When many Ohio State students think about a Buckeye initiative to cure cancer, Buckeyethon is what typically comes to mind. This year's dance marathon raised $1,510,039.39, a great sum to fund cancer research.
What many students might not know, however, is that there are a few select undergraduate students who are not just helping to fund the research, but rather are leading their own cancer-research projects.
The Pelotonia Undergraduate Fellowship Program offers Ohio State students the opportunity for a one-year research fellowship in which they are given access to equipment and faculty members to aid in their extensive projects. To date, nearly 179 Pelotonia Undergraduate Fellows have been funded after being admitted to the program, following a highly competitive application process. The typical pool of around 80 applications tends to be quite diverse as undergraduates from any major can apply for the fellowship. Of the 25 undergraduate students accepted in 2016, 15 were Honors students.
Shannon Loftus, a senior Honors student from Newark, Ohio, first heard of the fellowship from colleagues in her lab who were former recipients. As Shannon began working through the lengthy application process, which includes writing a detailed proposal as well as submitting several letters of recommendation, she was further encouraged by her mentors at the lab.
Shannon's interest and passion for cancer research comes from a personal experience she had when her father was diagnosed with melanoma when she was in grade school. Luckily, her father's cancer was cured with little to no complications, but Shannon recognizes that this is typically not the case. Her passion and drive will carry Shannon to graduate school in the fall to continue in the biomedical sciences field with a plan to continue to do research on cancer immunology.
Until then, the Pelotonia Fellowship provides her with an excellent platform from which she can research, develop and execute her own project. Shannon chose to focus on prostate cancer, the leading cancer diagnosis in men. Research has shown that people with higher levels of soy in their diet typically have a lower risk for prostate cancer. These findings are due to the isoflavones found in soy that have been shown to have anticancer activity. Shannon will be studying these biologically active chemicals and how they affect the immune system, specifically in respect to prostate cancer. The hope is that these studies will result in a new therapy in which soy can be used in the diet as a less invasive treatment for patients.
To implement the study, Shannon has conducted two long-term studies in which mice with prostate cancer are being fed either a control or soy-enriched diet for a number of weeks. She will then be observing the fluctuations of numbers in both good and bad immune cells and then comparing the two diets' results.
Similar to Shannon's story, Ryan Judd, a senior double majoring in Biology and Biochemistry, has had an interest in cancer research since a young age as a result of a family member being personally affected by lymphoma.
It was within his first week of his freshman year that Ryan, an Honors student, reached out to Dr. Michael Caligiui, CEO of the James, and was soon able to work in the lab. For his Pelotonia project, Ryan wanted to focus on "understanding the role of the social environment in cancer progression through the function of a stress hormone in causing immune cells to kill cancer cells."
Ryan also used mice to demonstrate how specific hormones work in human cancer as well as in regards to the social environment's effect on the progression of the cancer. While stress hormones in connection with a poor social environment have already been correlated with a cancer prognosis, the effects of eustress, healthy stress and a good social environment have not been researched as well. The goal of the study is to observe the role that glucocorticoids, stress hormones, have in activating T cells to improve their cancer cell killing abilities.
Though Shannon and Ryan's projects are nearing completion, there are new Pelotonia Fellows on the rise with new and innovative ideas on how to cure cancer. The multi-cooperative approach on cancer research is one aspect of the Pelotonia Fellowship that makes it a real threat to the disease. By looking at cancer as not just one disease but a complex problem, the program allows those who may not have had the chance in their major to conduct research on their projects. Together, Buckeyes are raising awareness, raising money, and, hopefully, finding a cure.
by Colleen Matthews, H&S Student Staff Writer
Scholars student Sophia Kiselova considers herself an enthusiast of precisely four things: Beyoncé, Austin Powers, Salvador Dalí, and ice cream.
In addition to her love for the aforementioned topics, Kiselova enjoys learning about language and culture. She is a pre-med student studying Anthropological Sciences, Russian, and French. Since learning a foreign language often entails learning about the culture it comes from, experience in these fields allow her to examine how individuals and communities interact with each other and how the history can inform us about the future. This cultural understanding will be useful for her future in medicine or public health, particularly because she plans to work abroad.
