Leadership Development

Sophomore year: I am involved in many varied activities on campus. I serve on the executive board of MUNDO, was involved this year as the Random Acts of Kindness Chair for Mirrors Sophomore Honorary and serve as an Honors Peer Mentor. I am also a member of OSU SHADOW and the Sexual Violence Committee. At the end of first semester, I founded the KindCarts Service Initiative for the James, which I continue to run.

Junior year: I have expanded my leadership opportunities in my various organizations, as well as beyond. I created and now hold a new position in MUNDO, Communications Director, after seeing a need for marketing and communicative organization. I won the Emerging Eminence Award and now work with Mortarboard Senior Honorary as part of their Emerging Eminence Cohort to plan programs to create social change at OSU. I have graduated to Honors Lead Mentor and also serve as an intern for the Honors Advising Office through the same program. Various other organizations I’m involved in include Folklore Student Association and University Ambassadors.

These activities contribute to my development as a leader by giving me the skills that I need to succeed in medical school and the work force. Each commitment allows me to practice public speaking, organize and program events and generally take responsible for a project/task and see it to fruition. Personally, my involvement in these organizations allows me to fulfill my love for organizing, programming and implementation. It also allows me to explore other enjoyments of mine, such as exploring other communities and crafting (an element of KindCarts). They also allow me to serve as a mentor to freshmen or younger members, a particular enjoyment of mine. Career-wise, the public speaking experience each of these activities gives me is especially helpful. Learning to balance all my commitments, as well as the various skills I gain, will help me learn to budget my time for medical school.  My medical-related commitments also serve to familiarize me with the field that I hope to enter.

Academic Enrichment

I have dedicated myself to the goal of academic enrichment through the coursework that I have chosen to pursue. I chose my major, Neuroscience, because I was interested in the material and knew that the courses it entailed would stretch me. My minor was chosen because while indulging in my love for English, I discovered a new passion, Folklore. My GE courses were chosen mainly due to the fact that they overlapped with my minor or pre-med requirements.

My selections of coursework overlap demonstrate my commitment to excellence. A majority of my GEs are honors classes, or classes at/above the 4000-level. I have also stretched myself in my major requirements, by choosing to take a graduate level course in the medical school, rather than the possibility of an undergraduate honors class. I have decided to explore a different avenue of study through folklore, which doesn’t relate to, but does enhance my science-based major. My planned curriculum relates to my future aspirations because they give me a lot of background in the sciences, which is required for medical school, and also gives me a well-rounded edge by having a mix of humanities as well.

Original Inquiry

I have had many experiences with the research and creative process. Many of my science classes, such as Chemistry 1220 and Biology 1114H, have had research projects built into them, where we conduct an experiment and end with writing a scientific paper in the same format as peer-reviewed scientific articles. I have also experienced the research process from a non-scientific viewpoint, with a research project in my English 2270, where I researched and wrote about the intersectionality of the LGBTQ+ and African-American/Black community.

I also experience original inquiry in the neuroscience/immunology research lab, where I volunteer roughly ten hours a week. Over the summer of 2015, I received the Research Scholar Award, which allowed me to create and oversee my own independent project, focusing on the synergization of chronic stress and repeated social defeat (RSD). I also recently completed a project in folklore, examining fairy tale musical adaptations and establishing a common formula and its effects. I will present both at the 2015 Fall Undergraduate Research Forum.

I will continue to further my original inquiry skills by continuing to work in the lab and the field. I’m continuing the stress project, repeating the experiment with splenlectomized mice to further find the immunological causes. I’m also pursuing a research project focusing on domestic womanhood in traditional and online media. I plan to use this project as one undergraduate research thesis, with plans to do another project in Neuroscience for a second research thesis. 

Honors Peer Mentor Internship Reflection #1

Reflect on your experience as a peer mentor to date.

Becoming an Honors Peer Mentor was, and has been, an amazing experience that I hope to continue for the rest of my college career. Sitting in on survey, adding my viewpoint and acting as a peer has given me so much more than I could have expected when I sent in my application.

I remember reading through the weekly advising emails and seeing a notice for upcoming peer mentors. It drew me immediately—I remembered my peer mentors, who seemed like bright, interesting people, but mostly I remembered their “transition story,” their accounts of their first year struggles. I remembered feeling more connected to them because of it.

