Zach Burton: An Unstoppable Force

By Miranda Koewler


I met with third-year Zach Burton to discuss his experiences at Ohio State and his incredibly bright future. The Arkansas native has plenty to share with the world, and I think you’ll find his story as inspiring as I do.

Zach BurtonMiranda: What are you studying and why?
Zach: Journalism and public affairs with a focus on nonprofit management. I was very shy and quiet until the sixth grade. My teacher pushed me into participating in a broadcasting competition, and I ended up winning!

This is when I started coming out of my shell to pursue journalism. I like public affairs for the business aspect. Also in the future I want to start a nonprofit, so I like the hands-on experiences in business that allow me to learn more about the nonprofit world.

I am also a music performance minor. I have played piano by ear since I was three, so I wanted to hold onto that. I play for my gospel choir and a church downtown.

Tell me about some things you’re involved in on campus and in the community.
Last year I joined Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. I have been incredibly influenced by the older brothers helping to guide me through college. They’re passionate about the community and always willing to do service. I love being able to share this honor with my dad, who is also a member.

In addition, I have the privilege of playing piano for the African American Voices Gospel Choir. This group allows me to celebrate my faith away from home, and the director has become a mentor in my life. I’m excited to say that I’ll be taking over as president in the fall.

Lastly, I was one of 25 participants in the Buckeye Leadership Fellows Program last year. This program gave me rigorous professional development training through real world situations. We were challenged to improve something within our corporate pairing. I was able to network with alumni, create a proposal for a real solution and learn so much along the way.

What are three words to describe you?
First, ambitious. I have a problem saying no, but with everything I do, I give 100 percent. I believe if you wanna go for it, then go for it. If it doesn’t work out, then you learned something. Next, level-headed. I’m very involved, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I use these times of stress to learn and connect with peers and mentors. It gives me a chance to grow. Thirdly, positive. I always have a smile on my face, and it takes a lot to bring me down. I try to be the bright influence that motivates others.

You mentioned sports being a big part of your life. What sports did you play growing up?
I’ve done almost everything through the years: football, baseball, basketball, running track. Sports gave me the opportunity to focus on bettering myself. My favorite sport to play is probably basketball because I’ve played since the eighth grade. I still play a game here or there, and I’m also on an intramural flag football team.

What is the most important thing you have taken away from playing sports?
How to overcome adversity. During college recruitment season, I suffered an injury and was unable to sign with anyone. I kept my “next play” mentality by looking to the future and focusing on the education I’d been working so hard towards. My family always encouraged me to do well in school, so I try to influence kids to prioritize their education too.

How do you see this influence in your work at Ohio State?
I keep that “next play” mentality with everything. I discovered that studying business wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t giving up. You have to move on if you believe something is not a good fit for you or if you feel uncomfortable. I signed up for everything that interested me at the Student Involvement Fair to find new opportunities. It’s important to find balance with what you do and what you love. I have been able to relate my major to sports and hone in on my passions.

Where do you see sports fitting into your future?
In a perfect world, I would be a sports anchor or reporter so that I could use my personality. I have been a sideline reporter for Scarlet and Gray Sports Radio and an ESPN intern when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Championship. Currently, I’m a digital media intern with the Columbus Crew. All of these opportunities have taught me so much about the industry and have shown me that this is where I want to be some day.

You also mentioned creating a non-profit someday. Can you tell me more about this?
There are not many nonprofits where I’m from. I’ve seen various startups in Columbus that have been created for a specific mission. I moved from a lower class area to a suburb and was granted opportunities that many students didn’t have. I’ve researched the lack of opportunities at home, and I want to help my community receive the food and nutrition they need, have equal opportunities for education and discover how sports can benefit students. I won’t let them lose hope in academics. Very few teachers create personal connections, so I see the possibility of creating mentorship programs so that these students have a role model to help them through everything.

