Jesup Scott Honors College

2018-2019 Student of the Week Profiles

Amanda Fahoury

Tomorrow, thousands of UToledo students will finally see all of their hard work culminate in graduation at the 2019 Spring Amanda FahouryCommencement ceremony. One of 68 Honors medallion recipients this term, Amanda Fahoury eagerly anticipates the milestone. Finishing up her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, Amanda’s pre-med track will take her next to medical school right here at the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

What brought you to your major?
In high school, I wanted to pursue Physical Therapy, but my dad convinced me that pre-med was the way to go and that Biology was a common major with the track. I went to college not completely interested in it. But when I actually started to work in the medical field, first as a receptionist in a medical office and now as a medical scribe, that’s when I became excited about this major and going to medical school. The JSHC service learning trip to Nicaragua and seeing the conditions there was another factor that influenced my decision to commit to this career.

How was Nicaragua influential for you?
Nicaragua really helped me see the medical needs of people around the world. When I got back to the States, I looked into how I could help around the world with my career path and found Doctors Without Borders. Nicaragua opened my mind to helping others around the globe and doing more research regarding the subject. Hopefully, after all of my training is done and I finally become a doctor, I’d like to participate in Doctors Without Borders and provide life-saving humanitarian support around the world.

What does your Honors research concern?
I’m working in a lab over at the Health Science Campus with Dr. Steven Haller! My research involves proton pump inhibitors, such as acid reflux medications, and seeing if there’s an association between taking those and chronic kidney disease.

How do you feel about graduating soon?
I’m happy to finally be done. I’ve learned a ton in my undergraduate studies but now I feel I have the foundations I need for medical school. I took my MCAT, I applied to medical school, and I got in; now I’m ready to finish this stage so I can move on and actually partake in my career goal. At the undergraduate level, you have your hopes and dreams of advancing, and after graduation it becomes real. I’m excited to start learning things I’ve been working toward for the last four years!

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?
Make friends! Within my four years, I’ve developed a really close friend group. Without them I don’t think I would be where I am. I like studying by myself, but I go to them when I have questions. We take all the same classes and they may understand things I find confusing. It helps to fill in the gaps. Also, if you are ever having trouble, reach out. If you don’t know whether you are meeting your graduation requirements, go to your advisor or a professor and find out your options.

Deidra Buenger

In the “Land of the Rising Sun,” Honors senior Deidra Buenger has found a boundless horizon of opportunity. The English and Asian Studies double-major Deidra Buengerrecently took first place at a Japanese speech competition, earning a scholarship to return to the country this summer to pursue research after having studied previously at Rikkyo University through a direct exchange program.

Can you tell us about your recent speech competition win?
The Japan-America Society of Central Ohio hosts an annual competition to give students that are studying the language a chance to perform in a competition conducted wholly in Japanese. I took a UToledo course last semester, Advanced Conversation I, where you write a series of speeches with the aim of presenting one at a competition. The topic of the speech was “Reading the Air.” In Japan, that concept entails using not just your words in communication, but also your eyes, body language, and social context cues to understand what the other person expects from you – then using that knowledge to make interactions more harmonious. I was the first student from UToledo to ever qualify for the advanced category and also the first UToledo student to earn first place! I’ll use the awarded scholarship funds to support my trip to Japan this summer.

How did you begin learning Japanese?
I never intended to become fluent. I learned from watching Japanese television shows and listening to music in the language, and somehow it stuck. I found myself talking with a family friend who spoke Japanese one day, and realized I picked it up with no real training. It was a surprise! A lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm from a family of classically trained musicians, so we’re skilled at hearing and memorization.

What’s the best way to learn a language?
Immersion in any form. You don't have to go to the country to learn the language, because obviously I was able to learn Japanese before I went to Japan. Any form of exposure will help – hearing music in that language, seeing theater in that language, and so on. If you're interested in and stick to it, it will eventually become your passion and drive for studying a language.

You’re taking this experience and using it as a foundation for research, is that right?
When I returned from study abroad, one of my professors told me she thought I'd be suited for undergraduate research. I'd never considered that before. In the humanities, we don't get a lot of exposure to scientific research. This semester, we've been writing a proposal for the Office of Undergraduate Research. I am investigating how mobile technologies, such as smartphones and apps, can be used as language-learning tools for foreign and second language students. I will also examine their perceptions of the use of such technology. I just heard back last Friday that my grant got approved! Just the idea that I can do scientific research in a humanity field, up until now, was mostly theoretical.

Tell us more about what the research will entail.
I'll be going to Japan in June for a few weeks to collect data. I never thought I'd be back in Japan less than a year after studying abroad there! I’m really interested in taking theoretical information, like the particular techniques people use to learn a language, and applying them in a classroom. I want to be able to help people enjoy it. This summer, I'm focusing on gathering my research, then in the Fall I'm going to work on generating a publication from it – while also developing my Honors thesis in Medieval Drama and Literature. I’ll be studying abroad in England then in the following Spring, where I hope to present at a national conference.

Octavio Vazquez-Ederra

Finishing up his final year at UToledo, Octavio Vazquez-Ederra is excited to begin his career outside of the classroom. An International Business and ProfessionalOctavio Vazquez-Ederra Sales double-major set to earn the Honors medallion, he’s accepted a job offer from Owens Corning in Dallas and just returned from the National Collegiate Sales Competition. Now, with undergraduate life nearing its end, Octavio eagerly anticipates starting his career.

Tell us about your path to UToledo.
I was born in Argentina. My dad was researching heart disease, which brought us to North Carolina when I was four. Eventually, that same research brought him to UToledo. I went into Professional Sales and International Business with the goal of traveling the world and meeting new people, where I think my background in Spanish will serve as a distinct advantage.

What kind of career are you considering?
Generally, the goal is an outside sales position. You are assigned a territory and manage sales in the area. You’re basically on the road and going out to meet customers face-to-face. I recently accepted an offer from Owens Corning, where I will participate in a year-and-a-half development program doing inside sales. I will support the area sales managers for the Mountain Region (Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) and work from the office. The company does a great job getting you out into the field once a month so you can get real-world experience and talk to your customers. That way, when you actually assume the outside sales role full-time, you’re more prepared for it.

What’s the job like?
The biggest thing is that it’s relationship-driven. You talk to customers and go out to lunches, things like that to build a rapport. Then, when it makes good business sense, you discuss the details. It’s a lot of getting to know people. Everybody’s a bit different in how they do business. Some are more analytical and will get straight to the point. Then there are those that don’t even want to talk business until you go golfing – which is a shame, because I cannot golf! I have been focusing a lot on the Latino community. Generally, when you go international and you’re working with LatinX, success hinges on relationships. Clients and partners want to know that they can trust you before they pursue any kind of business venture.

What’s your dream job?
Becoming a late night television host is the end goal!

What are sales competitions like?
Sales role plays are strange if you haven’t been exposed to them. You are assigned a scenario beforehand, then go into a small room and try to sell your product one-on-one to a moderator. You have to figure out what the customer needs – what their pain points are and how you can address that. It’s all to simulate a sales conversation. This past weekend we entered the National Collegiate Sales Competition in Atlanta. I was selling Gartner in my scenario – an IT advisory firm. Seventy-two universities participated in the competition and each school only gets to bring two students. It was tough, but I advanced through the first round as a wildcard. They then selected first place from among the wildcards and I came in second. It hurt, but it was fun and a wonderful learning experience! I really valued getting to network there and was proud to represent the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales as well as UToledo amongst the country’s finest aspiring salespeople.

Meagan O'hara

Though perhaps surprising at first, Meagan O’Hara’s unique blend of a major and extracurricular passion is just another example of Honors students seeing past empty clichés and embracing well-rounded growth. After all, the charming and insightful Meagan O'Harapersonality that helps a nurse bond with a patient is what allows a decent journalist to reach a source and crack a story wide open. Both a Nursing student and staffer at The Independent Collegian, Meagan understands the power of balancing and connecting the humanities with the health professions.

What steered you to your major?
I chose Nursing since I wanted to work with people while also collaborating with the life sciences. There are a plethora of opportunities that will allow me to expand my wings in the field. For instance, I would like to explore the path of legal nurse consulting – an area that works with large organizations monitoring hospitals.

How did you come to work at The Independent Collegian?
I was involved in both the yearbook and our student newspaper in high school, which was an incredible experience. My teachers encouraged me to see the beauty in words, and when I came to UToledo, I really wanted to continue nurturing this passion. Writing is also an important part of legal nurse consulting, and I love interacting with others! Essentially, The IC is my creative outlet.

What are some of your roles at The IC, and how has it helped you over time?
I am an opinion writer currently, but I will be back serving as a photographer in the Fall. The IC has really helped me to make new friends and develop amazing relationships along the way. Additionally, The IC has helped solidify who I feel like I can be in this world. I’ve learned there how to be respectful while both agreeing and disagreeing, and that has allowed me to more confidently navigate life. It is much easier to have conversations with people when you feel secure in yourself!