Kiselova is able to delve even deeper into these topics by participating in the International Affairs Scholars. "I chose to be a part of the International Affairs Scholars to complement my personal interests in global policy, politics, and America's interaction with the world— be it through media, diplomacy, or cultural dissemination," she explains. She has also had the opportunity to help teach the IA Seminar course, which gets first-year Scholars acclimated to the program. She loves getting to know the new Scholars personally and hearing their ideas during class discussions about global topics. Kiselova serves as a mentor to these first-years, but she also continues to have mentors of her own; she frequently attends lectures by both OSU faculty and visiting speakers.
Of course, one of the most exciting parts of IA Scholars is the travelling, whether it's across the border or across Columbus. For example, some of her favorite Scholars events have included a weekend trip to Toronto as well as visits to German Village and the Columbus Museum of Art.
In addition to these shorter travels, Kiselova spent last May in Senegal through one of OSU's study abroad programs. She studied French and francophone culture as well as the realities of neocolonialism. During her trip, she attended class daily with some of Senegal's most brilliant professors. What she learned from these lectures was enhanced by regular conversations with both American and Senegalese peers, which gave her a chance to practice speaking and understanding French in a more immersive setting than an American classroom.
Kiselova currently conducts research in the Anthropology Department with Dr. Moritz, analyzing ethnographic data from pastoral populations in Cameroon. Specifically, she is looking at data from a demographic survey the lab conducted back in 2008. She will then compare this data with the results of other studies on pastoral demographics. Her advice to students interested in research is to look up which professors are studying interesting topics and then take the initiative to contact them, often via email. She adds, "Demonstrate your passion for their subject and be persistent."
Though most of her academic studies focus on her interest in anthropology and language, Kiselova is preparing for her future in the healthcare field by serving as co-president of a student organization called Global Health Initiative, which she has been a member of for two years. The organization educates students on global health issues and provides volunteer opportunities both locally and abroad. Their projects address a wide range of disparities in access to quality health care. Kiselova is enthusiastic about several important projects Global Health Initiative will be involved with throughout the semester: "In the upcoming weeks we are volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club and Crosswalk Outreach to the Homeless, and in March, we are looking forward to traveling to Washington, D.C. to lobby on Capitol Hill for international family planning."
by Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer
If there's a Taco Tuesday, pizza party, or free donut event going on with the STEM EE Scholars, there's a high probability third-year student Austin Cool will be there, possibly even wearing one of his Star Wars ties and/or expertly quoting the movies. Though he is an avid fan of Scholars activities involving good food, his involvement on campus suggests that he finds research, service, and education quite worthwhile as well.
Though Cool is from Fishers, Indiana (near Indianapolis), you would never guess that he's not a native Ohioan. Both his parents attended OSU and his sister attends the University of Cincinnati. His family raised him to be a Buckeye fan from the moment he was old enough to appreciate Saturday college football games, so OSU has always been his dream school. Even if he hasn't been born into a Buckeye family, he still would have learned about the university from his high school AP chemistry teacher, who shared stories from his experience as a grad student here and inspired Cool to pursue a scientific field.
Cool was initially a chemistry major, but soon discovered that biochemistry was the perfect fit for his interests. He joined STEM EE Scholars, where he met many of his current best friends. He notes that it has been especially eye-opening to spend time with people who have similar classes and interests but very different majors, showing the various possible career aspirations for STEM students and the innumerable paths one can take to get there. Cool makes an effort to attend panels and faculty talks for both his own area of study and for others in order to gain a wider perspective. In addition to attending panels and (of course) food-related events, he engages in mentorship opportunities. "I was in the first class of this Scholars group and I really enjoyed trying to lead the way for future classes by establishing a few of the unique opportunities the scholars group participates in," he says. Cool also volunteers at Gladden House, helping elementary school children learn about and ideally become interested in STEM subjects.
He is a member of the pre-medical international fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon and the Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee. This year, he serves as president of Ohio Staters, Inc., the university's oldest student service organization. He adds that the event Ohio Staters is most known for, and that is also one of his favorites, is Light Up North Area (formerly Light Up the Lake). They used to ceremoniously deck out Mirror Lake with holiday lights for the winter, but now decorate North campus instead. Free hot chocolate and musical performances by student groups are two of the major perks that attract students to this tradition each year, along with the chance to celebrate the quite literal light amidst the darkness of a typical Ohio winter.
Cool also dedicates time to a computational biochemistry research project in Dr. Steffen Lindert's lab. Specifically, he is examining whether calcium levels effect the way proteins fold. After running theoretical simulations, he compares his findings with those of another lab to see if their results confirm his observations. Participating in the STEP program has helped fund this research, allowing Cool to continue his project over the summer and to prepare for research forums. He credits his research with teaching him widely applicable knowledge such as coding, presenting scientific evidence, and applying information from the classroom to research questions. Having this experience will likely prove invaluable when he goes on to medical school after graduation and explores possible career options from there.