What brought you to Ohio State?
I am from a classic small town called Springdale, Arkansas. My Grandma lived right down the street, and everyone knew each other. Basically, the whole city is in your business. But Springdale was a better area in Arkansas. When my dad moved there, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It gave me so many more opportunities, including giving me more ambition and the ability to connect with the right people.

When I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Cincinnati, they brought me on a college visit here at Ohio State. I fell in love instantly. I had always felt like a city boy in a country state, so this huge school had everything I wanted. The Morrill Scholars Program gave me the exact opportunity I needed to get here.

What advice would you like to pass on to your fellow Buckeyes?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Ohio State offers plenty of new things, but make sure to keep track of who you are in the process. You only have a few years to explore, so find yourself, discover new interests and change your mind if you want to. Ohio State is its own world within a great city to explore and endless people to learn from. Live it up while you can.

Caroline Gonzalez Takes On the World of Local Politics

By Miranda Koewler


caroling gonzalezI sat down with senior Caroline Gonzalez to hear about her personal journey as a Buckeye. I was inspired by her drive and passion, and I know you’ll find her story just as fascinating as I did.

Miranda: What are you studying and why?
Caroline: Political science and economics. My interest with politics started when I was young. I lived across from Villanova University and a local park. The university wanted to turn this park into a parking garage. My parents and neighbors teamed up to prevent this from happening.

Tell me about some things you are involved with on campus and in the community?
I came to Ohio State not knowing a single person. Luckily, the Morrill Scholars Program built a foundation of peers that helped me find my place. As a sophomore, I was elected as a Senator for the South Campus Living Area for USG. This was an incredible experience, but I later decided to step back from USG to focus on my love of local politics. For the last two years, I’ve worked with a consulting firm helping with local elections. This job gave me the opportunity to branch out from Ohio State and find my place in a great political city.

What are three words to describe you?
Resilient. Politics is messy. You’re forced to face lots of losses. This tends to discourage people, but I keep working through it all because this is what I love.

Optimistic. I try to stay calm when times are tough. My ideas and goals are clear, so I’m able to keep my head up and look to the future.

Focused. I juggle a lot in my crazy life. I work in admissions, conduct behavioral economic research and take my academics very seriously. My focus and drive help me to balance all these things.

How did your passion for politics begin?
I dabbled in the 2008 campaign, but during my sophomore year of high school, I became more involved. I was president of the Young Democrats club in high school. Local volunteers inspired me. They hosted gatherings to make phone calls, constantly worked on fundraising and had debate watch parties. It was a community. Before I could even vote, I worked at the polls. This is kind of where it all began.

How have your experiences as a Buckeye shaped this passion?
I knew I wanted a school in a big city, but I never considered the effects of being in the capital of a major swing state. It’s a welcoming place that offers me experiences unlike any other, which has shaped me for my approaching career.

Oftentimes politics has a negative reputation. What keeps you involved?
I have learned to understand people from different perspectives. You have to realize that the stereotypes about political workers are not true. I’ve found an inspiring community with role models who have changed my life; my motivation really comes from them. All you need is hope and optimism. I simply believe in what I do and what it can do for others.

In your bio, you mentioned returning to your hometowns of Philadelphia and Miami. What is it about these two places that appeals to you?
I grew up in Philly and love the history and culture of the city. Last summer, I interned with the Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf. I even worked on the floor of the DNC! This was a crazy and exhausting experience, but it reminded me why I do what I do. I hope to return to help my hometown because I have such a strong connection with it.

Miami, on the other hand, is seen as a vacation destination. As a Cuban American, I appreciate its diversity and Cuban influences. While it has a lot to offer, it needs help. There are problems with corruption, the recession and the environment. These problems are not being addressed, so I want to help make it better.

Tell me about some role models who have inspired you.
I love to see a great candidate, watch them succeed and do good in the community. I look to people who break boundaries. In Columbus, I have found motivated women who support one another. My first year, I met my boss at the consulting firm who took me under her wing. Also, my parents of course. I did not see too many people in politics growing up, especially not women. To see them get involved in the community was awesome.

