Leadership: EMT-B Certification

When I decided to take the EMT-B course, I didn’t realize quite how intense it would be. For five months, I spent around twenty hours a week on the program in addition to my commitments as a full-time student. Each week included 8 hours of in-class time, plus numerous hours spent studying. Periodically, we had full-day Saturday classes dedicated to practicing hands-on skills. In the month of November, I completed forty hours of clinicals — sixteen in the emergency departments at Grant and Riverside, and twenty-four hours of ambulance ride time near Grove City. 

Despite the commitment, I would recommend it to anyone considering medicine. I only wish I’d enrolled sooner.

Most significantly, this course set me on the path towards my career goals. I liked medicine before, but coming out of this class, I am more sure about what healthcare is actually like. I credit this class to kickstarting my love of emergency medicine, and I’m now seeing myself as a future emergency medicine physician. 

First and foremost, the course introduced me to foundational material. I genuinely enjoyed studying anatomy and some basics in physiology and pathophysiology. I loved getting an introduction to a variety of common illnesses and injuries and what basic interventions we can offer. 

I also loved all the hands-on skills. The class taught me how to systematically approach any patient to divulge important findings and offer interventions in order of importance. This is the primary objective of the course: gaining a set of skills for working with patients. 

I was most impacted by my clinical experiences. In my time in the emergency department, I started to think, “this is where I belong.” Nothing compared to observing the care team work the most critical patients. In the trauma bay, each member of the team has a clear, defined role, and they work like a well-oiled machine. Reinforcing what I learned in my EMT class, it’s all about the ABCs — airway, breathing, and circulation. 


My classmates and I on the helipad.


Interacting with patients helped me imagine myself as part of the care team. At first, it was intimidating. Another student and I would walk into a patient room and just start talking to the patient. My nerves eased when I realized how much the patients appreciate having an ear — it didn’t matter that we were students and that we couldn’t actually offer any diagnosis or treatment. I would listen carefully and compassionately, and practice my assessment, digging for potentially important findings. I never knew I would be so interested in the quality and location of abdominal pain!

A few patients deeply impacted me. A transgender patient made me think about my role in patient advocacy. The patient was misgendered and deadnamed a number of times by his family and healthcare staff. I thought about how I could treat such a patient with utmost sensitivity, especially since seeking healthcare can be challenging in those circumstances. 

Another patient made me think about ethics. She had pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. She was shaking, had a terrible headache, and was unable to engage with her surroundings. On top of that, she was ordered to have an invasive procedure. Perhaps she wouldn’t have minded five extra people in the room — between myself, my classmates, and my preceptor — but she wasn’t asked. As much as I want to see everything, I don’t take my ability to observe as a given. I want my involvement to be respectful of the patient’s dignity and comfort. It didn’t feel right with how vulnerable she was. I felt relieved when the patient was moved to a new floor instead.

I leave the program feeling confident about my ability to enjoy both textbook and hands-on learning in medicine. Even more importantly, I feel lucky for the time I spent with patients. I’m starting to see how healthcare intersects with my passions as well as my values. Moving forward, I plan to work as an EMT-B for MedCare next semester, and I’m excited to apply to medical school this summer.

Leadership and Community Service Project with Young Life

My STEP Signature Project fell under a combined topic of Leadership and Community Service. Through volunteering 15-20 hours a week with the nonprofit organization, Young Life, I was able to be trained in leadership skills as well as be a mentor and safe presence to high school students. 

With my STEP Signature Project taking place during a global pandemic, my expectations of getting to be a part of a local community were altered, yet the experience was extremely transformative towards my view of myself and my view of the world. The semester was seemingly dark with severe Covid-19 restrictions within schools and communities, but Young Life was still able to provide a safe “place” for kids to find hope and connect to people relationally within a heavy and broken semester. The semester began by looking like we would not be able to connect as an organization with students or with other volunteers due to social distancing restrictions. However, we were able to overcome barriers and provide meetings virtually along with events outside and socially distant. I was able to learn how to navigate strain amidst a team of volunteer leaders and gather creative energy together to continue on in healthy ways. 