In fact, keeping options open is one of Cool's main suggestions for incoming students." I wouldn't be where I am today if I had just stuck with what was comfortable and familiar to me," he says. "Coming out of my shell and doing things I normally wouldn't do has done wonders for me." His other piece of advice is to get involved in things on campus, but not too many things, especially during the first semester of college. He remarks that three or four student organizations in addition to a full class schedule can be overwhelming during adjustment to campus life, although—as his resume would prove—it is still possible to pursue a lot during four years. Cool has even managed to accomplish his most important OSU bucket list item (attending a bowl game) when he watched the Buckeyes beat Notre Dame at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix last year. (However, he certainly wouldn't mind getting to experience a playoff game next year before he graduates.)
Cool works hard to inspire other students, especially those interested in pursuing a STEM field, so where does he get his inspiration from? None other than Bagpipe Guy, who he says never fails to make him smile as he walks past the South Oval. "It always brightens my mood to see that dude just playing away for all the students," he says. "Keep doing what you're doing, Bagpipe Guy."
Ever thought about starting your own business? Why not start now? Michael Arato, founder of Coffee Butter LLC, was able to achieve this dream while still in college. Michael is currently a 4th year Honors student and Eminence Fellow studying Food Science and Technology with a minor in Business. As his college career is coming to a close, Michael's future in food industry looks bright indeed.
A native from Stony Brook, New York, Michael chose to be in the Eminence Fellows Program because it offered him a small community at a large university such as The Ohio State University. In addition to a small community, Michael liked the various opportunities the program provided for him to excel. "I appreciated being paired with a faculty mentor in my area of interest which is food science." He's currently involved in food science research with his Eminence faculty mentor. In addition to Eminence, he enjoys cooking, reading, and being a brother of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity.
Michael founded Coffee Butter LLC in the summer of 2016. He initially developed his most well-known product, CafeButter during his 3rd year in the Food Industries Center where he currently makes it to sell. CafeButter is a spread that has a similar consistency as Nutella and is created with local roasted coffee. Michael recently pre-launched the product at the Columbus Coffee Fest.
The road to developing such a product was rough at first. "At first CafeButter was terrible. The first couple of batches were not something to be proud of. I've definitely learned the importance of perseverance." Although the lack of initial success seemed daunting, this did not deter Michael. He saw that CafeButter had immense potential and continued to improve his product until it was a high quality saleable product.
In the future, Michael hopes to see CafeButter become a national brand. He plans to continue working in product development, as well as inventing new food products. Michael ends with advice for up and coming entrepreneurs like himself: "My advice for anyone who wants to invent something or start a company is to carve out time in their week to actually work on it. It can be tough to find time to pursue things outside of the classroom, but if you dedicate some time each week or each month, you can really make some progress."
by Amber Heard, H&S Student Staff Writer
The Ohio State University Honors & Scholars Center will be hosting the bi-annual national Honors Education at Research Universities (HERU) conference May 24-25, 2017. HERU brings together faculty, staff, and advisors from across the country who work with Honors students to share best practices and research on high ability student development. Ohio State faculty and staff are encouraged to attend this year's conference on campus.
The HERU conference began in 2013 out of directors and deans of Honors Programs and Colleges from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. Finding that no other conferences discussed the unique needs of honors students, colleges, and programs at Research I institutions, the committee decided to start their own conference. The national HERU conference takes place bi-annually, and so the 2017 event at Ohio State will mark its third occurrence. HERU has been previously hosted at Penn State University and Oregon State University in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
The University Honors Program at The Ohio State University Columbus campus serves over 4,000 honors students. The program promotes the intellectual and personal development of undergraduate students through an enriched academic experience and integration of curricular and co-curricular programming. Students who participate in the program are able to choose from more than 350 sections of Honors courses, live in specialized Honors learning communities, and graduate from Ohio State "with Honors Research Distinction" on completion of an Honors capstone experience.
To learn more and register for HERU 2017, visit https://honors-scholars.osu.edu/heru.
To learn more about the University Honors Program, visit https://honors-scholars.osu.edu/honors.