Based on your various experiences, what is one piece of advice you would pass on to your fellow Buckeyes?
Don’t be afraid. I knew absolutely no one when I came here. Morrill Scholars is a great program and allowed me to take opportunities to get the most out of this school. When I was looking for an internship, I just ended up calling the Governor’s office to see if they needed help. It comes from never doubting myself. I don’t wait for something to happen, I make it happen.

Sam Koziol Brings Magic to Ohio State

By Miranda Koewler


Student Life’s communications team sat down with third-year Sam Koziol to talk about all the things that make this Disney fanatic extraordinary. We hope you will find this story just as magical as we do.

sam koziol_artMiranda: What are you studying and why?

Sam: Marketing with a leadership studies minor. Marketing plays to both my creative side and my people skills. It’s an ever-changing field that offers various new experiences with new people. For leadership studies, it is something that aligns with anything you do in your life.

Tell me about some of the things you’re involved in on campus and in the community.

First is Mount Leadership Scholars Society. I was involved in various roles, like Member Development Chair, that developed me as a leader and community servant. In Post Mount life, I will be taking the role of Awareness Officer, which promotes the identity of Post Mount scholars and increases their relationship with younger Mounties.

Next is Ohio Staters, Inc., which pushes me to further develop my professional skills, connect with faculty members and better the campus through traditions. I am the Communications Chair and a Light Up North Area (LUNA) co-chair. LUNA takes place on Reading Day in December; We put up lights in north campus to brighten it up and bring people together during finals.

I am also one of the Student Life Event Marketing Interns. In the summer, I focus on all things Buck-I-Frenzy. I also work on various communication and marketing needs for the department.

Where is your favorite spot on campus and why?

I love the Union, specifically the Great Hall staircase. The words on the staircase are often unnoticed but are something I really appreciate. I also love Orton Bell Tower. It is run by Staters and has a lot of tradition behind it. I am a certified Orton tour guide!

What are three words to describe you?

Maximizer. It stresses making the most out of a situation or getting the most out of myself.

Musician. I started playing piano when I was five or six, then picked up the saxophone. Music led me to meet really great people, develop leadership skills as a drum major in high school band and gave me a skill  that will last a lifetime.

Disney-lover. I have loved Disney all my life. For me, it is beyond the movies and theme parks. It started with my mom. When she was a teacher, she had a huge Disney mural on her wall painted by one of her students. Growing up, I remember doing research papers on Walt Disney and his development of Mickey and the parks. This helped my appreciation continue to grow.

Are there any specific Disney movies or characters with which you most relate?

As far as characters go, Mickey Mouse for sure. I have always viewed him as the embodiment of Walt Disney made to carry out his legacy. Both inspire me with the way they treat others and carry themselves. I have always loved “Finding Nemo.” I used to carry around my little Nemo toy all the time. There is so much you can learn from it including to “ride the waves” as taught by another favorite character, Squirt. Classics like Winnie the Pooh were a major part of my childhood. My favorite modern day Disney movie is probably “Saving Mr. Banks,” which gave me a better view of what Walt Disney was like.

Where do you see this influence in your life now?

Simply stated, Disney influences my general outlook on life. Understanding Walt Disney, his lessons and the motivation he had to achieve his dreams are aspects I truly admire and push to exemplify in my own life. It is my dream to work at Disney one day.

How do your goals for the future fit with what you’re doing here at Ohio State?

Ohio State is a place of opportunity, giving me the ability to experience so much and providing me with personal development that cannot be achieved elsewhere. I credit a lot of this to experiences outside the classroom.  Many of the people I have met hold such diverse backgrounds, but every single one of them has an amazing outlook on life and giving back. I have always seen a connection between Staters and Disney. Staters’ motto is “Thinkers, Believers and Doers.” Walt Disney himself was the biggest believer ever. What I do in Staters is a small scale version of what Disney has done for the country and even the world. He never stopped believing in himself even after various failures, and with that, he encouraged the same attitude for the people around him.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from your love of Disney?

