Honors College Capstones

Permanent URI for this collectionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10877/17056


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    Change in the Music Industry? In Your Wildest Dreams! One Indie Band's Experience
    (2023-05) Zarate, Ivan; Martinez, Gilbert D.
    The music industry we see today has become the subject of a massive overhaul with the introduction of social media. Social media has amplified the presence of music in each person's everyday life, affecting how an artist navigates the music industry. Using present and past literature along with an interview with an amateur artist, I will attempt to create a guide for the new artist. The problems we see major artists go through are notable examples of how change in the industry is so big that it must come from the top of the pillar. These problems are universal, and new artists face these problems on a minuscule scale though the implications they have on their financial livelihood are greater. Social media has made an impact on the music industry, but has it benefited artists? These findings will educate music industry newcomers and will help them succeed.
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    Substances of Abuse and the Fetal Nervous System
    (2023-05) Benoit, Maddison; Davenport, Rachel; Aspbury, Andrea
    The human nervous system is a specialized organ system composed of two distinct components: the central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system contains the brain and the spinal cord, which perform various functions, including receiving, processing, and responding to sensory information. The fetal nervous system development begins at nine weeks gestation and continues after the fetus is born. A teratogen is a substance that causes congenital disorders within a developing fetus. A critical period is the length of time an organ system is most at risk for teratogenic consequences; the central nervous system has the most extended fetal critical period, ranging from nine weeks gestation until the fetus's birth. Common abuse substances that act as teratogens include stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, prescription medications, and illegal drugs, as well as depressants including alcohol, marijuana, and opioids. These substances have varying teratogenic effects depending on the type and amount used and the fetus's exposure duration.
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    Investigation of the Injectability, Cytocompatibility, Thermal Response, and Drug Release Capability of Dynamic Poly (Ethylene Glycol) Hydrogels
    (2023-05) Otakpor, Mackenzie; Betancourt, Tania; Rosales, Adrianne
    Hydrogels are versatile biomaterials composed of hydrophilic polymers that are crosslinked to form a network. Hydrogels are often used to mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM), which contains macromolecules that aid in the physical and chemical support of cells. In addition, they can be utilized as drug delivery systems, wound healing dressings, and materials for cell growth. In all these applications, the properties of the hydrogels must be tailored to match the distinct characteristics of various tissues in the body and to provide the function needed. For this reason, the hydrogel’s stiffness, stress-relaxation properties, ability to present and release growth factors and therapeutic agents, cell encapsulation capabilities, and cytocompatibility must be optimized. Our collaborative group previously reported the development of dynamic poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels crosslinked via reversible thiolMichael covalent bonds. The equilibrium nature of these bonds permits modulation of the properties of the hydrogels in response to changes in pH, temperature, and photothermal stimuli. Our laboratory is specifically interested in photothermal modulation of the hydrogels through the laser activation of entrapped poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) nanoparticles since this provides the means to tailor the hydrogel’s properties externally with spatiotemporal control and opens the doors to applications in on-demand drug delivery. The work herein described focuses on studying the factors that affect the hydrogel’s injectability, cytocompatibility, stability, thermal response, and drug release capabilities. This thesis is broken up into two parts. One part focuses on the injectability, rheology, and cytocompatibility of dynamic hydrogels prepared with 4-arm PEG macromers with benzalcyanoacetamide end groups (PEG-RBCA) and 4-arm PEG macromers with thiol end groups (PEG-SH). The second part focuses on the thermal behavior, stability, drug release, and cytocompatibility of more stable hydrogels including dynamic PEGRBCA/PEG-SH crosslinks and nondynamic PEG-SH/PEG-Maleimide crosslinks.