The Eminence Fellows Program's mission reads "to identify, assist, and support intellectually and socially engaged citizens who commit themselves, both individually and as a group, to addressing academic and societal challenges."
The mission of the Eminence Fellows manifests itself in the annual Eminence Symposium, a student-led event at which notable professionals from campus as well as the Columbus community come and speak with current fellows. This year's symposium featured a total of 15 speakers on a wide variety of subjects, including food insecurity and human trafficking.
Sara Liang, a second year Eminence Fellow majoring in Management Information Systems, was the chairperson of this year's symposium, held on January 21 in Jennings Hall. Sara was tasked with coordinating the speakers, student presenters, and volunteers who helped work the event. Sara began working side by side with Rebecca Ward, the Eminence Fellows Program Coordinator, in May to begin to organize the logistical details and contact potential speakers.
A favorite part of this year's Symposium for many Eminence Fellows, including Sara and Caroline Ortiz, a third year Neuroscience major, was the encompassing theme of service. The official theme was Inspire to Innovate and there was a heavy focus on innovation in service, exemplified through the lunch service provided at the event. The event was catered by Freedom a la Cart, an organization that employs victims of human trafficking and offers not only support but also workforce training to aid in the rehabilitation of their employees. The use of this service impacted Caroline profoundly as it was "a great opportunity to not only talk about giving back to the community, but also to visibly support a group that is doing just that."
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the Symposium would be the practice of putting words into actions.
Roshini Srinivasan, a third year student from Tallmadge, Ohio, noted that the use of Freedom a la Cart was a real-life application of the Class of 2018's service project PassGo, an employment empowerment initiative which empowers ex-offenders to find meaningful employment. While not quite the same mission, both organizations seek to rehabilitate those who maybe would not have had a second chance otherwise. To see that mission in practice through Freedom a la Cart was "a humbling and unique way" of bringing in PassGo's mission to the event, Roshini said.
Though a very busy day, the Symposium epitomizes the mission of the Eminence Fellows of "addressing academic and societal challenges" in just one day. To learn more about the Eminence Fellows Program, click here.
by Colleen Matthews, H&S Student Staff Writer
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently announced the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Students. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Thirteen Ohio State students won Fulbright awards for 2016-2017—ranking the institution at 25th among top producing research institutions. Ohio State was also named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars.
"The impact of Fulbright awards continues to grow at Ohio State with students and faculty traveling around the globe on research and teaching missions. We are particularly proud of our undergraduate students using their Fulbright awards to launch into new and exciting endeavors upon leaving Ohio State." said Dr. Linn Van Woerkom, Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, Director of Honors & Scholars, and Professor of Physics.
The Fulbright Student competition is administered by the University Honors & Scholars Center Undergraduate Fellowship Office. The office assists all undergraduate Ohio State students interested in pursuing a national scholarship or fellowship. For more information about the Undergraduate Fellowship Office, visit https://honors-scholars.osu.edu/fellowship-office.
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Over 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research annually. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries throughout the world. Lists of Fulbright recipients are available at: www.fulbrightonline.org/us.
The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.
In the United States, the Institute of International Education administers and coordinates the activities relevant to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.
The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. In addition, some 4,000 new foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study for graduate degrees, conduct research and teach foreign languages.
For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright.
If you asked most high school seniors what they were worried about toward the end of the school year, most of them would probably talk about deciding what to do after graduation: whether or not to go to college, where to live, what to major in, or how to make friends on an unfamiliar campus. For Will Wahl, the end of high school entailed catching food, gathering firewood, and developing alliances. Now a freshman at OSU studying political science with a pre-law focus, Wahl appeared on the most recent season of Survivor as the youngest contestant to ever compete on the show.
Wahl grew up in Long Valley, New Jersey. Though it is nearby NYC, it is an entirely different environment—a small farm town. He spent much of his free time outdoors, whether he was camping, fishing, or hiking. He also grew up watching Survivor and wondering, as many viewers do, what it would be like to compete on the show. After sending in a three minute audition video, going to several interviews, and waiting about three months for a response, he finally got to find out.
The season's theme was Millennials vs. Gen X, making this the third time in thirty-three total seasons that the initial tribes were split up by age but only the first time they have been split up specifically by generation. It's no secret that older generations have some negative stereotypes about Millennials being lazy and entitled, and this season was a chance to prove those ideas wrong. "It added another level to the game knowing that we are representing our entire generation on national TV," Wahl admits. The competitors—Millennials and Gen X alike—were anything but lazy. Wahl lost 20 pounds in the span of 34 days and had to get used to limited food sources and sleep. He recalls that even simple tasks like walking became exhausting, and that the first night of the show, when it stormed, was one of the longest nights of his life.
