A year and a half into his time at Ohio State, Cameron Stephens was searching for something. He had found everything he was looking for on the lacrosse field. But as he sat down with his parents during the winter between his fall and spring semesters as a sophomore, his goal was simple: find a major.
What Stephens discovered inside the course catalog he had that day changed the trajectory of his life. A science buff his whole life, Stephens decided to take a plant pathology course the next semester. Fast forward seven years, and Stephens is pursuing a PhD in plant pathology from North Carolina State after earning his master’s degree at Penn State in 2017.
“I loved the outdoors and sciences were always my favorite subjects throughout school,” said Stephens, who says plant pathologists are essentially plant doctors. “I didn’t want to be stuck at a desk my whole life. After taking that course I was hooked. The people, the professors, the research, and the coursework were all fantastic. I had no idea this field even existed until I took the class.”
His journey to a PhD, however, didn’t come without its fair share of bumps in the road. Early during his time at Ohio State, Stephens, a geology major, admittedly struggled academically. As a result, he changed majors several times as he searched for his passion outside of lacrosse. Luckily for him, however, he found it combing through the pages of Ohio State’s course catalog.
Stephens’ decision to attend Ohio State was so clear to him during the summer of 2010 that he didn’t even wait until the end of his recruiting visit to verbally commit. He was impressed by head coach Nick Myers’ family atmosphere and ultimately swayed by the advice of his father.
“He always said to me: Big school, Big reach,” said Stephens, who valued Ohio State’s vast resources, alumni reach and support system as much as its lacrosse program. “While I didn’t really know what I wanted to do other than play lacrosse, I did know Ohio State would provide ample opportunity to figure it out. Coach Myers also put a strong emphasis on the blue-collar nature of our team and the importance of family during my visit. These characteristics were very important to me and remained true through my entire time at Ohio State.”
During his four years with the Buckeyes, Ohio State was 39-26, won the ECAC Tournament title in 2013 and appeared in the NCAA Tournament twice, in both 2013 and 2015. Two of his most cherished memories, however, occurred off the field: creating a lifetime brotherhood with him teammates and being award the 2015 team Academic MVP.