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.



Pompeo Mazzella

By: Andrew Jackson

Pompeo Mazzella, a first-generation college student from Connecticut, reminisced with us about his three years here at Ohio State with a touching re-telling of his story. He originally applied to the top 10 business schools in the nation but immediately realized that Ohio State was the place for him when he got to campus. “I could feel the pride of every other student in being a Buckeye,” Pompeo recalled.

Throughout his three years he has definitely made an impact on campus, from membership in the Mount Leadership Society to being a Fisher Ambassador. He even has a three-step plan to give back to Ohio State during his fourth and final year in order to leave a legacy. First, Pompeo is serving as Marketing Co-Chair for the Major Campus Events Committee (MCEC), marketing for impactful events such as Homecoming and the Student Involvement Fair. Secondly, he wants to ensure that the Fisher College of Business is able to recruit great new students, not only because it is a top business school, but because Ohio State is capable of producing the best authentic, genuine business minds. Lastly, Pompeo wants to give back to his scholarship program: the Morrill Scholars.

It was clear that Pompeo had reflected on his journey at Ohio State as he answered our deeper questions about his passions and drive. So what was the one question that stumped him? Naming a favorite spot on campus. With iconic locations like the Ohio Union, the RPAC and Browning amphitheater, it’s hard to pick just one. But Pompeo finally narrowed it down and shared that he loves the Oval. “Watching people throw a Frisbee, run or sit on a blanket with friends shows everyone another side to Ohio State that reaches beyond the astounding academics for which we are known.”

Pompeo interned this summer with Grant Thorton in Chicago, helping advise companies in difficult circumstances. The experience was right up his alley, as he is a double major in both accounting and economics. When asked the three words that best describe him, Pompeo selected strategic, analytical and futuristic. With those descriptors, it’s no wonder that he snagged an internship at the 6th largest accounting firm in America.

Remember Pompeo Mazzella – it might just be the name of a CEO of a Fortune 500 company someday.

Cat Dismukes

Pittsburgh native and Strategic Communication senior Cat Dismukes has learned not to let thoughts and opinions of others hold her back. She believes in the importance of breaking out of your shell in college. It’s the hardest lesson Cat has learned since setting out for her college career in the Buckeye state, but more importantly it has allowed her to experience and explore new things by letting go of insecurities.


This mindset has set Cat apart from the rest, and given her opportunities many could only dream of. After managing to squeeze her high school education into just three years, Cat took her senior year to New York City where she spent the entire year dancing for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, working as both an office assistant and a Public Relations intern for the company. At Ohio State, Cat made the switch from the dance program to the School of Communication in the fall of her second year after deciding to explore new options and possibilities, a decision rooted in her openness.

She now excels in her area of focus: the student-alumni connection. She sustains a significant role in Student Alumni Council, an organization dedicated to building and maintaining connections between students: past, present and future. Cat was instrumental in the operations behind the Alumni Council’s Scholarship Winner Dinner and sendoff events when she served as the organization’s Program Coordinator. She also hopes to contribute to the organization after graduation by attending alumni events and looking for ways that the council can improve and expand.

Cat shared her passion for this cause and expressed the importance of fostering connections that will remain long after a graduation ceremony. Cat remembers her mom, an Ohio State alumna, taking her to football games and alumni events, showing her at a young age that Buckeyes have a sense of home everywhere they go. It’s something she says you can’t find just anywhere, despite some initial reservations towards attending Ohio State. But when it finally came time to choose the place she would spend her next four years, Cat knew scarlet and gray were the right colors for her. She remembers feeling comfortable when she visited her brother here during her sophomore year in high school, and that sense of home has stuck with her ever since.

This past summer, Cat headed back to the Big Apple to work for Group M, an international media investment company, where she served as a media buyer for their mind share team, helping clients get the best advertising platform for their needs and budget.

You can probably find Cat under the trees near the South Oval, which she describes as the most underrated spot on campus. Cat’s Buckeye experience thus far can be summed up in three words: time and change. “It’s all about growth, and the opportunity to let yourself discover what you like and who you want to be. Time and change embodies the opportunity that Ohio State gives to its students.”

Anthony Stranges

Sitting down with Anthony Stranges, a fourth-year in Management Information Systems, it is easy to see how he has created his own extraordinary experience here at The Ohio State University. When asked why he chose Ohio State, his answer was one that is heard often. From nearby Blacklick, Ohio, Anthony exclaimed that he has “always been a Buckeye!” His parents and sister all attended Ohio State and he decided to follow suit.


