Thank You, for Helping us Grow BuckeyeStrong

This week, more than any other, we are reminded to come together, to support each other. We are reminded to be #BuckeyeStrong. The only problem is, sometimes even the act of summoning that strength can be painful. It’s hard to gather strength in the face of such tragedy and heartbreak. Hard to reassure family members you feel safe, hard to accept that, yes, it can happen here and yes, people are using this tragedy to unfairly target the Somali, refugee and Muslim populations because of the attacker’s identity. When you struggle to remain strong facing pain, fear, or hate, I encourage you to lean on one another, and remember that strength comes from within and without. Pull on the strength within yourself, and when you need help finding it, seek strength and comfort in each other, support each other, and thank each other today and every day.

To my advisors: Thank you, Dr. Givens, for putting me on the path to Public Health and grad school. Thank you, Charlie Campbell, for putting up with my endless questions and for supporting me with my constantly changing career paths. Thank you, Julius Mayo, my MUNDO advisor, for the responsibilities, the opportunity to learn, and the room to grow. What I’ve learned from you will serve me for the rest of my life, and touch upon my every action. And thank you, Joanna Spanos. You showed me folklore classes, helped me find my minor. You consistently go above and beyond for your students every day—and do the same for kids who aren’t even your students. Finding you at my conference presentation, and learning that you secretly invited my friends as well, was one of the sweetest surprises I’ve ever had.

To my experiences: thank you, MUNDO at OSU, for expanding my knowledge of the world and shaping my viewpoint forever. I promise to bring what you’ve taught me “to the streets.” Thank you, Mirrors Sophomore Honorary, for teaching me to take initiative, and the Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research, for teaching me what the real world of research looks like. Honors Peer Mentors, thank you for the chance to mentor young minds, and thank you, KindCarts, for showing me how to combine my various loves–service, healthcare, and crafting—into one culminating, sustaining project that nourishes myself and others.

To my friends: thank you, every one, for being there in every teary-eyed sadness and heart-pounding joy. Thank you, Chorsie for your always buoyant attitude, Max for your honesty and big heart, Marques for your unwavering, unshakeable belief in me. I can never express how much of an impact you four have had on my life. Thank you, Cam for your straight-talk, Athena for your sweetness, Rachel R. for taking research adventures with me and Rachel B. for bringing your sunny nature wherever you go. Haley, you were my first roommate and my OSU constant; Hannah, who I never thought I’d know so well, I love all I’ve learned by living with you. Thank you, Sean for your kindness and constant willingness to craft/cook with me, and thank you, Nisha for being one of my very first friends on campus.

To Ohio State: you’re the only one I don’t know how to thank, because so much of who I am was shaped with you. I see myself at every stage in your halls, at every milestone in your streets. Pieces of me will be scattered throughout campus for years to come, from my name carved in Sphinx Plaza to the ephemeral ghosts of past triumphs, failings, struggles, and love.

As Buckeyes, it is our job to stand in the face of hate, and stand not just as a few students or a few faculty, but as a whole unrelenting unit that proclaims OSU is a place for love and acceptance. A place to run, fall, pick ourselves up and start again—-a place to honor tragedy but stand against fear, a community where we support each other and grow to be #Buckeyestrong.