Entries in "Experiential Learning"

Ask And You Shall Receive

This Wednesday, a friend of mine invited me to go watch her model and support her at a fashion show. The venue was a few minutes away from campus, right across the local supermarket. Being a photographer, I asked the producer if I could take photos to get some more experience. It turned out that his photographer bailed on him, so he offered to pay me for my photos of the event. I was so surprised that a paid opportunity would present itself so unexpectedly. Here are some of the photos of the event:


He called me the next day. During the conversation, he commented that he really liked my photos and asked if I could shoot the next two events. Furthermore, he asked if I was able to do a photo shoot for the winning models… I’ve never been paid for any of my photos. I would never have thought in a million years that I would have the opportunity to direct a photo shoot.

Some further updates on my college life: I recently got accepted to the Mayo Clinic’s Summer III nursing program. The Clinic traditionally takes two nursing students from CWRU to participate in this 10-week program. I will also be going to Africa this summer with a few friends. We will be doing some service work there, and because we’re all greek, the hours count towards Greek Life. I have also decided to go to China for my Capstone (CWRU’s version of a senior project). It’s just so amazing knowing that all these opportunities are out there. All you have to do is apply yourself, or in some cases, just ask about them.

Research in Action

Research. You've heard about it. You've probably done it sometime in your life (that 13 page paper for SAGES?). But lets face it, looking up things in Wikipedia don't quite make the cut. So what is it really and why do so many people think it's so important?

Quite frankly, I had no idea what it was. I didn't know how to access legitimate research articles (for one thing, Case has an extensive database of articles with amazing search engines). And most importantly, I didn't know how to do it.

Thankfully, one of the classes that I'm taking actually teaches you how to do research by making you do a research study on yourself. They term it as a "Personal Quality Improvement Project" which I have decided to lose 10 pounds within the span of a month. So far, I have gained a pound and a half despite going to the gym 3-4 times a week. After Superbowl Sunday, I had gained three pounds. But anyway, what's cool about this class is the non-conventional way of teaching. Sure the professors go over the concepts like most classes do, but their belief in experiential learning has really helped us realize the different parts of research (the formation of concepts, the hypothesis, the data collection, etc.) through the use of this creative assignment.

Another cool thing about this class are the professors themselves. Of the four that co-teach the class, mine is a prolific researcher of kangaroo care (http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/kangaroocare.asp), a technique that is now used throughout the healthcare field (on a side note: my professor is the head author of manly resource cited by wikipedia). The fact that I get to learn from a prominent researcher twice a week makes this class pretty amazing. The best thing about it was I didn't have to compete against my fellow classmates for this opportunity.What this class also made me realize was how a simple observation could lead to a revolutionary change in a body of knowledge.

For many, undergraduate research becomes the first stepping stone on the journey to make a difference in the world. The great thing about Case is that you're not only surrounded by these opportunities, but you also have the opportunities to learn from the best.

Another Year, Another Experience

Yesterday, I was able to apply my knowledge that I learned in class. Now let us analyze that statement. 1) How many times do you actually get to say this to someone and actually mean it and 2) how many times does this statement proceed taking a test or an exam. For most people, the answer would be “a lot”, but I was able to apply my knowledge on a patient who had just given birth hours ago. I explained to her the many different concepts I learned in my obstetric nursing class about the postpartum mother and how the hormonal changes that were taking place in her body made her experience pain and cramping. I was also able to use what I learned in class to answer the questions of a concerned mother.

That is why I’m here, 2034 miles away from home in Los Angeles, CA. Case has such a unique nursing program that allows students to enter the clinical setting on the first week of class. We get twice as many clinical hours than the average nursing student from the best nursing program in the state of Ohio.

So that was my Wednesday. I was able to give my patient’s baby girl a Hepatitis B shot in the thigh and give her mother the immunization card that her child will have throughout her childhood. Let me tell you, this completely beats sitting in lectures and falling asleep.

