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As I reflect on my first year of college, I am amazed at how fast it has gone but how long I have felt like I’ve known this place and these people.  I look back to the beginning of the year and am surprised at how many ups and downs there have been, how many new challenges and opportunities I faced, and truly how much I have grown.

College is weird.  You pack up your stuff and move away from your parents for the first time ever.  You move into a place with 60,000 other students whom none of which you know, leaving the group of friends you have spent 12 years with.  I moved into a tiny space with a girl I met from Facebook, and two other strangers.  As it sounds, this could have gone terribly- I remember the horror stories I created in my head before starting college.  However, I could not have asked for better roommates, suitemates, floormates, and friendships this year.  I have learned so much from each individual and experience I have met.  These three girls pictured are some of the friendships I treasure most.  The first girl was the suitemate who quickly turned into my go-to girl.  We have laughed and cried, we’ve fought and made up, we have struggled in astronomy lecture and worshipped our God in service.  She made sure none of my days were boring.  She taught me about learning to love yourself and being independent, and gave me the courage to chase my dreams.  Which is what she will be doing, as she pursues a career in acting and voice instead of returning to OSU.  I am beyond heartbroken but so proud of her, and I know even though I have only known her for a year, our bond cannot be broken.  Get yourself a friend who will go to Valentines Day dinner with you in the Short North when you are both as single as it gets.  The second picture is of her roommate, Michelle.  Always referred to as our “mom,” she always made sure we were doing okay.  Speaking with her taught me to be open-minded and to love without limits.  I cannot wait to visit her apartment next year!  Get yourself a friend that will dress up like a hippie with you just to get three dollar burritos.  The last photo is of my lovely roommate and best friend.  I definitely recommend finding your roommate on Facebook.  Sophie became a best friend the second I met her and was my biggest support system this first of college. From reminding me that things will be okay when I’m stressed to the late night chats in the bunk beds- I would have been a mess with out her.  She taught me that I could truly do it all, as she set an example by working, training for a marathon, studying, and spending time with friends.  I am so glad that I will get to live with her again next fall.  Get yourself a friend who will cheer with you on good days (like OSU game days), and be by your side on the bad days.

A big part of my freshmen year was being a part of ENR Scholars.  From the camping trip which took me away from campus to relax, to the service projects and events that kept me focused.  Being a part of a group of people, and living with them as well, made the transition into college so much easier.  I met so many more people, and made friendships that will last a lifetime.  Having Esther and Amanda reminded me that I had adults here who cared about me and wanted me to do well- not just academically but in life.  Overall, it was an inspiring experience that taught me that I can always improve as a person and have the ability to do make a change in this world.

One of the most important things I learned this year was how important it is to save time to enjoy the little things.  Sometimes we get too caught up in our busy lives that we leave no time to just enjoy the day, which is so important for our mental health.  April has been fun for me to get to try to do something big for our Earth by eating vegetarian, and it has been a really cool experience.  This year I learned how stress-relieving it is too breathe in fresh air, lay in the grass, pet an adorable dog, and admire a pretty autumn tree or remarkable sunset.  You have time, I promise.

I already bragged on my girl friends, but I want to take the time to talk about this whole group of people.  These are some of the best people I have ever met.  All of the guys always had us girls’ backs, and that is so important in college.  They taught me how I should be treated and always made sure I was having a good time no matter how bad of a day I was having.  They taught me about keeping a balance in my life between working hard and still enjoying life.

I have definitely grown in my time here, choosing to live intentionally.  I hope to stay friends with all of these wonderful people, and even make more friendships next year.  I hope to continue basking in the sunshine and taking hold of every opportunity that comes my way.  Goodbye freshmen year, hello summer!