“If you can dream it you can do it” are words that I live by. No matter the obstacles in your way, you are capable of achieving your goals. This also relates to believing in yourself, even through failure. I view failure as a reason to grow and succeed.

I can tell that the Disney legacy has left quite a mark on your life. What mark do you want to leave on Ohio State after you graduate?

Whether it be a tradition in Staters that I supported or a program in Mount that I enacted, I want to be able to see that I left campus better than it was when I came. I want to make connections with the legacies that my fellow Buckeyes are creating. Getting to know more Buckeyes helps to create a network where we can count on one another.

After two years here, what is one thing you would encourage every Ohio State student to cross off their bucket list?

One thing that has impacted me is to connect with faculty members. We take classes from them, but there is so much more we can learn outside of a lecture hall. My first year advisor was an encouraging faculty member that helped to welcome me to the campus. With Staters and working in Student Life, I am able to connect with the faculty of this great university. I encourage more students to reach out and get to know the people around them. Hearing their stories can teach us so much more.

Johnny Schwartz

For the past two years, Johnny Schwartz has been working and studying his way toward a degree in Agricultural Business and Applied Economics. We know you’ll enjoy reading about his unique journey.

johnny schwartzWhen Johnny first visited Ohio State, he was a student at another university living a completely different life. But the culture and tradition of the scarlet and gray drew him in, as they often do, and Johnny decided to become a Buckeye for Life.

Hailing from a small town outside New York City, moving to Columbus was a big adjustment for Johnny – but he knew it would be worth it.

“Columbus has a good energy,” Johnny beamed, reflecting on his time in the 6-1-4. For Johnny, the most unique quality of Ohio State is the social and cultural ties that our community forms. The feelings of pride, loyalty, dedication and passion are bonds that connect Buckeyes across the nation and the globe.

With so much passion for Ohio State, it’s hard to believe Johnny has only been a Buckeye for two short years. He speaks of it as though it’s been the center of his world his whole life. But Johnny feels that transferring to Ohio State from another school has allowed him to appreciate his experiences more and take pride in his own contributions to those experiences.

All of these feelings came to a head for Johnny at the Spring Game in 2016 when he raced on the field and won. Getting the chance to stand on the field and meet Zeke, Braxton and Urban was something he will never forget.

In his spare time, Johnny enjoys walking his dog and expressing his unique perspectives on his Instagram page. He views social media as a way to focus on his environment and the impact that it has on him, rather than focusing on himself.

One thing is for sure: Johnny is an independent soul who has paved his own way. Holding many jobs growing up, he has worked in marketing for the medical field, retail, food service and even landscaping.

The most important thing for him in each chapter of his life has been to find something he is passionate about. Thinking about graduating this spring, Johnny has an open mind and is exploring many options, hoping for one that will allow him to keep central Ohio as a part of his future.

For incoming Buckeyes, Johnny says simply “don’t be afraid.” He hopes they will interpret that statement in a way that is most meaningful for them.

Johnny thinks of Columbus as a mini New York City, where culture and diversity abound. For him, Columbus is the “trifecta” – it’s a state capital, home to a major university and a Top 20 Metropolitan city. He sees opportunities for social and political change taking root here as a result of all of those factors.

“Ohio is my second home,” Johnny shared, noting that the love Ohioans have for their state is infectious. He feels it has been the best place for him to get started, and we wholeheartedly agree.

Sahil Sharma

Sahil sat down with the communications team in the Ohio Union, with love on his mind, to talk about his journey so far at The Ohio State University.

sahil sharmaThe contagious Buckeye love and energy is what captured Sahil Sharma’s heart and led hi to transfer from the University of Cincinnati to Ohio State.

“Those who do not believe in magic will not find it,” he said. “To me, love is the closest thing we have to magic, and that’s what we have here at Ohio State.”

When asked about his passions, all Sahil could talk about was love. The Greek word agapē resonates with Sahil. It means “unconditional love without circumstance” and Sahil said that love is one of his core values. Currently majoring in Psychology and Leadership Studies, Sahil plans to live out his passion for serving people with love after graduation.

