Scholar Spotlight Zachary Weisenseel

Zachary Weisensell in front of a science poster presentation

Scholar Spotlight: Zachary Weisenseel

What did being a Young Scholar mean to you as a future Buckeye?

Being a Young Scholar meant that even as a 6th grader I knew that once I reached campus, I would already have a network and support system in place for me to ensure my success at the university. It meant not having to fear the unknown, because I already had people at my side to help me through the transition to college life. Most importantly though, it meant that I was going into college with a family that I could share my accomplishments with and support others in accomplishing their own goals.

How did YSP help prepare you to attend Ohio State?

The Young Scholars Program held multiple preparatory meetings each month of my pre-collegiate career. These meetings were designed to encourage the critical thinking, creativity, and social engagement it takes to flourish at Ohio State. While these workshops probably had the greatest impact on my educational success at Ohio State, it was the multiple trips that we made to the university throughout high school that prepared me emotionally to attend the university. Before those trips I had never been on a college campus, and as a first-generation student, college seemed almost intangible to me. It was during these trips that I realized that I could go to college and achieve a level of success and personal satisfaction that I didn't even know was possible before.

What is your major and why did you choose it?

My major is Behavioral/Systems Neuroscience with a minor in Clinical and Individual Differences Psychology. I chose this path because I have always had a fascination with how the brain works and how our neurobiology affects our psychology and vice versa. Through my interest in neuroscience and psychology, I was able to obtain a research assistant position in a social psychology lab working on multiple experiments involving emotion, over-the-counter pain relievers, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). I was even able to complete an undergraduate research thesis and conduct my own psychological experiment, which will be uploaded to Ohio State's Knowledge Bank. My major has been instrumental in my growth as a researcher, and I couldn't think of a major that would be a better fit for me.

You've served in several positions within YSP and ODI – Scholar Ambassador, Peer Leader, and Academic Success Partner – that involve mentoring. How do these programs contribute to someone's success?

The many mentoring programs that YSP provides to its scholars are critical to their success at the university. As someone who has acted as both a mentee and mentor, I know that the adjustment to the rigor and demands of Ohio State can be hard for many students, especially because many come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. More than anything, a strong support structure is what makes it possible for anyone to do well as a Buckeye. The support structure YSP provides allows students to access many resources, across all of the dimensions of wellness, that they would not know about or have otherwise. I'm just proud to be a small part of that structure for our Young Scholars. My work as a mentor in YSP, especially as an ASP (Academic Success Partner) where I got to work very closely with a group of students throughout their first year, has been one of my most rewarding experiences here at the university. The best part though, is seeing many of the scholars that I assisted giving back and mentoring the generations below them as well, continuing on the cycle of assistance and success.

Who helped you the most getting through any bumps in the road while at Ohio State?

While I can name specific Young Scholar staff members who had large roles in shaping my experiences at Ohio State, like Dr. Chila Thomas and Tuerei Williams, every single YSP staffer has been invaluable to my success at the university. Whether it was financial, educational, or psychological issues that I had, there is always a member of the Young Scholar's staff to turn to for guidance or reassurance. Not only are they a valuable resource, but they are also a family that is there to help any scholar in need. On the research side of things, my principal investigator Dr. Baldwin Way was always there to help me throughout the process of completing my undergraduate thesis, and the entire project would not have been possible without his guidance. Finally, my partner, Emily, who I met on one of Ohio State's amazing study abroad opportunities, has been a constant source of positivity and support.

If a high school student walked up to you, asking for advice and you only had a few minutes to answer, what would you tell them?

My advice to high school students is that once you get to college, seek out and find a support system that you know you can use when you are having hard times, and use all of the resources that support system provides for you because this is the best way to successfully complete college no matter what your major may be. Also, once you find yourself needing less of that support yourself, think about becoming a resource to others and join someone else's support system, because you can make a real difference in someone else's life. Otherwise, just do the things that bring you real and lasting satisfaction, because that will keep you determined through your low moments and even happier through your high moments. Just do your best, put honest work in, and enjoy the ride.