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    Art, Music, and Dungeons and Dragons: An Exploration of Postmodern Creativity
    (2023-05) Wright, Audra; Ippolito, Michael
    The element of chance is a fundamental aspect of life that has been the topic of much philosophical exploration. Throughout history and flourishing in the 20th century artists, musicians, and other creators alike sought ways to include aleatory, or chance, in their work. Through a personal exercise in using chance in the creative process, I composed a musical work which utilizes the dice rolls from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign and converts them into pitches. As the world of indeterminate artworks continues to grow, this paper seeks to explore the various ways in which creators have worked in tandem with chance to imbue their creations with a certain humanity that determinism cannot replicate. That is, how can leaving some elements of creative endeavors up to chance, paradoxically, make them more “human,” and how has chance given my composition a life of its own?
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    From Prohibition to Progress: The Journey Towards Decriminalizing Psychedelics and Transforming Public Health
    (2023-05) Junk, Samuel; Carter, Nicholas; Reilly, Frank K.
    Since the beginning of recorded history humans have utilized psychedelics for promoting wellness and treating illness. In more recent times, the War on drugs drove these practices into the underground by stigmatizing drug use and in turn users face an unregulated and dangerous drug market. This has prevented the safe and therapeutic use of psychedelics for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. This thesis argues that the decriminalization of psychedelics is necessary for ensuring public safety and promoting responsible drug use. First, I will provide the history of popular psychedelics and how it shaped the current psychedelic cultures' shift to the underground. Second, I will examine the current research that points towards the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and discuss the pathways to legalization under the medical model of the FDA in the United States. Third, I will discuss the current status of psychedelic decriminalization in the United States and how this framework promotes beneficial practices for the use of psychedelics. Overall, this thesis seeks to provide a broad yet comprehensive understanding of psychedelics, the benefits and risks involved and the implications of decriminalization for the future of psychedelics and humanity.
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    The Best Bullfighter
    (2023-05) Reyna, Ally; Fauerso, Johanna
    The Best Bullfighter is an original illustrated story in which anthropomorphic bulls engage in the tradition of bullfighting and grapple with perpetuating violence against their own kind. It follows two characters, Florian and Oscar, who are indoctrinated into the world of bullfighting at a young age. Each must choose as he enters adulthood whether he is willing to continue hurting and killing his peers for the sake of fame. Bullfighting in this story represents patriarchal violence done to men, by men. Men are simultaneous victims and perpetrators of constrictive male gender roles, and so too are bulls the victims and perpetrators of bullfighting in this universe. I wanted to explore the ways that young boys are harmed by patriarchy, as well as the choice they have as they grow to end that cycle or inflict it on their peers and the next generation.
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    The Impact of Gender Bias in Student Evaluations of Teaching
    (2023-05) Teagle, Annemarie; Taylor, Nicole
    Student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, are opportunities for students to anonymously share their thoughts and feelings on a particular class and/or professor. All public accredited universities are required to provide students with an opportunity to complete evaluations on their classes and professors at the end of every semester. Existing literature demonstrates female faculty at universities experience more biased behavior toward them than their male colleagues. Biased behavior based on gender is present when one steps outside of their gender role stereotype. When a woman holds a position of power, like being a professor, this makes her step outside her gender role norms. People tend to express more biased behavior towards someone when they don't fit into gender stereotypes. This is one of the reasons why female faculty experience more biases in academia. Looking into previous research, all studies I have reviewed agree that there exists a bias in SETs that negatively affect female faculty. This can have a detrimental impact on a faculty member when it comes to promotion, pay, and overall department standing. For my project, I recruited and interviewed eight different faculty members from the college of liberal arts to conduct qualitative interviews with the hopes of getting to know their experience with gender bias, especially when it relates to that bias within evaluations. The interviews consisted of questions relating to biased experiences in academia as well as biased reports in SETs, especially reports having to do with the faculty's gender. Topics I will discuss include gender bias in evaluations, the language between professors and students, gender and queerness, graduate school experiences, biases within academia, and professors’ thoughts on students and evaluations. The result of this study is that there does exist gender bias in SETs as well as other aspects within academia.
