Leadership Development, Service

Grow Dat Love for Volunteering

For my spring break this year, I was blessed with the ability to travel down to New Orleans, Louisiana to volunteer at Grow Dat Youth Farm. I was given this opportunity through CMU’s Alternative Breaks program. This program partners with nonprofit organizations to give students the opportunity to spend a week volunteering with an issue that they are passionate about.

About the Farm: This amazing farm grows ~25,000 lbs of fresh produce each year, selling around 70% at a farmer’s market and donating the other 30% to low-income families who don’t have access to fresh foods. This farm teaches leadership lessons through different activities and shows the true meaning of community and the importance of sustainability. Grow Dat practices sustainable farming, eliminating the use of chemical-filled fertilizers and focusing on composting and using cover crops. Grow Dat’s mission is to “nurture a diverse group of young leaders through the meaningful work of growing food.” This farm welcomes in young kids and adults and teaches them communication and leadership skills while working together. Pretty incredible, huh?

About the Trip: We all piled in the vans on Saturday, March 3rd. Not knowing what to expect on this trip, I was excited to head to New Orleans. We took driving shifts in the car, and everyone drove for a few hours. It took around 20 hours to get to our destination after stopping to get snacks and using the bathroom a few times.

Day 1: We got to St. Jude Community Center, the place we would be staying, at around noon. St. Jude is a community center that hosts people and feeds those in need throughout the day. We dropped all of our bags in the dorm rooms and went to the kitchen to meet the people who would be hosting us. Little did I know these two people would be some of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met. They told us they would be cooking breakfast and dinner for us every day, and invited us to go to a little festival in the park. We walked to the festival which had live jazz bands, tons of different food vendors, and handmade arts and crafts. It was so awesome to see everyone interacting and learning about the New Orleans traditions. After the festival, we headed to the French Quarter to do some shopping and exploring. After shopping around for a little, we regrouped at St. Jude and headed to bed to rest up for the week to come.

Day 2: Our first official day was a free day, so we decided to wake up early and go to the beach. We went to a park in Mandeville, Louisiana that overlooked Lake Pontchartrain. We walked along the pier and went on a little hike to soak up the warm sun. After exploring the beach and eating lunch, we went back to the French Quarter to do some more exploring. We ate at Cafe Beignet and walked up and down the streets to go into the little shops. We visited Jackson Square to see a magic show and listened to all of the different live music acts that were being played on every corner. After a long day of walking around the city, we headed back to St. Jude.

Day 3: Tuesday was our first official day volunteering at Grow Dat, and we had a late start due to a rain delay. After the storm passed, we drove to the farm and met the amazing people we would be working with all week. After learning a little bit about the farm and what their mission is, we went over to the lettuce crops and spent the afternoon weeding in between each little plant. I had so much fun bonding with the girls on my Alternative Break and learning about their passions and goals.

Day 4: This day consisted of more weeding and cleaning up around the plants. It was interesting to learn different weeding techniques in order to do it efficiently. We helped pull up different sorts of crops, such as collard greens and cabbage to go into the compost, and we were able to work with students from Vanderbilt college and form new friendships. It was so cool to get different perspectives from new friends from a different college, and we were able to get all of the tasks done super quickly while still learning about each other’s majors and extracurriculars.

Day 5: Thursday was my favorite day of volunteering because we got to participate in all sorts of different activities. We started the day off covering the soil beds with black plastic to help the soil from eroding. This was one of my favorite tasks because we were told that it was the “most important job on the farm,” making us feel like we were really helping out. After covering the beds in plastic, we went to the small soil beds and planted little lettuce crops. It was fun to plant seeds together and bond even more with my group. After lunch, we went to the front of the farm where the sign was and pulled out cilantro and mint to go to the compost area. We then cleaned up around the trees and beautified around the sign. We got to work with our Vanderbilt friends again and bond even more than we had the previous day.

Day 6: The last day was spent learning more about the farm and what its mission was, and talking to the fabulous people who volunteer at the farm. We started the day off with a full tour of the farm and then headed over to the blackberries to weed around them and clean them up so they could grow for the summer. We then got to clean up the front area and learn about the plants that were native to New Orleans. The Grow Dat Staff was so sweet and really kept us informed on what was going on on the farm and what we could do to help next. After finishing weeding a few more crops, we were told to leave a little early and take the afternoon off to explore some more before we headed back to school. We went to Hansen’s Sno-Bliz and got a famous “snowball”, (shaved ice in a cup or a cone covered in a syrup). I got a mint chocolate chip one, and it was amazing! After driving around the beautiful Garden District with our treats, we started our journey to school. After driving through the night, we arrived back at school on Saturday morning at around 8am. Despite being sun-poisoned and extremely tired, I headed home for the weekend.