“I am hopeful for the future of this world and our capacity to change,” Sahil said. “If I take this approach in loving everyone, I think that will truly change the world one day.”

Sahil is currently an Ambassador and Supervisor for the Department of Recreational Sports. As Crew Chief, Sahil oversees other student employees within his department and enjoys watching students grow into leaders. In addition to his involvement in Rec Sports, Sahil is a Facilitator for the Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI). ELI is a cohort comprised of 20 students who focus on personal leadership development, but more importantly, aspects of servant-leadership.

“Being able to watch them grow outside of their academics is a humbling experience,” Sahil said of the cohort.

Having the confidence to lead your own journey is one thing Sahil wishes to impart to new Buckeyes when they are struggling to find their way. Full of inspiration, Sahil also wanted to pass down the wisdom that students shouldn’t be afraid to be bold, and to be okay with doing something different, even in a new environment. He told us one of the hardest lessons was learning to believe in himself.

“With brilliant people here at Ohio State, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others, and I had to learn that I am running my own race,” he said. “When I look back on my experience, the hardest thing has been for me to believe in myself, and luckily the older you get, you learn to practice love.”

Working on his bucket list, Sahil has just a few things to complete before graduation. One of those things is a surprise for his parents.

“I would really like to do something for my parents because they came from a different country, and they did everything for me,” he explains. “Most importantly, they did everything with love.”

One thing he definitely wishes to do is show them how thankful he is for their support: “I really just owe them so much because they accept me for who I am.”

Sahil shared what he is most proud of so far here at Ohio State. This past summer, he had the opportunity to attend Leadershape. It was important to Sahil to learn that the best way to lead people is to walk behind them.

“It’s amazing to look back and say that I had a genuine and authentic experience here at Ohio State, and I didn’t let anyone create that space for me,” he said.

For the rest of his time at Ohio State, we wish him the best and hope you fell in love with his story – just as we did.


By Erin Lee

Brooklyn McDaniels

Looking forward to law school, third year student and Canton native Brooklyn McDaniels sat down with the Communications Team in the Ohio Union Market to talk about her time here at Ohio State. We guarantee you’ll find her experience as extraordinary as we do.

BrooklynYou’ve probably seen communications major (and legal foundations minor) Brooklyn McDaniels’ friendly face around campus and perhaps even in her favorite role, as President of the Black Student Association (BSA).

Brooklyn spends the majority of her time in Hale Hall because of the comfortable environment and knowledge that she’ll always find a familiar face there. In her third year as an Ohio State student, Brooklyn is working tirelessly to leave her mark.

“I am a big people person. I enjoy doing big things and I enjoy being at the forefront of different endeavors,” she said. Brooklyn isn’t just known for her involvement, though – she’s also well known for her positive spirit. “Positivity is my passion because I enjoy starting my day with a positive mindset, and I hope that I can inspire others to do the same.”

With a big smile on her face, Brooklyn excitedly talked about her involvement with several student organizations on campus. Aside from being President of BSA, she is also a fellow in both the Buckeye Leadership Fellows Program and the Management Leadership for Tomorrow organization.

Alongside her involvements in these organizations, Brooklyn works in the Commencement Office under the Office of the President. With her hands and schedule full, Brooklyn still finds time to eat the best cornbread in Columbus at her favorite off-campus spot, the Philco Diner in the Short North.

In her third year, Brooklyn has just begun to think about life after graduation. For now, all roads lead to law school because of her favorite class, Intro to Law and Society. For Brooklyn, it was her first opportunity to take a class focused on the law, and she enjoyed the professor and class material.

“I want to go into law because I have a huge desire for knowledge and learning, and law school will provide me with an opportunity to do just that,” she said.

Ohio State has provided Brooklyn with numerous opportunities and she is proud to have taken advantage of so many of them so far. Though not everything turns out to be a success, Brooklyn said, “I pride myself in trying different things and am proud that I have been able to try so much here at Ohio State.”

