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Justin Fields is getting ready to sing at Ohio State University, but he got plenty of practice at Columbus State.
The 24-year-old transferred to Ohio State this fall to study Music Education with an eye toward becoming a music teacher. He started at Columbus State in January 2010, and spent two years fulfilling general education requirements – and honing his craft.
Getting to college wasn't easy. Fields grew up poor on the West Side, and one of his parents had a severe substance abuse problem. Some family members were unable to accept him as gay. He originally planned to attend Capital University out of high school, but family strife derailed his college plans.
Fields says he spent several years getting his life in order, and then came to a realization. "I just woke up one day and decided, 'I'm going to Columbus State.'"
At Columbus State, the process of finding himself continued. He considered majoring in Human Resources and Computer Science, but then he found the Music Department. He volunteered in the music lab, and later became a student worker there with Instructor Rose Zuber.
Zuber, along with professor Elizabeth Scinto, helped him tune up for his audition with Ohio State. "It couldn't have gone any better. They just went completely out of their way to make sure I was ready."
Along the way, he got involved at Columbus State. In addition to his work with the Music Department, he became active with Cougar Pride (the college's gay advocacy group), designing websites, running online communities, and tutoring students in music.
For all these achievements, Fields was honored by the MAN Initiative, a program to promote achievement in male students, as one of its Men of the Year.
"It wasn't until I made the conscious decision to pick myself up and overcome the adversities that had been presented to me thus far in my life that I truly feel I made the transition from being a boy, into being a man," Fields says.