My Experience: Though I was nervous to travel 17 hours to a place I had never been, I had the time of my life. I was able to pursue my passion of nutrition and leadership all in one place, and I learned so many valuable things that I can take with me for years to come. I was also able to form close connections and bonds with girls I had never met, and we became so close in such a short amount of time. I absolutely loved regrouping at the end of the day and chatting in our beds after our debrief of what we did that day. I also loved meeting new girls from different states who were also volunteering and staying at St. Jude. My two amazing sightleaders who lead the break were so genuine and made it one to remember. Learning about New Orleans and everything that the city has been through really opened my eyes and ignited my passion for helping and volunteering. Grow Dat is such an incredible program and the people who work there are some of the most hardworking and genuine people I have ever met. It really gave me the push I needed to get out there and make change in the world, one step at a time. Everyone on the farm welcomed us with open arms and smiles and made it exciting to go back each day. Meeting pals with passions and goals similar to yours is truly one of the coolest things in the world, and I am so thankful that I was able to go on this Alternative Break. Thank you to everyone who donated and helped me go on this break! Fire Up for Farming!


Loving Yourself: A Top Priority

When people think of February, they usually have one of two views on it: it’s either a month filled with hearts and everything pink, or it’s a horrible month containing the most horrible holiday. I get it- if you’re single, what’s the point of Valentine’s Day if there’s no one there to share it with? Right?


Instead of dreading February because you’re “forever alone”, start by making it a month of self love. We’ve all heard the cliché quote, “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else.” It may be totally overused, but in all aspects it’s insanely true.

While reflecting on myself a few days ago, I came to some realizations. Self love is one of the most important things you can achieve, but it is also one of the hardest things. Going deeper into my journey, I acknowledged some important aspects.

  1. Take care of your body: it’s a lil machine, and it needs a lot of love. Rest up, eat well, and workout plenty.
  2. Put yourself first: it’s important to be a little selfish sometimes, especially when it comes to your overall well-being.
  3. Do things that make you happy: get involved in activities that you enjoy doing, and don’t do anything just to impress others. Do things that are going to benefit you, and don’t worry about what people think. If you’re truly invested in something- you’ll know. Find your niche and stick with it.
  4. Accept your flaws: almost 100% of the time, others adore the things you can’t stand about yourself. Going along with that, forget about things you want to change. They make you unique, so find love in those qualities.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to others: everyone is in some way different, and I think that is absolutely incredible. No one is the same exact person, so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You’re you, and that’s a pretty awesome thing.

Finding self-love is a long journey, but it is such an important one to find yourself on. Acknowledge your worth and know that you deserve the entire world. Set a goal, and work hard to achieve it-but remember, bumps come along to keep you from some goals. Don’t beat yourself up if you get off track-you’ll get back to the groove soon.

Lastly, instead of resorting to the good ‘ol phrase, “I hate myself” when you do something wrong, replace the “hate” with “love”. Make it a pattern, and your mind will start to believe it.

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Leadership Education

PHL118L: A Reflection

I’m not going to lie- having an 8am class sounded horrible, and I was not the biggest fan of philosophy. You could probably imagine my enthusiasm and I entered the class on the first day.

Despite it being an 8am, I was thankful to have a class with my LAS cohort. Not knowing what to expect, I was sort of interested in what was to come in this philosophy class. I was curious as to what sort of information we would be tested on and what we would take away from this class.

The professor, Gary Fuller, is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. And I mean that in every positive way possible. He is extremely enthusiastic about every topic he talks about, and he knows every little detail about everything- and I mean everything. Gary is an extremely intelligent man, and he has a way of explaining things that makes them interesting to learn about. You can tell that he is passionate about what he teaches, and it is clearly shown in his lectures. His little comments and jokes cracked me up throughout the semester, and he made the class interactive.

