First Year Experience

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First Year Experience Peer Leaders

Meet the Peer Leaders   |   About the Peer Leader position   |    Contact your Peer Leader

First Year Experience Peer Leaders support all new students beginning with orientation through the end of the first year at Ohio State. Peer leaders focus year-round on outreach and relationship development, expanding the mission of First Year Experience to holistically impact all new students as they progress through their first year.

Students in this role use their knowledge and perspective as experienced peers to connect new students to the people, resources and information essential for success in the first year. Peer leaders are significant in shaping first-year students’ transition, motivation and satisfaction, which contributes to students’ persistence to the second year and beyond.

Meet the Peer Leaders

Preston Wood Xiyonne McCullough Bethany Juarez

Preston Wood
he/him
Magnetic Springs, OH
Health Science
Getting started: My number one motivating factor to excel at Ohio State is the fact that I am a first-generation college student. The fact that I am the first in my family who has been able to pursue higher education is something I take pride in, and devote myself to, to excel. To have gotten this opportunity, with my family supporting me, is truly a blessing that I cannot take for granted.

Xiyonne McCullough
she/her
Westerville, OH
Journalism
Getting started: I am motivated to excel at Ohio State by the copious amount of opportunities that come in as your educational career continues. More doors are opened for internships, major-related trips, study abroad, and funding opportunities like STEP (Second-year Transitional Experience Program) that provides students with $2,000 to take their learning to the next level outside traditional classes.

Bethany Juarez
she/her
Columbus, OH
Psychology
Making connections: I feel the most at home on campus in the Ohio Union. As a commuter, it was such a vital location on campus where I was able to make a place for myself to either take a break from studying and meet with friends or lock into study for a final.

Mary Stevens Brandom Pham Ziggy Coleman

Mary Stevens
she/her
New Albany, OH
Biology
Quick fact: A song that represents my first year of college is “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. This song represents my resilience and empowerment, which resonates with the challenges and triumphs I experienced during my transition to college life. It reflects my determination to overcome obstacles, adapt to new situations, and emerge stronger and more confident. Throughout the ups and downs of my first year, this song served as a reminder of my ability to persevere. When I was growing up, I had various aspirations for what I wanted to be, ranging from a veterinarian to an astronaut. However, as I’ve matured and explored my interests, my career aspirations have evolved. I now aspire to pursue a career in optometry, working towards creating positive change and helping people in their everyday lives.

Brandon Pham
he/him
Westerville, OH
Architecture
Making connections: One of my favorite clubs has been the architecture fraternity that I joined as it helps me get to know the major more and meet people within my major. The events organized by the fraternity are super fun, and being in the same major makes it so easy to meet and talk with new people.

Ziggy Coleman
she/they
Westerville, OH
Industrial Design
Getting answers: My biggest piece of advice is to ask your professors for help as much as you can, seriously. If you need an extension, ask for it. If you’ve had a hard week and need some help understanding material, go to office hours. Your professors are humans, and they get how it feels to be overwhelmed.

Chance Dutton Sam Robinson Sophia Wesland

Chance Dutton
Waynesburg, OH
Real Estate and Urban Analysis
Getting answers: The most important piece of advice I would give to new students is to make the absolute most of your time here at Ohio State. It's easy to get lost in academia and overwhelm yourself. Do not forget to take care of yourself. Get out there and have fun. Meet new people. Try new things. Get involved. You got this.

Sam Robinson
she/her
Emerson, NJ
Pre-Nursing
Getting started: I chose Ohio State because of its tradition and spirit. I came from a small town where we all had so much school spirit, and I knew that I wanted my college to have that same energy. When I first visited Ohio State, I saw the crossed-out M’s in the aftermath of the Michigan game, and I knew that I would love being at this school. I saw the spirit and passion Ohio State students had, and I knew I needed to be a part of this amazing community.

Sophia Welsand
she/her
Fargo, ND
Psychology
Quick fact: Growing up, I wanted to be a marine biologist because I really liked fish. Now, I want to work with first-year college students because they’re kinda like fish out of water.

Isa Melians Fenlon Melians Rachel Lehman

Isa Melians
she/her
Pembroke Pines, FL
Neuroscience
Making connections: My most meaningful extracurricular activity, by far, has been raising a guide dog with Guiding Eyes for the Blind (GEB). While in GEB, I’ve connected with so many other raisers and club members who I wouldn’t have met outside of a club setting, like graduate and vet students. We also get together a lot for puppy playdates at Jesse Owens South, which is always a good time.

