What’s your advice for a prospective OHIO student?
Visit the campus. There is no better way to see if you might fit in here. If you know what kind of major you want, visit with the department and find someone to take you around. If you're not sure about a major, see what clubs and classes the college offers, and decide if those appeal to you. With a school as big as OHIO, there is an academic program or club for just about anyone.
How did you earn the Critical Language Scholarship?
When I first considered applying for my State Department scholarship, I asked my Japanese professor for advice on how to handle the application process. He put me in contact with Ohio University's Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. This office specializes in helping students write the best possible applications for national scholarships and programs so they have a better chance at succeeding.
What’s your most significant accomplishment at OHIO?
Winning the Critical Language Scholarship, a nationally competitive scholarship offered by the U.S. Department of State to college students studying languages that are considered politically valuable by the government. I was chosen to study for two months in Kyoto, Japan, for no cost, improving my Japanese and making friends with my host family and others along for the trip. I also had the chance to meet high-level members of the Department of State, which was a great networking opportunity. I learned a lot on the trip about Japan and myself, and had a fun time doing so. Studying abroad is unique because it gives you the opportunity to see your culture and your way of thinking through someone else's eyes, in addition to showing you someone else's. It also gave me a sense of independence, a knowledge that I can survive in a country on the other side of the world from all the people I know and love. The world is becoming a global economy—indeed it is one already—and Americans cannot afford to remain secluded.
What resources are available on campus to help students succeed?
Classes at Ohio University are challenging, but doable. When you find yourself challenged beyond what you are capable of handling there are numerous places you can go for help. The Allen Student Help Center has a list of tutors by subject. When I took physics for the first time ever as a sophomore, I headed there to get personalized help from a peer tutor, and ended up getting a high grade in the class. Some classes also have what is called an SI (supplemental instruction) tutor, which is a student who gets paid to sit in on your classes and be available for homework help or test prep each week. I have since become a peer tutor myself, and it makes me happy when other students come to me and I am able to help them out.
What's your advice on choosing a major?
No one expects you to know what you want to do for the rest of your life from the beginning. In fact, there is time built into your first year for you to try different programs and see what the right fit is. I ended up changing my major three times in my first full year here (and many other times unofficially), but because I had taken many of the classes that are common between most majors, I will still be able to graduate on time. When I had finally decided I was interested in engineering, but not which kind, I was able to take a class designed to help you decide. It was in that class that I first heard of industrial and systems engineering, the kind of engineering I eventually chose to pursue.
Have you had an opportunity to develop leadership skills?
I have had a lot of opportunities to develop leadership skills through my classes and activities on campus. My classes have involved several group projects, and I usually find myself wanting to take charge and organize the work. However, I have come to learn through all my team projects that leading is not about forcing your opinion or the way you want something done on others. It is about making sure the work will be completed in a timely manner, and making sure everyone's opinion and ideas are heard and considered.
Often in our group projects, I find that the team members all lead in different parts of the project. For example, I was recently involved in a national ergonomics competition in which my team analyzed the effects of the postures and instruments on members of the OHIO Marching 110, our school band. My four team members and I worked on separate parts of the project (although maintaining contact and awareness of what everyone else was doing), and so each of us became the specialists in a certain part of the project. We were then able to take the lead in the presentation to the judges concerning the area we were most involved in. We succeeded in getting second place in the competition overall as a result of our teamwork.
What’s your advice for paying for college?
You shouldn't wait for the financial aid award letter to come back from the university telling you how much to expect. There are scholarships everywhere if only you take the time and look for them. Some of the best are to be found locally, from your hometown. The applicant pool is smaller for those, and any reward money will help to avoid loans, or pay for books. There are websites like Fastweb as well, which help you find other scholarships. My advice is to apply to any and all you can, even if you think the likelihood of winning the money is slim. You never know—the person awarding the scholarships might think you're perfect.