After interning this past summer at Cardinal Health as a Business Analyst, Anthony is taking the reigns as BuckeyeThon President to help bring one of the biggest philanthropy events at Ohio State to life. Anthony himself is a pediatric cancer survivor, inspiring his motivation to lead and serve. Anthony shared that BuckeyeThon is a way to give back the support that was given to him and his family when they needed it most. Because of his own experience, he knows that the mission of BuckeyeThon really makes a difference.

Anthony hopes students here at Ohio State use BuckeyeThon and other opportunities as tools to find what they’re passionate about, too. Because philanthropy plays an important role in the daily lives of students – from large events like BuckeyeThon, MLK Day of Service or Community Commitment, to smaller events and organizations that are solely focused on giving back – finding what you’re passionate about can be easy. So what advice does Anthony have for incoming Buckeyes? “Get involved. Explore everything! The Ohio State University has so much to offer, so go and explore to find your passion, whatever it may be.” It is also no surprise that Anthony’s passion is to give back. He loves to help others and has found the time to volunteer at the Wexner Medical Center. Along with volunteering, he holds a job at the Advancement Office where he works with computer systems that are used campus-wide.

On a typical warm afternoon, you can find Anthony taking a break outside from his many campus-wide involvements. He says that Mirror Lake was the place he first visited on campus, so it’s fitting that he likes to go back to there and reflect on his journey at Ohio State. “It’s a great place to go to get away from the busy campus life,” said Anthony.

Here in Student Life, we are excited to see what Anthony will do to take BuckeyeThon to new heights this upcoming year. If you’d like to learn more about BuckeyeThon and get involved, visit: https://buckeyethon.osu.edu/.

Nnaemeka Anene

Nnaemeka Anene sat down with the Communications team in the Keith B. Key Center for Student Leadership and Service to tell us his story. We hope you find his story just as extraordinary as we do.


Exuding Nigerian pride, this sophomore sat down with us to discuss his extraordinary experience thus far at Ohio State. Just a car ride away from Columbus, Nnaemeka Anene was raised in Dayton, Ohio with his twin brother and their sister. A chemical engineering major, Nnaemeka spends the majority of his time involved in various activities across campus and spends very little time sleeping – a familiar pattern for many busy college students.

Across campus, Nnaemeka is involved in organizations and programs like the Bell National Resource Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the African Youth League, Preface: The Minority Engineering Program and Leadership Collaborative. Also a Morrill Scholar, he is all about his studies. However, he balances all that studying by being active: flag football, basketball and co-ed volleyball are just a few intramural sports Nnaemeka enjoys playing. Sticking with his love for sports, Nnaemeka chose J.O. South as his favorite spot on campus.

When choosing the right university for him, Nnaemeka had a lot of things to consider. Declining a track scholarship to another school, he followed his parents’ wishes for his future and decided to come to Ohio State after he received the Morrill Scholarship and participated in the Early Arrival Program. “Meeting everyone through the Early Arrival Program who was coming to Ohio State and meeting those who came before me was a very rewarding experience,” he recalled. This experience allowed Nnaemeka to learn the value and importance of mentorship. Through the Early Arrival Program, Nnaemeka shared that he learned a lot about the statistics of black men in college and that influenced him to become involved with a program for minorities within the STEM field this past summer. Mentoring other hopeful young students in STEM, Nnaemeka hopes to start a program for low-income students interested in the STEM field here at Ohio State.

As with his involvements, Nnaemeka’s passions are numerous. Priding himself on observational skills, Nnaemeka is passionate about helping others grow through the observation and mentoring others. When it comes to career plans, his pre-medicine journey will one day lead to helping people in the operating room as a cardiac surgeon. Nnaemeka also dreams of opening a hospital one day with his twin brother.

Excited to continue his journey at Ohio State, Nnaemeka shared that the hardest lesson he has had to learn relates to failure and how it can be used to help re-prioritize responsibilities in order to work smarter and harder. For incoming Buckeyes, Nnaemeka offers this piece of advice for consideration: “Giving up sleep is not the worst thing, but make sure you spend that extra hour to finish your homework because you won’t regret that decision later.” Though the right amount of sleep is important and different for everyone, we can’t fault Nnaemeka for a strong work ethic and the ways he is spending his time on campus. We’re sure his next few years at Ohio State will be just as bright as his first.

