. I had lived in Wichita, Kansas for the summer, and to start my trip, I drove to Dallas, Tx (flights were cheaper). This wasn’t originally planned as part of my trip, but was an amazing learning experience.  Texas is big. Texas is flat. Texas is hot, and Dallas is huge. I spent approximately 12 hours in Dallas, and got to experience a different way of life (and even pet an Ox!)

From there I flew to San Francisco. I spent a day in the city. I walked the water front, I talked to fish-mongers and street artists. I visited the historic water front and got to try my hand at historic ship building. I also got to walk the streets of one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country. I learned a lot about building into the side of a mountain, as well as how to build for earthquakes.

The next morning I took a train, and a bus to get to Yosemite. I got to see the deserts that makes up the landscape of Cali.  Upon arriving in the park, I attempted a series of hikes and challenged myself physically.

I then returned to the city. I explored Ghirdelli square, the cable car museum, Sausalito and china town. I also had the chance to go to Muir woods national forest.

So What?

This trip was transformative for me. Experiencing how others live is always an eye opening experience.

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What was most impactful though was learning how big the world is. The 3,000 ft high granite walls of Yosemite, the 100s of year old redwoods a Muir woods, and the train ride through California taught me that. 

I learned a lot about myself.I learned that you need to be flexible, and that things won’t always work out like you’d like. I learned that mistakes happen, but people are forgiving, and want to help each other. I learned that, since I was in San Francisco at the time of Robin William’s death, that even when you feel completely alone, you aren’t. I learned that my body isn’t all capable, false summits are the worst, but that your mind can push you further than you think. I learned that you can hitchhike without being killed. I learned not to sit near the crazy old man on the bus, because he’ll talk your ear off. I learned that it is REALLY miserable when your bus breaks down in the desert. I learned to pack shampoo in a plastic bag, because it might spill all over your belongings. I learned to be resourceful. I learned that I hate hills. I learned that real Chinese food is nothing like what I eat. I learned how to eat raw clams. I learned that sometimes you have to live in the moment to really enjoy it.

In summary: I learned.

Now What?

Moving forward, I want to travel more. I feel that traveling, and the experiences that occur, shape how you react to things, and what makes you you. I want to go back and make it to the top of half dome. I want my mother to experience the beauty of the west. I want to incorporate the slower lifestyle into mine.


STEP Leadership

My STEP experience I chose was to complete an internship to gain leadership and real world working experience.

Dwellworks is a relocation services provider for corporations. It is a small private company of 225 employees with offices located in Cleveland (headquarters), Detroit, New York City, Puerto Rico, Costa Rico, Mexico, Canada, and Luxembourg. Dwellworks provides destination, valuation, and property management services to companies who are relocating employees. For example, my job in valuation services was to process orders as they came in to our system, create a list of appraisers in our network of suppliers, and send the list to the transferee. My function was essentially a supply chain management role, and I was able to learn how important operations management is to a company. Something I valued was how my bosses spent their time training and developing my knowledge of Dwellworks, and explaining how my role was important in the big picture of the company. When I was fully confident in my ability, I was trusted with the same workload that full time employees received. I could tell how much they appreciated my work ethic and drive to do the best I could, and I did my best to continuously improve to return the faith they put in me. I was also asked to try and look for any areas of improvement in their processes. Throughout the summer, I went above their expectations and was able to identify several opportunities for efficiency enhancements. Besides my daily workload, I worked on a project with several other interns to present to the CEO and CFO at the end of the summer. This was a great experience for me as I was able to greatly improve my problem solving and presenting ability, but also build friendships with my fellow interns. What I enjoyed the most about the project was that the problem we were tasked with solving was an actual problem Dwellworks wanted an answer to. They took our solutions seriously and commended us for our great work.

Due to the small size of Dwellworks, I was able to learn directly from the senior leadership of the company.  Being able to see the vision for Dwellworks from the CEO and CFO’s perspective gave me a better understanding of how managers strategize and lead companies. Ultimately, what made my experience at Dwellworks valuable were the people I worked with everyday. Dwellworks has a unique, fun culture and this rubbed off on me throughout the summer. My summer was enjoyable because of the friendships I had with my coworkers. It helped make adjusting to working everyday from 9-5 easier and the summer seemed to fly by because of it. I was able to learn from two of the Vice Presidents who I still maintain contact with and receive advice from. Dwellworks helped me to not only grow professionally in helping me understand the operations of a business, but also personally as my being able to establish friendships in the work place.


