Global Awareness: Because of my culture and appearance I feel that I have always been appreciative and mindful of the things that make each individual different. Being marginalized by my differences and having people try to ignore my differences as a means of making it easier on themselves leads me to strive to always recognize the things in others that make them them. There is no limit to what differentiate’s one person from another and it’s important to take notice of the external as well as the internal aspects that make up each person. Doing this helps me understand how to interact with others while teaching me about myself. During the fall semester of 2017, I took a service learning class: ESHESA 2571. The class was a requirement to be an active 2nd year member of my scholars group, therefore everyone in the class was in Mount Leadership Society. The class’s goal was to better our knowledge about service with a focus on social issues. Social issues, with the exception to some, are mainly connected with minority groups. With that said, many of our classes were focused on the experiences of these minority groups. My scholars group is a direct reflection of Ohio State’s demographics. The majority of the members are white, middle class or above students. That fact is not negative. It just means that their prior knowledge and experience in the class was different that myself’s and others who didn’t fall into that category. Recognizing that the way we all interacted differently with some of the info in the class is helped me better understand the types of discussions we held and questions or comments that appeared.

Original Inquiry: As a member of the STEP program, I have been given the opportunity to discover myself on deeper levels, share and listen to others ideas about oneself in a safe environment, and create a “project” that will further my academic, professional, community, and self knowledge experience. At the beginning of the program, I had a little difficulty deciding what I wanted my project to be not because I couldn’t think of anything, but because I had too many ideas on what type of project to create. The project I am currently creating is hopefully something that would be beneficial to the personal, cultural, professional, and recreational parts of my life. After doing some extensive research research on my school’s education abroad page, I found a 2019 summer program in Kingston, Jamaica that focuses on the art of that specific culture. The program will allow me to observe the way this sector of the world engages with the process of making art and help me understand myself as an artist/person while understanding others within the African Diaspora. While taking part in the pre-planned involvements of the program, I also want to take classes at the partnered art school because I believe making art with those you are observing creates a a more in-depth understanding of the people you are learning from. The most challenging part of this program would have to be the financial aspect of it. I’ve budgeted for some of the money to come from STEP funding, study abroad scholarships, and The College of Arts and Sciences scholarships. In the near future, I will be researching more information about the Jamaican culture and the fine details of the program to create an amazing project proposal.

Academic Enrichment: How well I do in school has been/is important to me mainly because in this society, it is seen as a direct reflection of the type of person you are. I don’t agree with how some people use my school experience as concrete data to determine my personality and reliability, but I understand that it’s important in some aspects of life. The focus placed on certain “knowledge” requirements from class does not limit my thoughts on what I feel is important to know in life. My passion is art and my major is art, which is in itself outside what some consider a core educational subject. To me, being creative and knowing yourself are some of the most needed skills in life. Having the ability to think in ways that don’t follow strict guidelines is beneficial to many sectors of life, whether it be professional or social. I also put an enormous value on expanding my knowledge about the multiple ways we experience life. This interest makes me want to always push myself outside of my comfort zone and take on and try to experience things that are outside of my normal everyday. This includes going to random events around campus, trying new foods, traveling with groups of people I don’t usually engage with, reading articles I’d normally ignore, etc. Whether inside or outside the classroom/studio, keeping an open mind helps me be the best knowledgeable person I can be.

Leadership Development: My experience as a Mount Leadership Society scholar is directly related to my transformation into a successful leader. The ongoing discussions about what makes a good leader and what how to use your skills to personalize how you lead has helped me the most. A leader is someone that knows how to intertwine being great role model, helping others, and guiding others without seeing themselves above those they are leading. As you become a better leader, those you are helping should be becoming better leaders as well. Last year I decided I wanted to be a committee chair in my scholars group to gain experience working with peers, planning events, and furthering my leadership and time management skills. My main goal with my committee is to have fun and help the members gain the same experiences I am hoping to gain. I put fun before the leadership aspect of the committee because my committee plans leisure activities that focus on physical and internal wellness. I also put fun first because any group you want to be a leader in should be fun and interesting to you. During meetings, I and the other chairs include the members in every step of planning events, that way they know their thoughts and work is necessary to the committee’s success. It would be simpler for the chairs to do all the work with the lesson plans and just direct the members on what to do during each event, but then the members wouldn’t be receiving any beneficial knowledge and I in return would worsen my leadership skills.

Service Engagement: In the fall of 2017, I began volunteering at the Boys&Girls RISE Club near Ohio State’s campus. I chose to become a volunteer there mainly because I love working with kids and have a strong passion for helping those in my cultural community. I strive to go to the club at least once a week for the majority of the member’s time there. The club’s mission is to “empower young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.” This includes homework help, activities that allow them to freely express themselves, and creating a safe, reliable, and family-like environment for the members. Being at the club has allowed me to help create that environment for the kids while also informing me on the issues surrounding people in my community in Columbus. Ohio State somewhat creates a bubble around it’s campus and it can be hard for students to engage with the communities surrounding them. The school encourages us to go outside of it’s boundaries, but many of the communities directly outside of campus have altered it’s make up to please the needs of the students, thus making it seem like we are getting a feel for Columbus when we really aren’t. I believe my biggest success so far at the club has been the individual attention I give to everyone. Not every member or staff personnel are the same. How I help one member with homework or how I help one staff personnel lead an activity changes depending on the person. I believe paying attention to the role as volunteer, how to value those at your place of service, and why their outcomes from the place of service are more important than yours are the most important aspects of service.

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