One of the more humorous stories from his time on the show was when a crab started crawling on him while he slept. David Wright, mistaking it for a snake, started poking it with a stick until Wahl woke up and kicked it off himself. Once they realized it was a crab, Ken McNickle managed to catch it so they could eat it for breakfast later that morning.
Though the victory and million dollars unanimously went to Millennial competitor Adam Klein, Wahl made it very far into the season, believing his age may have hurt his chances of winning but helped him form better alliances, something critical to success on the show. "The challenges were larger than life in person and the people, for the most part, were genuine people," he notes.
Once filming was finished, Wahl had to finish up the work for his English class and then prepare for his first year at Ohio State. He is now in his second semester and is involved with the religious student organization Ration Christi as well as the OSU version of Survivor, called Survivor: Time and Change. He is also a member of International Affairs Scholars, and though he may no longer have to compete with other tribes and search for food and shelter, his involvement in Scholars does add some excitement to his life. "I have gone on trips to German Village, the Italian festival, the Picasso Art Show, political debates, Community Commitment, and the Toronto trip," he says. "During the trip to Toronto, we went to the Aga Khan museum and the Royal Ontario museum." The main benefit of the program, he believes, is getting to learn about other cultures by actually experiencing them. However, he also adds that Scholars has allowed him to bond with other success-driven students, which made the transition into college much smoother and made the university feel smaller.
Wahl's goals for the future are to continue succeeding in undergraduate courses and eventually go on to grad school or law school.
And no, he didn't watch his season of Survivor all the way through (but he notes that the support he's received from friends, family, and fans has been incredible).
by Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer
Luke Fannin is a third generation Buckeye and is undoubtedly making his alumni relatives proud. Fannin holds leadership roles in student organizations, does research, can speak Swahili fairly well, and maintains a 4.0 GPA all the while.
Fannin is from Sharon Center, Ohio and is an Eagle Scout. Unsurprisingly, he enjoys outdoor activities such as running, biking, rock climbing, and camping. Though he leads an active lifestyle, he certainly doesn't mind sitting down to read a good book by Stephen Jay Gould or watch some Star Wars. (To answer the inevitable follow-up question, his favorite is The Empire Strikes Back.) His musical taste includes bands like ELO, The Hollies, and The Beatles.
Carrying on his family's Buckeye legacy, Fannin chose OSU for its wide variety of opportunities and connections. He is majoring in zoology with a minor in physical anthropology; his goal is to later earn a PhD in biological anthropology, with a focus on primatology. His interest in primates began when he first started photographing them—along with other animals— during trips to the zoo. He has since made it a goal to get involved with primate conversation outreach, saying, "I am concerned about the future of primate diversity as a whole and I wish to show other people just how amazing they are as a group, from the largest gorilla to the smallest mouse lemur." Fannin is excited about the idea of continuing to engage in research while also having the same influence on students as his professors have had on him.
In fact, Fannin is already positively impacting students in his role as a peer tutor for Chemistry 1210/1220, taught by Dr. Fus, one of his greatest mentors. Dr. Fus helped inspire Fannin to teach science to others, including his sisters. Fannin recalls one of his favorite memories from peer tutoring, when over 200 students showed up for an exam review session in McPherson. "I must have run half of a mile between the classes for the whole night to help students with questions," he recalls.
Fannin serves as chair of primatology for the Undergraduate Anthropology Club and treasurer of the Swahili Club. He is also a member of Honors & Scholars, specifically Dunn Sports and Wellness Scholars. He credits the program with providing volunteer opportunities in Columbus and connecting him with students who have a strong work ethic and similar talents. The community of not only students but also faculty mentors, he believes, is what makes the program so successful. "The program's ability to provide a feeling of inclusiveness and guidance—including guidance from our Scholars advisor, Brendan—was one of the key reasons that my first year at OSU was so enjoyable," he says.