My understanding of myself grew as I recognized perseverance through very hard circumstances. I learned what it looked like to encourage other volunteers and root for each other when it felt like there was nowhere else to go. I was able to learn how to give grace to myself and to others when our initial plans fell through. My view of the world emerged as more hopeful than ever before because of recognizing that there is beauty in disaster and unique ways that we can come together even when it seems difficult. This project also allowed me to remember to think outside of myself and always check in on others. Many high school students are struggling to make sense of their world, and now more than ever, it is important for people and mentors to show up, be present, and listen to what they are going through and experiencing. Through a lot of brokenness and change this semester, I am left hopeful for how our world is better equipped to handle hardship in the future!

There were several key components to my STEP project that leave me hopeful and have taught me to endure. One key sequence of events that displayed this was what we call “campaigners” which is more or less a Bible Study structured through Young Life. Campaigners is usually a setting for kids to form relationships with each other and be encouraged in their individual spiritual walks, but campaigners was not able to operate as it would in a normal semester. Instead of piling in a living room and sharing snacks every week, we were able to mask-up, spread out around a bonfire in lawn chairs, and have an interactive Bible Study with kids each week. Although this looked different than normal, it left me hopeful that relationships will always continue, with or without normalcy! I was also given a lot of hope that the team of volunteers kept getting more and more creative with providing spaces for kids to be that was a safe outlet from school and home-life. 

Another aspect of this project that built leadership skills and equipped me for community service were the leadership meetings led by Young Life staff members every Friday night. Each meeting was a chance to learn how to invest in kids’ lives, how to care for people outside of ourselves, and again refreshed me and reminded me that I will always seek to be a servant to others, in or out of a global pandemic! Leadership meetings were centered on Scripture, and from the meetings I was given tools and resources to further learn how to communicate with kids and families, how to practically care for people when we cannot always be together physically, and again I felt restored in hope that we can have large influences on kids’ lives by simple acts of checking in and making them feel known and loved. 

“Club” is another part of Young Life that we get to have in a normal semester. This is a place of outreach to students that is typically a fun and high-energy event every week. Students usually invite their friends to burn some energy and disconnect from school or other points of tension in their lives. Relationships are established in this environment and often kept for years. Although we were not able to run a normal semester of club, through perseverance, hope, and endurance, my team of volunteers was able to provide events for kids to be at together. These “club” nights included an outdoor movie night, a socially distant and goofy game night, a bonfire, a cookout, and more. We could have stopped looking to show up for people when the initial Covid-19 restrictions were put in place, but after learning to give ourselves grace for not being able to provide a normal space, we were able to persevere and lead and set up a safe place for kids to be! 

Coming out of this project with more hope to persevere through hardship, practical skills to care for people and communicate with people in new ways, and tangible leadership skills among other things, will greatly impact my future personal and professional life. As I finish persevering through this last semester of nursing school, I will be set up with endurance to show up in my career for patients that need cared for. Just like high schoolers, my patients that I am a nurse to will need to feel valued and cared for. Regardless of personal circumstance, I am continually better equipped from all of my volunteering with Young Life to think outside of myself and serve any given population. These skills will be skills that I take into my job as a nurse, into relationships with my family and friends, and beyond!

What I learned from Young Life and how I have been transformed will help me persevere through many seasons of life in my future. I can count on some parts of a nursing career or even any part of my personal life being difficult at times. However, I have, at a foundational level, learned to have hope in darkness, to be adaptable to persevere regardless of circumstance, and surround myself in a community of supporters to cheer each other along the way – because that will be game changing. I have learned lifelong communication skills of how to demonstrate respect and care and so much more, whether it is through a screen, behind a mask, or in person with someone. I am full of gratitude for how my STEP Signature Project during the fall semester has given me lessons and tools to be a better leader in my community and to carry throughout my whole lifetime.

SCUBA Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, and Rescue Diver certification

For my STEP project, I earned the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver (OW), Advanced Open Water Diver (AOW), and Rescue Diver certifications. Through this project, I learned the basics of SCUBA diving, some advanced diving techniques that have allowed me to advance as a SCUBA diver, and skills to ensure my safety and that of other SCUBA divers.