What has being an Honors student meant to you?
I also have the JSHC to thank in large part for refining my writing. Getting the chance to take courses in the Honors College that require intensive writing has aided me tremendously and has helped me see the world in a more creative light!

Hunter Perrin

Everyone knows the importance of a nurse’s job, often the first line of defense for adults and children alike troubled with illness. Hunter Perrin, a senior Hunter PerrinNursing major, goes the extra step in using his research to influence future healthcare policy. Fresh off of a conference and looking toward life after graduation, Hunter reflects on the work he’s done and will continue on his path toward a doctorate.

Why did you choose Nursing?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a pediatrician. I wanted to care for others ever since I volunteered in my mom’s kindergarten classroom, and just really loved taking care of children. I discovered that physicians have less of an intimate role with their patients than do nurses, though, so I decided to become a nurse in pediatrics.

You recently attended a conference. What did you present and how was that experience?
I’m doing research for my Honors capstone project on the psychological development of children after a school shooting. I and two Master’s students went to Tampa last month to present at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Master’s Education Conference. The experience was eye-opening. I haven’t really been much of a public speaker and this was my first time presenting in front of a group like that. Seeing all the hard work pay off was a great experience, and we anticipate submitting the work for acceptance to a journal soon.

What was the process and findings of your research?
We performed a systematic literature review of all available research on the psychological impacts of gun violence on children – which is limited. We tried to find the best approach for providing care to these children after a school shooting and detailed some of the variables involved. Their reactions involve post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic growth, resiliency, and gratitude – all of which interact. If you have a higher resiliency, as an example, you have lower post-traumatic stress but also lower post-traumatic growth. After that, we analyzed the role of the health care professional. We confirmed that proximity to such a tragedy correlates to greater stress levels and that interaction with a healthcare professional indeed helps. Finally, we looked at legislation and policy to figure out what we could do as nurses. We contacted school districts to see how they were helping and found school districts in less affluent areas don’t have much in the way of resources to care for traumatized children. Whereas higher socioeconomic school districts have more resources, they don’t have adequate training from healthcare professionals on how to deal with such trauma.

What are you looking to do after graduation?
I’ve been accepted to The Ohio State University’s Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program and am also in the final stages of applying to Johns Hopkins University. After graduate school, I think I’d like to work at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan.

What class or professor has had the greatest impact on you in your time at UToledo?
My favorite pre-requisite course was Medical Ethics. I love the debate over morals and how it applies to my job. In healthcare, there’s a lot of times where there is no correct answer – so having that kind of discussion was something I valued. My professor, Patricia Sopko, got me involved in the Ohio Student Nurses Association. That’s where all of my opportunities began and continued to develop me as a future nurse. I probably wouldn’t have been accepted to graduate school if it wasn’t for her guidance!

Carlee Vaughn

With the help of two years’ worth of post-secondary credits, Carlee Vaughn will graduate this semester with a bachelor’s in Pharmacy and minors in Business Administration as well as Chemistry. She has relished the many opportunities the Honors College Carlee Vaughnhas offered her, first getting involved with Honors Learning Community events her freshman year while living at the Honors Academic Village. She even ventured to Nicaragua and Guatemala on Honors service learning trips and is now in the final stretch of her thesis.

What type of Honors activities have you been involved in over the years?
During my freshman year I lived in HAV, so naturally I participated in the HLC. I went to a lot of their activities, such as the Cedar Point trips. I traveled to Nicaragua during my sophomore year and to Guatemala with Honors as a junior. We helped reconstruct elementary school libraries on both trips. It was really cool because I got to leave the country for the first time and see a whole new world!

Are you involved in any other extracurricular activities?
I am currently the President of Lambda Kappa Sigma, which is the female Pharmacy sorority on campus. We host and facilitate Kate's Closet Fashion Show, a yearly event which supports Kate’s Closet at the Catherine S. Eberly Center for Women. The service helps female students and community members find professional attire without shouldering the cost of a new wardrobe. Participants at the event had a budget of $25 and two hours shop for the most professional outfit that they could find.

Are you working on an Honors thesis?
I am! My Honors advisor is Dr. Martin Ohlinger. He's the one who inspired me to pursue the thesis and, with his advice, I started sitting down and talking with other professors about it. Dr. Caren Steinmiller is serving as the advisor for my thesis. She has helped me learn everything it takes to pursue a research project. We are currently working on my poster so that I can present at UToledo’s Graduate Research Symposium and at a similar event for undergraduate Pharmacy students on the Health Science Campus.

What are you plans for after you graduate?
I just applied for the Master’s of Business Administration, which is part of a dual degree program the university offers attached to my doctorate in Pharmacy. I am also considering joining the Air Force or another armed services branch, or may work in a prison. I shadowed at the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Lisbon, Ohio, where I learned about their pharmacist’s research and observed how they operate. I absolutely loved it!

Bette Mcgowan

Political Science junior Bette McGowan has always been fascinated by rainforests. With a particular interest in environmental policy, she has dreamed of Bette McGowanvisiting South America to see the incredible biodiversity many of us have only read about in science textbooks. Never expecting she would be able to see the Amazon with her own eyes, Bette did just that over Winter Break when she traveled with Dean Appel and fellow Honors students to Ecuador.

Was this your first international trip?
Yes, pretty much. I live close to the Canadian border, so I’ve sort of been to Canada a few times, but this was my first big trip. It was a little nerve-racking at first going through the airport, especially since TSA wasn’t getting paid then due to the government shutdown. It was definitely strange, being able to look out the window one minute and see the United States, then a couple hours later I’m on the other side of the equator, in another country, on another continent, where I can partially speak the language. I was a fish out of water at first, but after a few days it felt amazing being there. My earliest memories of science classes were of hearing about all of the different animals and plants that exist only there. It’s something that’s been thrown around most of my life, then being there to see it was the most surreal experience.

What was a highlight from the trip?
We got to hike around the forest, then at one point we were walking across a river bed. I ended up falling in a giant pocket of mud. It was messy, but fun! They spaced us out on the trail to where every five minutes, one of us would stop and stay in one spot. I was the first one to stop. They left me by an army ants’ nest – some mean little dudes. Normally, I’m terrified of bugs, but there I was totally fine. I sat there for ten minutes watching these ants while everything around me was totally quiet. After maybe three or four minutes, a breeze came through and everything came to life. The leaves and branches were swaying, and it was amazing.

Did it rain a lot in the rainforest?
Not terribly. It mostly rained at night. We took a two-and-a-half hour boat ride from where the bus let us off to the lodge we were staying at, and on the way there, the river was so dry they said we might have to get out and push the boat. With the piranhas and caiman in the water, this was a bit of a scary thought. By the time we left a few days later, though, it had rained so much the water was all the way up to the bank.

What was the hardest part of the trip?
Some of the hike was harder for me because I have asthma. Dean Appel and I were usually at the back of the group while we were going through these steep hills. They were not easy hikes, but it was all rewarding in the end. Trying not to fall made me a little anxious, but I got through it and I feel a lot stronger for it.

Do you think you’ll go back sometime?
I really hope so! I feel more comfortable traveling because of this trip, and I want to go do so many more things now that I have this under my belt. I’ve never been the most extroverted, and after traveling to Ecuador, I am more inclined to step out of my comfort zone. I’m also more at ease speaking Spanish now that I’ve had the opportunity to converse in it outside of the classroom.

Walker Uyemura

Walker Uyemura is always on the move! Going from calling Colorado home to living at UToledo has been a massive adjustment for the sophomore. Though, you Walker Uyemurawouldn’t know it from all of the community outreach pulled off by the Biology major with a pre-dental concentration. Here is more about Walker’s ever-changing life in this Student of the Week profile.

What led to your interest in dentistry?
The phrase “it runs in the family” really resonates with me, as many of my family members are dentists – including my father. These dental roots have really led me to be passionate about this. My dad actually worked with his father in dentistry, and my spending so much time engulfed in the field really illustrated its positive aspects. This is not to say that the field is easy! In fact, the path you have to take to become a dentist is similar to the pre-med track, which make things rigorous. However, it’s incredibly enjoyable!

You’re from Colorado. Tell us about your experience in the Midwest and how it compares to home.
Colorado is a wonderful place that gets a bad reputation because of the cold and snow! Over winter break, I got to go back to hike and ski, which was a great break from school. Colorado is also incredibly bright and uplifting, and I feel that is partially why I always have a positive attitude in life. Coming to Ohio brings a shift in weather but also a change of life for me. I loved the opportunity UToledo brought along with Case Western Reserve University, where I’ll continue my education next. Choosing somewhere besides home has allowed me to branch out to different parts of the United States while being successful in college.

