Campus Celebrity Status: Keith Shields may only be in his first year at OSU, but he has already managed to make his mark by organizing and developing one of the premiere and up-and-coming student organizations on campus. Like its founder, the OSU Rap and Beat Box Club is still in its first year of existence, and already it has seen an incredible response and turnout rate. Due to Keith’s impressive networking and marketing skills, the club has already received sponsorship from the hangover drink Hoist, as well as recording privileges with the audio studio Oranjudio. Equally impressive are the 200 members already accrued, and the number continues to grow with every promotional gig and fundraiser in which they participate. The club’s most recent accolades include sponsoring the (winning) campaign by Nick Messenger and Emily DeDonato for President and Vice-President of the OSU Undergraduate Student Government, as well as being one of the main performing groups at Buckeyethon.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Syracuse, New York
HC: Why did you decide to create the OSU Rap and Beat Box Club?
KS: My first couple weeks as a student here at OSU, I went around beat boxing with a friend of mine who rapped. I was on the lookout for a rapping club or anything of the sort [like] hip-hop. I was definitely surprised when [I found out] there wasn’t one, so I decided to create one myself!
HC: How have you managed to bring the club so much success and sponsorship so quickly?
KS: It’s all about being contactable and making the effort to put yourself and your club out there—marketing yourself—to others. The club wouldn’t be nearly as big as it is now if it wasn’t for our own advertising initiatives like chalking around campus and handing out fliers. As far as sponsorship goes, it was pretty simple. Once we obtained around 70 members I was able to e-mail various companies and offer advertising on our shirts, etc, in exchange for their product/service. Thus, the “putting yourself and your club out there” can be seen—if you take the initiative, a lot can be accomplished.
HC: How old were you when you discovered a talent for beat boxing?
KS: I really have no idea. I’ve always been beat boxing for as long as I can remember, and have been adding sounds over the years. In high school, though, my friends would add freestyle rapping on top, which really spurred my interest in beat boxing as well as the freestyle rap side of things.
HC: What other activities do you participate in whether at OSU or outside of campus?
KS: On campus I’m the treasurer of my residence hall (Siebert Hall) and I volunteer a lot for the Honors program. That, on top of OSU Freestyle and my Mechanical Engineering major, really keeps me busy! “Outside” of campus I’m pretty involved with the Internet and making and selling websites. I sold my most recent website before coming to college for around $6,000.
HC: What advice would you give to people who want to start a new club but are unsure of where to start?
KS: I’d tell them to check out the Ohio Union website! It gives guidelines and step-by-stop instructions on how you can go about creating a student organization of your own and what things you have to keep in mind.
HC: What are some aspirations that you have for the club?
KS: I would love to see the club grow into a huge, weekly gathering point for all freestyle rappers and beat boxers on campus. On top of this, I’d like to have a solid group of spectators who come just to hang out with the group and have fun, and a complete academy system set up with week by week lessons to teach the tricks of the trade for aspiring rappers/beat boxers. If we could have the weekly meeting going with a good 50 or so participants at the same time a couple freestyle lessons were going on…now that would be ideal!
HC: What goals do have for yourself for the future?
KS: I’ve always wanted to run an alternative energy-minded company of my own. I’ve always been heavily interested in entrepreneurship (thus the website-making gig and making OSU Freestyle itself) and love the feeling of creating something that I can call my own and say that I came up with it. So, starting up my own business from scratch seems like it would fit right in with those passions. I say alternative energy-minded just because that seems to be the only subject that interests me!
HC: What is one thing every Buckeye should do before they graduate?
KS: It might sound a little cliché, but join a club! There are over 1,000 clubs on campus now, so there really is “something out there for everyone,” as you always hear the orientation leaders say. OSU Freestyle is—and always will be—accepting members!
HC: If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
KS: The power to instant-chalk. That is, not having to spend countless hours on hands and knees chalking the sidewalks with OSU Freestyle ads!