Commencement Spotlight: Re’Aija Grice
What are your next steps or plans for the future?
Directly after graduation, I am participating in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Summer Scholars program that occurs during the early/mid-summer. I then plan on enrolling into the Heritage College in fall of 2024.
What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?
COVID-19 really took a toll on me. I was an incoming freshman entering my second semester of first year when my entire college experience transformed right before my eyes. I struggled during COVID-19. As a first-generation college student, I often contemplated finishing the rest of my years of college due to lack of support, resources and finances to pay for school. However, I leaned on my faith and God, and he brought me and my family out of lockdown healthy and strong. I now look at the pandemic as a chance for me to sort of “reset” upon returning to campus, and that empowered me to keep going.
Why did you choose OHIO?
I chose OHIO because it was one of the few places where I knew the professors didn’t only focus on learning within the classroom. All throughout my collegiate experience, every single one of my professors challenged me to take everything that I was learning in the classroom and apply it to the real world, to make an impact on the communities around me. I also knew from my first day of orientation at OHIO, that I would not be looked at as a number in a classroom or just another student filling a seat, but that my professors cared about me and my success as I matriculated throughout college. All of my professors took the time to know me by name, made connections with me outside of the classroom and genuinely cared about my interests as a student.
Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life?
Professors Marcus Barr and Anna Rose Brooks are my favorite professors. Professor Brooks was my learning community (LC) professor my freshman year and she always took the time to make sure that I was receiving support if needed and didn’t make me feel left out as the only student of color in my LC. Professor Barr, who I’ve had for at least once a semester since my freshman year has always supported and encouraged me throughout my entire college experience. He has written about three letters of recommendation for me, all of whom I was accepted into. He has always shown genuine interest and care not only for me, but for all of my peers. It is even more amazing to hear that when I speak with students of color who have graduated from the exercise physiology program, they too have amazing things to say about Professor Barr.
What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?
The hardest hill I had to climb was maintaining my academics during my junior and senior year. I reached a point throughout my college experience where I had become stagnant and my priorities were not always where they needed to be due to me juggling a lot on my plate and not finding the balance that was needed. This inevitably caused me to have to retake two classes of which could have pushed me to stay in school for at least another semester. Upon learning I would have to retake these specific classes, I had a talk with my academic advisor Marcus Barr, and he helped me draft out a plan for graduation, which included retaking the necessary courses and implementing summer classes. It was a hard pill to swallow that I was on the verge of having to stay an extra semester, but I knew I could not dwell in the pits of sorrow for long. I acknowledged where I began to slack, I set boundaries for myself and those around me to ensure that I was remaining disciplined and getting my work done. This change in mindset led to me passing the courses that I had to retake, and I am now very close to graduating Spring of 2023!
What are your favorite OHIO memories?
I was blessed with the opportunity to experience not one, but TWO Black Alumni Reunions! Black Alumni Reunion is such an amazing time to commune with Black alumni, network and connect. I have been able to meet so many great alumni and because of these experiences, I have been able to participate in internship opportunities, get connected with post-grad career and education plans.
Another one of my favorite OHIO memories was joining the student organizations that I am the health liaison for, MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-Health Students). Joining this organization has allowed me to grow not only academically but professionally as well. I’ve been able to host health care panels, provide opportunities of community service, internships and more for students of color who won’t normally be presented with those opportunities. The overall ability to equip minority students with the necessary tools to be successful in their future academic and career endeavors has been extremely rewarding.
What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?
I would tell a new OHIO student not to miss out on really taking advantage of the opportunities to put yourself out there and get involved. For example, attending the Involvement Fair, the Multicultural Expo, Greek Expo, etc. These are all experiences for students of all backgrounds to get involved, network with other students and student organizations, build a name and brand for yourself on campus and find community. I have never met anyone throughout my entire four years at OHIO who has regretted putting themselves out there, stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new.