Summary of Mentorship Experience

It is crazy to think I am sitting here writing my own summary of the mentorship experience. I feel like it has not been that long since I first walked into my first ACES meeting as a new freshman. I am so thankful to have had such an amazing mentor as Lauren was to me and I wanted to create the same, positive experience for someone else. I vividly remember the “speed-dating” workshop we did in the beginning of my first semester and I was overwhelmed but the people I have met though ACES are some of the coolest, most inspirational people I have ever met. I couldn’t wait to meet more ACES members as a second year and I got so lucky with my mentee.

My mentee was Abby Williams. I am not a person to judge off of looks or take appearance too seriously but Abby lit up a room when she walked in. I remember wanting to talk to her so badly and luckily I had gotten that chance in my second “speed-dating” workshop. I enjoyed everyone I talked to and couldn’t wait to get to know them some more but Abby and I had too much in common. I remember how natural the (very quick) conversation was and it had felt as though I had known Abby forever.

After our very quick conversation in the ACES speed-dating, we had our first semester interview. Abby and I found out we were way more similar then we could have ever anticipated. We both are from Cincinnati and that played a large role on what we had in common. After chatting about our favorite hometown things, we discovered we actually only about five minutes away from each other (what are the odds!). Not only are we from the same city, but Abby and I are both education majors. I am Special Education and Abby was Early Childhood Education. We first talked about why we had chosen that path and we found we had the same love for people and children.

There wasn’t a lot Abby and I disagreed on. We had a lot of the same interested and likes and found it very fun to be around each other. I loved watching Abby grow from the first time I met her until now. I was able to see and help her grow in ways I don’t even think she knew she capable of. Abby has a very big personality but started off a little shy. After breaking her out of her shell I loved being someone Abby could come to and feel comfortable around. Not only did she share all positives of her life and adventures with me but I was able to learn where Abby gets her strength from from her sharing her “not-so-good moments.” I am thrilled she found friends as good as she had found and can’t wait to see her grow even more in the coming years.

I loved being Abby’s mentor. I am a big sister of three and the oldest cousin of ten. From a very young age I adopted the “motherly” role and loving being someone people can come to. Being away from my family was really hard at times and Abby helped me more than she knows. She was like a younger sister and reminded me a lot of home. Through the mentorship program Abby helped me to hone in those “motherly” leadership skills and advance them even more. Having Abby as a mentee helped remind to act like someone I would want future generations to look up to. I wanted to be fun, relatable, and approachable but I also had to be someone responsible, determined, and ambitious. I remember how scary OSU seemed at first. Having a mentor helped me in more ways than one. I hope one day Abby can reflect and say I had a positive impact on her college experience.

Reflecting on my experience in the mentorship program, as a mentee and a mentor, I find there to be so many benefits. Ohio State is big and can be very overwhelming at times. Having the ACES mentorship program not only made such a large place seem that much smaller but also gave me people I could come to when I was disoriented or unsure. Sometimes resources can be hard to find and adults can be difficult to approach but having a mentor like the one ACES gave me, gave me someone I could look up to, someone I could seek information and advice from, and a friend that will last forever.

Second-Semester Interview

Abby and I’s second semester interview went a little different than we had anticipated. Our plans were to meet up and get lunch somewhere we both hadn’t been before but instead it was virtual. We both could have never expected this but we certainly made it work!

From the start Abby and I have had a very positive relationship. It was almost kind of scary how much we clicked. In our first semester interview things were a little surface level as we had just met for the one of the first times. It’s funny to reflect and see how much our friendship has grown since meeting each other only a couple short months ago. We never have any issues keeping a conversation going but to reflect on Abby’s first year at Ohio State I selected the following questions to help guide our conversation:

How have you gotten involved on campus?

  • Abby was just as ambitious as I was as a freshman, maybe a little more. She cares a lot about her academics but knew upon arriving at Ohio State she wanted to get involved. After tossing around a lot of ideas she set her hopes on the OSU Club Dance Team. She said it was one of the best decisions she made. She was worried because it was a try-out scenario but was thrilled when she was offered a spot on the team. As time consuming as it is, she says it’s how she has made some of her very best friends and unforgettable memories.