SCUBA diving is a group activity (at least for divers who have not been trained to dive by themselves) and requires cooperation from all participants. As a result, my STEP project changed my perspective on the importance of working together with others to achieve a common goal. Learning how to respond to dangerous scenarios while SCUBA diving also helped me to understand that I will sometimes need to take the role of a leader even when I have not been formally assigned to that role.

People may dive for a variety of reasons. For example, my goal when diving is often to observe aquatic life that I can’t view easily from the surface. Other people may dive to recover objects from the seafloor. Others may dive to collect food. However, I learned from my training that all of these are secondary goals, whereas the primary goal of any dive is for all divers to return safely to the surface. To achieve the primary and secondary goals of a dive, it is necessary for divers to work together.

I learned to work together with other divers to plan a safe dive during my OW certification course. This includes planning the amount of time that will be spent at certain depths, planning the route of the dive, and accounting for factors like currents to ensure that all divers will remain safe. I also learned during my OW certification course that divers need to cooperate during a dive to keep each other safe. This includes keeping track of your dive buddy’s location, communicating about your remaining air supply and unexpected factors like the presence of dangerous wildlife, and adhering to group safety guidelines, like spending only 60 seconds looking for your buddy if you lose them before returning to the boat to increase the chances that attempts to rescue them, if necessary, will be successful.

During my AOW course, I learned how to cooperate with other divers to dive safely under certain scenarios. For example, I learned how to navigate underwater with a buddy, which is necessary to prevent yourself from getting lost during a dive. However, effective underwater navigation requires teamwork. I learned to navigate by having one buddy keep track of their direction of travel using a compass while the other monitors their depth and surroundings. With one buddy controlling the pair’s direction and the other controlling its depth, cooperation allows the buddy pair to safely navigate to complete the dive. Through the AOW course, I learned to cooperate with others in a similar way to effectively and safely dive at night, at greater-than-normal depths, and while searching for and recovering lost objects.

Finally, the Rescue Diver course emphasized the importance of cooperation during emergency scenarios. I participated in a variety of simulated diving-related emergency scenarios during the Rescue Diver course. Cooperation was important in all of these scenarios. For example, a search and rescue attempt would be much more likely to succeed if all divers involved coordinated their search plans to enable the group to cover the greatest area possible during their search. Similarly, a rescue attempt where one person was calling 911 while another was performing CPR would be more likely to succeed than a rescue attempt where only one person was trying to complete all tasks by themself.

While the need for cooperation among divers was evident during the Rescue Diver course, emergency situations are never planned, so the role that an individual should play in a rescue scenario is not always clear. For example, it might not be obvious who should perform CPR and who should call 911 during an emergency.  Therefore, it is often necessary for someone, usually the person with the most experience and training, to assume leadership role at a moment’s notice. The Rescue Diver course taught me that I may have to step into a leadership role to ensure a group’s success even though I had not previously been designated to that role.

While my STEP project taught me the importance of cooperation and being able to step into a leadership role while SCUBA diving, I will certainly need to cooperate with others and be a leader in other scenarios during my life. For example, I plan to attend graduate school to study ecology, and I will be a more effective researcher if I cooperate with others to achieve things that I would not be able to accomplish by myself. Similarly, I may need to lead research projects when I am the one who is most familiar with the project’s goal. By emphasizing the importance of cooperation and leadership, my STEP project has prepared me to be a more effective collaborator and leader during graduate school and my future career in research, preparing me to be a more successful researcher.

Diving at Gilboa Quarry during my Advanced Open Water Diver certification course.

Professional Interior Design Certifications

I used my STEP funding towards obtaining interior design trade association certifications to enhance my internship experience and give me a competitive edge when seeking a job after graduation. I completed 30 hours of course work through the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association, which will qualify me to obtain my CKBD (Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer) title. I also completed a program through the Living in Place Institute which allowed me to become a Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP). 

My STEP project has significantly advanced my interior design knowledge and experience. The education that I have obtained through my STEP project has supplemented my four-year interior design education from the university and puts me in a great position to be successful after graduation. In addition to the technical knowledge that I have obtained, I have also learned how to apply it in real-life applications through my interior design internship that I have been employed at from June of 2020 to current. My internship is with a residential renovations company and I have been able to apply my kitchen, bathroom, and living in place education to our current projects. 