“#Disappointed”

The first week and a half of action for Earth Month has gone pretty well.  The first week I used my social media to spread awareness about slaughterhouses.  I posted a photo of my some facts I had written down including things like “the beaks of chicken are often removed to reduce the excessive feather pecking and cannibalism seen among stressed, overcrowded birds” and “hogs, chicken, and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.”  I also included my Earth Month Action Plan as well as other small ways for people to make a difference.  Finally, I posted a video of some undercover footage of slaughterhouses.  I was a little nervous to do this because it is unlike me to post about controversial or political things.  I know that a lot of people get annoyed with vegans who post about their lifestyle.  The only problem that I faced with this was that my friend’s dad replied back with some negative words including “#disappointed.” ):  I realize now why nothing political is getting down about our environmental issues- a lot of people are still against these ideas.

This week I am eating vegetarian dinners and it has gone well so far.  I am usually just eating quick microwaveable meals so it is easy to stay away from meat, especially when I can still eat some for lunch if I need.  I have realized that I really am capable of going vegetarian or vegan, if I take it slow.  For the final two weeks I will be doing vegan lunches, and no meat all week.  I am more nervous for this because it will be more challenging to find vegan options.  It will also be important for me to make sure I am getting protein in other ways.  I think it will be a really good thing for me to see what it would be like to be a vegan, though.  Also, even a week without meat will save so many animals.  I think it is important for me to talk the talk AND walk the walk.

Earth Month Action Plan

Now that I have done some research on my issue, I am excited that Earth Month is almost here.  During April, I will take one action each week for Earth Month.

The first action I am going to do is post a video on my twitter that reveals the horrible conditions of slaughterhouses.  This will spread awareness of the issue.  I will also share my weekly challenges with my followers in case anyone else wants to participate.  What may be difficult about this action is that a lot of people get annoyed with vegans on social media because they do not care or want to hear about the very real issues.  Hopefully, they actually watch the video and judge for themselves.

The second week of April I am going to strive to eat only vegetarian dinners.  I usually have chicken in my lunches, this will save a lot of animals and fight against these companies that are treating their animals so poorly.  It may be difficult to change my routine this way, but I will take advantage of OSU’s vegetarian options.

For the third Earth Month action, I will strive to eat only vegan lunches.  This will be a great way for me to see what it would be like to be vegan, without the transition being super dramatic and unrealistic.  It will also be for such a good cause, as vegans save a lot of animals and resources.  Plus, I will now be walking the walk instead of just talking the talk.  It may be difficult to find a lot of vegan options on campus, but I can ask my vegan friends what their favorite choices are!

As my final, and most challenging, action, I am going to try and not eat any meat for the week.  This will save a lot of animals and prevent more money to go to these inhumane slaughterhouses.  Also, maybe I will get in the habit of eating this way and stick with it.  It will be difficult for my body to get used to this change, but I will find protein in other forms.  I am excited to take on this Earth Month challenge!

Social Enterprise Pt. 2

This class session really cleared up for me the difference between effective social enterprise and just putting a bandaid over a social issue.  For example, just donating things to a cause will not fix the problem at the root.  However, investing in causes that will not only provide for people who need it, but also teach skills and help the economy, will be much more effective.  The guest speaker impacted my initial thoughts by making me realize how much time goes into creating a social enterprise.  As I explore my issue, I should look into causes that are already doing things to impact the inhumane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses as Justice-Orientated citizens.  This way, I will know which organizations to give my time, money, and effort towards.

My biggest takeaway from this class session was that you really must have passion for your cause in order to be successful.  Both the founder of The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, and the founder of Hot Chicken Takeover are very passionate about their causes- and they have made some real change.  Creating a difference starts with passion and a lot of determination.

Personally, I think it would be really cool to start a business that sold food from local farms that are environmentally sustainable.  I would also try to hire people who have been incarcerated or in poverty, like the founded of Hot Chicken Takeover.  Then, like The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, I could donate the profit to organizations that are working to create an economy where companies do not have to treat animals the way they have been.