On top of everything else, you are part of Levis Leadership UT!
Levis is a beautiful opportunity to get involved in other programs that help me spread my wings further on campus. Like moving from Colorado to Toledo and next to Cleveland, this group has been instrumental in helping me realize all the things I can accomplish and be a part of during my time here. Another group I am involved in is Dogs for Difference, where we take dogs to public schools around the area and have “de-stress days” on campus. Additionally, we have done a lot of work with special needs children in elementary schools, using furry friends to assist in their daily lives. It is a wonderful time and feels great to know that I am able to give back, too. I am also a member of Chi Alpha, a Christian organization on campus. There wasn’t any particular reason for me joining these organizations, but if I had to give one, I think it relates to my habit of branching out and meeting other people in life instead of feeling secluded.

Samantha Brown

The suspense has been real for Nursing sophomore Samantha Brown. Much like anticipating a decision from a scholarship committee or a dream school, Samantha BrownSam has been waiting on an acceptance notification for the upper-level Nursing program – a journey in which she has already invested two years. With a decision afoot and much more work left to do, Sam looks back at her experience so far in Nursing and in the JSHC.

How did you choose your major?
I knew I wanted to do that because I wanted to work in health care. I’ve experienced a number of health issues myself and within my family, and I always noticed that the nurses were the ones answering questions and offering comfort. That’s what I want out of it, the patient interaction and to be the one comforting people. I’ve applied for the summer semester of nursing school here and am pretty excited!

Where do you see yourself working as a nurse?
I want to work in a hospital setting, mostly in surgery. If I want to work further up the chain, I’d like to go to graduate school and become a certified registered nurse anesthetist – which is basically an anesthesiologist without a medical degree. I think surgery is where patients would have the most questions and anxiety. You want them to be comfortable and feel like they can ask about anything they’re thinking, and I want to help with that.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge so far has been the sheer weight of your GPA when applying to the upper-level Nursing program. They take the top 86-90 students and cut it off there. So in these first years, taking all of these pre-requisites, there’s a number of Biology and Chemistry courses and a lot of pressure to not mess up. You can’t really afford to pull a “C” grade in anything.

What has been the most interesting class you’ve taken so far?
I just started Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, and I can already say it’s been the most interesting. We think we know so much about preventing sickness and disease, but there’s so much we don’t understand. For example, on the first day of class we talked about how antibacterial soaps are really horrible for us because they kill the good bacteria, too.

How has your Honors experience been throughout your path to Nursing?
Honors has been very influential because there are small class sizes and they are so discussion-based. We talk about a lot of things you wouldn’t talk about in my major classes. You come to college to learn more about yourself and other people, and Honors gives you that. Faculty like Dr. Page Armstrong and Dr. Mary Templin facilitate meaningful student dialogue on rough topics, allowing us to really discuss them in depth.

What’s it like being an Honors Student Ambassador?
It’s definitely been fun, I’ve met a lot of people from different majors! We help to recruit prospective students to UToledo and the Honors College as well as network with alumni. It’s really fun to see former Rockets come back and talk about their time here. We also help with the Honors graduation ceremonies, and it’s always wonderful to see people earn the medallion after putting in so much work.

Do you have any advice for fellow Nursing or Honors students?
Don’t be shy, get to know the people you’re around. Network and make friends. Especially in Honors, being in such small groups with each other and getting to share perspectives, it’s a special experience – so take advantage of it!

Teresa Northcraft

Teresa Northcraft is not afraid to try new things and, even when it seems challenging, offer a contrary point of view. The Honors English major, however, Teresa Northcraftworks happily with just about anyone she meets. Her story, one of change and challenge, is highlighted in this Student of the Week profile.

How did you come to choose English as a major?
I didn't enroll at UToledo as one originally. However, the more I got to know the professors in the department, I became very interested in American literature and wanted to focus in that area. Poetry is also very important to me, and workshops helped me become a fan of my peers as well as help me view myself as more of a “writer.”

What led you to the JSHC? Do you have any great memories?
I loved the challenge of the rigorous classroom environment. It’s amazing when I can be part of an environment that stimulates conversation from everyone. Dr. Ben Stroud helped me immensely with my Honors thesis, and all of the professors in the JSHC have supported me along the way – whether it was with schoolwork or just in daily life with great advice.

Tell us a little about your Honors thesis.
My thesis is titled, “E Unibus Omnem: New Sincerity and Transcendence in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.” I had an incredible experience diving into Infinite Jest, investigating the shortcoming of the ironic mode. I believe we can combat the jokes of American postmodernism in fiction by embracing more responsibility and accountability – by developing a more sincere, communal attitude. Dr. Melissa Gregory also helped me to chunk the thesis into parts and make it more manageable. There was a moment that I thought I hit a wall, but I pushed through with the help of my director and my thesis cohort.

Did you ever think you would want to take this major path?
I don’t think I would have wanted to study postmodernism specifically, and I had absolutely no clue about contemporary poetry, but just reading widely has helped me clarify and pinpoint my interest areas. I also don’t think I would have wanted to write “angry things,” or critical things, per se.  But I love looking at contrarian points of view, and it’s great getting to spice up a conversation. Usually, however, these “angry” points are not really that far from my actual opinion!

Nathan Szymanski

When he kicked his research off just after freshman year, Nathan Szymanski was laying the foundation for his future. A double major in Physics and Nathan SzymanskiMathematics, he has applied his studies to the interdisciplinary field of material science alongside Dr. Sanjay Khare, chairperson of the Physics department and Nathan’s mentor. This support coupled with Nathan’s talent has made this Honors student a standout not only at UToledo, but across the nation as one of the few recipients of the highly competitive 2018 Goldwater Scholarship.

Why did you choose Physics and Mathematics?
I was always really interested in math as a young student; however, I wanted to use the abstract methods to solve real-world problems. Upon taking a physics class in high school, I instantly loved it. This led me to pursue a Physics major in my college career. I figured it would allow me to tackle important issues throughout science and engineering while using fundamental methods and concepts.

What inspired you to start your research?
The faculty here really encouraged it. I didn’t initially plan on taking part in research, but professors and graduate students in the department stressed its importance and benefits. Additionally, there are a ton of opportunities to get involved! One of my classes even offered extra credit for discussing these research opportunities with a professor, which is what initially got me into research. The summer after freshman year Dr. Khare offered me a position, and I’ve been with him ever since.

What kind of research do you do?
The projects have varied. I’ve worked on four involving aspects from materials science, physics, and chemistry. Our work is purely computational; we connect to supercomputers across the nation to run massive calculations allowing us to predict structural, electronic, and optical properties of various materials. At UToledo, my projects have focused on the improvement of next-generation solar cells, energy-conserving coatings, and permanent magnets. I’ve also spent a summer conducting research at Northwestern University, where I studied versatile electronic systems. These projects are all unique, but they have the same overall goal: implementing theoretical and computational methods to improve our understanding of modern technology.

You’re a senior – what do you plan to do after graduation?
Although I major in Physics and Mathematics, my research is more focused on the material side of things. Therefore, upon graduation from UToledo, I plan to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science. Although I don’t currently know which school I will attend, I recently received offers from some top-notch institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. It will be a tough decision! Before starting my graduate school career, though, I will also be heading out to New York City for an internship based in computational materials science. This should give me some more insight into my opportunities after graduate school.

You received the Goldwater Scholarship last year. What was that process like?
That was another opportunity which I owe in great deal to my faculty. All the professors here have been awesome! I didn’t know anything about the scholarship when Dr. Scott Lee informed me of it. It’s given to the top 200 science, engineering, or math projects in the country. I had to submit a short research proposal of what I hoped to find, what further steps I could take for a new project, along with other typical application materials. I used a lot of the knowledge I learned throughout my projects here at UToledo to complete this proposal. When awarded the scholarship, the Goldwater Foundation offered $7,500 per year to focus on my research, which has been extremely helpful.

Have you faced any particular challenges in your research?
There’s always a lot of obstacles in research. For example, my most recent project here at UToledo dealt with novel compounds which had the potential to improve the efficiency of solar cells. We initially found that these materials were predicted to be unstable, which was rather disappointing and put the goals of the project in jeopardy. However, after months of thoroughly reviewing the literature, I discovered that these compounds could be stabilized at room temperature due to interactions of atomic vibrations. To test this, I collaborated with a professor at the California Institute of Technology and, using a state-of-the-art computational method, we were able to confirm stabilization of these materials. This ended up being a major cornerstone of the manuscript, which was recently published in a high-impact journal.

Nate Krebs

As a Multi-Age Education major with a concentration in Music Education and a talent for writing music, Nate Krebs is one of our many interdisciplinary Honors students. His time at UToledo and with the JSHC has helped him discover his Nate Krebspassions, but also has given him the tools to harmoniously translate those passions to career options that are in ready demand.