The program that I completed through the Living in Place Institute took place over four consecutive days. Due to covid, the course took place over Zoom. The founder of the organization taught the course to a diverse group of individuals. The class included professionals from various backgrounds, such as interior design, occupational therapy, and others; I was the only college student in the class. Not only was I able to learn from the instructor, but I learned a lot from the peers in the class due to their extensive professional experience. 

The course’s content was focused on designing homes that are “safe, accessible, and comfortable” for people of varying physical and mental abilities. The curse started with learning about the physical changes that the human body goes through in the aging process. We then went on to learn how to design spaces that take these physical changes into account to allow people to stay living in their homes longer and at varying degrees of independence. Aspects of the home that we explored were lighting, material selections, and kitchen and bathroom design among others. 

While the CLIPP course focused on the entire home in regards to aging in place, the NKBA courses focused specifically on kitchen and bathroom design. The 30 hours of course work included content in cabinet construction, appliances, plumbing, design planning, ventilation, lighting, project management and estimating. 

Obtaining these certifications prior to graduation will set me apart from other post-graduation interior designers in the job market. Most people obtain these certifications throughout their career; however, I have done so before my career has even started, making me a desirable hire for employers. STEP has allowed me to feel qualified and confident to obtain an interior design job post-graduation. 

Professional Textbooks from NKBA courses

Leadership: Wilderness First Responder Certification

My STEP project brought me out to Gunnison, Colorado this summer where I was able to take a 10-day wilderness first responder course. This course – aimed at backcountry enthusiasts, camp counselors, search and rescue members, and more – taught the basics of what to do when someone is injured in the backcountry. It went over many different ailments, illnesses, and emergency situations that you could find yourself in and how to deal with them when you don’t have access to frontcountry medicine. At the end of the 10-day, informative course, I walked away with a Wilderness First Responder certification.

To say that I learned a lot over the 10-day course would be a n understatement. You really don’t know how much you would be under prepared in emergency situations until you are given instruction on what to do or find yourself in that position. One of the topics covered was misconceptions about basic medicine protocol – those things that you were taught as a kid to do in different medical situations probably weren’t true, or at least not fully true, and that surprised me. Though I learned a lot over my course, I also realized how much I didn’t know, or wouldn’t be qualified for, even after all of this training. If anything, this course taught me how much there really is to know about medicine and care, and how expansive and broad this knowledge is. You could study medicine for years and still not know all there is to know about it. The amount of work that goes into making an accurate diagnosis, what all can change that, and how differently people react to injuries and illnesses is truly amazing. Alongside first aid, this course also taught about mental illnesses and lifetime conditions that people may face. I feel as if this was a great addition to the course and my experience, as it not only taught us how to provide care, but also furthered my understanding on these conditions people may face in my everyday life that I was uninformed about.

Going back to feeling under prepared, during this course we had various scenarios to help us get into the mindset of an emergency. Moulage was used to fake injuries and acting was used to make the situation more urgent. The very first day of the course, we were thrown into a scenario right away – most of us had no idea what to do, and made many mistakes along the way. It really made you think about what you would’ve done had it been a real emergency situation. Throughout the course as training progressed, we learned more and more, got to know each other, and eventually the scenarios no longer seemed an emergency. Although I can’t talk about our night scenario on the 9th day of the course (to keep the experience for everyone who has yet to take the course), it’s like a wake up call on how you will feel in real emergency situations. In the course, it’s easy to remember your training – exact protocol, diagnosis information, and how to stay calm – but in reality, it is much harder when it comes to real life. Though you can try to replicate that in the classroom, and though our night scenario did as best as it could to help prepare us for what it might be like, you will never be able to know until you are truly in that situation later on.

The medical knowledge we learned in our class was expansive – What do you do if someone has an open angulated fracture? In what situations do you administer oxygen? How do you treat HACE? – I was still left with a lot of questions, possibly more than I had when I started the course. Though I learned a lot about these specific situations, I was also informed about all the situations we wouldn’t know how to treat. I learned that although we may be able to help in some ways, there would be things we aren’t qualified to perform during our care. No matter how easily we could diagnose an illness, sometimes the only thing we could do was tell them to evacuate as quickly as possible. I also learned how hard it was to diagnose and provide an accurate treatment plan with the many situations one could come across, and with how differently people may react to each. While it was disheartening in some ways, it also helped me to appreciate those that go to great lengths to learn the ins and outs of medicine. While I think my 10-day course taught me a lot, there are those that spend years upon years studying medicine and care to provide that to everyone. Even then, I’m sure there will always be things to learn and uncertainty with care and diagnosis that most people don’t realize. 