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise is an organization or company that sells goods or services in the market and then takes that profit and puts it towards combatting a social issue- like protecting the environment or improving areas of poverty.  I could not find very many social enterprise organizations that address slaughterhouses.  However, there are a lot of food companies and restaurants that sell food that is “free range,” bought from small local farms, or completely vegetarian or vegan.  These companies are addressing the issue through social enterprise because the money that people spend on these better alternatives, they are not giving to companies that treat their animals poorly.  I could definitely get more involved with my issue by starting to buy my food from companies like this rather than big companies that are getting away with abusing their animals in horrible slaughterhouse conditions. I could also eat more vegan options.  On a bigger scope, if The Ohio State University started buying their food from companies that prove to take better care of their animals, this could have a huge impact on this social issue.  It is challenging because smaller companies that are treating their animals better, are usually not making as much product.  The Ohio State University has a lot of students to provide food for, and this can create an issue when picking who to buy from.  Another challenge, is that a lot of restaurants and companies that sell vegetarian, vegan, or environmentally better products are selling them for a higher price than the companies who make more product in a faster time.

A personally responsible citizen would be someone who opts for vegan options, or buys free range eggs at the store.  Participatory citizens are the people who are leading or working for social enterprise organizations that are putting their profit into combatting slaughterhouse conditions.  Finally, a social-justice oriented citizen would be someone who finds out the reason why the horrible conditions in slaughterhouses exist, and puts out awareness and money towards ways to combat the issue at the root.

I watched a TEDx video on how to create a successful social enterprise that was presented by a man who created a social enterprise for foster care.  He explains that social enterprise is all about using entrepreneurship to solve big social, environment, and justice issues.  He then discusses his B.I.B. methodology, which stands for business, impact, brand.  “Business” regards what you want to do and why you want to do it.  In this case, I want to solve issues with slaughterhouses and their terrible conditions because it is something that I am passionate about.  He makes it clear that I need to do research on my topic before diving in.  It is important to know what is already being done for my issue so I can be efficient and not take resources away from a existing sources.  Next is “impact”, which asks what value am I creating and who am I doing it for.  He then goes on to explain that it is essential to find successful strategies, and to collect quantitative data that can show that your company is solving problems for the better.  The last letter stands for “brand,” which is all about who champions you and are they credible.  The speaker explains how important networking and gaining supporters for your social enterprise is.  All of these are important things to remember when looking at my social issue through a social enterprise lens.

Community Organizing Pt. 2

After hearing the guest speakers in class, I realized two big things about community organizing that will help me as I move forward with my issue.  The first is that it takes a lot of work, and a lot of time, to make real change in a community.  The woman who spoke about her bike and street projects explained that it took her three years to get the word out about her ideas and convince local government to give her proposals a try.  The man who spoke about getting clean air, soil, and water rights for Columbus, is still working hard to get awareness out about the issues so he can hopefully get his proposed bill of rights to pass in the next election.  However, although it takes a lot of hard work and time, it is clear that it is very rewarding.

The other thing I took away from the guest speakers in class, is that truly anyone can make a big difference in a community.  These two speakers were just normal citizens like me, with a whole lot of passion for their causes.  It was really inspiring and encouraging to see that I can make a difference in a community even if I am just a student.

As for my own issue and community organizing, I would like to really work on spreading awareness.  I think one of the biggest reasons people do not care about the harsh realities of slaughterhouses is because they do not know about them.  Secondly, I think it would be really significant if Ohio State had “Mindful Mondays” where the dining halls did not serve meat.  Even just one campus doing this for one day a week could make a huge difference in helping these poor animals, as well as spreading awareness about the issue.

Community Organizing

Community organizing plays a big role in the issue of inhumane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses.  Without people caring about the issue, knowing about the issue, or having the motivation to participate in combating the issue- no action will take place to change the problem at hand.  This is the challenge that is being faced right now with people who are trying to make change on behalf of the animals being treated unethically, not enough people are aware of what is going on.  Most people would rather not know how the meat on their plate got there.  But without enough passionate people, it will be hard to make change.