How did you come to your major?
My academic path has emphasized vocal education and I'm now focusing on composition – writing music. When I was in high school, I sang in the choir and played in the jazz band. Music seemed to be the only option for me as a career. The safest bet for that would be as an educator, since that job placement is very reliable. However, my interests have since changed and so I'm going to graduate school next year for composition instead. I'm sort of chasing the dream and going with the less secure option, but I will still have a Bachelor’s of Education after graduating from UToledo. That will allow me to get a teaching license and job in a school as another option.

What kind of music do you create?
Luckily, at UToledo we aren't obligated to work in any certain genre or style of music. Our professors let us explore our own styles and write creatively, a freedom not enjoyed at many other schools. As far as my style goes, it's definitely contemporary classical music – though I like to think it has a quality that's accessible to a wide audience. Whether you like pop music or Mozart, I want to write something that's moving music forward and that's new, but something that any audience member can grab and say, "Wow, I like that," as well.

As someone in the arts, what are you doing for an Honors thesis?
I am not finished working on it yet, but I have everything underway and approved. I've been working on it for the past couple semesters. It’s going to be a film and multimedia project that a Film major and I are working on together. I am creating the music for it, sort of like an extended music video. It's about ten minutes long and will explore how visual and audio media meet.

Which of your professors have inspired you?
I’ve enjoyed choir and working with Dr. Brad Pierson, who is the new choir director at UToledo. He has taught me an entirely different world in how to make music with other people, and he is always striving for excellence. Each semester we work with harder music, and each semester the choir collectively gets better. Too, my composition teacher, Dr. Lee Heritage, despite me switching my path towards composition late, has been very courteous and encouraging of all my studies – always pushing me to create my best work.

You took HON 3010 Community Engagement last semester. What did you think?
It was taught by Dean Appel and Prof. Olivia Summons with 9 students in attendance. We split up into groups and all worked with a community partner to solve a real-world problem faced by the organization. One group worked with Toledo GROWS while my group partnered with Schools as Community Hubs. It is a program based in Toledo Public Schools to make the school a convenient venue for important services in the neighborhood. We were presented with their problem, a need for a town hall event to bring everyone in the community together, and asked us to develop a proposal for it. We worked with the Robinson Elementary Hub, and through that we gathered statistics, mapped out data, and ultimately developed a grant proposal they could use to apply for funding to plan and hold the event in the future. Hopefully, it can function as a platform for residents to talk about the problems within the community and how to work on them collectively!

Kristen Buchler

Honors junior Kristen Buchler is a woman of many words, ones pressed in ink and scrawled across pages. As an English major and the Opinion Editor at The Independent Collegian, she often spends her days writing and editing other people’s work. After her time Kristen Buchlerat UToledo, she is thinking hard about a career in print. With three semesters and an Honors thesis yet to go, though, so much of this chapter is yet unwritten for Kristen.

What do you enjoy most about your major?
The literature classes aren’t my favorite, but I like the creative writing workshops. Writing-based classes in general are more enjoyable for me as a student with a creative writing concentration. Literary discussion isn’t really my thing, but I enjoy working with my peers and trading feedback on our work. That kind of collaboration between different people within the department is great.

What kind of career are you considering?
I don’t have anything nailed down yet, but I’m thinking about some kind of writing/editing job. I would like to stay close to home for the first year, and maybe not travel much farther than Ann Arbor or Columbus. Some kind of metropolitan area is where I want to end up living eventually.

What are you considering for your Honors thesis?
I have had a couple preliminary discussions with Dr. Melissa Gregory, the College of Arts and Letters Honors Director. We’ve talked about how I’m more interested in non-fiction than fiction and poetry, so I’m thinking about doing something related to autobiography and memoir for my thesis. As the Opinion Editor for The Independent Collegian, I read a lot of reflective columns from my writers and I enjoy analyzing firsthand accounts of events in general. That’s something I connect to – something I could see myself studying for three months as an Honors thesis.

How did you end up at the Independent Collegian?
I started with the IC as a copy editor my freshman year. I had worked on my high school yearbook for four years and loved being involved with that. When I went to Rocket Launch, I immediately signed up to work at the newspaper and everything grew from there. I wrote a few columns as a copy editor and, once our Opinion Editor graduated, I took over that role and have been doing it for just over a semester.

How do you feel working at the IC has helped you grow?
The Independent Collegian isn’t anything that’s required; I do it because I enjoy it! Working with weekly deadlines forces me to improve my writing, even if I don’t notice it in real-time. It’s been helpful for me to write columns and editorials and get the experience you can’t always get in the classroom. The IC mirrors the Honors College in that it’s more about personal growth and experiences than recognition.

Have you had a favorite class?
I loved my non-fiction workshop I took in Fall 2017. The class had probably twenty students or less in it and it became like a family. You didn’t have to worry about putting your work out there like in some other classes. Everyone was understanding, and it was just enjoyable to go to every single day. I’d say that being in a workshop that allowed me to focus on my writing without worry cemented non-fiction as the avenue I wanted to explore through writing.

You’ll be on the Honors Spring Break trip to Jamaica. What got you interested in it?
In the past year I’ve become really invested in travel. I like going to places where you have a group to go with that knows what’s going on because I’m not an experienced traveler by any means. When I saw the JSHC offering a trip to Jamaica for $800, I wanted the opportunity to have that experience with other Honors students who are interested in learning through service.

Matthew Goldmann

Finding the perfect fit isn’t always easy. Honors senior Matthew Goldmann knows this to be true, not finding his academic home at UToledo until he was more Matthew Goldmannthan a year into his studies. Once in Engineering, Matthew now creates movies as a Film and Video major. Coming up on graduation, he works to finish his Honors thesis and looks back on his time framed by blue and gold.
What brought you to your current path?
When I started at UT, my major was Computer Science and Engineering. In high school I did well in math and science, so I was benignly steered toward engineering. I made the best of the major because I’ve always been comfortable with computers. For the first year and a half, I did fine. My first semester of co-op I worked in the IT Department at the Toledo Refinery Company in Oregon, though, and I didn’t really enjoy it. I was paid well, but what I ultimately discovered is that corporate life is not for me. The following semester I withdrew from all of my classes and considered dropping out. Once I got past the emotional fallout, I knew I could do college. I just needed to find a major that interested me, and the only one that fit was Film and Video. I feel that I’ve always had that creative interest you find in the major; it just hadn’t been fostered. Since I switched, I really haven’t looked back.
What kind of work do you do as a film major?
There is some watching and discussing films, so a lot of classes will last three hours to fit it all in. We also have courses where you will make a short film. The Film department is large enough that we’re able to work with real film to make our projects.
What kind of films are you making?
I made a film about bullying, as an example, but in general they are short films around two- or three-minutes long. You can’t do too much more or it would become a lot of work. You need to really care about lighting because, if the lighting is too heavy, the film will be over-exposed and it would look washed out. If there isn’t enough light, then it’ll be too dark. It makes creating a film cumbersome, but I enjoyed it because you’re actually making a film and working with celluloid film.
Is there a particular film that inspired you?
I took a class called “Third Cinema” – referencing films outside of established cinemas in the U.S. and Europe. We studied films from Senegal, Mali, Brazil, India, China and Iran. One of the first sections we watched was from Senegal, and I learned about a filmmaker named Ousmane Sembene who is considered the godfather of African Cinema. We watched a film called Xala, which was really good! It opened me up to a whole different world of film.
What kind of film are you creating for your Honors capstone project?
It will be a comedy. I think there’s two influences at play in it: Mel Brooks and Monty Python.  It’s sort of about a mad scientist, but instead of a scientist he’s a director trying to make a film – an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey. The film the director is creating is called Homer’s Hot Bodyssey, if that gives you an idea of where it’s going.

Carter Mccutchan

If you can believe it, the semester’s end is already upon us! However, for Carter McCutchan, life continues to move at a rapid pace. In just two years, the Carter McCutchansophomore made the decision to switch career trajectories from business to computer science and continues to think toward the future.

What brought about the switch?
Admittedly, math is not my strongest suit, and I really wanted to go for my MBA after my bachelor’s degree. Although I love business, I have always been passionate about fixing and handling computers. Since I had previous knowledge on the subject, it was an easy transition. In fact, when I was 12, I ran a small business fixing computers! My parents would give me old parts they would randomly find, and I would build desktop computers. With all of the new technology, it makes it easy to enjoy what I do!

What Honors classes have helped you to reach where you are today?
HON 1010 has helped me to get on track in both my major and my college career. I also took an Honors section of Professional Development, which gave me great insight into growing in my discipline. Additionally, being able to use Honors Learning Contracts really helps me get the most out of every single class I take, whether it is a major course or not. Having small groups of people to work with is something that helps me a lot, so I appreciate the individualized attention Honors students receive from professors.

