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!

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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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Community, Leadership Development, Service

LAS in the D: My Experience

Going into this trip, I was excited. I knew it would be an awesome weekend, and I knew I would gain so much from it. Little did I know I would be experiencing one of the coolest, most influential trips I have ever been on.

Visiting Jalen Rose Leadership Academy was the first stop on the trip. We arrived at the school and got separated into groups with the leadership students. We played a few icebreakers with our new friends, and we wrote down things that we wanted to accomplish while we were there for the day. Some of the things we put on our list included using teamwork, being respectful, and communicating with one another. The students opened up really quickly, and I was super excited to continue on with our day.

After splitting up into separate classrooms with our groups, we did an activity that required us to figure out a pre-made pattern to get across the “lava” to the other side of the volcano (the other side of the room). Every time someone made a wrong step, we had to restart and go back to the starting line. It was really awesome to see the students take charge and try to figure out the pattern, and we worked together to discover the correct sequence to get across.

Next, we moved into a different room to take on another activity. This activity involved a ball on a circle of plastic with many strings tied around the plastic. To complete this activity, we had to pick up the ball by using the strings and carry it to the other side of room to place it on top of a pole. If we dropped the ball, we had to go back to the starting line to try again. This activity was very trial-and-error oriented, and we tested many different strategies before completing it. Our winning tactic was to slide the ball over to the pole and then get as close as we could to the center, while still holding the strings. We pulled the ball up and got it on top of the pole, and everyone was super excited that we were able to complete the challenge. After the activities were over, we debriefed for a little bit. We talked about what strategies worked and which ones didn’t work, how we used communication and teamwork, and how we stepped outside of our comfort zones to take on something. One of the students asked us when we were coming back, and when we told him we’d be back in a year, he said to “please hurry.” It was so inspiring to see how much the students at Jalen Rose loved the activities, and it made me really think about the impact you can make on someone without even knowing.

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After leaving Jalen Rose, we headed over to Quicken Loans to go on a tour of the building and to eat dinner. We all sat down and ate, and we were later shown a presentation about Quicken Loans and all of the opportunities and internships the company offers. John Fikany spoke to us for a while, and seeing his passion towards the company really made me think about applying for a summer internship. We then were split into groups and were shown around the building. The Quicken Loans building was amazing- it was so colorful and all of the workers were super friendly. I loved exploring around the company and seeing all of the different branches in the building.

The Quicken Loans tour soon ended, and we headed over to the Detroit Institute of Arts. I was super excited for this part, because the DIA is one of my favorite places. There’s just something about going to an art museum and exploring around and admiring the art that makes me so happy. I got to walk around the museum with my roommates, and we were able to check out all of the different pieces and rooms before going to the little cafe inside.

At around 9:00 P.M., we all went to the Outdoor Adventure Center to debrief the day and get some rest. After exploring the waterfall and nature inside the building, we met with our groups and talked about everything we did on the trip thus far. It was awesome to reflect back on the day and talk about how inspired and excited we were about the activities and workshops. The discussion ended at around 10:30 P.M., and we all went to get ready for bed. Instead of going to sleep, we decided to circle up and share our passions and talk about our lives. It was really cool learning about everyone, and (in my opinion), I think it brought us even closer than we already were. When it got pretty late, I curled up in my sleeping bag next to my roommates and went to sleep.

We started the next day off bright and early. After eating breakfast, we got on the bus and traveled to Cass Community Social Services. Cass is an agency in Detroit that provides food, shelter, and jobs to members of the community. We were split up into groups when we arrived, and each group had the opportunity to do something different. My group walked over to the green warehouse, and we took on the job of breaking down tons of cardboard boxes and shredding papers to get the warehouse cleaned up for spring. This building was awesome because it was powered by spinning bikes. Whenever we wanted to take a break from shredding, we would ride the spinning bikes to give the warehouse energy. Our group leader, Mark, was super outgoing and played awesome music while we broke down the boxes. I loved this part of the trip because I got to work with my cohort and gain new experiences while helping out the community.

We got on the bus to head to Great Lakes Crossing for lunch at around 11:00 A.M. This was the last part of the trip, and we all settled on the bus to head back to CMU in the afternoon. Most of us fell asleep immediately after sitting down, but some us jammed out to old songs and sang for a little bit.