How was your first semester in ACES?

  • Abby had all good things to say about ACES. She was worried about coming to such a big school but said ACES made it seem that much smaller. She said she also instantly felt all the love and support around her and felt so welcomed by her peers and mentors from the beginning. ACES contributed to what made her transition to college so smooth.

Have you enjoyed the ACES living-learning community in Smith-Steeb?

  • Abby loved getting to live in the ACES living-learning community in Smith-Steeb. Not only was it such a nice building and a great location but that was another way to feel a “home away from home.” She said it was so uplifting to live around such positive and friendly people. She was also a little unsure about living with new people but found her best friends in ACES. Abby loved her roommate but was also able to expand in the living-leanring community and find what she tells me are “her people.” She’s so thankful for that opportunity because she knows ACES and it’s living-learning community are what helped her on her path to find them.

What is your favorite memory from last semester?

  • Abby struggled to find one favorite memory from her first semester. I honestly hope that is the case for everyone because if you were to ask me the same questions a million answers would have come to my mind. She had lots of fond memories but she said if she had to mention just one it would probably be joining the dance team. She set the bar high for herself and it sure has paid off.

What has surprised you about Ohio State since arriving in the fall?

  • The biggest thing that surprised Abby about Ohio State since she moved in in the fall has been the sense of community. She knew being a Buckeye meant having lots of pride and school sprit but she said she could have never expected it to be of this caliber. She said being a Buckeye has become so much more to her than she could have ever imagined.

 

Adventure to North Market

For Abby and I’s “Explore Columbus” we chose to take a trip to North Market.

I had only been to North Market one time before with my family and I wanted to get a second experience with Abby. We both had very busy schedules this semester but we finally found time November 14th. Thankfully I have a car on campus that I keep at my sorority house so we were able to use that as our way of transportation. I picked up Abby from her dorm in Smith Steeb around one o’clock and we headed down High Street.

Our car conversation consisted of some small talk and catching up on the little things. In our mentor-mentee interview Abby mentioned she was having a hard time adjusting to life on campus. She felt very homesick at the beginning of the year and didn’t know what to make of her new college life. In the car, Abby told me she was feeling a lot better about living away from home. She had finally adjusted to her schedule and has found some really awesome friends to keep her company. She did admit that she didn’t love being away from home and really missed her family and friends but that she doesn’t think that will ever go away because of the large part they played in her life before she left for school.

By the time Abby and I got to North Market we were starved. We decided to do a lap of the whole place before deciding what kind of food we wanted. Abby and I both felt a little piece of home because of similar North Market is to Findlay Market in Downtown Cincinnati. Our favorite part of the trip was seeing all the local food vendors that lined the market. It was so hard to make a decision on what to eat but we ultimately decided on Italian. “Pasteria” had too many choices to choose from but we knew we had to make a decision fast because of grumbling stomachs. We both decided to design our own pasta. I got penne noodles with meat sauce and two meatballs with some shredded mozzarella on top. Abby got angel hair pasta with meat sauce (she told me she’s quite the picky eater). Overall the food was 10/10 but it was a little pricey. I think we both spent $15 on our meal but the amount of food in the box you got more than made up for it.

We both took our food upstairs to the seating area and found ourselves a spot along the edge of the bar. Both of us agreed that we really liked sitting there because you were able to look down into the market and see all the vendors below.

Abby and I had a really good conversation while we were eating our food. We were able to cover so many topics. My favorite was when I got to learn more about why Abby’s family and friends meant so much to her. Her family is extremely close and has supported her in everything she has done so far in life. She said she wouldn’t trade them for the world. I also learned that Abby’s friends are her second biggest support system behind her family. Abby was part of a very close knit dance team in high school. They spent many days, nights, and weekends together and Abby said that all the hours they spent together are what made them her best friends.