When thinking about her initial reason for coming to school here, Brooklyn said that she chose Ohio State because of Go Buckeye Day. This day gave her the opportunity to learn more about what Ohio State had to offer and was the perfect time to see how her big personality could fit into a big university.

Like many, Brooklyn received a reality check during her first year at Ohio State. The hardest lesson she had to learn was that things would not always go as planned.

“This is a huge university with many talented people and I came to school thinking that everything was going to go my way. Of course it didn’t, but I learned how to move on and work harder for what I wanted,” Brooklyn explained. Incoming freshman should take time to adjust to this large university, she advised. “Don’t just dive into things because they seem super cool, do your research and remain open-minded because there are endless opportunities.”

Her love for Ohio State knows no bounds, but Brooklyn sees opportunities for improvement, too. “I want there to be a level playing field for students to access the invaluable resources here on campus. I really just want everyone to feel like they can easily find the resources they need,” she said. Brooklyn plans to continue to be a resource for students after her.

Gregarious, charismatic and genuine are the three words Brooklyn used to describe her infectious spirit, and after our time with her, we had to agree. Our glimpse into Brooklyn’s life showed us just how extraordinary she is – and we hope it showed you the same!


By Erin Lee

Hemu Venkataraman

Hemu sat down with social media intern Erin Lee for coffee to discuss her extraordinary experience at Ohio State. Beginning her journey as a graduate student, Hemu shared how her many passions have led her to Buckeye Nation. We hope you find her story as extraordinary as we do. 

Meet creative Hemu Vekataraman, who has traveled far to receive her Masters of Fine Arts in Design at The Ohio State University. This Buckeye was born and raised in the coastal city of Madras, India. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Architecture in India, Hemu received a full scholarship to teach, research and study here in Ohio State’s Department of Design.

When applying to graduate school, Hemu wished to find a program that integrated her passion for writing, architecture and the arts, and the design program and the many communities of which she has become a member have provided just that.

Even though she has only been here for one year, Hemu has found her place: “I have been seeking a community here at Ohio State and I am happy that I found one,” Hemu said of her poetry community.

Hemu prides herself in exploring the city of Columbus, as well. Dog-lover, chai-lover and sky-gazer are three words Hemu used to describe herself. Pulling four books and countless sketchbooks out of her backpack, Hemu began to talk about her love for reading.

“I have been reading since I was very young and would save pocket change to go to a second hand store and read random books,” she said. Hemu constantly carries around four books: one fiction, one poetry, one research and one philosophy. Where does she read you might ask? Mirror Lake and Browning Amphitheater are her top two spots on campus.

As a self-proclaimed poet, artist and architect, Hemu maintains two blogs. Her writing blog Streets of Smiles and her art blog constantly keep her busy. A tab titled, “Terribly Tiny Love Letters” allows Hemu to provide her readers with a tiny glimpse into her thoughts. On her art blog, you can find countless sketches of buildings on campus and of downtown Columbus. Hemu also collects and makes postcards.

“Writing is a very fluid medium where you can express yourself, and postcards remind me of who I am thinking of,” she said. In the near future, Hemu hopes to release a line of postcards for Buckeyes around the world to enjoy.

Fascinated by the look and history of buildings on campus, she has many watercolor sketches of Pomerene and University Hall. Even though her journey here at Ohio State has just begun, she is motivated to find a career in which she has creative and financial freedom. “I don’t want to be stuck doing something I don’t like,” she said. “I want the freedom to do what I love.”

The hardest lesson Hemu had to learn during her undergraduate career was finding who she was amongst her friends. Now, as a graduate student, Hemu is challenging herself to learn how to plan for her professional work in the world while staying in the present.

“It’s so easy for us to forget seeing everything on campus and the city in which we live because of our studies,” she said. Filled with words of wisdom, Hemu wishes to remind students to live in the moment – an extraordinary legacy, to be sure.