What kind of business would you like to run someday?
I want to offer consulting to those with large social media influences. These platforms are going to be, and are already, incredibly prevalent. Influencers are always in need of the latest hardware and streaming services in order to keep up with the competition. When you are able to work with someone in that aspect, it acts as a form of art. That is amazing to me! It’s not just assembling things – it’s also being able to customize resources to the specific tastes of someone else, too.

Talk a little about how video games have been able to help you in your career.
I don’t actually play video games that much, but when you look at things like eSports, video games are making a splash in the media scene today. Not only this, but they are a great stress reliever. College most of the time is a fervent hustle and bustle, and being able to have that outlet to relieve stress can be valuable.

Hannah Haselhuhn

JSHC freshman Hannah Haselhuhn has gone full speed ahead with her college career. A Mechanical Engineering major, Hannah has quickly taken the Hannah Haselhuhnopportunity to expand her role on campus, getting involved with the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers. Coming to the end of her first semester, this Presidential Scholar looks to take on all UToledo has to offer.

What led you to Mechanical Engineering?
I always knew that I was interested in math and science but I didn’t have a structured idea of what I wanted to do as a career. When I went to high school, I joined the robotics program. That inspired a love of engineering as well as problem-solving and the applications of what I was learning in the classroom. I still had a lot of different ideas of what I wanted to do, so I decided on Mechanical Engineering to give me a good foundation for whichever specific path I want to take after college.

You’re a freshman – has your first semester given you any idea of what you want to do for a career?
I’m still really interested in robotic technology and automation. I’ve always had a passion for engines in the automotive industry. I joined the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers here as well, so that’s definitely fostered my interest.

What is FSAE about?
We design a new race car every year in the Fall. It’s in the Formula One design, but it’s all college teams that are competing. In the Spring, we build and test it, then we compete throughout the summer into October of the following academic year. We’ll race the car we’re currently designing in competitions at the Michigan International Speedway, Lawrence Technological University, and a few others. Then next year we’ll start again. Right now, I’m part of a group of people that are helping design the steering system that we’re going to build in the Spring.

How has being a Presidential Scholar impacted your first semester?
It’s been incredibly helpful. I have four college-aged siblings, so financially it’s been a huge blessing. More than that, it’s allowed me to branch out here and meet people that I would not have met otherwise. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the deans and faculty well before anyone else my year, and it’s been really helpful to have that kind of support system built into the scholarship.

Have any professors inspired you this early?
Dr. Matthew Franchetti is incredibly intelligent and has tons of experience, but he knows how to get down to our level as students who are still trying to figure our lives out. He’s really taken the time to look out for us and help us get from point A to point B, and not be intimidated by the future.

Just starting college, what do you hope to get out of your experience at UToledo?
Outside of just a degree, I think college will help me learn how to be independent and work with other people. So far, the Engineering program here has fostered a lot of team-building and communication skills. I think it’s well rounded. I could take classes online and learn all the material, but being in the classroom and involved in things like co-ops and FSAE will prepare me to be an employee and engineer, not just a good student.

Christopher Mccoy

Christopher McCoyPreparing to graduate this semester, Nursing student Christopher McCoy will be the first in his family to graduate in nursing. Like many students, he only had a general idea of his career path coming into college, but has since found his passion as an aspiring oncology nurse.

What got you interested in Nursing?
I knew I wanted to help people in a medical capacity, but I didn't want to go to school for a long time to become a physician. I'll actually be the first nurse in my family and a first-generation college graduate. I kind of went into school blind, but I know I'll like nursing as a career. I plan to practice in oncology.

Why oncology?
I want to be an oncology nurse because I have had family affected by cancer. My grandmother is currently fighting breast cancer and my aunt is currently fighting lung cancer, so that influenced my decision. I like the oncology patient population because I knew I wanted to do end-of-life care going into school, but I still wanted to be in a hospital setting. So oncology fit perfectly for me. I don't find it depressing, because for me, once I get to that situation in life, I want to be cared for by someone who will be understanding, caring, and compassionate. If I were to go into hospice or be diagnosed with a debilitating condition, I would want a considerate nurse. However, not everyone can do that. I want to give people the type of care that I would want.

What is a typical day for a nursing student like?
A typical day for us could be going to class, and then after we may have a clinical rotation. This could be anywhere in the Toledo area, such as any of the ProMedica hospitals, St. Luke’s Hospital, UTMC, or Wood County Hospital. Our clinical rotations depend on what we're learning about that semester. If we're learning about mental health, you'll obviously go to some type of mental health facility. Or if you're learning about adult care, perhaps you'll go to an assisted-living facility. You really have to integrate what you learn from class about medications, treatments, and diagnostic tests with your clinical work. Nursing overlaps with a lot of different medical fields. For example, we learn about respiratory therapy and medications, so you might have to learn some of what pharmacists do. Obviously, we do it all by a doctor's orders, so we have to be able to think like a doctor.

What is your Honors thesis about?
I’m writing a capstone project about decreasing the pain interference among the oncology patient population. Basically, I'm doing research and a systematic review on what interventions nurses can use for our patients to help decrease their pain interference, and by doing so, increase quality of life. It's been a lot of work, not like your typical research paper. You have to find so many articles, review as well as analyze them, and then write your own contribution to the issue. But I've enjoyed it! As of right now, it's about 40 pages long.

Rin Baatz

It’s not often you meet transfer students in the Honors College, but Rin Baatz is one for the books. An English major focusing in creative writing, her story blends distinction from the STEMM experience of many Honors students with the relatable – a personalized pathway from student to scholar.Rin Baatz

How did you decide on your major?
My major is English with a focus in creative writing. Originally I was going into Biology because I wanted to work in genetics research. Then Organic Chemistry happened…and that just wasn’t going to be a thing. I want to be a professor someday, so I figure having a broad base in all areas of English will help me when I end up focusing on a certain area.

Where did you transfer from?
I went to Bowling Green State University last year, which has a large writing program. Its support of an MFA track means a lot of graduate students teach the writing classes, especially in creative writing. I never actually met with a professor who specifically taught creative writing. I wanted a little more personal attention, and I knew that UToledo’s program was smaller, so it was easier to find that here. I’ve worked with both Prof. Tim Geiger and Dr. Deborah Coulter-Harris, and they’ve been absolutely amazing.

What is your focus in creative writing?
In creative writing you can emphasize script writing, short stories, or novel writing. My focus is mostly in novel writing and creative non-fiction.

You’ve been charting a course in the arts and humanities for a while, it sounds like.
Yeah, I went to the Toledo School for the Arts for high school – a charter institution supporting arts-integrated education. Every class had to feature the arts, so it worked well for more divergent students – like people with autism. Having arts there as a motivator was enough to keep students interested and engaged with their education. Their students are held to a high standard, so we’re on par with schools like Ottawa Hills High School and St. Johns Jesuit High School. The only difference is we’re a charter school and not publicly funded.

Who have you met that has been a mentor for you?
Dr. Coulter-Harris and Prof. Geiger, who are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Dr. Coulter-Harris comes at you all at once as an unstoppable force of nature and doesn’t hesitate to tell you what needs to be changed or what works, so there’s a lot of feedback. Tim is more of a traditional writing teacher, so he’ll provide feedback and teach us different techniques to use in our writing.

As a writer, what is your favorite book?
I love any book about circuses! I love the freak shows and sideshows – everything to do with the aesthetic of a circus. I read “The Night Circus” when I was in eighth grade, and it has been my favorite book ever since. It’s written from four different perspectives. The sensory detail of the novel is so amazing that when you switch over to the second person perspective, you can see and smell and feel and taste everything that has been described to you. I’ve never read anything like it before or after, and it was definitely a unique experience.

How did you get involved with the Honors College as a transfer student?
I felt that the JSHC would offer a more hands-on approach to my education. It seems like the advisors and the staff here really work with students to find the best fit for their classes and instructors. Having the choice between the Gold Track and the Blue Track, for example, is beneficial because it allows your education to be a little more flexible and work with how you learn. Also, Honors doesn’t look too bad on a graduate school application!

Ben Riley

For Ben Riley, life’s goal is to work hard and be thankful for every moment that we’re gifted. Between double-digit hours in the research lab to sailing on Lake Erie, this Honors Exercise Science major has realized that when it comes to life, every hour is precious and should be used wisely.

Ben RileyWhat brought you to your major?
I switched from Bioengineering to Exercise Science as a strategic move. I was faced with the realization that medical schools want more than just good grades. I didn’t have time to do much else outside of academics with Bioengineering, so I switched to Exercise Science. This is allowing me to become more balanced and well-rounded as an applicant and individual.