There are a few national organizations I found that take initiative against the unethical treatment of animals in factory farms.  To name a few of the top ones there is Mercy for Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, United Poultry Concerns, Farm Animal Rights Movement, Vegan Outreach, Farm Sanctuary, and Compassion Over Killing.  These organizations, on behalf of animals rights, raise awareness, fight for better conditions for animals, and attempt to end this injustice.  They also promote solutions, fight for legislation, rescue animals, and make investigations.

Some problems that come to mind when thinking of community organizing for advocacy against slaughterhouses are that most people are unaware of the problem, or too busy to participate in actively fighting the issue.  Without passionate people, there is no change.  If we can raise awareness and educate people on what is happening, we have a better chance of persuading people to fight for the cause.  The more people taking a stance, the better chance we have of combating injustice.

The most important things to consider when thinking about community organizing and changing the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses are that the issue is at a national level, that people need to be made aware of what is going on, and solutions need to be made quick and easy for busy people to be able to participate in.  Activists have to work on making investigations that reveal to the people the unethical things that are going on behind the walls of slaughterhouses.  Then we must work to pass legislation that will support the animals who are being tortured.  It is also important to educate people on the issue and then give off solutions that are at a smaller level and are easier for anyone to participate in.

As a personally responsible citizen, some people are participating in “meatless mondays” or something similar to this idea.  As participatory citizens, other people are organizing local groups, like colleges student organizations, that participate in buying food from companies that are known to treat their animals humanely.  Social-Justice oriented citizens are trying to figure out ways for companies to be efficient and profitable while still treating their animals more ethically.  The last example is what we must strive to do.  Without getting to the root of the problem, it will never get fixed.  The long-term solution lies in how companies will still make efficient profit while providing their animals with ethical conditions.

I found a TedX video presented by some passionate middle schoolers.  They brought up some good points including that the animals in slaughterhouses are obviously treated terribly, but the employees are also enduring psychologically unhealthy circumstances.  Constantly killing animals can create a mind that learns to not care or make attachments and can create a violent mindset.  The speakers also brought up the point that besides choosing the obvious but tougher solution and becoming a vegetarian, there are other smaller ways to combat this issue like buying from local and small farms.

Take Care, Earth

There are a million issues in this world that I would love to solve, but unfortunately that is unreachable.  However, the three issues I would like to explore for our second semester projects are unclean water, inhumane treatment at slaughterhouses, and elephant poaching.  All of these have a huge impact on people, profit, and the planet.

Unclean water is something I am passionate about because I have seen it first hand.  Over this past summer, I went on a mission trip to Guatemala.  It was a very eye-opening experience,  In these types of areas none of the people are getting sanitary water, if they even have running water at all.  In fact, one out of five deaths of children under five is due to a water-related disease.  I saw it abroad but there are people fighting this same issue in local areas around Columbus as well.  Unclean water is so clearly affecting people’s health and even causing deaths in children and adults.  Not only is this affecting people, but the planet as well.  Some of this unclean water is coming from lakes and streams that are polluted by chemicals and trash from people.  This pollution is detrimental to the organisms living in and around these water sources.  Certain fish and marine life are dying or being harmed from the unclean water, which affects the entire food chain.  The problem then lies with the profit pillar, it is very expensive to filter water and economically the businesses do not want to put in the extra money.  You cannot just up and provide clean water for people without it upsetting the whole economy.  In order to find a solution, we have to try our best to be Justice-Orientated Citizen’s and really look at why there is a problem and how to long-term fix it.

A big issue lies around slaughterhouses and the inhumane way they treat the animals.  I have recently seen a lot of videos and pictures of the way they are treating the animals and it breaks my heart.  The process is simply cruel to the animals.  The reason they do this is because of the profit pillar, they want to produce their product in the cheapest and most economically efficient way possible- getting as much product in the fastest and cheapest way possible.  This has caused them to completely disregard treating the animals in a humane manner.  Most people do not know or want to know how the meat they are eating got to their plate, if they did they may not want to eat it.  This should be a red flag that something is clearly wrong with the process and the people deserve to know where their food is coming from.  The planet- the animals suffering- are obviously most affected. Some are drugged, made sick, or genetically modified making it unhealthy for humans to consume.  This issue is clearly effecting the people and the planet all for the benefit of the profit.