By Erin Lee

Claire Erickson

Describing herself as a charismatic, level-headed people person, this Chicago native has a story like no other. Graduating a year early, Claire is passionate about the brain, and we know you’ll find her story as extraordinary as we do.

claire ericksonClaire Erickson is a Buckeye through and through and will be graduating from Ohio State earlier than most of the people with whom she started. Next, she is preparing to pursue a higher degree in the field of Neuroscience.

When asked what she was passionate about, she said, “Honestly, it is the brain. Neuroscience is 100% my passion, and as frustrating as it can be, whenever I feel like I am questioning what I want to do, I think about what initially interested me in science.”

She has wanted to pursue a higher degree in the field ever since the 5th grade. “I had to do a non-fiction book report and picked up a book on the brain,” she explained, “and the first line changed my perspective…”

Claire recited the first line from that book and talked about how the brain became so fascinating to her. The passing of her grandfather, who was showing signs of dementia, reaffirmed her decision and choice to study and research neurodegenerative diseases because of their effect on our elderly population.

Beyond her love of the brain, Claire is extremely involved here at Ohio State. Not only is she a Neuroscience ambassador, Claire is also a University Ambassador. You may have seen this familiar face as she continues to lead tours around campus, recruiting future Buckeyes. On these tours, Claire advises students to take advantage of the involvement opportunities here.

“Having an open mind with getting involved can open and close so many doors for you,” she said, “and it never hurts to try.” If you haven’t seen her lead a tour on campus, you may have seen her face on Homecoming Court or perhaps as a member of the university’s Senior Class Honor Society, Mortar Board. On top of these involvements, Claire is also a research assistant focusing on one of the most common brain disorders, Alzheimer’s disease.

You may be thinking that Claire must have an opinion on the hit movie Concussion, which focused on Dr. Bennet Omalu’s work on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Inspired by the movie, Claire applied and received an Honors & Scholars Grant to study CTE and its triggers. Conducting research on Alzheimer’s and learning more about concussions, Claire hopes to work with other graduate students doing clinical research, using eye tracking as a diagnostic tool for measuring concussions. With her work, Claire hopes to add to the research in this field, and in the future, plans to do science policy work with traumatic brain injuries and concussions.

The neuroscience program and research opportunities are two things that attracted Claire to The Ohio State University. On campus, her favorite spot to point out on tours is the patio on the RPAC that faces the stadium.

As for off campus, Claire enjoys running downtown by COSI. Claire said she enjoys running Columbus’ many trails, exploring and getting to see the city. Group fitness classes have also made Claire’s time here at Ohio State a fun one. However, one of the hardest lessons she had to learn during her time here was how to study.

“I came to college thinking that studies would be the same as high school, and I sure learned how to adjust,” she said. With graduation upon her, Claire is hopeful about carrying Ohio State with her after she leaves. With this glimpse into her journey, we hope you’ve found it as extraordinary as we do.


By Erin Lee

LeRoy Ricksy

Taking time out of his busy schedule, this third-year sat down with the Communications Team in the Ohio Union to tell us about his challenging experiences here at The Ohio State University thus far. We have no doubt you will find this future lawyer’s story as extraordinary as we do.

LeRoy RicksyThurgood Marshall once said that “a man can make what he wants of himself if he truly believes that he must be ready for hard work and many heartbreaks.”

LeRoy shared that he looks up to Marshall and that this quote applies to his own life experiences. Seeing Thurgood Marshall’s influence on the legal field, LeRoy plans to continue on a similar path to create the change he wishes to see in the world. His only solution is to get involved.

LeRoy has high aspirations for his future career in the legal field. Reigning from Harlem, New York, this busy Criminology major offered us a look into his life at Ohio State. When asked about his involvements, LeRoy could only laugh and say, “I’m involved in everything.”

LeRoy serves as an Inclusion Advisor for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) on campus. Bridging the gap between student organizations and USG, LeRoy works to raise awareness amongst student organizations about the resources available to them.

In addition to his role in USG, LeRoy also serves as President of the student organization Band of Brothers. This student organization focuses on providing resources and space for the development of African American men on campus.

