Office of Student Life

Buckeye Leadership Fellows Program

A Word from the Wise - Steven Wallace

March 22, 2021 by Staff

What is the best piece of advice a mentor or mentor figure has given you? How has this advice impacted your life, decisions, and/or goals?

One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve received and always carry with me is from my dad when I was twelve. On a ninety-plus degree afternoon in August, my dad was tying his shoes on our front steps when he asked me if I wanted to go running with him, I was intimidated. I knew that my dad ran a longer, hillier route than the loop I had been running and was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to complete it. For some reason, unbeknownst to me now, I agreed and laced up my shoes with him. After we started running, I soon felt the faster pace he ran at and began to struggle. I thought I was being attacked, the heat and humidity each taking turns laying it in on me. It felt like a weight had been placed on my chest as I sweated profusely and did my best not to walk. About 3 miles into our hellish journey, I stopped to walk and thought I was incapable of running anymore. My dad, who had slowed down to meet me, told me as he jogged in place, “Come on, you can keep going! Don’t stop moving!”. At the time I thought he was crazy and thought to myself, “Doesn’t he know I feel like I’m going to die? How am I still alive?”. Using his encouragement, I mustered up all the energy I had and started jogging again. I had a couple of short walk breaks on our way back home, but eventually we finished.

Even though it was only a moment, his advice and encouragement during that run were seared into my memory and have affected my life in a major way. It hasn’t necessarily affected what I have chosen to do, but more how I do it. It helped me when I joined wrestling in high school and wrestled guys who had been practicing since they were five. It also helped me when I was in the Navy on long underway's where there was no escape. It taught me that I am capable of more than I think, and though it may be tough, you can’t stop moving. There are times in life where quitting isn’t an option, and how you deal with that moment is entirely within your power. Our run on that hot day was a major lesson in resiliency for me and is a moment I’ll never forget.

What is one of your biggest lessons learned since becoming a student at OSU? 

The greatest lesson I’ve learned at OSU so far is on how to be more empathetic. When I was learning about empathy in a narrative medicine class, I happened to also be working as a nutrition aide at the Wexner Medical Center serving patients meals. I’ve never experienced learning something before through discussion and mindfulness in class followed by being able to apply the knowledge directly in real life. Having the ability to adjust the care I gave to others and see the effect had a strong impact on me and showed the power in being able to relate to another person. As someone who is interested in medical school, this is an extremely beneficial tool for the future. However, in such a politically polarized world, it is also a useful tool to help create inclusive communication. Empathy is something I feel we all need to practice more. In doing so, we can put our opinions and differences to the wayside, focus on creating a better future for our respective communities, and understand what the real issues facing us are.

What is one piece of advice you would give incoming buckeyes?

Do things that make you feel more like you. I heard this quote on a podcast by Tim Ferris recently and it’s honestly changed my perspective on the way I’ve pursued activities in the past. I think that it is very easy to fall into the trap of feeling that you need to put yourself out there and attend meetings or join clubs because it’s better to be part of something than not. I think this is a poor mindset to have. There may be times where establishing a better self-care routine like yoga, exercise, or reading will be more beneficial long-term, rather than adding on another committee that you’re a member of. It’s important to be critical and mindful of the opportunities you are involved with and honestly ask yourself, “How is this benefiting me? Does this support my future goals?”. By aligning your activities and pursuits with these two questions and the quote in mind, I think you will end up with a destination you're happy with even if you don’t have the foresight to see what the result might be yet.