Dwellworks was not a company I had targeted as a place I would want to work to further my career. First of all I am studying finance and would like to work in a finance role after graduation, but my internship was not a finance-based position. I applied to Dwellwork’s internship because I read that they focus on helping sophmores and juniors gain real-world working experience and sharpen their resume to further their career. Many companies who I wanted to work for were only hiring juniors in to their internship programs, so Dwellworks seemed like the next best thing as far as internships. I was grateful they gave me the opportunity to intern with them, but I was skeptical to value of the internship as far as helping me progress my career. I can say I was proven utterly wrong. Dwellworks taught me to not be close-minded to experiences that you think you may not enjoy. To accurately judge an opportunity, you must first experience that opportunity regardless of what it may be. At first I was disappointed I was unable to secure an internship elsewhere, but I gained a sense of gratitude when I learned other classmates were not interning during the summer. The first day at Dwellworks, I was excited to begin my career and start my journey towards getting the job of my desire after graduation.

Throughout the summer, I was challenged to not lose that initial excitement. I experienced slow days and busy days and it was during the slow days that I tried to live out the saying “you get out of something what you put into it”. Dwellworks helped reinforce this idea in my life. I was able to keep the drive to work hard and enjoy myself throughout the summer, and I now look at new experiences with a similar mindset. My internship although helped me to grow professionally, impacted me more on a personal level. I learned that my initial judgments of people and experiences can be, and are mostly wrong. I need to take the time to get to know others and take new opportunities. During my internship I became friends with people whom at first I didn’t think I would be able to develop a friendship with. This includes interns who were my age, and people who are almost double my age. Now, I am more open-minded and try to be less quick to judge others and potential opportunities.


My internship at Dwellworks introduced me to the working world and a taste of my life after college. I learned that I am more prepared for working everyday from 9-5 than I previously thought. Having this experience relatively early in my college career also helps me to stand out from other job seekers, which will help me to start my career at my dream company. Much of the work I did over the summer was not directly related to my desired career choice, and I felt the work became mundane as the summer moved along. I learned to look at each new experience with enthusiasm and the will to learn at every opportunity. I ended up having a much more productive and worthwhile summer than I previously thought. Dwellworks taught me to have pride in the work I do regardless of how much motivation I have to do the work. I now look at obstacles as opportunities to improve and challenge myself personally and professionally. A major takeaway I gained is that if I value myself and the work I do then others will see my hardwork and have a higher level of trust in my ability. I also have a greater sense of other people’s perspectives due to the various types of personalities of my coworkers. This is a valuable tool I will use with my friends, classmates, and hopefully someday my employees when I become a manager.

Another valuable skill is time management In an academic setting you can get away with procrastination once in awhile, but in an office, procrastination could possibly mean your loss of a job due to the potential for poor work. I learned that because there usually isn’t a hard deadline, you have to be in control of your time and finish the project when you think is most appropriate. Time management has not always been a strong skill of mine, and my internship helped me to improve my time management and organizational skills. With these improved skills I will be able to finish my college career strong and become successful once I start working full time. Dwellwork s has helped me move closer to achieving my goal of working in the finance industry because of the professional development I was exposed to. Through interactions with coworkers, hosting meetings, completing projects, and working on a large team I am confident in my ability to achieve my goals on a personal and professional level.


Below is a picture of the Dwellworks office building (left) and the desk I worked at (right)


I also entered posts into a blog for all of the summer interns at Dwellworks and kept a journal based on questions asked by my managers. The blog can be accessed here:

My journal can be viewed here:


By: Kevin Mullinger

CUGH and InterAction

What? – For my STEP experience I attended two conferences in Washington D.C. These conferences revolved around global health, and they were called Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) and InterAction: A Voice for Global Change. The purpose of me attending these conferences was to aid me in finding out if a future in a career revolving around global health was for me and in addition to that to learn more about what I could do to contribute to the betterment of the world around me. Both of these conferences allowed me to meet some of the most brilliant people ever and interact with them to strengthen my skills as both a student and as a leader.

