Service- Learning STEP Project

My STEP Signature Project was a partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a volunteer for this summer. I worked closely with hospital staff, patient families, and made incredible connections across the entire hospital.

This summer was very challenging for me. Not only was I taking an intensive set of academic coursework, but, I was using most of my free time outside of studying to volunteer. I have always believed that when you are doing something you love, it will never feel like work. That is exactly my feelings with regard to my summer of 2018. This summer was my first summer living completely on my own. I was living in my FIRST apartment with roommates for the first time since Freshman year in the residence halls. I was learning how to cook for myself and grocery shop. Most importantly, I was learning how to budget and stay within my financial means. This was incredibly challenging going from my room and board paid for as a Resident Advisor to paying all sorts of bills! Towards the end of my STEP project, I had gained so much respect and confidence. At times, I didn’t believe in myself to accomplish all I had set out for the summer. However, with hard work, increasing time management skills, and the financial assistance from STEP, I lived a summer of my dreams! I accomplished so much more than I could have even imagined, and I was so incredibly proud of the growth I saw within myself over such a short amount of time.

STEP granted me the ability to stay in Columbus for the summer and volunteer with an amazing organization. STEP also granted me with incredible opportunities to make connections to health professionals that truly mentored me and ignited a new passion or fire within me for the medical field, with pediatrics at the center. I met doctors, technicians, surgeons, families, patients, and other allied health professionals. Each individual I had the opportunity to interact with truly touched my heart and confirmed that my desire to have a lasting career within the medical field is the right decision for me.

I definitely matured in ways that I didn’t anticipate. Living with roommates that weren’t necessarily my friends, and definitely didn’t have the same standard of clean was challenging. It taught me how to become comfortable with having difficult conversations with those you are living with and how to be mature and civil, regardless of your opinions of them. With that, I also learned new passions I didn’t have a clue that I even enjoyed. I learned that I LOVE to cook, and that it’s actually pretty therapeutic for me. I was attempting to manage a healthier lifestyle, although I was lacking time and resources, and learned about meal prepping and how to balance calories with nutrients. This is definitely a skill I plan to continue improving and learning as much as I can!

Although I initially was elated to begin my STEP Signature Project for the experience to interact with other medical professionals, the most valuable lesson I learned was how to budget. I definitely used Ohio State’s resources when completing an all-encompassing budget sheet. This sheet included everything from rent, utilities, and food, to other things I enjoy doing like dining out with friends occasionally and my Netflix account. This alone has saved me SO much money. I highly recommend using OSU’s financial coaching. I still continue to use this spreadsheet, and I live by it, literally! I was really nervous about being able to afford my stay in Columbus this summer, even with the generosity of the STEP grant, and with the help leading up to my project’s start date, I felt prepared to take on anything the summer was going to throw my way! I learned that it’s okay to grab Dunkin when you need a little pick me up, as long as this is a “treat” and not a regular occurrence. I learned how to use coupons on everyday items I use to save money here and there. Most importantly, I learned if you take advantage of, and manage your resources appropriately, there is nothing you aren’t capable of!

My STEP Signature Project was immensely valuable for my life. Professionally, I made so many connections with doctors, nurses, and patient care technicians that I believe will be unbelievably influential for when I graduate Nursing school next Spring. They showed me that you can be in a profession for years and still look forward to coming to work each day because they love what they do. I want that passion for my career, and now I know I don’t ever have to settle. The nursing field is so vast, and there are so many opportunities to switch around in different aspects of medicine. There is no reason to ever feel bored or complacent within my future career. When I graduate, I believe I will be able to look back on this experience and know that volunteering at Nationwide Children’s truly solidified my passion for children in the medical field.

Academically, I was challenged. I learned how to manage my time between class, volunteer hours, and studying. I had always struggled with knowing how I learn best. I think this is because I always had a little more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. I was so occupied this summer, that I had no option but to complete my work and studying within a set time. I learned how to be even more organized than I already was, and how to hold myself accountable. Personally, I saw so much growth within myself. I found purpose, passion, love, and joy within myself. I fell head-over-heals in love with my future career. I learned responsibility, respect, professionalism, and how to be my biggest cheerleader! Without the generous gift STEP granted me, I don’t believe I would be on the same career tract as I am today, and I am so incredibly grateful.

One thought on “Service- Learning STEP Project

  1. Hi Haylee,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I would have liked more information on what you did during your volunteer hours, besides networking with professionals. What did you learn from the mentorship? What were some practical skills you picked up at the hospital? However, I’m glad it was a summer of growth and that you learned a lot about yourself.

    Best of luck this year,


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