Finally, with the instruction on mental illnesses and lifetime conditions, I feel as if I learned information that could be helpful in and out of emergency care situations. The course taught us about how conditions may affect someone and what all they may go through to properly care for it. Though they taught us a lot about care for these conditions, it also opened my eyes a bit more to how these things can take a toll on each person who experiences them. It may not be the same as a broken leg or dislocated shoulder, but it’s something that affects people around us in the frontcountry every day. In particular, there was a classmate who had diabetes that I learned a lot from. I feel as if it was something I was misinformed about and allowed me to learn firsthand about this condition. Alongside this we talked about mental illnesses – the most common kind of illness that we each may experience in our life but also the least talked about. In our class, there were a variety of people with different mental illnesses that got to share their experience, how it affects them, and how they would like to be helped if they were in your care. It was a very open conversation with a lot of different viewpoints that I don’t often get to have about these topics. It also helped me to realize how differently even the same thing can affect someone else and how care for each person can and should be very different.

This course has taught me a lot that I feel will be very beneficial in my life going forward. It has prepared me for emergency situations I may come across, but has also taught me my limitations and when to ask for help. I feel I will be better equipped to help friends and family in an emergency here in the frontcountry and in my personal endeavors in the backcountry. With hopes of a career in the outdoors, this information could be vital as I will be further from frontcountry care. I believe that this certification will be very helpful in my job search as many companies require this certification for forestry and backcountry work. Not only do I think this experience will be beneficial in any emergency backcountry situations I may find myself in later on, I also believe it will help me in everyday life in my interactions with others. I feel as if the things I’ve learned can help me to be more informed and to be a better friend to those around me.



Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures during the course, so here are some photos from the area.

A canyon close to where we had the course (above) and the view from my tent (below)!

Leadership in SCUBA Diving Certification

For my STEP signature project, I drove down to the Florida Keys in order to earn my open water and advanced open water scuba diving certification. The training for both certifications took about a week of all-day boat diving in the reefs off of Key Largo. The diving and included wreck dives, fish identification, search and recovery techniques, underwater navigation, and deep diving (up to 100 feet down!).

Breathing underwater is definitely a huge shift in perspective. It’s almost like you’re in a completely new world when you’re down there, and in a way, I guess you are. Spacial awareness, color perception, communication, and the wildlife you get to see all change as soon as you jump off the boat. If you’re wondering, Skittles all look gray/green/brown at 100 feet deep due to the amount of light and color being absorbed above you, it was really cool to see! It took some getting used to learning how to breathe through your mouth, keep your mask clear of water, and keeping track of a whole bunch of safety skills that you would never have to consider otherwise was difficult at first, but it was so worth it. Getting to float underwater and watch as huge barracuda, sea turtles, sharks, and all sorts of tropical fish swim right past you is so breathtaking. I have a much deeper appreciation for our oceans and oceanic wildlife after getting to see it so up close. Although this is a skill I don’t think I would have tried if not for STEP, I now can’t imagine my life without it. I’m encouraging everyone I know to also learn how to dive, and I’m looking forward to advancing my certifications and continue to dive all over the world.

The biggest interactions I had during this trip were with the people and the wildlife. I got to interact pretty closely with a lot of people such as my instructor, AJ, the boat and dive shop staff (where we met a fellow buckeye alum!), and Dan, pictured on the boat with me, who was also in Key Largo earning his scuba certification alongside me. I was lucky to immediately connect with our instructor who was so patient and helpful the entire time. Going underwater can definitely be scary at first, and being able to trust your instructor plays a huge role in feeling safe. We were also all spending 8+ hours a day together, so patience with each other played a big role in how well everything went.

