Julie Wu’s Artistic Vision for Social Change

By Miranda Koewler

As an Asian American student, fourth year Julie Wu has found that many of her experiences at Ohio State are focused on breaking stereotypes and advocating for understanding. Her story is one of identity, creativity and social justice.

Julie Wu Miranda: What are you studying and why?
Julie: I’m a studio art student. I came in as computer science engineering, but after realizing that the STEM fields weren’t for me, I switched to art. It was always something I enjoyed but never thought I could pursue, with STEM being an expectation others had of me. I’m extremely interested in digital art and the power of social media and technology. I’m fascinated by the outlets that the digital realm creates for putting art out in the world.

What are you involved with at Ohio State and in Columbus?
I’m the Asian American Association president. I’ve been involved with this organization since starting at Ohio State. As a freshman, I was involved with the organization’s leadership development program where I had the opportunity to get a grasp on my identity as an Asian American. I don’t have to choose between an Asian identity and an American one – I can embrace both of them together.

I’m also the president of the Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU). Twice a year, thousands of Asian students gather for conferences that focus on social justice, mental health, leadership and professional development – all geared toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

What are three words to describe you?
First is passionate. Once I find my passions, I fully commit myself to them. Sometimes it changes the path I’m on, but it’s worth it to find what I am happiest doing. Second is spontaneous. I don’t like to sit and contemplate, but rather plunge into things head on. The last one would be creative. As an art major, I like to look at how I can change the meaning of something, find new solutions and create the biggest impact.

How did you get involved as an activist?
My high school was not diverse at all. With only two other people who looked like me, it was a difficult place to thrive, but it was all I’d ever known. In college, I realized how much I would let bullying slide when I was younger. Coming to college and gaining awareness has given me the ability to prevent these things from happening to other kids. I found mentors in the intercultural specialists at the Multicultural Center to encourage me to push for what’s right and help others like me.

Julie Wu Art

One of Julie’s works. This was showcased at the Pan-Asian Mental Wellness Association’s Breaking Out Silence event. To see more of Julie’s work, follow her on Instagram @wuuless.

How are you finding ways to intertwine art and activism in what you do?
I try to root for myself in putting work out there for activism. I often have to explain the history and background of what I do, but that’s the beginning of understanding. Political art does not have to be “in your face.” It helps to show resistance against the shortcomings and internal or external pressures going against me. I try to create art that truly resonates with me rather than making art that is stylistically “pretty.”

Why do you think advocacy and activism are so important?
We are the change makers for the next generation. Both of my parents are immigrants that idealized staying out of the way and not standing up. But I know I deserve the same respect as others born here. We have to be the ones that decide what is right, what is wrong and what we’ll work for.

What do you hope to do in the future?
Recently, I interned with Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) Vote. The experience of working for a nonprofit was really eye opening and showed me the importance of loving the work I do for others. Nonprofits do grassroots organizing with a focus on issues first – not money first. I’m also considering going back to school for higher education because I want to help others the way my mentors have helped me.

What advice would you want to pass along to your fellow Buckeyes?
When existing in a society that has a unilateral definition of the way things are or should be, instead of getting stuck in the history of one type of person, we need to expand past that. Take the advantages college offers to find those stories. Take your own experiences into account, but always listen to others as well. Also, speak out for the issues you care about.

Behind the Lens with Josh Farr

By Miranda Koewler

Josh Farr can often be found somewhere on campus taking photos for his job in Student Life Marketing, for student organization or just for fun. His photos show his creativity and passion and they capture his extraordinary Ohio State student experience.

What are you studying and why?
I’m a student at the Fisher College of Business with a specialization in logistics management. My parents are entrepreneurs, so growing up I was exposed to a lot what goes into running businesses. Naturally, I wanted to study business when it came time to pick a major in college. I selected logistics management since it has to do a lot with transportation and solving problems, both of which I am passionate about.

What are you involved with on campus and in the Columbus community?
I am a photographer for Student Life – I’m sure many have seen me covering events around campus. Through my position I’ve been able to get to know different facets of the Student Life community. I get the opportunity to help document events that I otherwise might not have heard about or been interested in.

I’m president of the Photography Enthusiasts Society here on campus and I have my own wedding photography business. I spend many of my weekends traveling the country and photographing awesome couples – it’s an honor being trusted to document such a special day in people’s lives and it’s a privilege I don’t take lightly. 

josh farr_photo club photo

“This is a picture from one of the Photography Enthusiast Society’s first meetings where we brought in a model and took turns photographing her.”

What sparked your interest in photography?
During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I spent some time doing humanitarian work in Tokyo, Japan. A lot of my friends were really into photography at this time, and we were living in incredible places. Because of their influence, I decided that I wanted to get into photography so I could better document my travels.

Where do you find inspiration for your photos?
I am currently studying the work of several pro photographers like David Alan Harvey and Hiroji Kubota. I’ve found that by studying the works of other photographers, I’m able to predict and frame things with much more ease. I also draw my inspiration from the people and moments around me, as these are often the most interesting things in front of my camera.

josh farr_buckeye bus photo

“I take photos of Brutus at different events around campus and am always looking for creative ways to capture him.”

What advice would you want to pass along to your fellow Buckeyes?
Find something that you’re passionate about and go all in. I know that it’s a bit cliche, but I don’t think I would be in the position that I am now as a photographer had I not decided one day to just go out and give it a go.

See more of Josh’s photos at ohiounionphotos.org and on Instagram @ja.farr.

