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Student takes a STEP toward connecting with her culture

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Kelly Jones, right, a third-year in health sciences, poses for a picture in Berlin during her 2016 May-session study-abroad program. Credit: Courtesy of Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones, right, a third-year in health sciences, poses for a picture in Berlin during her 2016 May-session study-abroad program. Credit: Courtesy of Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones had only been out of the country once — to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

“It was really touristy,” said Jones, a third-year in health sciences.

Her international experience was broadened, however, when she participated in Ohio State’s Second-year Transformational Experience program.

With the grant she received from STEP, Jones studied abroad in Germany, where she has relatives from her mother’s side of her family.

STEP — which requires living on campus as a sophomore — was piloted during the 2013-14 school year, ahead of OSU’s implementation of its requirement that sophomores live on campus. Those who participate in STEP conceive a project, work on it throughout the year and make a proposal and budget for a grant. Finally, they present their work at a poster exhibition.

Jones used her $2,000 grant to cover all but a few hundred dollars of the cost of her study-abroad program fee. The Berlin-based program she was in was a part of May session, so tuition was free. The only thing left for her to pay was her plane ticket, the remaining program fee, and expenses for food and incidentals while abroad

To cap off her time in STEP, Jones presented her experience in Berlin at the STEP poster expo after she returned to the U.S.

“A lot of people were surprised, because I’m a health sciences major, but this is more of a cultural experience,” Jones said. She wasn’t able to connect with any relatives while in Germany, but said she thought the program made her a more well-rounded individual, which she hopes will help her as she applies to graduate school.

Pat Whittington, assistant dean for student development at the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a faculty adviser with STEP, said he got involved in order to help students become more rounded as they connect with faculty.

“I like the theory behind (STEP),” Whittington said. “A lot of sophomores, when they come back to college their second year … you got the highs from the first year, but the (sophomores) don’t really interact with the faculty.”

And that sense of being well-rounded goes both ways.

“None of the students in (the STEP group I oversee) are from my college,” Whittington said. “So that’s my selfish reason (for getting involved in STEP) — I get to meet kids from all the other majors.”

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