So What? –The first conference I attended was Consortium of Universities for Global Health. When I first arrived at this conference, I was definitely intimidated by the people there. I was surrounded by congressman, CEO’s, heads of non-profits, people that did significant work overseas and the list is endless. As a result, I continually began to compare myself to who they were. This eventually turned into a good thing because I realized these comparisons made me want to strive to be like them. The work that these people had all talked about was nothing short of amazing. They worked day in and day out to help people who needed it most. Their stories were extremely effective in inspiring me, and most of all they put my own problems into perspective. They made me realize that I am truly blessed to have all that I do and I should never take it for granted, as there are millions of people that would take my place in a heartbeat. While at these conferences I spoke to many people about the work they did and the work of one man stood out to me. He was a clinical pharmacist that used to work in the states but now he works in a clinic in Africa. Talking with this man made me change my views on many things and he lead me to research things about the world around us for myself. In the end, he worked as a facilitator for a stronger interest in not only global health but the varying groups and cultures that can be found throughout the world. He brought back by curiosity, and that is something that I have found invaluable since then. At the second conference, InterAction, I began partaking in leadership seminars and courses that would effectively teach me how to manage my own non-profit, how to form the connections necessary to maintain one, and a number of other things. These courses have changed how I approach my current non-profit work and will most certainly impact any future work.

Now What? –Before meeting the pharmacist at CUGH, I had never considered pharmacy a career path I would take. However that has now changed. I have shadowed a few clinical pharmacists and retail pharmacists. In addition to that I have explored potentially obtaining a Masters in Public Health in order to further my work in the non-profit sector. This is a radical change from my previous desire to be an engineer. Although I liked engineering, when working in anything relating to the betterment of people I have a much greater desire and drive to succeed. These conferences have also enabled me to begin looking into starting my own non-profit. Alongside a businessman from my hometown, we are working on putting together a group that will serve to educate underprivileged children and teenagers on different career areas that they never thought would interest them. In his own words “I wonder if my kids got into the same work I do because of how much they were exposed to it. If they had seen the other things they could have done would they have followed in my footsteps or forged their own path and been even happier?” Finding something you are passionate about can be difficult and without attending these conferences, I may never have been able to do that. In the future I hope to get a PharmD, do a residency in neo-natal care, and work overseas in some capacity. And after that, who knows? My life experiences at that point may drive me to do something that I couldn’t imagine myself doing right now. I do know that when it comes to it, I will always keep an open mind.

Scholars DC 2K14

Scholars DC trip 2K14

I have been to Washington DC many times, but this time was the most professional one so far. All the networking and meetings I had while in DC helped me understand how the city works and where my part in it can be. Many of the places and people I visited sparked interest that I did not know I had or reaffirmed ones I have been focusing on. Overall every meeting was another experience and another person I know in DC.

The first week was helpful with group meetings. It not only allowed all of us students to get use to meeting with professionals, but we got to know each other as well. There were many places that we visited that I found fascinating. The very first group visit to the Federal Commissions Bureau to meet the director of the FCC was splendid. Although I did not want to go into media, it was fascinating visiting the Washington Post and NPR. Widmeyer Communications and the OSU government office were great places to visit since those cover the fields I enjoy. Many of the visits during the first week peaked my interests and opened my mind to what is out there in DC.

Many of my visits during the second week were either with attorneys, lobbyists, or universities. My first visit was with John Wingard, a Lawyer for the federal government. He worked with Real Estate law and held his job for many years. He talked about how he enjoyed working in the public sector a lot. He also gave advice and what not to do when working in a field that can easily be corrupt. The way he described his job pushed me even more to not be a lawyer. What was nice about him though was that he found what he enjoyed doing and stuck with it in a city where many jump around with their jobs. John is currently retired. He took us out for coffee in the morning and showed us around George Mason University Law School. There we talked to a student and met with admissions which was very helpful just in case I did decide to go into law. Wingard also talked about his time at OSU, being in a fraternity and his studies there. He was a nice start to the week.

Later I met with Meghan Gannon who is a scheduler for a congressman. She was a fellow Mountie when she attended OSU, so it was nice to hear about Mount back then. She talked about the move to Washington D.C. and how it may take time and lots of persistence. Her story, like many, demonstrated it is about who you know in DC, not what you know. She also talked about how scheduling for an official is a very time consuming job and very important. We discussed what it is like to be young and in DC, especially good places to eat.

