Leadership Development, Self

Dear An,

First off- I want to say thank you. You don’t know how much of an impact you’ve made on me over the past year, and that’s why I’m writing this to you. I’m well aware that I can walk over to Barnes and tell you everything I’m about to say in person, but you know how sappy I am- therefore, I’d rather make a ~dramatic~ blog post about it because I love you so much.

I want to start off by saying how insanely nervous I was to receive a mentee. I’m not kidding- I was so worried you wouldn’t like me and was truly scared I would be too over-the-top for you. I still probably am, but at least I know you’re okay with it. When I met you for the first time on your orientation day and we hugged and talked about school, I knew we were going to be a good pair. I was so excited to move in and start hiking and doing yoga- or so I thought (thanks for listing those things, I still love you).

I remember choosing mentees- I knew from the very start that I needed you in my family tree. Like I mentioned before, I was truly afraid to be a mentor because I was nervous we wouldn’t click or I’d let you down in some way. I knew that I had to be your support system, and ready or not, I was going to be that. As we started talking, the nervousness hanging over my head went away and excitement filled me. I was so excited to add to our family tree and have a friendship, rather than a typical mentor-mentee relationship.

From going on little coffee dates to taking little road trips together, our friendship is something I am so thankful for. You have the ability to take any situation and make it comforting and positive. I truly admire your fun personality and ability to make friends with ANYONE you talk to. I might not say it all the time, but I am so proud of everything you’ve done this year. You are going to do amazing things (you already are), and I can’t wait to be here every step of the way to watch you grow. You’re an incredible leader, and watching you participate in things you’re passionate about blows me away.

I’ve learned a lot as a mentor, and I owe it to you. I strive to help in any way I can, and I thank you for teaching me lessons as the year continued on. I’ve also learned some situations can’t be fixed, and not everyone has the same way of working through things. I am proud to be your mentor, and I can’t wait to see how much of an impact you make on your own little mentee (we’re gonna be the cutest fam).

Though we don’t talk every single day, I know we’re always there for each other and that is rare. Thank you for helping me be not only a mentor but a friend to you- I love you, boo boo.

P.S. thanks for singing all of your sentences with me and being as loud and insane as I am

 

 

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Community, Leadership Development

Program Board

When looking for a new RSO on campus to join, I stumbled upon Program Board. I had always noticed the PB logo on the activities flyers on campus and had been told by many people how fun it was, so I decided to go to a meeting. Upon walking in, I was greeted by many different people and felt instantly welcomed into this new club.

Program Board is an organization on CMU’s campus that plans different events and entertainment acts to allow students to get involved on campus. The mission statement for this wonderful RSO is to “provide diverse entertainment and programs for free or at an affordable cost to CMU students and community members.”

Program Board planned so many different activities on campus this year, and all of them were major hits. Some of these events included:

  • Canvas and Coffee (painting a design on a canvas while drinking coffee and getting to know other students in the process)
  • Multiple comedy shows
  • Magic shows
  • CMU’s Spring Concert (s/o to Public and Jesse McCartney)
  • Movie showings with popcorn and other snacks
  • Trivia Nights
  • Up All Night (an all-campus event that takes place from 11pm-3am that allows students to snag tons of free food, play games, enter in raffles, run around in bounce houses, dance to music, tie-dye shirts, and rollerskate)
  • Safer Sex Patrol (going to bars and informing people about safe sex)
  • Maroonzie (a music and arts festival in the spring for CMU students that includes free food, henna tattoos, live music, paintings, and photo booths)

Program Board is a really great opportunity to make connections with others and get involved on campus. Because everyone in the club is super outgoing and the members really care about another, the environment is incredibly welcoming. We started each meeting off with an icebreaker to get everyone chatting, and then later addressed any birthdays of any members and talked about any events we had coming up. The people in this RSO really make each other feel valued, and they really want to get to know everyone and their interests.

