Buckeyethon 2017


This past weekend I was able to dance in my first ever Buckeyethon.

Decked out in my Buckeyethon Yellow Team finest.

In case you don’t know, Buckeyethon is an organization at Ohio State that plans several events a year, with all donations going towards pediatric cancer research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. The biggest event of the year is Buckeyethon, a 24 hr dance marathon for the kids. This year, we raised over $1.5 million dollars!

There’s no experience quite like a dance marathon. My half of the dance marathon went from 7pm Friday to 7am Saturday. There’s lots of food, endless music and dancing, new friends, it’s basically a giant party to celebrate all the hard work that everyone there has contributed. (Every person must raise a minimum of $250 in order to be invited to the dance marathon).

In theory, you aren’t supposed to sit down at all for your entire 12 hour shift of the dance marathon. It was personally significant for me because as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I broke my ankle in October and I was still in a walking boot at this point. Being able to stand for 12 hours straight without giving up helped me prove to myself that I really was recovering, I was going to be okay. It was kind of validating for me.

At the dance marathon, I met some absolutely amazing kids. What surprised me the most was just how open they were about their experiences with cancer. They have gone through things that most of us can’t even imagine, but they’re still kids at heart.  One kid told me all about his cancer diagnosis, and how he was finishing chemotherapy this month. He then proceeded to draw whiskers on my face and write his name on my forehead in face make-up crayon. (Can kind of be seen in the picture above). I left it on for the rest of the night.

Hundreds of students waiting in the Ohio Union for the final total reveal.


The highlight of the event is the end of the second shift, when the total donation amount is finally revealed:

Buckeyethon was an amazing experience, and I hope to enjoy many more dance marathons to come.

Informational Interview – Social Work

For my survey class informational interview, I interviewed Paige, a senior in the social work program.

Q: When and why did you decide on this major?

A:  I decided on social work in spring of my freshman year. I got interested in the social work program after my aunt fostered two little babies who were born addicted to drugs. It exposed me to who social workers actually are and what they do, and I realized it was a really good way to help people. I also took the intro to social work class as my social diversity GE and every week I learned more about the career and thought, “I could see myself doing this”.

Q: Did you start in this major? If so, did you ever question your decision? If not, what was your previous major(s) and how did you decide on this one?

A: I actually started in exploration in the fall of my freshman year, and then switched to the pre-major for social work after I learned more about it through my aunt’s experience, as well as different volunteer experiences I had. I never really questioned it after I decided on the pre-major.

Q: What was your favorite major class?

A: I’m taking a class right now called “Engagement and Interview Skills”. It’s all about practicing talking to people, practicing therapy and case work, and just trying to get to the root of the problem they’re having.

Q: What was your favorite non-major class?

A: I took a History of Food class last year and loved it. We talked about chocolate, coffee, all sorts of food. I actually wrote a 10 page paper about pasta, it was so fun getting a different perspective on something  that you don’t really think about as having much of a history.

Q: What kinds of extracurricular experiences (research, internships, co-ops, student organizations, study abroad, etc) have you had? Why did you choose those particular opportunities? How have they benefited you? What are your plans for after graduation?

A: I was really involved in MOUNT leadership my freshman year. It was a really good way to get leadership experience, and I got to have some really good volunteer experiences that helped me decide on my major. I was also an ambassador for the college of social work and I was an RA last year and this year. I was really looking for experiences that would let me help others and grow as a leader, and I think they all have helped me do that. After graduation I plan to become a licensed social worker and find work at an agency somewhere.

I decided to talk to Paige because she’s my RA. When I was thinking of who I could interview, I remembered that she was a social work major, so I asked and she agreed. I think talking to Paige was really helpful, I didn’t really know all that much about what the social work major was about, although I was interested in it. After talking to her, I don’t think social work is for me. I really admire what they do, but I’m not sure I would actually be good at solving everyone’s personal problems. I did get to learn more about social work and the different classes they take, which was really interesting. I didn’t really know about all the different people that social worker’s help, like Paige’s aunt and the two babies who were born addicted to drugs. I learned about the biological and psychological mechanisms behind babies born addicted to drugs in my classes this semester, but it was interesting hearing the more social, human aspect of it. I don’t think I want to do social work as a career so I don’t need any more information on it, so I think I’ll try to do some more informational interviews with some other seniors in majors I’m still considering, and take classes next semester that will help me narrow down my options. I think the most helpful major exploration tools for me this semester were the college lectures and the FOCUS assessment in survey class. I really liked the college lectures because it gave me a little more specific information to consider, and I really liked the lectures that had student panels, as they were able to give a more personal perspective on the program. The FOCUS assessment was helpful because it made me consider my strengths more seriously as a way to determine what my major should be. Overall, exploration survey class has been really helpful in narrowing down a major and I’m glad I’m taking this time to figure out what I really want to do.

About Me

Welcome to my e-Portfolio! I’m Allison Swanka, and I’m currently a sophomore in the university honors program, majoring in something yet to be determined. This portfolio serves to show off some of my work and my experiences. You’ll find blog posts reflecting on college life and personal growth, writing samples, and some other work of mine. Feel free to browse, and please email me at swanka.1@osu.edu or leave a comment here if you have any suggestions or advice.

My current interests include the environment, biology, literature, writing, art photography, music, and foreign language and culture. I’m also working on my own growth as a leader. My interests are highly varied, but I’m fascinated by many things, and I believe that having a wide knowledge base leads to more creative ideas and better problem solving skills.


First Year Experience Leadership Collaborative – Reflection

Two weeks before move in, I got to attend the First Year Experience Leadership Collaborative, a week long conference of about 70 incoming freshman focusing on developing leadership skills and learning to be leaders even without a title. I was able to meet a number of Columbus and University leaders there, which was not something I ever really pictured myself doing, but enjoyed immensely. I’m naturally an introverted, quiet person, so this week was spent very much out of my comfort zone. However, learning about all the different ways to be a leader really helped to kickstart my interest in leadership.

Although I’m not the extroverted, charismatic type that is typically thought of as a leader, I learned that anyone can play to their own personal strengths to be an effective leader. One of the self-assessments we did that week was the Clifton StrengthsQuest online test. My top five were:

  1. Learner
  2. Responsibility
  3. Input
  4. Restorative
  5. Intellection

Essentially what this means for me is that I tend to be more quiet and thoughtful, listening to others’ ideas, and often coming up with a creative idea or insight that could help lead the group in a different direction. I try to challenge others assumptions and my own about a problem in order to keep finding new ways of thinking and finding a solution.

I learned a lot about myself and how to work effectively with others in this week, and I’m extremely grateful for the experience and the friends I made.

My small group from the Leadership Collaborative after our tour of the state Capital building (Club Tommy for life).