What are some of the extracurriculars that you have been able to pursue as a result?
I have been fortunate to go on a couple of mission trips and am also part of the Sailing Club here at UToledo where I serve as Vice Commodore. I’ve also worked a couple part-time jobs for roughly 20 hours per week and allot 14 hours for being in the research lab. I’m investigating the role of a particular molecule in skeletal muscles used in response to injury. The results of this research have led to a publication, but are applicable to everyday life as well. I take solace in the fact that I’m contributing to humans’ wealth of knowledge that can be used to help others.

What do you hope to gain out of medical school?
My prayer is to embark on a service-based career that is fast-paced, strenuous, and demands diligence and vigilance. I know through experience that I can push myself in this capacity. Most importantly, I have an undying desire to serve other people. Going to medical school is merely an avenue by which I can help the world. Truly, I have been blessed beyond belief with the people around me and by all of the help I’ve been given over my life so far.

Was it your drive and passion for life that led you to start going on mission trips?
Partially. Being able to see medicine practiced in America comfortably showed me what the life of a doctor is like. Thanks to some mentors and assertiveness, though, I had the opportunity to observe and participate in live surgeries overseas – something that isn’t allowed much here (at least for students). In Mexico, the experience and knowledge I obtained helped me realize what may lie ahead should I continue down this path.

Tell us a little about the Sailing Club – what is that like?
Sailing is a unique sport! It is somewhat exclusive insofar as the culture is close-knit and the involved cost can be high. The Sailing Club at UToledo has a great pedigree and our sailors are warm and passionate people. In collegiate sailing, the costs to join are ridiculously low, and I figured this was as good of a time as any to give it the college try. The practices during the week are pretty mellow, but every weekend is jam-packed with activity. Like my major and work field, sailing has given so much to me. The more of my life where I can give back, the happier I am!

Any closing thoughts?
I have to confess something – I don’t think I deserve the life that I have today! I enjoy a fair amount of privilege, so who am I to waste so much of myself with fun pitfalls that are ubiquitous for college students? I am not one to do that. This realization allowed me to adopt a new ethos, one derived from a self-sacrificial love for everything and everyone. I truly want nothing except to be content and pursue a life’s goal to not advance myself at all. I’d like to focus on being a beacon for little proverbial sailboats to find their way to safe harbor amidst any storm.

Naba Rizvi

Having lived all over the world, Naba Rizvi has found a home and purpose in Toledo – and she isn’t letting anything hold her back. After trying out a few Naba Rizvicareer paths, Naba has found her calling in Information Technology. She has created a coding startup called CodeWeGo with two other UToledo students and has founded UToledo’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery's Council on Women in Computing. To top it off, she finds time to serve as a resident advisor for many Honors students living in MacKinnon, Scott, and Tuckers Halls.

What led you to your field of study?
I first went to community college for two years and I was studying Liberal Arts. I received a very competitive research fellowship at the University of Michigan in Political Science, where I researched lobbying firms and their role in American politics, but it made me realize that I didn’t want to do Liberal Arts anymore. After taking some time off from school, I was exploring different career paths when I met someone in a coffee shop who was really into technology. It blew my mind and sounded so fascinating that I went in that direction. I really wanted something that was challenging where I could just sit down to solve a problem and feel good about what I'm doing.

Where are you from?
I’m from Pakistan, where I lived for three years. Then I moved to Saudi Arabia for about 10 years, then Canada, Michigan, and finally here. I still travelled back to Pakistan every summer as a child, so I've stayed very connected to my culture. In Pakistan we have a rather extroverted culture – it's like everyone is always ready to party and wants to be so helpful. So, we are famous for our hospitality! I like to think living in four countries has made me incredibly open-minded and accepting of people who are different from me. I am grateful to have had the privilege of meeting people from different backgrounds who have helped me see the world from unique perspectives.

Tell us about your tech start-up!
Two other classmates and I have co-founded CodeWeGo after competing in a few different coding competitions and winning first place. We will be teaching programming to youth who do not speak English. China will be our initial target market where we launch our product, so it will definitely be an international company. We've applied to a really competitive start-up accelerator in San Francisco, and if you get in, you're pretty much all set. There isn't any way your business would fail if you go through the Y Combinator Start-up School, so I’m really hoping we are accepted.

What other groups are you involved in?
I started UToledo’s chapter of ACM-W, which is an organization that supports women in computer sciences fields and majors. We now have about 15 members here at the university. I have also helped as a facilitator for the Girls Who Code Club at the Toledo Early College High School. Too, I became an R.A. for the Honors Residence Halls this year and it has been an amazing experience. I had a great R.A. my freshman year, and I’ve wanted to do for other students what she has done for me. It has definitely been a challenge, but also very rewarding.

You received a Google scholarship as well?
For the Google scholarship I received a onetime award of $10,000 and I went on an all-expenses-paid retreat held at various Google offices. The trip there was so much fun, I really wouldn’t even know where to start. The entire experience has taught me so much. It helped me to join an exclusive network of scholars from all around the world and have the ability to apply for special grants in order to organize outreach events.

Do you have any advice for other college students?
A lot of students are afraid of trying anything new. I was like that for my first two years of college, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. Whenever there is a new opportunity, you have to take it. You have to take those risks, you have to attend those conferences, and you have to apply for those scholarships. Don’t say you’re not smart enough to do something, because how would you know if you’ve never tried it?

Rachel Whitman

Busy as ever, UToledo senior Rachel Whitman is preparing to graduate this December. Majoring in Psychology with a minor in Counseling, she now looks to Rachel Whitmanselect a graduate school (all while finishing her thesis). With the help of the Honors College, Rachel has created bonds with her mentors that will see her continue her research at UToledo next semester.

What brought you to that major?
I was in junior high when I became interested in the workings of the mind. It was a typical junior high “I’m going to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life” story. I came across psychology and I’ve been engrossed by that ever since. For counseling, I never knew it was a separate field until I came to college. My first semester here, one of my friends recommended I take a class in it. I did so my second semester and fell in love with it. I’ve taken almost every class offered since.

What’s the difference between Psychology and Counseling?
The biggest difference is the approach. Counseling is more of a holistic approach – they look at a person in terms of how one thing affects the whole. With Psychology, it’s a systems-based approach. They focus a lot on research – how cognition works.

Are you working on your Honors thesis?
Yes! It involves a three-semester sequence course. In the first semester, you’re writing your proposal to send in to the Institutional Review Board. During the next semester, you actually conduct the research. Everyone who is taking “Intro to Psychology” has the opportunity to participate in my study, which is really exciting! The last semester is where you actually write your thesis. It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be, but it has been so fun to do literature reviews and meet with my faculty mentor to ask him some really hard questions about the psychology field. I’ve fallen in love with doing research, more than I ever thought I would. My favorite part is that I get to build a bond with my research professor.

What kind of career are you considering?
I am applying to doctorate programs in Clinical Psychology and master’s programs in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling. It’s going to be the best of both worlds, where I have the opportunity to assist in one-on-one interventions with future patients as well as do research.

Where have you applied?
All over! The way you look for graduate programs in Psychology is by searching for universities that are working in your areas of focus. They’re going to be able to mentor you but also be familiar with developments in the field. I ultimately want to study human trafficking and find best practices for combatting that. It’s a complex trauma. My target schools offer the community aspect, but they also address complex trauma and substance use.

What inspired your focus on human trafficking?
I was involved in Youth Nations here at UToledo during high school where you explore a global challenge and its relation to a particular country. I was assigned Mexico and human trafficking. Because of the proximity of Mexico to the United States, I learned a lot about human trafficking here – specifically labor trafficking. Knowing that Toledo is a hub of human trafficking, I did my own research and really saw a need for psychology contributions in the field. Human trafficking involves a lot of different disciplines, but not yet psychology. We often tackle topics conscious of interdisciplinary approaches and need to be in this realm. We need to ask, “How we’re going to care for the people being trafficked?” and identify preventative factors we can put in place to lessen the harm suffered by victims.

Caitlyn Miller

For Caitlyn Miller, being a senior is still hard to believe. However, her charitable mark will not soon wear off. From taking trips abroad to help with foreign medicine to lending a hand with children all around the Toledo area, the soon to be graduate of UToledo and the JSHC truly does exemplify what it means to Caitlyn Millergive back.

What brought you to your chosen major of Nursing?
It’s a long story, actually! When my mom was pregnant with my sisters and myself, she went through some complications. During this time, her two nurses were some of the best ever, splitting as long as 50-hour shifts to assist her in any way possible. I think it’s really important in this major, and something I really enjoy, that we need to and want to be there for people who rely on us. The more we can do to help others overcome difficult medical situations, the better. To me, being a nurse isn’t just going from room to room. It is making connections with people and helping them at the same time. I am most interested in pediatric nursing, and that is what I hope to do once I graduate in December.