Oh The Things You Do

I know I’ve been harping a ton about greek life, but I just wanted to show you what I was up to this Sunday. As most of you know this Sunday was SUPERBOWL SUNDAY. And as per tradition, we have our Deep Fat Fry Fest, where we use our deep fryer to fry anything and everything. Here are some photos of the event:

GREEK LIFE. IS AWESOME. Where else could you eat so much fried food and not be judged?
In other news, I’m super busy with all my extra-curricular activities. I just finished a video for AAA Night, which is one of the largest events that AAA holds every year. It took me a few days, but I’m pretty proud of it. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BVQbQ0D3f4. This time of the month also happens to be when people like you (assuming you’re a prospective student) start visiting colleges. Therefore, my boss wanted me to finish brochures featuring students that took part in undergraduate research to sell that aspect of CASE (a lot of students do undergraduate research which is a really good experience and looks really good on your resume). The fraternity is also having a lot of our annual events like Heaven and Hell (a dance party that’s held at our house) and our Soccer Tournament (our philanthropy event this semester). Guess what? All these events require shirts, and as PR chair, I’m responsible for helping making them. That equals more time and less sleep on my part, which I need to function for the eight hours I’m working in the hospitals Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you got lost half way through this paragraph, I forgive you, because I also sometimes forget about the 29837491720948 commitments I have.
WISH ME LUCK! I’m going to start taking more photos of campus because I have my camera now, so stay tuned for that.

From Costa Rica to Amsterdam

As a new semester beings, I can't help but think about how amazing winter break was. Usually, winter break is spent staring at my computer, bored out of my skull, waiting for something to happen. This was not the case. My family and I went to Costa Rica for a week. The trip was nothing short of AMAZING. We traveled throughout the country stopping by key tourist areas along the way. We saw one of the rarest birds in the country and got to experience the unique wildlife. However, the thing that made my trip so memorable was the fact that I got to get so much closer with my younger brother. Being 6 years younger than me, we don’t really have much in common. Yet, for some reason, we started talking a lot more. I could finally relate to his experiences in middle school, and we started playing the same video games.
How does this relate to CASE? Well, the first point I wanted to make was about traveling. Going to Costa Rica helped me realize how much I loved learning new things outside of the class room, and what better way to do so than to study abroad. With that being said, I decided to go on a trip to Amsterdam to learn about social justice. I'm extremely excited for the trip because I'm also going with a few of my fraternity brothers. This leads me to my second point: The more time you spend with those that you want to become close with, the easier it'll be to achieve your goal. I always wanted to be closer with my brothers. I wanted those "life-long friends" that so many people say Greek Life has helped them achieve. Yet, living out of house along with a busy schedule hasn't helped at all. That's why I'm so excited for this spring break because I'll be able spend a whole week with a few of my brothers outside of the country. This combination of brotherhood with experiential learning is something that I never thought could go together. Yet, here, it's really not that hard to get a few of your brothers to accompany you to a different country. Study abroad is also extremely popular among students, which makes it even easier to travel with your friends. I’m totally looking forward to three easy credit hours while not only enjoying what I learn, but making memories with fraternity brothers. Spring break 2011, here we come.

Here are some of the photos that I took in Costa Rica:


Learning on the Fly

Today was a big day for me. Today was one of those days where you reflect and realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned. Today I spent my day starting and working on my real first lab study that I had all to myself(mostly).

I have mentioned it in previous blogs, but in case you are reading in reverse order or just need a refresher, I’ve had the opportunity to do some lab work in Case’s research lab located in University Hospital. I started volunteering there in January of this year, so about 10 months now. At first I was in the lab very sparingly, trying to balance the adjustment to college (yes it takes more than a semester) takes up a lot of your time. With that, I was learning everything about the aspects of being in a lab and doing lab work as I went. Don’t get me wrong, doing chemistry lab in high school is great, but those experiments are set up in a way that they are supposed to work out. In a real research lab, you’re (hopefully) doing novel things that no one has ever tried before. Therefore it requires quite a bit of knowledge of whatever you’re trying to accomplish in order to tell if you’re even doing anything relevant. So yes, coming in as a second semester freshman, you really have no idea what is going on.

Trust me; it’s nearly terrifying, at least for me. The graduate student I’ve been working with trusted me with my measurements and calculations for his work. At first I didn’t really even have that hard of things to do, just weighing things out, pipetting solution or plating samples. Essentially work that any functional person can do. Aside from getting nervous of messing up and spilling something, the hard part was trying to understand the underlying concepts of what I was doing all these things for. This requires a lot of reading, listening and repetition. I don’t think I really grasped the concepts strongly until I stayed a month of my summer at Case to work 30-40 hours a week doing lab work.