My interactions with the wildlife there also contributed significantly to the transformative experience of my project. Being a natural resource management major, I had read all about coral reefs, ocean wildlife, and all sorts of other environmental information regarding our oceans, but getting to see it so up close and in the wild put a whole new lense on things. Reading about coral restoration versus going out and getting to actually see the bleached coral, artificial coral growths, and identification tags where new coral has been planted makes such a difference in how seriously I have been taking ocean issues.

The experience as a whole has also been a big self-confidence boost. Before this trip, I never would have thought myself capable of diving through a shipwreck 100 feet deep, and honestly, the thought of doing that was terrifying. Until I did it. And then wanted to do it again and again and see as much as I possibly could as deep as we could possibly dive. Just 2% of the world’s population are certified divers, and to be a part of that community has already proven to be so rewarding.

Moving forward after this project, I hope to incorporate diving into my life as much as possible. Although Ohio does have some good diving sites, I would really love to travel all over the world and see every single ocean (post-corona of course). I also hope to continue earning higher certifications and other specializations such as underwater naturalist training and coral reef restoration. I am also looking into possibly incorporating diving into my career as a natural resource manager post-graduation. Long story short, through this project I was able to find a new passion that I love and that makes me feel confident, and I am going to continue to use my training to continue diving as much as I can.

Leadership: Private Pilot Flight Training

For my STEP signature project, I completed part of the training for my private pilot’s certificate. I flew at Capital City Aviation, a flight school at the Ohio State Airport! I used this project as a supplement to my training and utilized other scholarships and support for the other sections of training.

Getting my flight license has been a long process to say the least. When I was really young, I was terrified of heights and of flying. When I was 13, I went on my first airplane ride. I cried the entire way through the airport and even right before takeoff. However, as the airplane took off, my fear was gone and I was in awe of flying. From then on I have always wanted to be a pilot!

After joining an airplane club in high school and completing the ground school portion in my spare time, finally getting behind the wheel (The yoke) of an airplane felt like a huge and exciting accomplishment. The project was really eye opening by showing me how some goals take lots of determination and effort to work. It strengthened my confidence, and inspired to pursue my other ambitions.

Part of my flight training that will be invaluable moving forward is that I joined the aviation community. The people involved with flight training and flying are very like-minded and supportive, and I have made several connections and friendships along the way. It feels great to be part of the aviation community especially because this will help me as I begin my aerospace career.

While I experienced this success, I also encountered several road blocks that impacted my transformation. One of these problems was the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic brought many aspects of life around the globe to a halt, and flight training was no exception. The downside to this is that the longer flight training takes to complete, the more money is costs and the more effort a student need put in re-learning material or refining flying skills. I had to take a several month hiatus to go back home to be with my family, and there was a large learning curve to encounter once I returned. Regardless, I felt more determined than ever to finish my training and reap the benefits of my STEP project.

Finally, the part of my training that led to the best rewards was completing several components of the “training checklist.” One requirement for every pilot’s training is completing their first solo flight. This of course sounds obvious, but the impact of controlling an aircraft alone without a co-pilot present for the first time is daunting and exhilarating to say the least. Moments like this along with power-off landings, simulated stall maneuvers, cross-wind takeoffs, and more have forced me to suppress my nerves and remember all of the training I had before that moment. These milestones have transformed me into a pilot.

This project has provided a lot of valuable experiences that I will draw upon during my future endeavors. It showed me that lofty goals are achievable with hard work and support, and gave me lots of enjoyable memories. For my career as an aerospace engineer, flight training highlights the real-life applications of aircraft design and regulatory practices that I need to understand thoroughly. I will continue to build on my flight training and enjoy all of what the skies have to offer.


Leadership: Personal Training Certification

My STEP project consisted of participating in a ten-week program to become a certified personal trainer. Each week consisted of readings, interactive activities, discussion posts, in depth talks, and quizzes about the material given and what it takes to be a personal trainer. At the end of the ten weeks, a final exam determined if you could become certified or not.

This process of becoming a personal trainer was more eye-opening than I ever imagined. One transformation that I was very excited to see is just how much I loved learning and studying this material, it made me realize that I am on the career path that I want to be on. It has solidified that this type of thing is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. It gives me the chance to help others and make an impact on someone’s life while also being able to enjoy every minute of it. Going into the certification process I assumed it was just going to be a review of most topics but instead they presented ideas and concepts I had never even considered to be a part of personal training.