Did you have any particular experience that made you want to work with kids?
Truthfully, my entire life has been an experience working around kids. Since I was young, I have been in the Girl Scouts. Once I got older, I always loved going back and working with the younger scouts to teach them new things and bond with them. In addition, I loved getting to work in day camps and experience the youthful atmosphere there. To me, a child can relate better to a younger nurse, in some situations, than someone five times his or her age!

You are the President of the Global Medical Brigades. How did you get into that?
I started in this program my freshman year and heard about it through my resident advisor, who was the president at the time. That year, we went to Honduras, and this year will be my fourth trip! It is a seven-day trip in which we work with certain countries to give medical care and collaborate with the local physicians, dentists, and pharmacists to talk about how medical treatment can be improved within the area. Our tasks include improving vision, promoting oral hygiene, and all other forms of care. It’s amazing to see the different cultures and how the experience is so unique every time I go.

Where do you see yourself going after graduation?
I would love to go to graduate school, but before that, my hope is to get some experience in the nursing field first. Being able to work with team members right out of college is something that I believe could really help me down the line, especially when the time comes to look for the more experienced positions. Being from Cleveland, I have applied at University Hospitals for a position, but I’m not sure of where I want to be geographically.

Do you have any mentors that have helped you during your time at UToledo?
Dr. Susan Sochacki from Nursing has really helped me throughout my collegiate journey. She not only guided me through my capstone project but has calmed me down in times of stress. Also, my close friends have really allowed me to feel as if I am headed down a great path while being surrounded by amazing people!

Sabrina Khuder

Sabrina KhuderThough a lifelong Toledo resident, Sabrina Khuder had some difficulty finding her place when she arrived on campus three years ago. In that time, she has found a niche in her major and as an Honors Student Ambassador, vowing to pay it forward to young children in the community. As a student leader involved in Students Organized for Syria and a Biology major focusing in pre-med, Sabrina is well on her way to achieving that goal.

What led you to your major?
My older sister went to UTMC and seeing her pursue that directed me to medicine! She showed me how interesting the profession can be. I loved Biology courses in high school, and as I came to college, the field continued to grow on me. I cannot imagine a better major in the world now! Learning about the human body allows you to understand how life in general works, and that fascinates me.

What career path do you anticipate?
My hope is medical school, and I would love to work with children. I have volunteered with service organizations around UToledo, and the experience working with those children was amazing. I also volunteered with the Perceptual Motor Development Program on the Health Sciences Campus working with children impacted by special needs. Children are really fun to be around, so getting to work with them would make for a fun and light environment.

You’re involved with “S.O.S.” Tell us more about this organization.
“S.O.S.” stands for Students Organized for Syria – we do a lot of outreach for the Syrian refugee community around Toledo. A lot of children come to the program needing help with general education, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we tutor these young students. You don’t need to know how to speak Arabic, just have a heart to want to help kids! We also hold meetings to help educate the community about the Middle East as well as help them to understand what is truly happening around that area today. During the Big Event last year, S.O.S. took many of the children gardening. That combined with other events held in our organization really helps to connect Toledo with the Syrian community.

What impact do you hope you’ve made in the Toledo community?
I really hope that I have been able to help and mentor other students. When I came to UToledo, I didn’t really know anyone, and I had difficulty trying to navigate my way through my first year. Hopefully I’ve been able to tell others about the great things happening in the area and promote their talent, as well as inform them about some of the mistakes I’ve made so that they can avoid them. One group that has really helped me do this are the Honors Student Ambassadors, of which I am a part. I have been able to reach out to undergrads pursuing the same academic paths, and in doing so I have been able to get my input through to many individuals on and off campus!

If you would like to help tutor Syrian refugee children in Toledo, e-mail to be connected with S.O.S.

Jenna Lybarger

One of the hallmarks of Honors students is interdisciplinarity – an inability to be boxed into nice little categories slotting them into a single field of study. Jenna LybargerHonors sophomore Jenna Lybarger, for example, hopes to combine her passion for technical work and creative expression to pursue a career in prosthetics. After all, this is a Bioengineering major who dabbles in creative writing and horticultural philanthropy!

How did you come to choose Bioengineering?
Since the beginning of high school, I have been looking for something to combine my appreciation of math and the sciences with my passion for creativity and art. I figured it would probably be in the engineering field, so I did some research and found that working with prosthetics and Bioengineering could allow me to do that.

Do you definitely want to work in prosthetics?
Not necessarily. Now that I’ve taken classes, I also think I would be interested in working at the cellular level. With the co-ops facilitated by UToledo’s College of Engineering I’ll have to do in coming semesters, it will help me figure out exactly where I want to be.

Are you looking at any co-op destinations in particular?
I am interested in working with K2M in Virginia which designs implants. I’m also interested in neurology and the skeletal system, but I hope I can get into that company next year.

What Honors faculty members and staff have helped you along the way?
I’m a Presidential Scholar so I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve got to spend with Dean Appel. My Success Coach Eric Gullufsen has really helped me, too – right from the beginning of my freshman year. He’s also the faculty advisor for the organization that I started!

What organization is that?
It’s called Zoetic Zinnias. We grow, gather, and sell flowers to help raise funds and awareness for the prevention of human trafficking. I first began it during my freshman year of high school, but I was happy to bring it to UToledo since Toledo is such a hub for trafficking. Because this is our second year on campus, we are really starting to grow! New members are joining and we’re starting to establish partnerships with different groups on campus. I’m hoping we can get an official meeting room soon to grow even more.

Jessica Swedik

Jessica SwedikWhile some Environmental Sciences majors study soil composition or water quality in the Great Lakes, Jessica Swedik’s tastes are a bit more…exotic. Bugs. For her Honors thesis, Jessica is investigating how temperature influences enzymes produced by millipedes. When not working with these creepy critters, she is probably taking care of her pet tarantulas. Suffice it to say, her special interest in the field of entomology has led to some interesting experiences over the years.

What attracted you to your major?
Originally I was going to be a Chemistry major, but a high school teacher changed my mind. She warned us that if you don’t get perfect scores on your A.P. exams, you’re going to fail in the profession – which isn’t true at all. But I was frightened, so I switched to EEES. I have always had an interest in the sciences, but not as much Biology. Although, I really enjoy how Environmental Sciences allows me to focus on ecology. As I got into the program, I felt I’d really fit into the entomology side of the field – studying bugs. Looking into it, I realized Chemistry is still important and I picked up that again as minor.

What do you plan to do after your undergraduate career?
I’m applying to graduate school, but there’s not many entomology programs out there. Since, I love spiders, so I’ve been sending letters of inquiry to every arachnology program there is. There’s only about twelve.  I don’t know where it’s going to take me, but wherever I go, I go!

So…why do you like spiders so much?
I don’t know! The only two things I was afraid of as a kid were the dark and spiders. One day I just told myself, I can’t be afraid of these things, and I started looking at spiders more closely. I decided they were kind of cute, and by the time I was in 8th grade, I started really liking them. In high school, I kept a spider as a pet, and she lived a little over a year. I always wanted a tarantula, and when I moved out, I could finally get one. Now it’s becoming a bit of an obsession.

You know how some people are obsessed with dogs? Like how when they see a cute dog, they start crying? When I see a spider, I’ll get overwhelmed like that.

What do you consider to be a cute spider?
All of them! They’re all cute! There are some that are cuter than others, but no spider is ugly. Dwarf tarantulas are my favorite – they don’t get bigger than the size of a quarter. But I don’t have any of those as pets yet.

Have you studied abroad for research?
I studied abroad in Trinidad for an ecology class. We stayed at different research centers in the country and took hikes to explore the ecology. I got to find tarantulas in the field, which was great because it was the first time I saw wild ones. It definitely encouraged me to go on more trips, just to experience different cultures. It’s eye-opening to see how different people live around the world. I’m planning more trips after I graduate just to adventure!

Liz Konopka

History major, Liz Konopka, is making history of her own in The Medallion this week as our 50th Student of the Week profile! A resident storyteller for the Liz KonopkaHonors College, we recognize her love of recounting tales of countless historical figures to the many she meets. As both a JSHC Student Ambassador and a resident advisor in MacKinnon Hall, Liz has plenty of Honors students to enlighten – something she considers an important part of her UToledo experience. Now, fresh off of an internship at the Henry Ford Museum, Liz examines how she can delve further into her education.

What would you like to do with your History degree?
I would like to work in a museum, but I’m not sure in what department. I’m thinking more the curatorial aspects, so getting to choose what artifacts go into the exhibits and then writing out the narratives to go along with that.