Now What? This trip was one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve been able to be a part of. It’s crazy how much of an impact you can make on someone/something, and going on this trip opened my eyes to the issues around me and inspired me to want to get out there and do something to help my community. Detroit is an amazing city, and it doesn’t deserve the reputation and stereotypes it receives. This trip gave me the initiative to want to reach out and help the wonderful city. I absolutely loved volunteering at Cass Community Social Services because I was able to work with others and clean up the warehouse for the upcoming spring and summer and create energy by riding the spinning bikes. The Quicken Loans tour gave me inspiration to go out and do whatever I wanted to do because I am a leader and I am capable of achieving wonderful things. This trip  was so inspiring and was one of my favorite activities of the entire year. I am so grateful to be a part of LAS and I will never forget the amazing experiences, memories, and opportunities I’ve gained from this trip.

Leadership Development

Yes or No?

Does leadership come from a “yes” or a “no”? 

When I first read this question, I had to take a step back and reflect on what I was really being asked. After analyzing the question, I came up with what it meant to me: “Do leaders say “yes” or “no”? My first thought: it’s “no”. Why would you say yes to everything? Wouldn’t that just get you in trouble? What if something bad happens? What if the task is too hard or too much to handle? My second thought: it’s “yes”. It’s 100%, absolutely, most definitely “yes”. 

Saying “yes” opens doors, creates new opportunities, and encourages growth. Being a leader means trying new things, growing, and helping others. It also means listening, learning, overcoming barriers, and being the bigger person.

“Do you want to go volunteer?” “Yes.”

“Do you want to join a new club?” “Yep.”

“Do you want to go skydiving?” “Definitely.”

Saying “no” means you’re turning down new experiences, new friends, new lessons, and new stories. I believing in living life to its maximum potential, and making every day better than the one before it. Living life to its fullest means striving to be the best version of you, making every day count, being completely open to trying new things, and pushing yourself to get better at what you do.

Now What? Start saying yes- I promise you won’t regret it. Ordinary people do extraordinary things, and saying yes is just the beginning. New opportunities and experiences come from saying yes, and learning comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone- another thing to say yes to.

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Leadership Development

Current Leader Reflection

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When you hear the name “Ellen DeGeneres”, what do you think of? Do you think of her spunky blonde hair and her contagious laughter? Or her dance moves and her famous “Scaring Celebrities” skits? Whatever comes to mind is most likely 100% positive, and that is because Ellen is an excellent role model. A “role mode” is defined as a person whose behavior can be imitated by others, especially by younger people (according to Dictionary.com). People of all ages look up to Ellen, and here are just a few reasons why she is an impeccable leader.

  • She is always positive. Ellen’s positivity radiates into the crowd and her infamous dance moves are a key  of the show. She is always smiling and telling stories that promote positivity and inspire others. Heck, most of the time she even shows funny videos to get the crowd laughing!
  • She isn’t afraid to express how she feels. Though she usually voices her opinions in a joking matter, Ellen likes to express how she feels to her guests and to the people attending the show. Being a leader means not being afraid to speak up and say what you’re feeling, and Ellen accomplishes this.
  • She isn’t afraid to be herself. Ellen is always making jokes and clearly shows that she doesn’t care what people think of her (in a good way, of course!) She does her own thing, and everyone loves that about her.
  • She is headstrong and hardworking. Between being in movies, having a talk show, and being a screenwriter/film producer, Ellen has a lot on her plate. She gives her all into each profession, and she is passionate about what she does.
  • She is kindhearted. On almost every single show, Ellen surprises her guest or a fan with something that helps them incredibly and changes their lives. Whether it’s donating money to a charity  or foundation (fun fact- she supports 49 different ones!) or giving back to a family in need, Ellen changes lives day by day. She makes an effort to significantly impact someone’s life, and she is so admirable.

Now What? Being a leader doesn’t mean having a title- it means that you express qualities that people admire. Leadership shows hard work, positivity, generosity, passion, and integrity. Ellen demonstrates all of these qualities and more, and that is why she is such an amazing role model. She inspires me to stop worrying about the little things, put my all into what I’m doing, and be the best leader I can be. It is well-known that people appreciate compassion and kindness, so I know to always demonstrate those qualities when working or talking to someone else.