There were assigned chapters in the books that we are instructed to read, and short quizzes followed the assigned chapters. Many different topics that had to do with morality were introduced, such as assisted suicide, euthanasia, hooking up, animal rights, and abortion. Each topic was explained in detail and was followed by a few examples to help us understand the concept.

We all were placed in groups to create a presentation, and I spoke about the Terri Schiavo case that involved the discussion of involuntary vs. voluntary euthanasia. This was an interesting thing to present on, and we had to give our own opinions on what we thought was morally permissible.

Overall, I learned a lot in this class. I was able to really analyze the concepts that were taught and I could really dig deeper into what my opinions were on them. The class provided a very informative way of looking at different moral questions, and Gary made the class a fun one to go to.



Servant Leadership

In LDR200L, we focused our learning on many types of leadership. My favorite theory to learn about was servant leadership. Servant leadership is the theory of bettering the lives of other people by serving them, and making sure you’re always putting yourself first before everyone else. The description of the theory (provided by the servant leadership workshop) is a “philosophy where a leader with strong values places others above their own self-interests and emphasizes the growth of their followers.” As a part of the LAS protocol, we are required to serve 30 hours of volunteer service per year. Volunteering is a very important part of LAS, and these hours can be served in many different ways.

I found myself experiencing the servant leadership theory during the LAS in the D service trip and during Relay For Life. On the trip, we traveled to Detroit for the weekend to help out the community and learn more about Detroit. On the last day of the trip, my cohort and I visited Cass Community Social Services to serve the community. We were split into groups, and I went to the green warehouse to sort cardboard and shred papers. I was so excited to work with people in my cohort to clean up the warehouse and help out the members of the community by taking some of the work off of their hands.

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Servant leadership was also portrayed during  Relay For Life when my LEAD team was required to stay at the Leadership Institute table and explain what we were selling. We volunteered for several hours and had so much fun doing it. I also participated in the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center during the semester. I helped out with the Safer Sex Patrol by promoting safe sex with a group of other volunteers at the local bars, and I made paracord bracelets for the soldiers overseas. These bracelets are worn by soldiers and can be used when they are in emergency situations.

Now that I have experienced servant leadership firsthand, I realize that it is my favorite leadership theory, while also being the most important leadership theory. I have learned that it is so essential to put others before yourself and help out others in any way possible. I am making it a goal to make sure that I put everyone before myself and serve the community, while also being selfless. I want to encourage others to promote self growth by putting people before themselves and leading in the best way they can.

Leadership Development, Leadership Education

Freshman Year In Review

As I sit at my kitchen table writing this blog post, I am absolutely mind blown that my freshman year of college is over. HOW is it over? I feel like I just moved to Mt. Pleasant yesterday! When they same time flies as you get older, they aren’t kidding around. SO many things happened over the course of this year, and I grew so much.

As my senior year came to an end and summer began, I had the dreadful “move-in day” cloud hanging over my head. I knew that in a few short months, I would have to move to a completely new place and begin a new chapter of my life. Being extremely close to my parents and having the best friends in the world living minutes away from me, I was not ready to go to college at all. Eventually, August 20th came creeping up and it was time for me to start my freshman year at Central. I went through the week of Leadership Safari and I had a blast meeting new people, but I was ready to go back home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a summer camp where you could just go home right after it ended. This place was my new home, and I had to get used to that. I was fine for the first couple of weeks (besides the HORRIBLE heat), but the feelings of homesickness really hit me during late September. I called my parents sobbing my eyes out multiple times a day, and started regretting my choice of going to CMU. I came home almost every single weekend because being home was my only feeling of comfort during those first few months at school. I toughed it out for a couple of months, and I finally felt comfortable in my dorm around Thanksgiving. I started spacing out the weeks that I went home so I had something to look forward to, and that helped me so much.

Around Christmastime, I was having the time of my life. I have such incredible roommates that I could not be more thankful for, and they bring out the best in me. I found myself living my life how I was before I moved to college, and I was back to my happy self. I went home for winter break, reconnected with all of my friends from high school, and got to see my wonderful family. What I wasn’t prepared for was going back up to school after winter break, because I started missing home again. This time wasn’t as bad, because I figured I was just used to being home for a while. And I was right- after about a week or two, I started feeling like my normal self again- thank you again, roomies!