Not only does Abby have really awesome friends at home but she told me how much her friends in Columbus mean to her now. She was able to find two people within ACES that have made her college experience as good as it has been. She said they have been in separable since they kindled their bond and have done so many fun adventures within Columbus together.

I was also able to answer a lot of questions for Abby. She asked a lot about how to get more involved on campus. I offered her all the experiences I have been through and the pros and cons of all of them. Abby said she is interested in rushing a sorority and I’m hoping I will get to see her grow throughout the recruitment process.

On our way out, Abby had spotted Jeni’s ice cream and she convinced my already overflowing stomach that it also needed a scoop of ice cream. Abby stuck to her norm and got Brambleberry Crisp and I tried their seasonal White Chocolate Peppermint flavor. 39423490/10, Jeni’s always outdoes themselves.

I absolutely love being a point of reference for Abby and have loved to see how much she had grown in her first semester. I know she has so much potential for growth and can’t wait to recap our conversations in the coming semester to compare where she started and how far she has exceeded her own expectations for herself. Our “Explore Columbus” trip provided us with so many new restaurants to try and even better conversation. I recommend keeping an open mind when going to a place like North Market (or anywhere!) because you never know what you like until you try it!

 

Mentor/Mentee First-Semester Interview

My mentee is first year ACES student, Abby Williams. Abby is an Early Childhood Education major from Cincinnati, Ohio. That is where the bonding began for Abby and I. At the ACES Speed Dating Event early in the semester, Abby and I covered all the basics but when she told me where she was from our conversation instantly became easier.

For our first semester interview Abby and I met at Smith Steeb and sat outside at a table and chatted for a while. When I told Abby the neighborhood I lived in, we put together that she went to high school two minutes from my house and lived in the next neighborhood over. I chose five questions to ask Abby during our interview and they were as follows:

How did you decide on the major you have chosen?

Abby told me she chose to be an Early Childhood Education major she loves kids. She started as early as 6th grade and served as a tutor for younger kids up until she was in 8th grade. Abby also has been a dancer for most of her life and when she became an older member of her team she served as mentor for the younger girls and boys who were just starting to get into dance.

What kind of involvement are you interested in on campus?

Abby is very ambitious. In addition to being an ACES scholar, Abby tired out and now holds a spot on the Ohio State Club Dance Team. She expressed that being on the dance team is a very large commitment but wants to find ways to become involved in the local Catholic Church in a way to remind herself of her faith.

Why did you choose ACES?

When Abby and I were talking about this question I realized we had joined this specific scholars program for a lot of the same reasons. The hook for Abby was this cohort being strongly related to her major. She knew there would be lots of opportunities to grow within her field and in others that were similar. Abby also did lots of community service throughout grade school and high school and wanted to find a way to continue that throughout college.

What do you plan to do with your major after graduation?

As an Early Childhood Education major the answer to this may seem easy. Everyone who chooses that wants to be a teacher right? Well yes, but Abby also wants to be much more than that to children. She wants to continue to be a positive role model to those who need one most and to help set up the strong foundation for her students education in the future. Only knowing Abby for such a short amount of time I know she will make an awesome educator one day. She is such a bright light that brings a smile to everyones faces and has one of the most accepting, outgoing personalizes I have ever come across.

What is one of the most important things you have learned so far at Ohio State?

Abby’s answer to this surprised me but told me Abby was very self-aware. Abby said that the hardest thing she had gone through at Ohio State since move-in was being homesick. She expressed that in the first few weeks she was very sad she wasn’t constantly around her family like she had been before. Abby learned that it was okay to be sad but didn’t want that to negatively effect her experience at Ohio State. She said her and her family held lots of FaceTime calls and as her new life at school became more familiar and normal, she expressed that things have only gone up.

I also asked Abby why she chose Ohio State in the first place just to gauge her reasoning for choosing this school. Again, Abby and I were more alike than I had thought. We both had come from fairly small high schools and wanted to try something different. We both also knew Ohio State would have a lot to offer us in every aspect. We also couldn’t help ourselves but want to be apart of the culture and pride that is THE Ohio State University.

