Being aware of and involved in the world around me has always been something I’ve always valued, but this year I took an honors sociology class that opened my eyes to the complexities of different social institutions around the world. We read books and original research about institutions such as the justice system and the family, and I was amazing with the different perspectives on salient issues like gun control. I learned how different people are impacted by social institutions based on their age, gender, race, religion, etc. Fortunately, this my family is taking a two week trip to Europe, and I will be able to really immerse myself in a different culture and perhaps see how or if the institutions in these countries differ from the one I have grown up in. This year, I also became inspired to looking into studying abroad later in college.
Over the past year, I have dedicated a great deal of time to exploring topics that I find interesting, whether it has been in a laboratory or simply surfing the internet. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has always had difficulty seeing and has been legally blind for a couple years now. Frankly, I always just thought vision naturally worsened with age, and my grandma was just a bit of an extreme example. It wasn’t until I began taking neuroscience classes in college that I began to understand the possible neurological impairments that underly deficits in vision. Curious to learn more about it, I joined a vision laboratory at Northeast Medical University. In Dr. Denise Inman’s lab, we studied different models of glaucoma in mice and potential treatments for the disease. Now, instead of sitting in a lecture learning about the visual system, I was staining and viewing actual optic nerves under a microscope. This hands-on experience taught me how an actual scientific study is run and gave me a perspective on the things I was learning that I never got by simply taking notes in class.
For as long as I’ve had control over my academic schedule, I have always made a point to challenge myself. This past year was no different. While a disproportionate amount of my time was spent drawing organic chemistry reaction mechanisms, I was also able to take a few neuroscience classes, notably psychopharmacology and neurological anatomy, that were extremely interesting. I was lucky enough to take psychopharmacology with OSU’s incredible neuroscientist Dr. Wenk where we learned about the brain’s transmitter systems and the mechanisms and effects of the drugs that affect these neurotransmitters. As frustrating and time-consuming as they were at times, these neuroscience classes left me absolutely amazed with the complexity of the human brain, and I am so excited for the next few years!
One of the most important qualities in any student, employee, or friend is the ability to lead. This year I was lucky enough to incorporate the passion I have for neuroscience into tutoring students in behavioral and cellular/molecular neuroscience. I worked with hundreds of students over the course of the year; some just needed a quick question answered, while others were confused and overwhelmed. Being able to work with these students through the complexities of these classes was an extremely rewarding experience.
As I finally settled into my sophomore year at Ohio State and began feeling at home in Columbus, I knew that I wanted to find a means in which I could serve my community. Although attending a huge college in a big city provides countless opportunities to find service, I was determined to find something I thoroughly enjoy doing. As I listened to a friend discuss her volunteering at the James Cancer Hospital, I was curious to see if I too would be able to integrate my passion for medicine in with my volunteer work. I decided to apply and was lucky enough to be offered a volunteer position in the hospital. While I am not watching surgeries or shadowing doctors, I get to interact with patients and assist them however I can. It is incredibly rewarding when I am able to help an elderly couple find their way to an appointment or to direct a family to their loved one’s room.