At the time when I saw the notice, I’d just finished going a particularly rough patch. Although it was done, it remained fresh in my mind, and I was seeking a way to turn the experience around, make it an opportunity for growth, instead of loss, and reaching out for a way to find myself again. Peer Mentors seemed like the answer. I didn’t know anyone who had been through a similar situation, and despite all the social awareness that OSU works to cultivate, this was something that was never discussed. I decided to apply because I wanted to help the people in my situation, especially those in the earlier stages, and thought sharing my story would let them know that they weren’t alone. However, besides the transition challenge, I didn’t know what else the position would require.

I absolutely loved what I found. Due to a restructuring of the program, I found myself doing more responsibilities than the peer mentors I had in my survey. There were more opportunities to speak to share my opinion of various classes, ways I de-stressed, my research experience, etc. Talking to the students was my favorite part. I enjoyed learning their names, their stories, and especially when they would reach out to me. My most rewarding experience was when one of my survey students emailed me for advice after survey had ended.

There were other responsibilities as well, including peer mentor events. These were difficult, as I wasn’t sure whether I should make them more academic or more fun. I planned my first event, going to the Fall Undergraduate Research Forum, due to the fact that the majority of the class were science majors, with interest in research. My confidence was bruised when no one came. As a result, I planned my second event to be more social, the H&S Kuhnival. Three students ended up coming and it was a new experience to see them interacting with each other and myself. Looking back, I feel as though the group setting loosened them and let me see more of their true personalities in a non-classroom setting. I also met up with another student for coffee, talk about research and how to get involved.

The “transition challenge” was indeed a challenge. I didn’t know how to format it in a way that was honest, and yet, didn’t make students too uncomfortable. The actual presentation gave me apprehension as well. At this point, I’d only told the story twice and I wasn’t sure how it would come across, even once I wrote it out. I volunteered to practice it during training the week before—the feedback was positive and constructive, and the reactions of my fellow mentors made me feel safer about sharing.

When the day came, I felt ready, and confident that I could tell my story exactly as I rehearsed. The class laughed at my jokes at the beginning and all seemed well. Yet, by the time I got to the middle, I found that it was harder to talk about than I had convinced myself it would be. I ended up deviating off-script and revealing more of my emotions than I originally meant to, but I think it actually gave me a breakthrough on some of the feelings I’d initially been denying.

When the semester came to a close, I knew that I wanted to continue with peer mentors for another year. It had given more confidence in speaking in front of the class (something that I considered different from speaking in front of strangers, which I was more comfortable with due to the fact that I wouldn’t see them again). I liked getting refreshers on campus resources, and I felt like I had become a resource myself. I walked away feeling as though my opinion and my experiences were valid and could truly help younger students figure out their first year.

This Year:

The main constructive criticism I had from my first year as a peer mentor was that I wanted even more responsibility. I wanted to do even more in the classroom, and thought it would be especially interesting to give a lesson, a suggestion that I gave during end of year wrap-up. So the news of the internship option gave me particular excitement, as well as the idea of being a Lead mentor this year.

The extra responsibilities is honestly my favorite difference between this year’s experience compared to last. From small things like putting together the schedule and archiving discussion boards, to larger projects like planning a lesson: it keeps me on my toes and lets me get more involved.

Compared to last year, I am more likely to speak up in class and share my student experience. A large part of this is the extra year of college. (Between this year and last, I now have experience with applying for grants, starting an organization/initiative, acting on executive boards, shadowing, etc.). But another part of it is the familiarity. Having been a peer mentor next year, I know some of the questions that the students have, so I can supply that information from a peer perspective. I also feel more comfortable, allowing my personality to come through more easily.

Last year’s experience has also prompted me to change my peer mentor events. This year, both of my events have a largely social component, and both are in the evening, when students are more likely to be free. I chose my first event, Jazz at Mirror Lake, due to its fun, laidback nature, which should allow for lots of time to get to know each other, as well as its timing (right before the first round of midterms, so that they can de-stress beforehand). I chose my second event, volunteering at the Buckeye Village Fall Festival, again, due to its fun nature, but also for the service component. As a group of largely pre-med students, I want them to be aware of service opportunities on campus that aren’t necessarily in the medical field.

Looking ahead, my internship project/lesson plan will most likely hold my focus. I’ve decided to deviate from the original syllabus and create my own lesson, focusing on the theme of how to communicate on difficult/uncomfortable topics. I believe that it’s important to know how to navigate a situation where you’re not in your comfort zone, whether that’s because you disagree with someone or because you’re are being triggered. This seems especially important for first-years, as many of them are entering the real world, where they may be living/working with people with fundamentally different views, and where more serious situations and considerations are entering their lives. As such, I want to focus my project on difficult communication, touching on the difference between dialogue, discussion and debate, how to navigate controversy and how to handle the conversation when they, or those around them, are triggered.