How does a History student decide on an Honors thesis?
Dr. Chelsea Griffis is my thesis advisor, so she’s helping me focus on a topic right now, since I have no clue what I’m doing. I’ve narrowed it down to women in post-war America, around the 1940s and 1950s. I’m interested in the transition from women primarily being wives and mothers in the home to serving in the workforce as World War II begins. Then, when the war ends and male soldiers returned home saying “Hey, get back to the kitchen,” some women said “I don’t want to.” They are found fulfillment in a career and wanted to keep pursuing it. That shift is really compelling.

So you strive to shine a light on the contributions of women to our history?
Yes! I’m not a Women’s and Gender Studies minor, but sometimes I feel like I should be. It’s important to tell our side of history, because a lot of female accomplishments have been glossed over. There’s always the focus the contributions of men, whereas women rarely earn more than a footnote. Especially in older records, you don’t even get a full name for a wife – the couple is referred to as “John Doe and Mrs. Doe.” It’s important to recognize you’re missing out on half of the population here, so you’re missing out on half of the story. It’s just George Washington and his wife Martha, and that’s the only mention you get of her. George is recognized for his achievements in the American Revolution and the presidency, but people gloss over the fact that Martha spent every winter with the troops in the camps! Social norms often dictated where the wives could and couldn’t go, and though we talk about the ones that stood out and broke the rules, those are the only ones we discuss. Cleopatra receives attention as a monarch because she broke the rules, but there are women in everyday life accomplishing great feats without any recognition for it.

Is there a specific career goal you have?
I want to work at the Smithsonian. I would also like to work in the Museum of American History as the curator of the Arts & Entertainment exhibit – that’s the person in charge of the Kermit the Frog puppet and the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. I found out recently that the guy currently in that position is only in his thirties, so things aren’t looking promising…but that’s where I want to be!

Kelsey O'brien

“Bon Voyage” is a familiar term to senior Kelsey O’Brien, who has not gone a single year at UToledo without traveling abroad. A Psychology major with a minor Kelsey O'Brienin Spanish, Kelsey has used her travels to deepen her studies and collegiate experience. Whether teaching Spanish in El Salvador or pursuing her Honors thesis in Ghana, she has used every opportunity to become a citizen of the world.

What do you want to do after graduation?
I’m applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award to teach English in Colombia – because I had such a life-altering experience in El Salvador. Outside of that, I’m honestly not sure what I would do. And I think that’s fine! There’s such a push for students needing to know what they want to do when they leave. Some do, and I’m envious of those people. I have a direction – I love culture and people, but I’m not set on one thing. I think an academic professor teaching cross-culturally would be a good fit. I love the idea of the Fulbright Student Program. It’s an effort to bring the world together while there’s so much chaos and divide. But I’m applying to graduate schools as well to study cross-cultural psychology.

Did you know Spanish before going abroad?
I studied Spanish in high school because I thought it would be easier than French. I went to El Salvador with Clean Water for the World my freshman year and wasn’t able to use the language. I decided to go back to the country to teach English, but that when I’d return I needed to learn the language. I returned to the country with high school-level knowledge and came back home with a bit more fluency. The first time you tell a joke in another language, it feels like the world opens up in a whole new way! In the future, I’d love to tie that into my psychology background.

What’s a good way for students to practice their Spanish?
I started a conversation club called Conversación and Café. We meet at Black Kite Coffee & Pies on Saturdays at 2:30 pm. It’s one hour of just Spanish conversation, so if you don’t know a word, you have to figure out how to say it. All levels of Spanish are welcome!

Where else have you studied abroad?
My El Salvador trip was the first time I traveled outside of the country. It was only for a week, but it was a life-changing experience. I studied abroad the following year in Ghana. When going abroad, it’s best to plan a year ahead. So as soon as I got back from El Salvador, I went straight to the UToledo Study Abroad Office. Ghana was a gut decision, and I was not prepared when I got there, but it was still a tremendous experience. Staying in Ghana as long as I did, I not only got to know the country really well, but I was also able to travel to the neighboring countries of Togo and Benin. I love studying abroad because the more places you go, the more you are a citizen of the world.

You returned to Ghana last year on a shorter trip. What was that for?
I received the Alan and Susan Lapp Scholarship through the Honors College as well as money from CISP to help me return to Ghana for my Honors thesis. I decided I should personally go because we were handling about 200 paper surveys and I didn’t want to make our collaborators there do all of that work. I helped with data entry and made sure we had copies of the surveys to verify the data, so being there to handle that myself was ideal.

Max Wylie

The UToledo Honors experience can be far more fulfilling than an ordinary college career. Max Wylie is a testament to this, a senior who has been involved in the JSHC since his freshman year. Now the President of The Voice of Honors and working on his Honors thesis, the Mathematics and Economics double-major looks back on his time with the JSHC.Max Wylie

What kind of experience has the JSHC provided?
Anytime I’ve taken an Honors course, it’s been a lot of fun – especially if you get a professor who cares deeply about discussion like Dr. Page Armstrong. I took HON 1020 with her and her classes gave students that experience, which you can often only get in Honors courses, where you’re sitting as group of people just talking. I love that! I haven’t had an experience like that outside of my Honors classes. Though Dr. A left UToledo last year, the JSHC has amassed an eclectic, intelligent, and kind group of faculty. My favorite experiences are just the off-the-wall, random discussions with them. You’ll run into someone in the hallway or go to office hours, start shooting the breeze for a couple minutes, and it turns into some great advice or an insightful discussion. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experiences with the faculty here.
What made Dr. Armstrong’s classes stand out from others you’ve experienced?
Dr. Armstrong has a very strong personality, and I am drawn to strong personalities. As much as I gel with someone who is more introverted and quiet like myself, I tend to gravitate toward people who are outgoing in their kindness and intelligence. Dr. A had a way of conducting her class that placed an emphasis on people as well as material. She struck me immediately as a lifelong learner, someone who learns as much from her students as her students learn from her!
What stood out to you about Dr. Armstrong as a mentor outside of class?
She was our faculty advisor for The Voice of Honors, so I got to know her in two realms at the same time. It was interesting to see how she didn’t change between those two contexts. Oftentimes, you’ll see a different side or face of a person if they’re in an advisory role, which was totally not the case with her. She was a genuine person through and through, no matter what space she occupied. We lucked out in that we had a very similar sense of humor, worldviews, and personal philosophies, so there was kind of an immediate connection.
Can you tell us more about The Voice of Honors?
We are a social, cultural, and intellectual organization for JSHC students to discover and engage with one another through discussions, service, and social gatherings. We’re an eclectic bunch, and there’s no commitment to join. We’re most famous for our “Conversations in Real Time” series, where we bring in professionals from the Toledo community or past JSHC graduates to talk about their lives and careers. Those events are always fun because they’ll start out really formal and devolve into personal and piercing questions to get to really know the person. We also participate in campus events like the UToledo Homecoming Parade, where we enter a decorated car into the competition. We’ve had a good track record of winning! And then there is our annual “Fullbite” pancake-eating contest... Suffice to say, The Voice does it all!

Justin Mendoza

Justin MendozaJustin Mendoza is already a standout Honors student among this year’s incoming class. A graduate of Whitmer High School, Justin is one of a select few who received the prestigious Presidential Scholarship. Though very early into his college career, this Bioengineering major on a Pre-med track is already looking forward to the many opportunities UToledo and the JSHC will provide in the coming years.
What made you decide on UToledo?
I visited campus a lot but instantly felt it was a good fit. The mission of the College of Engineering also really stood out to me: catering to their students’ success and ensuring they’re ready to enter the workforce or go on to graduate school.
What are you expecting out of your major?
Honestly, I really don’t know! Medical school is the first plan, but bioengineering is my second interest. If I don’t end up going to medical school, I know I can pursue a career in biomedical engineering and be satisfied with my work. I feel like it’s the newest form of engineering – mechanical and civil have been around awhile. Now we’re getting into people making prosthetics, toothpaste, and everything in between. I think it’s cool how engineering can be brought into medicine and make the world a better place.
What are you looking for in your Honors experience?
When I went to Jesup Jam, I got the chance to meet Dean Appel and Dr. Scott Molitor, the College Honors Director in Engineering, and they both showed us the great opportunities we have in the Honors College. You can go on trips to Guatemala or Nicaragua, pursue undergraduate research opportunities, and take courses designed specifically for Honors students. The “Community Engagement” course, where you try to solve a problem that is actually affecting people in the local community, really stood out to me. I think Honors opens a lot of doors to pursue what you’re passionate about and dive more deeply into stuff that interests you.
What would you say has had the biggest impact on you coming into college?
My parents have been the biggest role models for me. A lot of the qualities they have aren’t necessarily things they taught me, just stuff I learned watching them and trying to mimic what they do. I was born in the Philippines, so we emigrated here. Both my mom and dad have worked multiple jobs at the same time and sacrificed everything for my siblings and myself. It’s been awesome to see them proud of me for working hard and see things come full circle!

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Last Updated: 6/27/22