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    Investigating Immunity Post Heat Stress in the Model Cnidarian, Exaiptasia diaphana
    (2023-05) Womack, Haley; Fuess, Lauren; Rodriguez, David
    Due to anthropogenic stressors, such as the rapid rate of climate change, coral reefs are in decline. Rising sea surface temperatures have been linked to mass bleaching events in which the symbiotic relationship of the coral and photosynthetic algae living within its tissue is broken down. Disease prevalence and severity has also increased following bleaching events, leading to interest in understanding how immunity and symbiosis or interconnected. In order to experimentally investigate this, we used the model anemone Exaiptasia diaphana. The close relatedness of these anemones to other cnidarians such as reef-building corals allows our results to be applicable to coral reef ecosystems without the difficulty of working with corals in the lab. In our experiment, we exposed anemones to a heat stress in the lab and sampled before, during and after the heat stress to understand how symbiont density and immunity changed both during heat stress and following recovery from heat stress. Our results show no significant difference between treatment groups over time in changes of symbiont densities or immune activity. However, we do see significant correlation between immune activity and experimental timepoint, suggesting that the time spent in the well plates used for the experiment had the strongest impact on immune profiles in this experiment. We also found a weak positive correlation between catalase activity and symbiont density which is likely in response to the symbionts producing excess reactive oxygen species during stressful conditions.
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    Can I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?
    (2023-05) Stein, Hayven; Zmikly, Jon
    I created a 360-video horror short film that should be watched in virtual reality headset. The film is about a pair of neighbors, Mina and Seth. Mina and Seth are both college students who meet at the beginning of the academic year. As we follow them through their college journey the viewer will get to watch Seth become obsessed with Mina. Eventually, Seth drills a hole in their shared wall and becomes a peeping tom. This hole is how the viewer will experience the 360-video effect. The viewer can watch Mina in her dorm but when they turn around, they can also watch Seth descend into madness over his obsession with Mina. The film then shows the juxtaposition of Mina and Seth’s growing friendship and Seth’s obsession with Mina. When Mina decides to move out of the country Seth, in a fit of rage, murders her and while he is distraught after killing Mina, he then kills himself.
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    Characterization of RNF175, A Novel Ring Finger E3 Ligase
    (2023-05) Perez Espinosa, Jennifer; Vargas, Micaela
    RING finger (RNF) proteins are a class of E3 ligases involved in processes such as cell division, interferon signaling, proinflammatory pathways, and growth factor signaling to name a few. Although many RNF isoforms have been characterized and associated with their respective functions, RNF175 has yet to be characterized and its regulatory mechanisms remain undefined. In this study we elucidate the characterization and associated pathways of RNF175. However, of the E3 ligase family, RNF121 shares close homology to RNF175. We hypothesize that RNF175 will resemble characteristics and mechanisms like RNF121. Using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Genome Data Analysis Center (GDAC), RNF175 is a differentially expressed RING finger protein in glioma cancer cells and high expression of this gene is associated with low survivability of glioma patients. Using bioinformatics, we show, many transcription factor binding sites were found to be prominent in the promoter of this gene, including GR𝛽/𝛼, FOXA1, AP-2𝛼, and C/EBP. These transcription factors are known to regulate inflammatory responses, cell division, chromatin remodeling, and cell differentiation. Different protein motifs were identified, one being the FYVE motif which binds to PI3P, a phospholipid protein involved in the AKT survival pathway. In addition to the zinc finger binding domain the protein contains 5 transmembrane regions. Microarray shows differential expression of RNF175 in MCF10A human mammary epithelial cell line, upregulation in neutrophil cells during inflammatory responses and high expression in the brain. These data show RNF175 interactions with the AKT, ERAD pathway, and cytoskeletal proteins as their protein binding partners. Additional studies will need to confirm if RNF175 is of clinical significance for a diagnostic marker and its role in glioma cancers.