 

Leadership Development, Leadership Education, Leadership Training

Igniting the Spark

As a requirement for our LAS Scholarship, our 2016 cohort needed to attend the Spark Leadership conference. Not knowing what exactly this conference would entail, I was pretty excited for it.

I walked into the ballroom in the LI, picked up my name tag, and sat at a table with a few people from my LAS cohort and a few others that I hadn’t met before. Also sitting at the table was a staff member of Spark, otherwise known as a team leader. After being called up and introduced to all of the people participating in Spark, the team leaders switched tables, and my table got the pleasure of working with Connor Haskins.

The first activity on the agenda was finding out our own personal leadership styles- something I was very interested in. The four different types of leaders were Systematic, Spirited, Considerate, and Direct. After ranking a series of activities from 1 to 5, I found out that I was a Spirited leader.

After learning about what type of leader we all were, we broke into different groups pertaining to our own leadership styles. I went into the Spirited group, and we all discussed why we were categorized into Spirited leaders and what characteristics we all exemplified. Some of these characteristics were that we were all super positive, very outgoing, we encouraged others, and we like to be outside of our comfort zones. After going back to our tables, we chose what leadership style we wanted to improve on. I chose Systematic, because I’d like to be more organized and want to step back and think about things more before going ahead and doing them.

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Photo by the Leadership Institute

Later, we were separated into different classrooms and were put into two groups: Alphas and Betas. I was an Alpha, and we were required to participate in a game. The rules of the Alpha culture were that we had to embrace in a hug or pat someone on the back before speaking to someone, we had to ask about the men in that person’s life, and we were then able to participate in a card game. The Betas would come over to our Alpha classroom to observe our behavior, and we would always kick them out.

After debriefing our activity, we learned that everyone gets treated differently and sometimes you have to take a step back and realize that we aren’t all the same. You could be saying or doing something offensive without even noticing, and we need to realize that everyone is different.

Now What? I got a lot out of Spark, and-despite having strep throat and wanting to be curled up in bed- I really enjoyed the conference. I learned that I am a Spirited leader, and I now know how to help out when it comes to leadership activities and now know what to contribute. I am excited to take the steps towards becoming a more Systematic leader by organizing all of my things into folders, color coding my notes that I take in class, thinking about and analyzing my actions before taking them, and participating in many more leadership conferences.

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Leadership Development, Uncategorized

Leadership Lecture: The Dirty Dozen

As shown in a previous post, I attended a conference at Great Wolf Lodge with my LAS Cohort and some amazing staff members. This conference was the 2016 Connections conference, and it exposed us to many ideas, taught us useful skills that we could bring back to CMU, and helped us make new friends.

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One of the sessions I attended at Connections was titled, “The Dirty Dozen.” This was an interactive lecture presented by the lovely Erin Smith-Gaken. In this session, Erin told us all about the twelve ways we justify our bad behavior. She gave us remotes to use during the session, and she put up a powerpoint and had us enter in our answers to the questions she was asking us. For example, Erin asked the question, “If you went into a grocery store and realized-as you were unloading the cart into your car-that you forgot to ring up a Vitamin Water, would you go back inside and tell someone?” We all entered our answers into the powerpoint, and she showed us the results. Most people said that they would not go back in and would just continue unloading the cart, while a small percentage of people said that they would go back in the grocery store and pay for the Vitamin Water.

Now What? This survey made me really stop and think about things. First off, not paying for the drink is stealing- but we would justify the fact that we “stole” the Vitamin Water by saying that we already left the store, and that it is too much of a hassle to go back inside. Second, I realized that our minds try to get us to rationalize anything that we do with logical reasons so we don’t feel bad about what we’ve done. Erin told us the top twelve ways that we rationalize our mistakes, and it was crazy that almost everyone could relate to most, if not all of them. It made me realize that sometimes I need to take a step back and understand that it is okay to make mistakes, because everyone is human. Heck, making mistakes makes us human, and we need to learn to accept them rather than try to justify them so we don’t look bad. I really connected with this session, and I even find myself (to this day) thinking about The Dirty Dozen.