Staying that month of the summer was probably one of the better choices I’ve made since coming to Case Western. By doing this I was essentially taking a month out of my summer to work fulltime. Along with that, I lost a month of time to spend with my family and friends back home. Note to parents who have/will have kids that do this: Your son/daughter isn’t doing this because they don’t want to see you (I hope), they are just trying to learn and put themselves in a better position than their peers. Working 40 hours a week in a lab is surprisingly minimally stressful when compared to being enrolled in classes. Once you leave work, you’re done for the night, there is minimal to no work to get accomplished in comparison to the normal homework from taking classes. To list some of the benefits I’ve received, and am still receiving, from staying the summer are:

• I created a poster for my work and received a Case sponsored trip to Austin, Texas to present it at the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting (I wrote a previous blog about this)

• I displayed my poster again and gave an oral presentation to undergrads, graduate students and PHDs about my research at a conference at Case (Yes I was nervous)

• I did sufficient work to be listed as a co-author on a couple research papers that will be coming out hopefully soon

• I’m currently helping the graduate student I work with on a book chapter about a subject related to our work

• Freedom at night time left me time to get motivated into working out again(I lost 30 pounds this summer, yay me!)

• I feel more involved overall with the dynamic of the lab, I am no longer just a volunteering undergrad, I’m me!

Overall it was just a great experience all around.

But anyway, back to the reason that provoked me to write my blog about this subject. Today was the first day that I planned out what I wanted to do with my research direction and how the experiment would be conducted. I won’t get into details, but today’s work involved an 8 hour release study where I got to hang around the lab all day and get work done. I had a little help setting up and starting but an hour in he took the training wheels off and left me to experience it for myself. No longer was I scrambling to learn on the fly, but rather I was executing everything I have learned over the past 10 months. It’s quite the gratifying feeling to know hard work is starting to pay out. I’m not done, it’s a 10 day study, so I will be stopping in every day to take a few samples and analyze. I believe my ability to experience this opportunity has been one of the most profound reasons for enjoying Case. I feel like my major has more direction, and I am more comfortable with the fact that I am going into a field of something I enjoy. I can comfortably say I don’t think I would be doing this as a sophomore at any of the other schools I applied to coming into my freshman year of college.

The Opportunity Stick

One thing that I've noticed as my time at Case has quickly progressed is that with each day, you become more and more independent. The things you do, the decisions you make, the people you meet. They all have an effect on who you're going to be in the future. What your parents want and expect from you slowly fades away into background noise. It's all you now. And with that, there's never been a better opportunity to grow, to take your life by the reins and steer it into the way you want it, and here are the events that have helped me make these realizations.

It began with a fashion show for breast cancer. One of my good friends asked me to go to help her take photos. I've never attended a fashion show before. Basically, what happened was, I agreed to go despite the fact that saying so was a bit out of my comfort zone. We were then invited to dinner with two of her friends in the industry. We tagged along, and I could safely say that the two people that I met that evening completely changed the way I saw things.

The first one was a successful sales man and an owner of a t-shirt design company. He grew up in a less than ideal household, but still managed to get himself into Cleveland Institute of Art with just about all the scholarships and awards out there. He ended up dropping out of school to become a successful business man working in sales. I've always been taught that your education is the most important investment you could ever make. Here was a man who was able to make enough money to not think twice about buying his mother and sister cars, as well as start up a t-shirt design company so he could pursue his love for art. He did all this without a college degree.

The second person I dined with was a model in the fashion show. After observing the conversations during dinner, I learned that she was an actress as well. She was coming out with two movies, and her face was plastered on countless advertisements and magazines. She was, in every sense of the word, famous. Although I didn't get to learn about her background as in depth, I did learn that she defied the stereotypes of her culture. She was headstrong, and willing to break away from others like her. She worked hard and rose quickly in the industry. She too was successful.

Now, at this point of the night, as I'm savoring the taste of the kobe burger in my mouth, I was completely awed by their stories, their persona. How could these two people be so successful, yet so young, especially in this economy. I was suddenly slapped across the face by the opportunity stick. Here I was chewing on this delicious burger when I could have been learning from these two individuals. Two individuals who were successful, completely in charge with their own lives, and pretty much where I wanted to be in the future. With that, I began to pick their brains. I learned so much from those conversations. I took away numerous life lessons, but ultimately, I took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself.