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    Ranking Resilience Attributes for Texas Public School Districts
    (2023-05) Payan, Daniel; Tešić, Jelena; Feng, Li
    Student learning, as measured by the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in public school systems in the US, plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, erasing years of improvements. In this body of research, we collect, integrate and analyze all available public data in the data science pipeline to see if public data can explain what factors contribute to learning loss recovery and inform public policy. This is a unique study of public data to address the post-COVID educational policy crisis from a data science perspective. To this end, we have developed an end-to-end large-scale educational data modeling pipeline that (i) integrates, cleans, and analyzes educational data; (ii) visualizes this data utilizing a free, opensource Python Panel dashboard; and (iii) implements automated attribute importance analysis to draw meaningful conclusions. We demonstrate a novel data-driven approach to discover insights from an extensive collection of disparate public data sources. We offer actionable insights to policymakers to identify the most affected areas to help policymakers’ direct resources to those areas and schools.
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    Exploring the Manosphere: An Ethnographic Look into the Online Men's Rights Movement and Social Media
    (2023-05) Naser, Manar; Warms, Richard
    This capstone project examines the digital manifestation of the men's rights movement known as the Manosphere, which has been associated with sexism and misogyny. The Manosphere is composed of four main groups: men's rights activists, men going their own way (MGTOWs), pick-up artists (PUAs), and involuntary celibates (incels). Through this project, we chronicle the history of the men's rights movement and its migration to the digital space. We then analyzed the underlying ideology of the Manosphere and explore how it spreads to the young men who are susceptible to it. To gain insights into the proliferation of the Manosphere, we conducted semi-structured interviews with young men who are actively online and have interacted with or come across the Manosphere. Our findings demonstrate that the Manosphere is a community-driven movement that disseminates its ideology through personal relationships within the group.
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    Middle Class Guerrilas: The Failure of the Mexican Student Revolutionaries to Build a Mass Movement
    (2023-05) Sepko, Matthew; Valencia, Louie Dean; Hart, Paul
    The Mexican Dirty War, which lasted almost two decades from its onset in the middle of the 1960s to its conclusion during the early 1980s, is a period of Mexican history that has received considerably less attention than the revolution that began the century and the drug war which ushered in the next. This dirty war saw the rise of the middle-class student communist revolutionary, where many armed urban guerrilla movements would emerge against the dictatorial one-party Mexican state of the Partido Institucional Revolucionario, or the PRI. By looking at writings and rhetoric used by these middle-class guerrillas, as well as contextualizing those guerrillas and their writings within the post-student movement, Dirty War-era of Mexican history, this thesis will aim to look at the reasons why these student-composed urban guerrilla groups failed to create a mass movement that would have been a necessary step in the sparking of a communist revolution. Ultimately this thesis concludes that the urban guerrillas’ propensity to abstract their way of thinking about their cause was at the root of their failures to link with the masses, a result of these guerrillas’ origins as middle-class students rapidly radicalized during the student movements of 1968-1971. This abstracted thinking would lead the urban guerrilla movements to be severely overintellectualized, using dense, high-concept, and alienating rhetoric. They would also be clouded in their analyses and assessments of the present situation, causing a simultaneous overestimation of their own capabilities and an underestimation of their enemies. This abstraction would help foster an environment ripe for extreme sectarianism and left-wing factionalist infighting due to dogmatic obsessions with theoretical purity becoming priority above all else for many of the urban guerrillas. These urban guerrillas did not have the manpower necessary to win a decades long, drawn out civil war, a problem that would prove impossible to overcome due to their inability to ground and connect their cause with the masses in a way that would be of interest and relevance to them. With these groups unable to create a strong social base of support among the workers and peasants of Mexico, they had little to no hope of surviving both the vicious propaganda campaigns and the brutal war of extermination by the ruling party, leading to the eventual and total defeat of these urban guerrilla organizations and the humiliation of the Mexican Left.