Looking back and looking forward, my time as an Honors Peer Mentor is, and has been, a learning experience, and a pleasure. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year is going to turn out and how much more I can teach, and learn, from my time in survey.

Makin’ Groceries

The winter break of my sophomore year was spent in New Orleans, Louisiana. I didn’t travel down for the semi-finals game, like many Buckeyes, but instead went down with a group of sixteen for a service-learning trip, one that I had helped plan. The entire semester beforehand, my Action Team had researched hotels, tours, service experiences for our group, and now it was real and it was amazing. Each moment seems like a snapshot. The confusion of my first gumbo. The ecstasy with my first Café du Monde beignet. Accidentally finding the first parade of Mardi Gras. Playing in a park at night and returning in the morning to find out that has a rich history in the voodoo religion and slave community. Walking along Bourbon Street to get to the galleries. Marveling at the street art. Trying gator. Finding the loveliest jazz voices in tattered coats on midnight streets. Yet, of all my memories, the brightest surrounds Burnell Cotlon and his grocery store.

When planning the trip, we’d actually arranged to help out at a food pantry. Our reservation fell through last minute and we looked to our NOLA contacts to help us. They found us a site in the Lower Ninth Ward, the neighborhood hardest hit by Katrina, where areas of broken houses and torn lots gave the impression that the water had receded a month before, instead of a decade. Before we arrived on site, all we knew was that we would be cleaning a parking lot. The reluctance was tangible. No one wanted to be there, especially so early, and most were questioning why we couldn’t have “fun service.” The majority viewed it as a chore, not valuable, but necessary to get to the exciting stuff. Then we met Burnell Cotlon.

His energy, his joy radiated from every gesture, every movement. He was a retired police officer who poured all his money into the reconstruction of the building, transforming it into a barbershop and then adding a grocery store.  He gave the community jobs; he gave it his time. His store was the first since the Storm; a month before, parents would sent their kids on three buses just to get a loaf of bread. His effort, his results, proved that the people hadn’t given up on the Lower Ninth. He gave them hope.

With the parking lot clean, more people would come. The area would be better, more friendly. The media would be more likely to let people know about his store and the cars could use the lot without the dangers of a flat tire. Moms and dads wouldn’t have to leave their children alone for hours while they got food. Kids could come after school and eat snowballs.

It was the first time I truly felt the impact of service. I always knew, always talked about the benefits of volunteering, the difference made. This was the first time I felt it. Felt like what I did was going to be something lasting, mean something, whether it was just a step in the right direction, or the step that let a family have easier access to dinner.

The vibe of the group changed completely. Everyone reached for a rake, a shovel, a bag. We stretched out to each corner and no one dallied; no one tried to get out of it or help out halfheartedly. It was voted the trip’s most meaningful experience, the favorite activity and the reason that our executive board is interested in a 2015 Buck-I-Serv back to NOLA.

The store, and the man behind it, has etched itself in our minds and memories. New Orleans will always have a piece of my heart, and it will reside in the Lower Ninth.


MUNDO was the first commitment that I made at OSU. Standing for Multicultural Understanding Through Non-Traditional Discovery Opportunities, MUNDO symbolizes everything that I immerse myself and will be a defining feature of my time at college.

This promotion video was made to kick-off the 2014-2015 school year, as well as to celebrate our technical advances, which included the launch of a Carmen class. Created in the Ohio Union, we invited students and faculty involved in MUNDO to finish the sentence: “I am.” We all struggled trying to summarize ourselves, trying to put our identity into one sentence, one sound byte. I agonized over what I would say as I tried out different phrases, continuously rejecting each one for being not quite me. Many of them ended up in the video anyway, adopted by my friends for their declaration. The creation of this video truly illustrated to me what my time in MUNDO had, and has been all about.

MUNDO promotes global awareness, a topic I’m incredibly passionate about. Our members come from all different walks of life, bringing all manners of perspectives and life experiences to the table. But it also encourages the exploration of communities closer to home. The Appalachians, the youth in prison, the Native American community on campus, the communities within ourselves. Each of us identify as something different, and each of us has different identities inside of us. I can identify with nearly every statement made in this video, and I believe that truly speaks to the connections and similarities that lie beneath.

If I would do anything differently, I would change my statement. “I am happy” encompasses a large part of my personality—I’m optimistic, I find the good in all situations and look to the sun. But that’s not a perfect snapshot of myself. Now, I would say “I am more than the sum of my parts.” I’m still exploring the different sides of myself and I’m so happy to be doing that with MUNDO.