I had so much fun getting to know Abby better and can’t wait to get to hang out with her more in the future. I think our similar personalities and interests will serve as a solid base for a potential life-long friendship!

Research to Practice

In my special education class this semester, I was asked to look at a study observing the effects of the self-questioning and the systematic prompt fading procedures on children with disabilities. Self-questioning requires readers to ask and answer questions before, during, and after reading to improve comprehension and understanding of passages. In class we learned that strategic readers are those that are able to read for comprehension while using background knowledge and picking out important details and sequences. Learning deficits regarding reading includes the failure of carrying out these certain strategies for a number of reasons. The study I analyzed was intended to increase the reading comprehension of the two fifth grade students participating. The results showed that the two procedures did lead to a major increase in the engagement of the two students. This assignment really helped expose me to research in the special education field. At the end of it, I was able connect the many lessons we learned in class and identify how they are put to practice in a real classroom.

G.O.A.L.S – Global Awareness

To help enrich my global awareness as an ACES scholar, I decided to join Best Buddies. Best Buddies is a 501 nonprofit organization “dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” In September I went through training and was paired up with a buddy who had a developmental disability. Her name is Kim and she has Down Syndrome. Initially, I joined Best Buddies in hopes that it would provide me with more experience in the Special Education field. But Kim has given me so much more than I ever could’ve imagined I would’ve gotten out of Best Buddies. Kim and all of the other members of Best Buddies have helped me to embrace the diversity and individuality of this very unique community. They have taught me that a disability is not the only trait that defines you and what true love and happiness looks like!

Valedictorian Award

My biggest accomplishment in life thus far has been graduating Valedictorian of Purcell Marian High School’s Class of 2018. From the second I was assigned my first “reader” in Kindergarten, I fell in love school and learning. In high school I always opted for the more rigorous courses but that meant nothing assigned to me was ever easy. Completing a project or studying for tests and exams wasn’t all that enjoyable. My busy schedule also proved to be very difficult at times. I was extremely active in sports and clubs which did not allow for a lot of time for myself. But learning how to balance everything helped me to form essential time management skills and responsibility over the years. I reflect on all the times I wanted to give up and how hard I was on myself but being able to walk across the stage at graduation as Valedictorian meant that all of my hard work and effort had finally paid off.

G.O.A.L.S. – Service Engagement

As part of my service engagement I made the decision to the help with OSU’s Office of Social Change’s new program, Music Explorers. Music Explorers helps expose the children of the Schoenbaum Family Center to all genres of music and the connection it can bring people. Although not very musically inclined, I loved the thought of being able to work with kids again. Coming to OSU was weird for me because I suddenly was one of the youngest people around instead of being the oldest of my two siblings and seven cousins. I really missed being able to act like a child while trying to juggle my new adult life. So Music Explorers seemed like a win-win situation. Every Friday I walk to the Schoenbaum Family Center on East 7th Avenue where I spend two hours of my day. Usually the babies come out first and we sing songs to get them engaged and exposed to music as early as possible. After the younger group is the three to five years olds. From the “Dinosaur Song” to Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free”, they always bring their best singing voices and dance moves and are always eager to learn. The Schoenbaum Family Center and the students there allow me to have so much fun that most of the time it doesn’t even feel like service!

About Me

Hello, my name is Hannah Vondohre! I graduated from Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2018. I am a Special Education major with a focus on Early Childhood Intervention at The Ohio State University. My goal for the future is to work with young children with developmental disabilities to help set them up for success in a school setting. I’ve always wanted to work with kids as I am the oldest of nine cousins in my family, so I’ve assumed the ‘motherly’ role from as far back as I can remember. Since I have started school at Ohio State, I have become of a member of the Advocates for Community and Education Scholars program, Best Buddies Columbus, and I am a volunteer at the Schoenbaum Family Center. In my free time I like hanging out with my friends, exploring new places, being outside, and spending time with my family. I can’t wait to further my education at Ohio State and seize every opportunity I am given!