The next day I visited City Year DC. I interned in City Year Columbus, so it was nice to compare it to DC. I met with many of the administrators there and talked about doing City Year in DC. We talked about where I am and where I want to go. I asked many questions on what people do after completing City Year DC. They said many do go into education and some go the political route. There are resources as they explained through city year and many scholarship options for grad school. It was interesting to compare the nonprofit to its Columbus office.  They also offered to take a group next year and show them around or do a session.

For lunch, I met with Stacey Pelika of the Nation Education Association. I have always been interested in education policy but was unknowledgeable of the official organizations dealing with the issues. It was nice to learn about what the NEA does and how it works. I also enjoyed discussing current issues dealing with education. Stacey focused on the research part of education policy which sounded similar to what I am learning in my classes.

To end the day I visited George Washington Law School. Talking to GW law school admissions was helpful I figuring out if I wanted to go to law school. I learned that there is no one path to Law school or after. There is no answer to getting in to law school, it is about grades and showing a specific interests. Coming out I realized I still am leaning away from law school, especially right after under grad. It was cool listening to a top law school admission to understand what law school is like and helpful hints to get there.

I started my Wednesday at Georgetown. At first I got lost, but I loved seeing the school so much it was fine. I first met up with my cousin who is a leader in their international grad school program. She connected me to their Associate Director Eleanor Jones took my resume and went over it for majority of the time. We also discussed the path that got her to the high position. I learned that sometimes I will have to take a step back to move forward to get to my destination. The advice I gained from visiting Georgetown is irreplaceable along with visiting the beautiful campus.

I got dinner that day with Amber Phelps, a teacher near DC. The connection I found with Amber was her involvement with Teach For America. I am very interested in doing an AmeriCorps program after I graduate. Comparing TFA to City Year in DC was helpful on this trip. I enjoyed talking about how Ohio State has changed over our few years’ difference.

After a visit to the White House on Thursday, I had breakfast with Jay Hunter. Jay is OSU alum who works at the Congressional Quarterly. The CQ is under the economists. Jay writes information on different congressmen to be published. Visiting CQ, Washington Post, and NPR sparked interests in journalism I never considered. Jay taught me one does not have to be journalists to be in the industry. It was also great to speak with a recent OSU grad.

Sara Todd, a lawyer at Fannie Mae, took us out for a nice lunch. She did not want to talk about her job as much as she wanted to relive her days at OSU. She was such a fun person to talk to and interesting to. Like many, she stumbled into her job unsure of her desired career path. The best advice I got from her was to enjoy being young and in college, it doesn’t last too long.

Last for that day I met with Carla McGarvey, whom works on tax policy for a Florida Senator. Her, along with many, brought up the point of it is who you know not what you know. She told us what to do if we wanted to get involved with politics. We also discussed lobbying too. She brought up lobbying also and how there are lobbyists for everything. We entertained on the idea of Disney lobbyists and lobbyists for lobbyists. She gave hope to working in DC, like it is very possible as long as I did it right.

I met with Billie Kaumaya Friday morning who works for the Nation Association for Home Builders. She gave all the details on the fun side of Washington DC. Her energy was great for the morning and got me excited for the day. She did not go over her job as much as the transition for Ohio State to DC. She told me the places I needed to go and the best places to live. Her advice will be of assistance when I move to DC.

After, I met with CJ Horn a professor at the Naval Defense University. He had a lot of information on serving and working at a University. I was more interested in his work as a professor. I enjoyed hearing his comparison to all the different positions he held while on service and teaching. He had many stories and ideas to discuss.

My last meeting was a return to the OSU federal Governments Office. I luckily showed up early to talk to Joe Sadek who is in charge to the Washington Academic Internship program. We chatted about the program and the best time to take it. The information I gathered was helpful. Later when I talked with Stacey and Bill did I gain advice on how to get to their seats. Like many, it was not direct. I just have to find out what works for me and what I enjoy. Eventually it will lead me to where I need to be. It was also great to catch up with Bill and talk about the benefits of City Year. I enjoyed going to their office again and found it useful.

After the DC Scholars trip I feel more stable with my future, I am more sure of what I am studying is right for me. Meeting all the Ohio State Alumni was incredible. They still had a passion for the school and brought it to Washington DC. As much as I loved the monuments, museums, and White house, I found all the people I met the most fascinating. As one put it, in DC everyone has a cool job and a cool story. With more connections, I hope to be one of those people with a cool job and a cool story.