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    Exploring the Relations Between Theory of Mind, Anxiety, and Social Support in College Students
    (2023-05) Ortega, Andrea; Warnell, Katherine; Tucker, Natalie
    Theory of mind, or understanding that others have thoughts and feelings that can be different from one’s own, is an important social ability. Past research in young adolescents (aged 11-12) suggests that better theory of mind can lead to lower social anxiety, thus supporting friendship formation (Ronchi et al., 2020). An open question is whether this model extends to young adults in college environments, a time that often involves expanding social circles and more independent socializing. Using a large sample of Texas State students (N = 368), this study explored whether social anxiety mediated the relationship between theory of mind and social support. Respondents filled out a questionnaire that included well-established and validated measures of theory of mind (Reading the Mind in the Eyes; Baron-Cohen et al., 2001), social support (Social Support Questionnaire; Sarason et al., 1983), and social anxiety (Social Interaction Anxiety Scale; Mattick & Clarke, 1998). All measures produced a wide range of responses, but theory of mind was not related to social anxiety or social support. Those with higher levels of social anxiety reported lower satisfaction with social support but not a lower number of supportive social partners. These results suggest that theory of mind, specifically in young adults, is minimally related to social outcomes. One possibility is that variability in theory of mind is more meaningful in determining social outcomes at younger ages. Another possibility is that our theory of mind measure was inadequate to capture the complexity of theory of mind in young adults. Future studies should examine these questions longitudinally using a wider variety of measures and should consider generation-specific socialization effects. Overall, understanding links between social cognition and social support in young adulthood could promote positive social outcomes.
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    Upgrade Texas State: The Need for an Inclusive Campus
    (2023-05) Spivey, Lance; Bender, Stacey; Moore, Christina
    The purpose of this thesis is to conduct a deep dive of Texas State University’s (TXST) San Marcos campus in terms of its ability to be inclusive to people of all abilities. By defining the differences of ADA compliance versus inclusive design and proving the need for inclusivity, a holistic analysis was completed. Walking campus and making measurements, taking photos of neglected or inaccessible “accessible pathways,” and comparing them to ADA and Inclusive standards. Data collection was followed by analysis of TXST’s fiscal budget and how construction-based decisions are made on campus. Once the results were gathered, a comparison was made between TXST and all nine R1 institutions in Texas in terms of inclusivity. All data were compiled to create a variety of success plans, which included short-term solutions such as budget reallocation and the implementation of a QR code system for students to report inaccessible/damaged parts of campus. Additionally, long-term plans were included in the creation of a Capital Campaign, donation pool, and a staff position at TXST to personally oversee all inclusive design progress going forward.
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    Lost in Translation
    (2023-05) Pacheco, Junior; Zmikly, Jon
    Lost in Translation is a multimedia installation exploring Latin identity through the lens of religion and language. Junior Pacheco labeled himself “no sabo kid” not because they cannot speak Spanish fluently or knew nothing about the culture but because they felt disconnected from the culture, Lost in Translation acts as a new starting point to reconnect with and strengthen their identity as Latino. Broken into a physical display—with AR audio elements—meant to represent a found solace within Catholicism and a mini podcast series uncovering the secrets of family heritage, Lost in Translation shares one story of the complexity of an on-going cultural identity crisis as future generations of immigrant families struggle to identify with their cultural heritage and adopted culture.
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    Comparative Social Work Ethics and Environmental Justice
    (2023-05) Torres, Gloria Micaela; McGee, Stacie
    Author chose the topic of environmental justice for study for the purpose of increasing awareness to ignite conversations about the topic and provide linkage to social work social justice discussions. The research presented in this thesis highlights the inclusion of environmental justice in global social work codes of ethics. Furthermore, the research will serve to ignite a global conversation about social work and environmental justice. Social work is a profession that focuses on people and their environments. This is represented in ethical standards, where the common goal is to promote human well-being and social progress. This thesis emphasizes the need for environmental justice statements throughout social work foundational guidelines, through addressing gaps in current accreditation standards.