With brotherhood in mind, LeRoy also told us about his membership in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He smiled as he said, “#KappaChapterCares – serving the people for the culture.”

Continuing on with his involvements, LeRoy talked about his active role as a Diversity Ambassador, a member of the Department of Social Change and a member of the Bell National Resource Center.

With one goal in mind, LeRoy wishes to make his way back home to Harlem to change the face of legal representation for black people. “With things going on in society today and understanding the environment I grew up in,” he said, “I want to help those behind me that look like me.”

Ready for the work ahead, LeRoy explained how he wants to help others get to where he is, because he didn’t get where he is on his own. As a black male on campus, his journey at Ohio State has presented challenges, but is getting easier. Resources like the Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center, the Black Student Association and Band of Brothers have made it easier for him.

“With everything going on today in the news, it’s hard for me to walk in a classroom sticking out like a sore thumb, and trying to understand what others’ thoughts are of me,” LeRoy said. With these thoughts in mind, one way LeRoy gives back to Ohio State is through outreach efforts to black children in urban communities with his work in the Department of Social Change.

LeRoy said that he is most proud of his involvement in planning and coordinating the department’s annual event, A Day in the Life of a Buckeye. This event has been transformational for LeRoy, and he enjoys seeing how he can make a difference. LeRoy served as a host his freshman year, answering questions and providing guidance. Today, the student he supported back then attends Ohio State.

“I was with him for the day,” LeRoy reflected, acknowledging that he knows he “had some push in him being here today.”

LeRoy describes himself as passionate, silly and impactful. Responding to Thurgood Marshall’s sentiments of heartbreak, LeRoy shared that accepting failures has been one of the hardest lessons he has learned at Ohio State thus far. As salutatorian of his high school, LeRoy talked about the difficult transition of coming back from setbacks. Crossing off his recent study abroad experience to Oxford University in England, we can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.

Sophie Chang

Sophie sat down with the Student Life communications team to tell us about her passions, her bucket list at Ohio State and even her spirit animal. We hope that you learn from her story and find it just as extraordinary as we do.

Independent, Passionate and Creative: this is Sophie Chang. A third year from Plainesboro, New Jersey shared her campus involvements, passions and future plans with us. Sophie is a junior studying Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability while juggling several student organizations. As a resident advisor in Baker East, Sophie is constantly motivated by the people around her. “The environment is my passion, but overall I think people drive me. I continue to be a resident advisor because of my residents and I serve in Undergraduate Student Government because I enjoy being around people who are passionate about making change.”

This past year Sophie served as a South Campus Senator. In the upcoming year, Sophie will serve as the Director of Health and Safety, with plans to improve the university. “I hope to make the university better for students – we are the University.” As the Director of Health and Safety, Sophie has ideas for implementing online mental health initiatives and an off-campus safety initiative. With this in mind, Sophie wishes to leave a positive legacy.

As a Morrill Scholar, Sophie reflected on her decision to attend Ohio State and said that “Columbus was a hidden gem in the Midwest that I was excited to explore.” Her freshman year, Sophie was involved in many different student organizations. Speaking from experience, Sophie advises that incoming freshman shouldn’t over-involve themselves like she once did, but at least try getting involved in something. Alongside this lesson, Sophie also learned that everyone has their own story. Knowing that it is difficult for many people to accept diversity in others, she has challenged herself to be open-minded. Before her journey here at Ohio State comes to an end, Sophie has one item on her bucket list that she must complete. Before graduation, Sophie aims to take a photo with every Brutus statue on campus.

Thus far, Sophie’s proudest moment in her college experience was picking a major. Figuring out what you wish to do with your life can be a difficult decision, and Sophie is most proud of her choice to change her major from Public Affairs to Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability. “I am proud that I have made that decision. You can only make a difference if you focus on a few things, rather than when you try to make a big impact in many areas.” We are excited to see how Sophie’s journey continues here at Ohio State, and all the ways she is able to make a difference.