Shelby Daugherty

Having recently returned from studying abroad in Rome, Italy, senior Shelby Daugherty couldn’t stop smiling in her interview for the OSU Spotlight blog. Read on to find out why she has so many reasons to smile…


Shelby Daugherty described the prospect of graduating in May of 2017 as both terrible and exciting. Coming to Ohio State initially was quite a culture shock for Shelby, coming from a small community in Bowerston, Ohio where she attended high school with just 40 classmates. She recalled her first days at the university living in Patterson as a first-year, falling in love with the building’s bright red doors and the people who lived inside. Her advice to incoming Buckeyes? “Be yourself. I had to learn who I was without my family and free of any old high school stereotypes. At Ohio State, there’s always a place to fit in, so you should strive to be who you truly are.”

Shelby chose Ohio State in part because her brother had a great experience here, which lead him to a career working in the Ohio Union. He actually passed by during her interview, highlighting her point about a strong family connection with perfect timing. But family wasn’t the only reason Shelby chose to come here – Ohio State has a well-respected Visual Communication Design Program. “You get a very well-rounded education at Ohio State. From all Student Life aspects, to football, to traditions, you get a full experience.”

And Ms. Daugherty has made the most of this full experience. Shelby is a member of Kappa Delta sorority, supports BuckeyeThon through both fundraising and dancing and has served to help re-establish the Ohio State chapter of AIGA. Most recently, Shelby joined the School of Architecture’s summer study abroad program in Rome, Italy, spending 33 days sketching buildings and gaining a new perspective on city planning. She so enjoyed studying in Rome and assimilating into the life there, and fondly described daily experiences of buying fresh groceries and exploring gardens and villas alike. Shelby loved the cultural element of preparing fresh foods, and hopes to keep it alive in her life in the states. She will keep an open mind to her options post-graduation and mused about moving to the West Coast or living somewhere abroad, above a café.

A talented artist, Shelby holds the inscription on Hayes Hall close to her heart: the cultured mind, the skillful hand. Self-described as genuine, empathetic and “a little bit weird”, Shelby has combined her infectious personality and skilled artist’s hand in a unique way by serving our blog team. She is one of the students who has designed the unique quotation art pieces featuring hand-lettering that accompany these blog features. Shelby has enjoyed being a part of the project as a creator and described her process as reading an interview, getting a feel for the individual and then visualizing their words. Shelby found value in this project because she feels featuring real students, their accomplishments and aspirations allows incoming students to envision their own potential at Ohio State. “We’re real people, not one-in-a-million,” Shelby declared, reflecting on this common misconception.

Recognizing the impact that “real people” can have on one another, Shelby hopes to one day give back by donating a scholarship for another Buckeye to study abroad because her own experience was so life-changing. Wherever opportunities take her after graduation, we know Shelby’s heart will always be in the right place.

Alumna Perspective: Michelle Bucklew

“As I sat and watched my first Ohio State football game from somewhere other than in the Ohio Stadium, I think it finally hit me just how magical of a place The Ohio State University is. I made the choice to get extremely involved during my time as an undergraduate and my advice to incoming freshman, or anyone with time left in school, is to do the same. As an officer for Block O, I spent so many Saturdays getting to games 4 hours early, setting up the Shoe and, most of all, getting to know incredibly passionate, brilliant, remarkable people. dsc_0760In those moments, I may have complained about how early it was, how hot or cold it was, or any number of other petty things. But sitting and watching a home game on television for the first time, I would have given anything to be back in the happiest place on earth (no, not Disney World) again. The atmosphere on game days is really not that different from the atmosphere on campus daily. Wherever you turn on campus, so many individuals are striving to make our campus – and the world – a better place. Inspiration is all around, from extending gratitude and cheering for our student athletes; to working to find a cure for cancer as a part of BuckeyeThon, Team Buckeye and world-renowned research teams; to winning Olympic medals; to rethinking how the world works. It is a feeling that is almost indescribable to those who have never set foot on campus. This feeling is why we wear our Buckeye gear more often than just on game days. This feeling is why “Go Bucks!” can be heard in any state or country that you visit. It’s one thing to have gotten an amazing education during my time at school, but finding a home and a community that I am so proud to be a part of drives me to live up to those Buckeye Alumni who have come before me…and those who will follow me long after. I will always be a #BuckeyeForLife.”