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What I Did This Winter

January 17, 2011

How did Ohio State students spend winter break? Read on to find out, in their own words.


Mahvish Ahmed
Mahvish Ahmed
Mahvish Ahmed
Alex Clapper
Alex Clapper
Alex Clapper
Sean Ewing
Neil Knight
Kristen Lautenbach
Kristen Lautenbach
Kristen Lautenbach
Kristen Lautenbach
Jessica Lewis
Nathan McCullough
Nathan McCullough
Nathan McCullough
Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips
Rachel Tomello
Rachel Tomello


Mahvish Ahmed

Major: Dentistry (DDS)

M. Ahmed

"I worked with the Global Youth Partnership for Africa (GYPA) to provide dental care in the rural villages surrounding Kampala, Uganda. This is the third trip Ohio State dental students have taken since we started the program in 2007. We helped around 500 patients by performing over 500 extractions, administering fluoride varnish, educating on oral hygiene, and donating thousands of toothpaste and toothbrushes. Despite the challenge of working in conditions without electricity or running water, the trip proved to be an experience of a lifetime. We have been recognized for our efforts, and have been awarded two R25 International Practicum Grants of $2,500 each."


Katie Bingmer

Major: Biomedical Science

K. Bingmer

"I spent most of my winter break volunteering in a neurological surgery research lab on campus. As an undergraduate student worker, I assisted in the search for the causes and cures for very aggressive brain cancers. I helped perform and plan a variety of experiments. When I wasn't toiling over a lab bench, I was preparing for the Sugar Bowl with the rest of The Ohio State University Marching Band. It was an absolute dream to perform Script Ohio for the fans and support our team in New Orleans."


Alex Clapper

Major: Middle Childhood Education

A. Clapper

"I traveled to Immokalee, Florida, with nine other students to participate in the Buck-I-Serv trip to the Guadalupe Center. We participated in a variety of activities, including getting to know the students, playing with them at recess, and assisting with homework. We stayed in a homeless shelter to immerse ourselves in the impoverished city of Immokalee, which made our service very meaningful. Additionally, we toured the Big Cypress Nature Preserve and had dinner with the Naples Ohio State Alumni Club. I learned so much from the students at Guadalupe and hope to return one day soon."


Sean Ewing

Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering

S. Ewing

"Over winter break, I worked on the Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Race Team as Team Principal. We are a new student project team based at Ohio State that will professionally race in several international electric motorcycle competitions. During the break, I focused on team sponsorship, which allowed me to network with dozens of CEOs and lawmakers interested in the forthcoming electric transportation evolution. In less than three months, the team has over $100,000 in donated items and funding. Our team has a diverse range of majors with incredible talent so we anticipate an amazing race season beginning in May 2011!" (Email Ewing to get involved with the project.)


Dustin Gable

Major: Biomedical Science

D. Gable

"I spent time continuing my research on a form of skin cancer, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), under Dr. Amanda Toland. My research entails determining the role of a small RNA, microRNA-1(miR-1), as a tumor suppressor in SCC. Specifically over break, I investigated the effects of miR-1 on cell migration. Upon graduation, I plan to attend a MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University. I am a first-generation college student from Miller City in Putnam County, where my family runs a dairy farm full-time. I am a Land-Grant Scholar and have won numerous awards for my research."


Neil Knight

Major: Molecular Genetics

N. Knight

"This winter, I traveled with a small group of eight students on the All Scholars Mexico study abroad experience to the Yucatan. We traveled to Americanized tourist destinations, as well as Mayan ruins and Mexican cities, comparing the different cities we visited in the context of globalization. Going to all the remote places that not many American tourists get to see was a memorable experience. It is extremely important to venture out and learn about other cultures and to experience them hands on."


Stephanie Kuruc

Major: Mechanical Engineering

S. Kuruc

"I joined the Ohio State Chapter of Habitat for Humanity on a trip to Statesville, North Carolina, to work with the Iredell County Habitat for Humanity. Over the course of the week, we spent our time renovating and repairing an elderly woman's double-wide trailer. I spent much of my time repairing holes in the floor by replacing the plywood beneath the carpet as well as replacing the drywall in the living room. I wanted to go on this trip so that I would have something productive to do over break that could also help others. While this is my first experience with Habitat for Humanity, it is something I have been interested in for a while."


Kristen Lautenbach

Major: Speech and Hearing Science

K. Lautenbach

"I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, with Buck-I-Serv to work with Operation Breakthrough, a community organization that provides schooling and other services to children ages eight months to 18 years and their families living in poverty. Our team assisted teachers in the early childhood education classrooms and helped out in their Christmas warehouse to organize toys for over 1,000 families who could not afford presents this holiday season. The staff at Operation Breakthrough works tirelessly to provide food, educational and medical services, and financial assistance to the local families. They inspired our team from Ohio State to take what we learned and make positive changes in our local communities."


Jessica Lewis

Major: Physical Therapy

J. Lewis

"I joined a small group of physical therapy students, occupational therapy students, and faculty on a trip to Merida, Mexico, to offer our services at different sites around the city. I worked at a school and medical facility for children with handicaps. I was able to work directly with the physical therapists to help improve their treatment plans and protocols. I helped improve physical therapy interventions, improved seating options for some of the children, taught new transfer skills, and offered my ideas and opinions to the doctor and therapists at the facility. The time I spent in Mexico allowed me to learn about myself, my future profession, and a culture that is different from my own."


Nathan McCullough

Majors: Sociology, Strategic Communication

N. McCullough

"I went on a Buck-I-Serv alternative break trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. I went with nine other Ohio State students and took part in service at a nonprofit organization called Project Lazarus. Project Lazarus provides services to people with AIDS who can no longer live independently, or whose family can no longer take care of them. As volunteers, we worked with staff and residents to make Project Lazarus a more home-like environment. We did everything from cooking meals and facilitating card games to gardening and cleaning residence facilities. The experience was fantastic because our group became very close and we had multiple opportunities to explore New Orleans. It is such a lively, beautiful place!"


Rico Pena

Major: Social Work

R. Pena

"I traveled to Minnesota to work with Northwestern University at Camp Heartland. Camp Heartland is a summer camp for children living with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and, more recently GLBTQA (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allied). We all had a fantastic time! The most important thing we helped with was their annual fundraiser. We auctioned off art, hosted donations, and topped it all off with Kimberly Locke from American Idol season 2. Together we raised over $98,000 for Camp Heartland allowing equal access to over 75 percent of their participants whose family income falls below the poverty line."


Kevin Phillips

Major: Animal Science

K. Phillips

"New Zealand was a wonderful country filled with some of the world’s most beautiful scenery and landscaping. While on study abroad, we learned of the human-to-animal interactions and how they differed from the United States. I also learned about myself through the trip. I climbed a mountain on a six-hour hike and Bungee jumped for the first time in my life. I became great friends with the classmates and teachers and had the time of my life. The knowledge I gained, I will keep with me the rest of my life. I can’t wait to do another study abroad!"


Rachel Tomello

Major: Nursing

R. Tomello

"I traveled to Montrouis, Haiti, on a medical mission trip with a Christian organization called Mission Possible. Our team of 24 visited each of Mission Possible's six schools in the villages of Haiti and set up medical clinics in the mountains. Not only did we see and treat 649 patients in the four days that we worked, but we also held education seminars on cholera prevention and latrine digging, as well as on basic hygiene skills such as hand-washing, flossing, and tooth-brushing. The lives of many Haitians and Americans were touched through this life-changing and rewarding experience!"