Elephant poaching is a very important issue to me.  Elephants are quickly decreasing in number due to the mass amount that are being killed for their ivory tusks. People will hunt and kill thousands of these creatures so that they can sell the ivory for a lot of money, even though it is illegal.  The ivory is carved into jewelry and ornaments that are then sold for profit.  As for the people pillar, people enjoy these marketable ivory items and choose not to think about a species becoming extinct because of the necklace they just bought.  Economically, the ivory trade is one that brings a lot of money into exchange.  But are money and pretty figurines worth losing a beautiful species?

The issue that I have decided to go into more depth with is the inhumane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses and farm factories.  I researched the topic and found myself in tears after reading and watching videos of this issue.  I found that after being transported on long journeys where they are treated like things rather than living beings- they are shoved in tiny filthy areas with thousands of others with insufficient food and water or ever see the sun.  This goes for animals that are killed for their meat and also animals who are kept for their milk, eggs, or otherwise.  The animals who are being slaughtered are being so by being ground up alive, gassed, or even thrown into garbage bags alive and left to die in a dumpster.  Some babies who are not healthy enough are thrown on concrete floors and left to die a painful death.  Some animals are hit with metal rods and slammed around for no reason.  One small way that we could combat this is to initiate mindful mondays where only vegan food is served at traditions dining at the university.  I think I will focus on awareness and easy solutions when I address this issue.  I think one of my biggest challenges will be a personal cognitive dissonance- as I am not a vegetarian or vegan but do not agree with the way the animals are being treated in these places.  I also think it will be hard to not come off as another annoying crazy environment freak.  If people do not educate themselves on the issue, they will not care or see the problem.

Coffee Coma Continued

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For the remainder of the project, Sophie and I ventured to The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, Kafe Kerouac, and Cup O’ Joe.  The Roosevelt Coffeehouse was a little farther from campus, but it was worth the bus ride and the walk in the cold.  Owned by a local Columbus family, The Roosevelt’s mission is to fight the injustices of hunger, unclean water, and human trafficking locally and around the globe.  Busy with costumers that the staff treats like family, Sophie and I found a seat and studied away while sipping our delicious fall drinks.  I tried the tempting “smortado” that came along with mini marshmallows- my tastebuds danced with joy at the taste of this drink!  With appetizing coffee, friendly employees, and such a great cause- I recommend everyone who finds themselves in Columbus to give The Roosevelt Coffeehouse a try.

Kafe Keroauc was our next stop on our Columbus Coffee to do list.  Feeling a little intimidated by the hipsters that surrounded the coffee shop, we anxiously gave this place a try.  The coolest part about Kafe Keoauc were the mounds of books and records that lined every wall.  Lucky for us, we got to go to this unique coffeehouse on one of their poetry nights that they host every Wednesday night, and one of our own friends was reading a poem.  It was such a great place to let Columbus’s talented residents express themselves.  I would definitely recommend putting on your best hipster impression and grabbing your favorite book, album, or poem and a cup of coffee and find a spot at the welcoming Kafe Keroauc.

Our final destination was none other than the infamous Cup O’ Joe.  Even if you’ve never been inside this coffeehouse, I know all of you coffee lovers out there have dreamed of the giant coffee cup that sits on the top of the building.  This coffeehouse offers a calm and homey feel with a fireplace all while being a perfect location to catch up with old friends, mingle with new ones, or finally go on that first date with the guy from your calculus class that is the distraction to blame for your last two C’s.  I felt extra joyful during this trip as they were playing Christmas music.  Feeling daring, I decided to try the “Mojoe Cool” which is cold brewed iced coffee, with vanilla cream and chocolate milk.  It was absolutely delicious!  They also had some tempting desserts that I had to work up the strength to resist.  Not too far from campus, I will definitely come back to Cup O’ Joe whenever I need to get away and relax, study, or hang out with friends.

