By Noah Douglas

cITe students 1


The Center for IT Engagement (cITe) Scholars Program at Mount St Joseph University gives undergraduate students the opportunity to take part in unique primary research on real-world subjects. A group of cITe students who had received the Choose Ohio First (COF) Scholarship decided to delve into an analysis of student perceptions of their engagement during the first year of college. Such a project was undertaken at a small liberal arts college in Cincinnati and it traveled all the way to the statehouse in Columbus for the 2023 Choose Ohio First Scholars Showcase.

The Choose Ohio First Scholarship program–established by the Ohio Department of Higher Education–encourages Ohioan students to pursue STEM degrees and careers. The overarching goal of the COF program is to expand Ohio’s position in STEM as we progress in an ever-changing world. This Showcase invites COF Scholars from across Ohio to present the research that they’ve conducted to state sponsors and each other. Upon entry to the statehouse atrium, one can find students bustling with excitement standing beside elaborate posters that expressed their work. The Scholars’ projects ranged from new design theories for artificial intelligence to conjecture on how to improve water quality in third-world countries. Out of these, projects lead by students from the Mount’s cITe Scholars Program and Columbus State Community College were selected for a student panel. Distinguished COF cITe Scholars Gabrielle Goerler, Alexa Theuerling, and Gabriela Olguin were invited to present a poster and participate in a student panel at this year’s showcase.

The cITe students involved in this project wanted to select a topic of study that would help their peers meet the real-world challenges of higher education. Gabrielle Goerler, a Biomedical Science and Social Computing double major, shares,

“Our project was named Students helping students: Promoting COF program retention through student-made resources. The goal of this project was to help incoming students feel as if they had the resources they needed to succeed at the Mount. Going from a high school setting to a college setting can be stressful as well as overwhelming as it's an experience like no other. But, we wanted to help alleviate this by making resources by students for students. Curating small videos about time management skills, helpful resources, making friends, and overall getting acclimated to the college life”.

Gabrielle further explains that the heart of the project was to, “show these incoming students that those who spoke in the videos were once in their shoes and they made it through so the incoming students shouldn't have to worry.” After working on this project and sharing the videos with our most recent COF cohort, the students submitted their work to the Choose Ohio First Scholar Showcase in Columbus, Ohio.

Called to the front of the atrium before the lieutenant governor, director of COSI, COF program director, and many more distinguished members of the COF program, our cITe students stood strong. cITe presenter, Gaby Olguin, recalls the experience,

“Presenting all the research we gathered and being part of the student panel at the showcase was astounding. I know I wouldn't have gotten this opportunity anywhere else, I am so grateful that I was able to be part of such a big event and bring a change to other students. The best part of being a Choose Ohio First Scholar is the immense opportunities we are given. Not only are we allowed to work while we are still in school but we are also able to work on real-life projects and make a change in someone else's life. I couldn't be more grateful to be part of the Choose Ohio First Scholars program”.


See one of the student resource videos created by cITe students here:  


It isn’t often that undergraduate students get such an opportunity to display their work to such high-profile individuals. Not only will this unique experience serve as a fond memory for these undergraduates from Mount St. Joseph University’s cITe program, but it will also be a claim to fame for them as they move into the future, seek out careers, or apply for continued education! Everyone in the cITe program is extremely proud of these young scholars who have engaged in such an undertaking with initiative and enthusiasm.


For students interested in learning more about the cITe Scholars program or the COF cITe Scholars award, please email or call/text the cITe Scholars Program Office at (513) 452-6081.


View the entire Choose Ohio First Scholar Showcase live stream on the Ohio Channel:

The Ohio Channel