Now, in late April, I am realizing that CMU is the best decision I’ve ever made. I am a part of the amazing LAS program, and I have made such incredible friends that I KNOW will last a lifetime. The LI helped me so much, and there were so many resources and people who I could go to if I ever needed help. I found my hobbies and study spots and really focused on myself this year. I grew so much as both a person and a leader, and I learned so many things. Here are just a few of them:

  • It is okay to cry. I promise. No one will judge you- and if they do, who cares?
  • It is also perfectly okay to visit home. After all, home is where the heart is!
  • Calling your parents more than one time a day is normal- even if it a 2 minute FaceTime to see your dog.
  • DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY! Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
  • Bring lots of snacks with you. The caf is not good- sorry Robby.
  • People want to help you- you just have to ask for it!
  • Not everyone you meet is going to be your best friend- don’t force friendships.
  • Sleep is very valuable and naps are wonderful.

Over the course of this year, I realized all of these things and more. Freshman year was an up-and-down rollercoaster, but I am so thankful for the things that happened and the people I met. Fire up Chips!

Leadership Training

Mentee to Mentor

As a member of LAS, each person receives a “mentor.” This person guides you through your first year of college, answers any questions you have, and is basically just a shoulder to lean on when you need one. I received a mentor when I got to CMU, and I was so excited to have someone to support me through my first year at college.

Now, going into sophomore year, I am ecstatic to receive a “mentee” of my own. As a tradition in LAS, it is a normal thing to keep yourself hidden until you plan a big reveal to your new mentee. I am so excited to reveal myself to my mentee and form a close relationship with her. Helping people is one of my passions, and I am so incredibly ready to do whatever it takes to make sure my mentee feels at home during the course of her freshman year!

In our LDR200L class, the TA’s prepared a workshop demonstrating how to be the best possible mentor we can be to the incoming LAS cohort. We were put into groups and received sheets of paper in which we were instructed to write down ten things we wish we would have known coming into college. After writing them, we discussed our answers and reflected back on the year. Some of the things I wish I knew before coming to Central were:

  • Not everyone will be your best friend, so don’t force relationships
  • Skipping class is never a good idea
  • Bring lots of storage containers to keep things organized in your dorm
  • Your planner will become your best friend
  • Only do things that benefit you- if they bring you down, don’t continue doing them

After reflecting back on the mentor workshop, I have many things that I want to accomplish as mentor. I want to be there for my mentee whenever she needs me, even if I am busy doing something. I also want to make sure that I keep in contact with her and make sure that I am not distant- especially when she is starting a complete new chapter of her life! Lastly, I want to make sure that I can be the best mentor I can be to my new pal, and I want to make sure she knows that she can come to me whenever she needs anything.

Mentor/Mentee retreat
Community, Uncategorized


An RSO is a Registered Student Organization on CMU’s campus. These organizations are clubs with scheduled meetings, and there are many options to choose from. I joined FAMD (Fashion Association of Merchandising and Design) first semester. This RSO focuses on fashion and the fashion industry. At the meetings, speakers from different parts of the fashion world come in and speak. Some of the speakers included managers from many different stores including Buckle and Kohls. Personally, my favorite speaker was Kathryn Konarska from Kathryn Ann Bridal. Kathryn came in with her husband and explained her entire journey as an intern in the fashion industry. She moved multiple times and was interning in New York City before deciding to move back to Michigan. She later created her own brand of wedding dresses and veils and has boutiques all across Michigan.

FAMD also dedicates a lot of time focusing on the campus-wide fashion show, Threads. Threads is a student-run fashion show held on April 22, 2017. Different designers get to show off their work and gain experience in designing, marketing, and fashion production. Threads is a big deal for people majoring in Fashion Merchandising and Design, and many of CMU’s students are able to model the clothing designed for the fashion show. Each year, Threads is focused on a different theme. Students dedicate so much time into the fashion show, and they are able to learn all about proper walks, stage lighting, makeup, and more.

Allie and I at the FAMD banquet


Another RSO I was involved with was Barnes and Robinson Hall Council. Meetings were every Monday, and we discussed upcoming events in the Barnes and Robinson community. Each week had a different theme, and if you dressed like the theme, you would earn points for your floor. Each week, I would learn about new activities that were going on that I could attend. Members could also have a say in any problems or issues that would go on in the halls, and I liked being able to meet different people from the Robinson community or people on the floors I didn’t live on. Hall Council helped inform me and make me aware of events happening and allowed me to learn more about the North Campus community.