Fenlon Melians
he/him
Guide dog in training
Fenlon is a guide dog in training with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. When he’s off duty, he loves playing fetch and is a part-time neuroscience major, although he has slept through every class.

Rachel Lehman
she/her
Lewis Center, OH
Public Health, Sociology specialization
Making connections: During my first semester, it was very easy to make connections with other students because we had time to settle ourselves in, socialize with new people, and get familiar with the campus before classes started. I met a lot of people that lived in my residence hall, and most of them were very friendly. It was common to constantly introduce yourself to new people.

Kayla Kendall Gabe Guido Lauren Hilderbrand

Kayla Kendall
she/her
Tipp City, OH
Sociology
Getting started: I was most surprised about how many communities there are on campus. There is a place for everyone, and if you want to learn something new or continue something you did in high school, Ohio State probably has what you're looking for (or maybe you’ll find something unexpected!). As the accidental president of the Spongebob Squarepants Club, there is a community waiting for you to find it.

Gabe Guido
he/him
Brecksville, OH
Engineering physics
Quick fact: My favorite place to eat on campus is the Union Market. The hot bar has a wide range of food that changes each week and typically contains a diverse selection of healthy food including vegetables, meats, and rice. My favorite off-campus spot is Diaspora on High Street near North Campus. It’s a very cute Korean café that’s a perfect way to end off a week.

Jesse English
he/him
Hilliard, OH
Mechanical Engineering
Getting answers: A study tip all students should know is that you should study outside of your residence hall room. Lots of people that I know that have struggled at some point in the year had not gotten out of their residence hall room when studying. Getting out can help boost your focus and help you not get burnt out.

Sami Ramirez Meredith Bowers Owen Dennewitz

Sami Ramirez
she/her
Columbus, OH
Dentistry
Getting answers: The most significant resource I used in my first year was the Dennis Learning Center as it helps with tutoring in numerous courses. Accessibility to this resource is simple. All you have to do is go and schedule the preferred tutor that is catered to your course. They also offer workshops that can help transitioning college students be more proficient in notetaking, studying, and much more.

Meredith Bowers
she/her
Liberty Center, OH
Accounting
Making connections: An extracurricular activity I was involved in during my first year was the University Band. I participated in it both semesters and came to be close with those in it, as well as the instructors. It allowed me to explore ways to keep music in my life while still having time for other classes, and it opened my eyes to the many opportunities available to students through the School of Music.

Owen Dennewitz
he/him
Portsmouth, OH
Computer and Information Science
Getting started: The ease with which I have acclimated to being here is because of all the wonderful people who have helped me — and that has surprised me the most. Coming to Ohio State is daunting from the outside looking in, but there are more resources than one can realize that are all here to uplift students.

Nathan DeRodes Akasha Lancaster Damionna Roberts

Nathan DeRodes
he/him
Old Fort, OH
Music Education
Making connections: I feel most at home on campus at the music building. There are people who share my major and can answer any questions I have. My favorite Ohio State tradition is singing with the Men’s Glee Club before game days. It’s always fun to get everybody hyped up.

Akasha Lancaster
she/they
Fairfield, OH
Psychology
Making connections: A meaningful extracurricular I got involved with during my first year is SHADES. SHADES focuses on providing a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people of color as well as education. Participating in this club has widened my knowledge of other groups of people, making me more mindful. I enjoyed SHADES so much that I am now the president!

Damionna Roberts
she/her
Cleveland, OH
Moving Image Production and Korean
Getting started: What keeps me motivated the most is the people around me. I have met so many amazing people who encourage and help me. Whether it be my friends or some of my professors, I really feel as if I have a community of supporters. 

Meadow Gilbert Lizzy Vologzhanin

Meadow Gilbert
she/her
Sandusky, OH
Social Work
Getting answers: My biggest advice for new students is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. This will be a sign of personal growth and allow you to take advantage of new opportunities and do things you have never done before. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take those risks. Challenge yourself to try new things and learn to say no when you feel it is important to you.

Lizzy Vologzhanin
Any pronouns
Cincinnati, OH
Computer Science and Engineering
Getting started: What keeps me motivated to excel at Ohio State is the work it took for me to get here, the joy and fulfillment I experience from my work, and knowing how much my work will continue to pay off in the future. After two years, it’s hard to believe that I’m already halfway done with my undergraduate career at Ohio State, and I’ve seen how my hard work had paid off in all aspects of my college experience, including academics, professional experience, social life, and personal discovery. I hope to see similar growth in the next two years, and I’m excited to see what good things come after college.