Trent Schroeder: Buckeye Spirit Through and Through

Personal Essay by Trent Schroeder

Fourth year Trent Schroeder gave Student Life’s communications team an exclusive look at his Ohio State experience in a thoughtful personal essay. Discover what makes him a unique and truly extraordinary Buckeye – and walk around his home away from home, the Ohio Union, with him at the end!

As a senior at Ohio State, I’m studying Information Systems in the Fisher College of Business. This major has been a perfect fit for me, as I love the hybrid of business and technology! I recently accepted a job offer with Epic in Madison, Wisconsin, and look forward to starting my career as a project manager.

Outside of the classroom, I can usually be found in the Ohio Union! I began working part-time in the building during my freshman year and have become a Building Manager. Now, I aid in creating the best experience possible for our guests by maintaining cleanliness, ensuring smooth operations and supporting the student organizations and visitors that make our building so special. Working in the Ohio Union has given me incredible opportunities to develop as a communicator, team player and leader.

I’m also involved in the Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB). As a member of the Collaborative Events Committee, I work with student organizations to bring their dream events to campus. OUAB has ignited my passion for bringing new ideas to campus and providing opportunities for students to see the world in new ways.

This past February, I participated in BuckeyeThon. After fundraising for months, BuckeyeThon culminates in a 24-hour dance marathon at the Ohio Union. I raised more than $800 by collecting donations at my annual computer-controlled Christmas light show at my parents’ house in Findlay, Ohio.

“Trent’s Christmas Light Show” has been a personal hobby of mine for the past six years and I’m so glad I could use it to benefit the children being treated in the Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant departments at Nationwide Children’s Hospital this year.

Involvement outside the classroom has been such a meaningful component of my education, and my best advice for younger students is to find their own ways get involved!

Take risks and engage yourself in something that might challenge you to see the world from a new perspective. Surround yourself with people that are different from you and be open to new ideas. I am incredibly grateful for all the experiences I’ve gained, and the people I’ve met by getting involved.

Inside and outside of the classroom, I couldn’t be more thankful for my Ohio State experience. Fisher’s top-ranked courses have been the core of my education, but my involvement with the Ohio Union and OUAB have developed me as a global citizen. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world, and I am proud to be a Buckeye for life.

Stephanie Wentzel’s Global Impact

By Miranda Koewler

Fourth year neuroscience major Stephanie Wentzel has traveled the globe with the aim of spreading compassion and helping others. Her impact close to home, here at Ohio State, is as important to her as her impact abroad.

stephanie wentzelMiranda: What are you studying and why?
Stephanie: Neuroscience with a minor in leadership studies. I’m planning on going into medicine and figuring out how to apply leadership in that realm. I want to empower other people through my work. For my capstone project, I’m planning an art showcase for Asian-American students on campus to open the conversation about mental health and how we can improve it in the future.

Tell me about what you are involved in on campus and in the community.
I am co-president for Pan-Asian Mental Wellness Association (PMWA) which is an organization I helped start two years ago. We address the stigma around mental health, particularly in the Asian community. Our goals are to educate, promote dialogue and provide advocacy around these issues. I’m also president for Ladies of Leadership, a mentorship program for women of color where we discuss scholarship, leadership, wellness and empowerment. The program helps women find their place and pave their way here at Ohio State.

What are three words to describe you?
First is compassion. This is what drives my dedication and commitment at Ohio State. It’s so important to connect with people. I understand discrimination and loneliness, so I hope to build an inclusive community here. With that is dedication. I help run two student organizations and that wouldn’t be possible with my drive and passion. Lastly, I would say kindness. This is often the word people use to describe me, and I’m incredibly proud of that. I strive to be approachable and welcoming to others.

You mentioned in your bio that you’re a “people person.” How has this fit into what you’re doing at Ohio State?
I hope to make the organizations I’m part of feel like a home. As a freshman, I was happy but lost and looking for a connection. I focus on bringing warmth into my communities and making people feel invited. I want to personalize everything and make the strongest connections by catering to people and proving to them that they’re special.

pmwa movember event

The Pan-Asian Mental Wellness Association and Pi Delta Psi Fraternity hosted a collaborative Men’s Mental Health event called “Are You Man Enough?” last fall.

Where does this aspect of your personality fit in with your future goals?
I’m very passionate about helping people who don’t have as many opportunities as I did growing up. In working with underprivileged communities, both domestically and abroad, I’ve encountered language barriers and seen the need for equal access. Showing that you understand where people are coming from – and not passing judgement – is so important. The people you remember are the ones you connect with, and that’s what I want to take with me when I become a doctor.

stephanie in machu pichu

Stephanie at the top of Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, Peru

You also mentioned traveling across the globe. Where are some places you’ve been?
I spent six weeks in Spain last summer learning Spanish in non-conventional teaching styles. I tried to really immerse myself in the culture. As a Korean-American, I am in touch with my culture but am interested in viewing it in other ways. I grew up traveling, because we moved every three years as a military family. I was born in Korea and have lived in so many different places. Recently, I volunteered at a clinic in Peru working to bring healthcare access to small villages. American culture is so fixated on career, so I wanted to take a moment to think about strengthening relationships with cultures and people.

What advice would you pass on to your fellow Buckeyes?
Definitely be involved – don’t let it just be a checkbox. Be passionate in whatever you do, because passion carries you so far. Don’t get bogged down in the idea of “work” when passion can turn what you do into something you love.