Office of Student Life

Buckeye Leadership Fellows Program


Jen Gomez - BLF '24

When I was a sophomore, I dreadfully told one of my best friends, “I think I need a resumé booster…” My sister was a part of this program that I knew she was fond of– I heard loads about this notorious, wise, and astounding character named “Rob.” Flash forward three years, and that program is responsible for much of my personal and professional growth. I’ll admit: it did in fact serve as a resumé booster. But BLF didn’t just help me open doors. It helped me figure out what door I wanted to open, how to open that door, then how to navigate the subsequent doors behind it. I’ve also gotten some sneak peeks past doors that would have otherwise been closed. In cohort sessions and travel opportunities, I’ve been exposed to people willing to open those doors and with open arms, “Let me show you! And, if it’s not meant for you, that’s A-O-K. Hopefully, you can find something to take away from all of this, even if it’s just a wow factor.” Thanks to BLF, the soul-searching, and the mentorship it brought me, I’ve found two doors that I’m currently walking through, that weren’t on my radar prior, and that I’m super stoked about!

During my junior year, I felt immense pressure to find an internship; I needed professional business experience so that I could more easily find a job as a senior. So, I began reaching out to numerous recruiters for various roles in the business world. I came across a large consulting firm that was fascinated by BLF’s challenges and the skills it gave me: I had experience working with a team of people with differing skill sets and backgrounds; I knew what it was like to work with a client and align with their needs; I could manage a long-term project. They loved it! I got the job! Throughout that summer, I felt capable and prepared – my experience with BLF gave me a leg up in terms of project management, professionalism, and relationship building with team members and around the office. In October, I will be returning to Accenture to start my career.

Aside from my interest in business, I have a passion and love for children and their development. I am the second-oldest of five kids, a previous camp counselor, babysitter, gymnastics teacher, and Sunday school caretaker. I love these spaces where kids try new things and learn vital lessons. I salute the teachers who work day in and day out to provide those spaces. But I knew I did not have the desire (or patience for that matter!) to be a teacher. At one point, I thought that was it for me… that there was no other way to reach kids besides in the walls of a school. I was not satisfied with that answer so I kept my imagination alive. I’d always loved writing and storytelling; I thought writing children’s books would be a less traditional approach to teaching important lessons, a lovely creative outlet for myself, and a way to keep this passion of mine alive. So I had the idea but the next question was how… I went to Mercedes with my silly idea of a disco ball not feeling accepted on the playground. I thought she would laugh, but rather she was excited for me and clearly believed in me. She encouraged me to pursue the idea as my BLF Capstone and jumped to connect me with the right people.

I’m still navigating the how of the subsequent doors. But, I feel on the right track. Even better, I feel capable, empowered, and supported while striding down both these paths; BLF’s values, its cohort members, and Mercedes and Mike have a lot to do with that.


Current Fellows

"BLF has emphasized to me how valuable I am and how important my skills are. I began constantly pitching myself towards jobs/positions I am interested in and I have been able to accomplish exactly what I set my mind to. I knew I had the skills and interest, but BLF helped me gain confidence in running towards my goals and putting myself out into the professional world."

"I don't even know where to begin. In my final interview with Rob, I asked him his favorite part of his job and then before responding he asked me what my post-graduate plans are. I said to go to graduate school for sociology. He asked me where and I said I don't know probably just OSU. He said something along the lines of "my favorite part of my job is making you believe you can go somewhere like Harvard and then watching you go there." All of that is to say BLF helped me to realize that things that seemed completely unachievable and unrealistic were actually pretty attainable things for me. I wouldn't have heard about the Beinecke Scholarship if it wasn't for Sayde. In the application to the Beiencke scholarship I had to put my top 4 prospective schools... they were Princeton, Stanford, Duke, and UT Austin. Obviously, the people on the scholarship committee believed that I could get into those schools or they wouldn't have given me the scholarship. Now, when I apply to those programs, they'll probably believe in me a lot quicker because someone else believed in me enough to give me graduate funding. But Rob and Sayde were the ones who helped me believe in myself enough to think that the scholarship was even worth applying to. Also, all of the big things I'm doing don't even compare to the impact that my cohort members have had on me. They are some of the best humans that I know, and I probably wouldn't have ever met them if it wasn't for BLF. They challenge me, support me, and make me better. If I got nothing else from BLF, the people that it has introduced me to would make it worth it."  

"BLF has positively impact my life by allowing me to occupy spaces filled with motivated, intelligent, and passionate students and professionals that are invested in my personal and professional development and that of others."

"I have a community of people who are dedicated to supporting each other's successes and providing me with the necessary connections and resources to make the most out of my undergrad experience at Ohio State. I have seen myself become a more grateful, confident, and passionate person since joining BLF."

"BLF introduced me to a community of amazing individuals who are all so unique and forces of nature. They inspire me to be a better human being and really strive for greatness."

"Not only has BLF has given me some of my closest friends that I have met in college thus far, but I have also have had the privilege of having an incredible role model to look up to (Sayde:)) that I know will be in my corner 100% of the time no matter the circumstances. This is a relationship that is extremely hard to find in college, especially a university as big as Ohio State, so I am extremely fortunate to have a figure to turn to whether that is personally or professionally."  

"BLF has helped me think more introspectively about my life, my career, and my values. It has helped me understand that I am deserving of my achievements -- I have become more confident in who I am and how my story has shaped me into the the person I am today."  

"The connections I have made in BLF have been by far the most influential aspect of the program. The idea of being able to meet up for coffee with another fellow whenever I travel shows how our relationship isn't limited to the more structured context of the program as well as provides me a sense of belonging." 

"BLF has provided an environment for me to learn and fail with successful strategies to working with diverse teams on a variety of tasks." 


Program Alumni

"BLF positively impacted my life because it provided an opportunity to practice navigating and exploring solutions to ambiguous problems in a controlled setting. The BLF curriculum and time spent problem-solving with my cohort-mates from diverse backgrounds helped prepare me to do so in the "real-world" where this is required on a daily basis. I reflect on my experiences as a BLF fellow often and consider them valuable "tools" in my professional work. Also, during my time as a fellow, we completed a challenge with the data analytics company SAS and visited it in Cary, NC. At the time, I had no idea what SAS was and assumed after the challenge I wouldn't work with the company ever again. I use SAS software on a daily basis in my current role and just think it's cool to reflect on the opportunity I had to work with the company in a different capacity thanks to BLF!" 

"BLF helped broaden my perspective beyond the sciences and was one of the contributing factors in my decision to complete an MBA in addition to my MD." 

"I am the leader I am because of BLF. I have integrated "challenges" in my curriculum that were modeled from my time in BLF. I'm always reflecting back to what I learned/experienced and trying to replicate that in my junior/senior English/Composition I & II courses!" 

"BLF has connected me to some of my closest friends and mentors to date. I remember my first BLF meeting where Rob pushed all of us to replace "I hope..." with "I will..." as we talked about the future. With that change in mindset, I have accomplished exactly what I set out to do: become a physician at one of the best teaching hospitals in the country while growing my non-profit SmileChild." 

"BLF has provided me with the tools to network effectively, made me a more global citizen, and most importantly helped me feel confident in myself in ambiguous situations." 

"Buckeye Leadership Fellows taught me how to leverage my strengths and personality to build camaraderie and love myself through adversity to navigate crucibles in life." 

 "The biggest takeaway from BLF for me has been becoming more comfortable working on teams with varied strengths and weaknesses. It paid dividends in business school when working on teams with people from other fields like law, art, pharmaceuticals, etc."