Not only have I gained a lot of respect for personal trainers, I have also started viewing individuals differently. Every individual seeks out a personal trainer for a different reason and one thing I quickly found out is just how personalized each program should be. Everybody is going to need work on different muscle imbalances and have different goals and this certification has transformed the way I view every individual.

One thing in particular that led to my one of my transformations is the discussion groups and posts. Though a minor portion of the certification process, it was one of the few opportunities I had to see a similar topic from so many different people’s point of view and be able to discuss all of our ideas more so everybody could learn off of each other. Each post was based off of a certain topic or question, and fifty or so different people would put their own answers resulting in about fifty thoughts all about that topic. This helped form a transformation due to the interactivity and different personalities that I was able to interact and communicate with.

Another way that obtaining this certification was transformational is that it helped my solidify career path. Prior to this project I was fairly confident in my career choice, but I had no real experience to help me gage that. The material in this certification was the first chance for me to see if I really liked the material in a real world setting rather than just learning it in classroom. Being able to apply it to real life situations and scenarios is what helped me conclude that I really want to be in the field of exercise and help transform people’s lives.

The last part of the certification that I feel was the most transformational was the access I had to a peer mentor and other fitness experts. Being able to be in contact with people with not only similar interests as me but have also reached the goals I want to reach, like becoming a physical therapist, has transformed my strategy to move onward in my career. Those experts showed me there are other ways to get to where I want to go without going down the same path as everyone else and that has transformed the way I have approached graduate school. There are many different ways that acquiring this personal trainer certification has helped transform my thinking, my approach to life, and my career, all for the better.

This transformation has been valuable in numerous different ways. The biggest way I think this has positively impacted my life is it has transformed my approach to reaching my goal of becoming a physical therapist. This certification has helped me mostly with the advancement of my career as a health and exercise professional while taking a route that other applicants most likely have not taken. As a hopeful physical therapist, this certification has given me not only an edge on other applicants but has also introduced many ideas and strategies to become great in my profession. I know that all the information I learned will translate to my future career no matter what path I take.

STEP Reflection

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed. 

In my STEP signature project, I worked to get my recreational pilot’s license. For this, I took ground school lessons and flight lessons with an instructor during summer 2019, and got the required solo hours and took the license exam during summer 2020.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place. 

During the completion of my STEP signature project, I learned a great deal about myself and my abilities. Most of all, I gained a new level of confidence in myself. At the airfield where I learned to fly, you are taught to fly without high-tech equipment in basic stick-and-rudder aircraft. At first, this is quite scary! But after a few lessons, I became more confident in my ability to fly and control the aircraft. The confidence required to fly an aircraft can easily be translated to the confidence needed to be a good leader. Good leaders need to have confidence in themselves before others can have confidence in them. This makes the confidence I gained in learning to pilot aircrafts quite valuable to me in future leadership positions. 

My STEP signature project also transformed how I view the field of atmospheric sciences, which I am majoring in. I got the chance to see the direct impacts of weather forecasts and how pilots used them to plan flights. I also learned just how important forecasting is as pilots depend on accurate and timely forecasts in order to have safe flights. The greater understanding of the applications of forecasting I gained from getting my pilot’s license will allow me to become a better scientist by giving me unique insight that other scientists in my field don’t always have. My STEP project has not only allowed me to become a better scientist, but also more confident in my abilities as a leader. 


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation. 

The relationships that I gained with the pilots and instructors at the airport really helped me to learn about the importance and necessity of accurate weather forecasting in the field of aviation. Many of the pilots that I met were excited to learn that I was majoring in atmospheric sciences as they had a lot to say (both positive and negative) about forecasting and weather maps. Some pilots explained to me that weather maps are often difficult to interpret and expressed that they wished that maps could be more user friendly. These comments and concerns impacted me as they gave me motivation and inspiration to make a change in my field for the better. Before completing my STEP project, I was unaware that non-scientists used many of the high-level maps that I would learn about in class. I am now motivated to potentially develop more understandable maps that still portray complex information. 