In addition to his extracurricular involvement, Fannin is pursuing two research opportunities relevant to his field. He studies primate dentition under Dr. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg and Dr. Scott McGraw of the Department of Anthropology. Fannin is currently studying Anthropoid primates to determine how their social interactions influenced the evolution of their teeth. So far, he has observes that female species who use their canine teeth as weapons for intergroup conflict tend to have larger premolar honing surface lengths. This suggests that the feature was needed in order for females to use their teeth in fights for the purpose of protecting territory and resources. He has been able to access samples from other cities thanks to funds from the STEP program. "This past August, I used a portion of my funding to go and collect data from the skeletal collections housed at the Field Museum, Chicago," he says. "I am using the remainder of my stipend to travel to Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology to collect more data from the collections there." He is particularly fascinated by the influence females within primate societies, noting that they have a strict hierarchy, choose who they want to mate with, and often compete fiercely to defend resources, a behavior formerly attributed only to males. This is just one example of how rigorous research can dispel commonly held beliefs. Fannin hopes to continue learning about primate social behavior and competition in his future studies, in addition to being involved with conservation efforts.
Fannin is also involved in a second research project under Dr. Song Xing, who is visiting from the Chinese Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. Fannin explains that this project involves testing a model of the genetic development of molar teeth, specifically in ancient human populations from an archeological site in China.
Even for a talented and hardworking student, being involved in two research projects and other campus activities while keeping up straight A's does not come easily. "As I started to take more challenging classes, I had to develop a consistent and focused study schedule that allowed me to prepare for my classes, while still being involved in outside activities on campus such as student orgs and research," Fannin says. However, even the rigorous studying needed to maintain a 4.0 does not always have to be 100% boring. Fannin still vividly remembers spending two hours studying for chemistry with his friends, Spencer Talentino and Long To, while listening to "Final Countdown" by Europe…the entire time.
"We all did fine on the exam," he recalls, "but I still can't listen to that song without thinking about complex ion formation and solution chemistry."
By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer
Though Jesze Doleh admits to wanting to be the Jane Goodall of lemurs, her favorite animal, she has settled with the more realistic goal of pursuing her dream of becoming a zoo director. A first year in the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars Program, Jesze has had a fascination with the environment and zoological operations since she was young. In fact, in her formative years, she was often dubbed a "tree hugger."
Originally from Evansville, Indiana, Jesze volunteered at Mesker Park Zoo as well as her area Botanical Gardens for five years prior to her admittance to OSU. Getting her start as a zoo camper, her love for all things nature soon gave way to leadership roles within zoos. She rose from a camper to a Zooteen to a camp instructor at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a position she holds currently. In her new position, she helps put on educational programs to groups who then spend the night at the Zoo accompanied by Jesze and her co-workers. This position helps to combine both Jesze's major of Zoology and her minor in Education, both of which she hopes to complete within three years.
Coming from out-of-state, it may have seemed slightly daunting to pursue involvement at the Columbus Zoo, especially as it is located 25 minutes from campus and Jesze has no car. Luckily, she had a family friend who had a connection in the Zoo's education department. Jesze was able to visit the Zoo while on a trip to OSU last spring and was notified of a job offering when she was back on campus in June for orientation. This position has grown Jesze's appreciation for the opportunity to educate others on animals as well as the importance of conservation. Her advice to other students looking to pursue a path similar to hers is to simply start volunteering. Even if their passion is not with animals and nature, she stands by this advice, saying, "I think as long as you are passionate and other people can sense that, a zoo or similar place will find a place for you to help."
On top of her involvement in Scholars and her job with the zoo, Jesze is also an active member in Zoology Club as well as being a 96 Elephants Ambassador. Her experiences do not stop there nor do they stop anywhere in America, as she is a People to People Student Ambassador, which has enabled her to visit Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, and France. In fact, when deciding where to attend college, Jesze wanted not only a premier zoology program and nearby zoo, but she also wanted a university at which she could continue to study French. Ohio State presented Jesze with all of these benefits and ultimately won out against its competitors.
Besides lemurs and spending her time at the zoo, Jesze enjoys traveling, watching movies and reading books. She loves comedy, including the movie Bruce Almighty and her favorite TV show, How I Met Your Mother. There is not anything funny about her ambitions though, as this zoology major intends to finish her undergraduate degree in three years, a good plan since her future professional agenda is quite packed already. While the decision to enter graduate school or begin working is still unclear, Jesze knows for certain that she wants to write programs for a zoo or a conservation center.
Her ultimate goal of becoming the director of a zoo is still a ways off as this position requires five years of experience at a zoo, as well as a master's degree, both of which will take some time to complete because she wants to visit Madagascar at some point to study, what else, her favorite animal: the lemur.
By Colleen Matthews, H&S Student Staff Writer