I cannot pin one coffeeshop as my favorite experience.  I would have to say as a whole, I have enjoyed getting off campus to explore Columbus, try delicious coffee drinks with my roommate, and find new study spots.  This project has let me get to know my way around Columbus a little better, and showed me how lucky I am to live in a city that offers so many different opportunities.  I will definitely continue to try new coffeeshops all around Columbus during my time here at Ohio State.  I would definitely recommend to anyone trying the Columbus Coffee to do list, to go with a friend, try new drinks, and bring your books to study!

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When I Grew Up

Ten years ago if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have said a zoologist.  Five years ago I would have said a dolphin behavior and cognition specialist.  The latter always got a couple laughs at Thanksgiving dinner.  I didn’t realize why until the day the question stopped being “what do you want to be when you grow up” and started being “what do you want to major in at college?”  Oh, this is serious.  This is now.  This has to be realistic.  I came into my first year at OSU as an undecided student in the University Exploration program, but I have recently decided that I want to declare a major in Communications with a specialization in Strategic Communications and a minor in Business.  After graduating with the Bachelor of Arts in Communications, I would like to be a Public Relations Manager for a big corporation, team, or person. This is very different than what my younger self wanted to be, but I think that this is a more realistic choice.  I would really enjoy a job like this as it incorporates my skills and characteristics.  A Public Relations manager works with advertising, keeping the public happy, working with the media, leading campaigns, writing news releases, giving speeches, controlling the social media accounts, managing internal communication, and much more.  All of these responsibilities sound like something I would enjoy and do well.  I like that I can write, speak, lead, and be creative in this job field.  My Holland Code is EAI- enterprising, investigative, and artistic.  People who receive an E for enterprising are the “persuaders,” they enjoy leading, speaking, seeing projects through, achievement, having an influence, and social success.  The “I” stands for investigative, these are the “thinkers,” they like to observe, learn, investigate, evaluate, and solve problems.  The “A” stands for Artistic, the “creators,” this includes people who are innovating and like to work in unstructured situations using their imagination and creativity.  The Conventional and Realistic types are my lowest scores, which makes sense because I do not like math or working with numbers and data.  I also would prefer to work with people, which is why I do fit pretty well in the Social category- I love helping people.  My score was pretty accurate for me, but Enterprising definitely stands out most when it comes to my career path.  One of the biggest factors in deciding what I wanted to do was separating my hobbies from my work.  I believe it is not just about what we want to be, but about who we want to be.  I am investigative, artistic, social and a little bit of all of the types, but none of these are what I want to do as my career.  But, I can still use my investigative characteristics in the workplace, my artistic side as a director of my church plays, and the social aspects by continuing to go on mission trips.  I also want to have a family and be able to travel.  I want to have lots of pets and a sunflower garden.  I want to coach my children’s sports teams when they are young.  But, my highest type-enterprising- is the perfect match for my career goals.  Communications and public relations directly involve aspects from all of these types, but specifically enterprising.  Two of the careers that O*NET suggested for me based on my code were a sustainability specialist and a lawyer.  I am not surprised about these considering I am in the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars so sustainability is clearly an interest of mine, and my mother is an attorney and I participated in mock trial in high school. I am keeping the option open of going to law school after I get my undergraduate degree in communications.  Although neither of these two careers are directly what I am planning for career-wise, I do believe that communications and public relations fall under my Holland code as well.  In fact, Public Relations is labeled under my code on other websites.  As a Public Relations manager I would initiate projects, public speak, lead groups, and meet lots of people.  I could use my energetic, adventurous, extroverted, and optimistic characteristics in this career field, as well.  These are all aspects of the Enterprising type.  Now that I have decided on something that I would enjoy and be good at, my next step is to schedule the classes I will need to take in order to declare my major in Communications.  I also need to begin taking classes that work toward my Business minor, which I think will really help make me more marketable.  I also would like to start looking at potential internships in Public Relations.  There are also student organizations that are related to Communications that I’d like to join, as well as ones that will keep me involved in my other interests.