The relationship that I developed with my instructor, Steve Richards, was also transformative to me. He helped to cultivate my newfound confidence in myself. Steve was not only a great mentor to me but also a huge supporter of getting more women involved in aviation. His passion definitely spilled over onto me and allowed me to realize how important it is to be surrounded by diverse people in all aspects of life. Being a woman in a male-dominated field can definitely be intimidating and having a mentor that recognized this and made sure to be supportive of my concerns was incredible. Steve boosted my confidence in myself and gave me valuable mentorship skills that I will be able to utilize later in my career. 

Although all aspects of flying allowed me to be more confident in myself, one specific training exercise stood out in my mind as exponentially increasing my confidence. In this exercise, the pilot brings the aircraft to a stall which causes it to drop significantly. The objective of this exercise is to not freak out when the plane drops and remain in control of the aircraft. The first time I did this, I definitely freaked out and my instructor had to take the controls. This caused me to have some doubts in my piloting abilities. But, after doing the exercise many other times, I began to gain my confidence back. This taught me about not letting one bad experience throw me off track from achieving my goals. I also learned the importance of putting myself in uncomfortable situations in order to grow as a person. These are all skills and abilities that will translate to my future as a scientist and leader. 


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans

The leadership skills and insight into the applications of my field will be valuable for my life and future in many ways. After graduating with my atmospheric sciences degree, I plan on working on weather forecasting somewhere such as the National Weather Service or the Weather Channel. Both of these organizations develop products for the public to use. Because I got to see how weather maps and forecasts are used in aviation, I gained insight that other scientists working at these organizations won’t have. Not only will I be more valuable to my employer, but I will also be able to work to create weather products and forecasts that will be more useful to pilots and the field of aviation in general. 

The leadership skills that I gained through my STEP project will also be very valuable in my scientific career. Atmospheric sciences is a very group-oriented science. There are often large teams of scientists working together to achieve a goal. Eventually, I will be able to take on a leadership position in these groups. The process of getting my pilot’s license gave me greater confidence in myself that will be quite useful in a leadership position. I believe that if I can be confident enough to fly a plane, I can be confident enough to lead my fellow scientists. Without the confidence and leadership skills that I gained during my STEP project, I definitely wouldn’t be as effective of a leader as I am today.



STEP Leadership: STNA certification

For my signature project, I received my STNA (State Tested Nursing Assistant) certification for the state of Ohio. I attended a two-week long certification course and passed my state exam. I am using this certification to apply for Patient Care Assistant (PCA) jobs in Columbus hospitals and care facilities.

Receiving my STNA emboldened my passion for the medical field. I am currently applying to medical school, and obtaining patient care skills helped me better understand what kind of profession I am aiming for. Through this course, I learned that a patient’s experience in a hospital or long-term-care facility truly dictates their progress, health, and well-being. Inadequacies in care for elders and other populations that are often taken advantage of were exposed; I learned how to avoid these shortcomings in care.

Throughout my class, we watched videos, read stories, and modeled interactions about the patient care experience. For instance, we watched a video about the difficult transitions that residents often face when moving from an independent space to a nursing home. It is essential that caregivers understand and recognize the emotional and mental tolls that occur when family members have to move to an environment with 24/7 care. These testimonials resonated with my experience when my grandma was living in a nursing home.

Further, we demonstrated patient care skills on mannequins to emulate real-life experiences. The smallest components of patient interactions truly can make or break the patient’s experience. For example, addressing your resident by an appropriate name, ensuring privacy, and listening to residents are all vital for maintaining respect. In our class, we also discussed differences in communication styles for patients with particular neurodegenerative disorders.

I also really enjoyed meeting new people and learning about my classmates’ backgrounds. Some other students were pre-health and also went to OSU, while others were changing career paths. A lot of my classmates were not born in the United States, so when we had our potluck day, I loved trying different foods. My classmates also encouraged me in my future endeavors.

In all, receiving my STNA is extremely valuable for my clinical experience. This certification will allow me to apply to a multitude of jobs that require higher certifications, and I will further be exposed to diverse healthcare environments. I am appreciative of this experience, and I hope that this qualification will help me become a better caregiver who is attuned to the patient-centered philosophy.