How could I have been able to meet these people, talk with them, have dinner with them? Opportunity. That's what you get in college that you don't get anywhere else in your life. Sure you can say you can get a quality education, or friends that you'll have throughout your lives, but it's the opportunities that life presents you during this crucial period in your life that makes college so worthwhile. It is, however, another thing to notices these opportunities when they walk right beside. It takes courage, it takes a large personal bubble. You'll soon realize that it'll be worth it.

So that's what college really is. It's more than the friends, the fun. It's more than getting a good college degree. It's all about opportunity and what you make of it. It's about growing, letting these opportunities shape you for success.


dinner G.jpg

Finishing Strong

Honestly, thinking that tomorrow is the "last" day of school for the year is a hard thought for me to handle. When I say "last," I am not counting the two wonderful weeks of oncoming exams, but you get my point. And by “hard to handle,” I mean it’s hard to believe that I'm almost a sophomore. My freshman experience is nearly over and it’s a very sad thought.

One of the hardest and most meaningful things from the past couple weeks occurred tonight, at our chapters’ send-off to the graduating seniors. Essentially our seniors are remembered and honored and many stories and great times are shared with each other. Over the past year, all of these guys have become my role models; whether in the classroom, with leadership or in life. This year has made all the difference in the rest of my college career. If I was standing in the same spot I was at orientation last year, I couldn’t have imagined doing half the things I do now. I owe a lot to the friendships and bonds I've made through being a brother.

If you had known anything about me before college, you would know that I did what was asked of me and that was essentially it. Leadership in any form just wasn't my thing. Now it's something I strive for because these seniors helped me to realize I can do it. I owe a lot of it to coming to Case and a little to bravery on my part in joining an organization like SigEp.

Some things I have to look forward to coming up include: being here for the month of June. I'm continuing the same research job I've been doing all semester. Getting paid is going to make it even better! Next semester I am also going to be a SMARRT leader. This entails presenting to a Greek chapter different than your own about an important issue on campus. The topic I was assigned to was sexual assault where the victims are men. One of the perks of this program is that I finally am going to have a chance to improve my public speaking skills. More than anything else, however, I'm looking forward to getting to spend some time with my family and friends back home before I come back to Case. As much as I like it here at Case, I always love to get a chance to go home from time to time.

For now, it's time to get myself together and make it through exams. Especially considering I still have a paper to write tonight...whoops!

Wise Words, Haircuts, and... Case?

During Chapter (weekly fraternity meeting) this weekend, one of the brothers gave valuable advice. He said to try everything, no matter what. I guess this week I really took it to heart. I submitted my first letter of intent to run for the Vice President of Media in my AAA club. I asked one of my brothers to nominate me for social chair in my fraternity. On top of all that, I think the singular action that embodied these wise words of wisdom was letting one of my best friends cut my hair. That ended not as I planned, as now, I'm typing this entry with a buzz cut that's much too short for my liking. Yet, we only live once and college only lasts for four years, so what the heck. However, those were my thoughts during the haircut, before I looked at my calendar, which clearly indicated that I had to take my fraternity photos (kind of like yearbook photos) this Thursday. Ah, the decisions we make as teenagers.

This week's events allowed me to reflect on how far I've come because I was able to step out of my comfort zone and expand my boundaries. Cliché? Yes. But it's cliché for a reason, and that reason lies within the success that this point of view will bring you. A large part of who I am today, why I'm at Case, and how far I've grown here can all be attributed to saying to myself "just do it" (Nike should be paying me right now).

The deciding factor that brought me 2,500 miles to Case was largely the people I met here during my overnight that took place roughly around this time of the year. I got an invitation to attend Freshman Friday, where the Nursing school invites all of its undergraduate prospective students to spend a night with upperclassmen nurses. My mom wasn't able to take me there. I was still a senior in high school that still complained when I had to run a few errands for my parents. Flying to Ohio by myself was pretty much out of the question… until the parental forces did what they do best: used their impeccable persuasive skills (or lack thereof) to get me to attend. By subscribing to their ideal of "try everything," I was able to discover Phi Kappa Psi, a group of amazing friends, and four years that I feel will pass much too fast for my liking.

I was able to experience all of these things not only because my parents won't take no for an answer, but also because I stepped out of my personal bubble. If you read (or even possibly learn) anything from my ramblings, read this sentence: Try everything, no matter what. You might even like what you get yourself into. The more I write about this, the more I'm beginning to enjoy this haircut of mine.