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    How Distance from Groundwater Affects the Water Status of Trees at San Marcos Springs
    (2023-05) Simons, Evan; Schwinning, Susanne; Schwartz, Benjamin
    The impact of perennial woody vegetation and the role of landscape topography on karst aquifer freshwater supplies is still poorly understood. To gain perspective on this question, I conducted a study at a site where the depth of a shallow groundwater table was indicated by the water level of a spring-fed lake and the distance of trees from groundwater was determined by their position on an escarpment above the lake. I tested the hypotheses that trees at higher elevations developed greater water-stress and used less groundwater than trees closer to or at lake level. I also expected that different tree species responded differently to elevation, presumably related to differences in rooting depth. I monitored several tree species common to the Edwards Plateau of Central Texas (U.S.A.) during the unusually dry summer of 2022. This included measuring predawn and midday water potentials, as well as the stable isotope ratios of hydrogen and oxygen in plant xylem-, soil-, and lake water in regular intervals. The hypotheses that trees at higher elevations developed a greater degree of water-stress and that there would be species-specific differences were supported; however, there was no evidence that any tree used substantial amounts of groundwater, not even those that grew immediately adjacent to lake level. Isotope ratios seemed to indicate a common source of water for all trees, most likely derived from winter precipitation and variably enriched by evaporation. Similar studies conducted on the Edwards Plateau and elsewhere similarly indicated that trees near flowing water sources avoid their uptake even during drought, instead taking water from some deeper regions of the vadose zone. My study adds to the mounting evidence that tree impacts on groundwater resources are complex, warranting further investigation of bedrock-associated water sources for trees of the Edwards Plateau and how bedrock storage might interact with groundwater recharge.
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    A Daughter's Story: Utilizing Movement to Cope with Grief
    (2023-05) Mann, Ashley; Baer, Ana
    Dance is a vehicle for expressing emotions. Dancers use movement to convey a story, communicate their feelings, and connect with others. Healing a soul through movement is a concept that people have implemented for centuries. This creative capstone seeks to recognize the relief dance provides for an individual. By implementing dance to cope from a loss, the brain releases neurotransmitters and endorphins which is proven by scientists to alleviate stress. There is a general understanding that our minds cannot affect the health of our body. However, stress from a loss will negatively affect the body as well. This capstone demonstrates the power movement has on the healing process. The story portrayed in this video is from the perspective of a daughter grieving a loss. The timeline of the video mimics my experience of grieving the loss of my father. I filmed a single dancer throughout her grieving stages. The dancer communicates her thoughts and emotions with movement. The emotions felt by the audience, accompanied by her apparent psychological development, communicates how movement aids healing to the audience. This experiment is comprised of cinematography collaborated with site-specific installations following a single subject. In the video, the dancer begins on a bridge, riddled with denial. She transcends through the stages of grief and finds herself in a space where the audience sees her progression through various emotions. The ending reveals the dancer embracing her future at the bottom of the bridge, the very place she was too afraid to go. Grieving appears different from subject to subject. One of the main messages is that grief does not routinely follow a linear progression. Additionally, the creative process behind this capstone’s construction promoted the development of the healing journey. In conclusion, expressing emotion through movement is a positive outlet for those experiencing grief to process their emotions, communicate their story, and discover a connection with others.
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    'Decimel': My Journey in Sound
    (2023-05) Wedige, Melanie; Erickson, Mark
    As a Sound Recording Technology major, one of my last requirements for graduation is submitting my senior portfolio. This dissertation showcases the portfolio I created over the course of my 4 years here at Texas State University and my journey. It details the amount of thought, effort, and time that went into each project, from start to finish. It covers the struggles I faced and how I overcame them. This covers my journey with sound. How I felt when I first entered the program and how I feel going out. How the experiences I gained and opportunities I received changed my interests and thoughts about my future. This paper is an exploration and reflection of every step I took to make it where I am today and what I’ve accomplished.