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Leadership Development, Leadership Training

LEAD Team: Competition Day

As a part of my LAS protocol, I was required to serve on a LEAD team. I was placed on the Competition Day team, and I was really excited to be chosen for it. Competition Day is an event where all of the high school seniors who were chosen to come and compete for the Leader Advancement Scholarship come to CMU and participate in a series of different activities and interviews.

Because I was able to attend Competition Day last year and meet all of the  now-freshmen, I knew exactly how nervous they were to come compete. It’s scary- driving up to the school you might be attending in a few short months to show off your best qualities while working with tons of other kids who all want the same thing. All of the students there were incredibly deserving of the scholarship, and it was rewarding to get the privilege to chat with them as they made their way onto CMU’s campus and into the Leadership Institute.

My role on this LEAD team was to welcome the students in and show them where to go, where to sign in, and to explain what they would be doing that day. The day started off with a tour around campus, and then a presentation was held by the one and only Dan Gaken. Dan explained the scholarship protocol and answered all of the questions the students had about LAS. He then dismissed all of the competitors to go to their assigned rooms and participate in group facilitations, activities, and interviews. The students later got to mingle with one another and ask any other questions they had regarding CMU or the LAS program itself.

I enjoyed being on this LEAD team and working with other people in other cohorts to welcome the incoming freshmen to the Leadership Institute family. The energy in the Powers Ballroom was so high, and I can’t wait to meet all of the incoming Leader Advancement Scholars. Fire up!

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Leadership Development

A Letter for Better

Because one of my favorite things to do is promote positivity and spread little random acts of kindness, I was so excited to join the amazing RSO on campus called A Letter for Better.

A Letter for Better is a student organization on campus that meets and writes handwritten letters and notes to organizations in hopes of spreading kindness. I absolutely love going to the meetings and chatting with other people while designing letters. We usually start the meeting off with an icebreaker or a small activity to get everyone pumped up to write letters. We then learn about the cause or the group of individuals we are going to be writing to, and write to them.

Over the past year, we have written letters to nursing homes, breast cancer survivors, veterans, CMU’s Alternative Breaks program, CMU’s counseling center, and more. It feels incredible to know you’re brightening up someone’s day just by writing a note to them, especially if you’ve never even met them. You don’t always have to know the person to reach out to them and make their day.

As my college career continues, I am excited to serve on e-board as the Activities and Logistics chair and work with 5 other amazing girls. I love getting people to interact with one another, so I am extremely excited to plan games and different activities for us to do to get to know one another. My “why” statement in life is to inspire others to promote positivity and live fearlessly, and this club goes hand-in-hand with everything I want to do. It is so important to spread kindness, especially because you never know what someone could be going through or dealing with. A Letter for Better is such an incredible club, and it truly warms my heart that so many people are willing to take time out of their days to brighten someone else’s.

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!

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 Development, Leadership Training

Relay For Life: LEAD Team

Being a part of an LAS LEAD team is one of the things required for the protocol, and I had the pleasure of working on the Relay For Life team. Over the course of the semester, we had a few meetings to discuss fundraisers and events that we would plan leading up to Relay. This LEAD team was my number one choice and I was super excited to get involved with the event.

Relay For Life took place on March 25th from noon until midnight. As a part of the Leadership Institute’s Relay team, we worked the table for the majority of the day. We set up a table with LI apparel and cookies and set a suggested donation amount of $5.00 for t-shirts and $1.00 for cookies. We also had a “Pie the LI” event where you could donate $2.00 and smash a plateful of whipped cream onto the face of one of the members of our team. This raised some extra money for our team and everyone got a good laugh out of it. Relay For Life was so much fun and I got to walk around the track and hear stories from the incredible survivors.

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Now that I have participated in Relay, I can easily say it is something that I’m looking forward to doing every year. Relay inspired me to appreciate my family members as much as I can and never take anything for granted. I lost my grandma to breast cancer, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her. Relay For Life is an amazing event that I highly encourage everyone to be a part of. Our LI team raised over $1,700 to donate to research. The event was so much fun and I can’t wait to participate in Relay next year!

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