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 Education

LDR200L Reflection

As a requirement for the LAS scholarship, everyone in the cohort is required to take LDR200L. This course met on Wednesday afternoons from 4-7. This course taught us about different leadership theories, how to create a useful powerpoint presentation, and how to facilitate a workshop.

Some of the assignments required for the class included writing a paper about our own personal leadership philosophy. I loved this assignment because I was able to explain my own philosophy and tell why I do the things I do. Another assignment was leading a Leadership Initiative. We were put into groups of three and had to lead a learning activity that taught a concept of leadership to one half of the class. The Leadership Workshop was my favorite task. While working in a group, a few members of my cohort and I were required to facilitate a workshop that explained a leadership theory. The workshop had to include an activity and a powerpoint and it lasted around a half hour long. This was my favorite task because I learn best with hands-on-activities, and it made it easier to memorize the different leadership theories.

My favorite part of this class was gaining experience and knowledge on how to facilitate activities and workshops. I was able to interact with my fellow LAS members while getting help from the awesome TA’s. Now that I have participated in LDR200L, I am ready to sign my minor in Leadership and experience new courses in the future. I learned how to give a presentation that got straight to the point while being organized and clean. Because of this class, I feel more confident in public speaking and talking in front of a large group of people. I became a better listener and learned how to properly communicate with someone else and give feedback that helps them. I can’t wait to pursue my minor of Leadership and I am ready for the next LDR class!

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Leadership Education

HST 110LWI: American Experience

9780547149073 As a part of the LAS protocol, I was required to take HST 110LWI, otherwise known as the “American Experience”. Our class was held on Monday afternoons from 3:30-6:20. This class explained early American history and told about immigration in America. We learned about the major problems in history by watching movies, reading the essays in the book, and having class discussions.

Because this class was a writing intensive course, our assignments were focused mainly on writing papers and essays, rather than taking exams and weekly tests. History isn’t my best subject, so I preferred the essays rather than the standardized tests. Some of the assignments included a midterm paper of a subject you chose, a paper on the history of immigration, and a powerpoint presentation at the end of the year. My favorite assignment was the powerpoint because it was interactive and I was able to work with my roommates on the project.

NOW WHAT? Taking this course challenged me to dig deeper into my thoughts on American history. Though it isn’t my favorite subject, it was interesting learning about things that impacted how our country lives today. I also loved hearing everyone’s views on certain topics during the class discussions and watching movies that caught everyone’s attention. Being in this class made me want to learn more about my ancestors and the events that shaped America today.

Leadership Education

Why?

In a previous blog post, I described the project I had to do on the novel, Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Start With Why describes the “Why? How? What?” Golden Circle model, referring to the three questions we often ask ourselves when doing things.

The what refers to what we do. It’s as simple as that.

The how refers to how we do what we do. Sinek refers to this aspect as the “differentiating value.”

The why is the trickiest question in the model. It asks us why we do the things we do. Why we get out of bed in the morning, and why we do the things we normally do in our daily lives.

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So What? As an assignment for LDR200L, we were told to develop a ‘why’ statement that applies to us. We watched the Golden Circle Ted Talk and had a discussion on why it is so important to develop our own ‘why’ statements. It made me reflect on my daily activities, and really got me thinking about why I actually do what I do. I get out of bed in the morning to spread kindness and positivity, to help people, and to make that day the best day I’ve had thus far. It’s my mindset, and it is what I love focusing on. After thinking for a few days, writing down little things that I wanted to be a part of my ‘why’ statement, and crossing out many different sentences- I came up with my ‘why’.

Why do I live my daily life the way I do? What is my purpose? To inspire others to promote positivity and live fearlessly.

Now What? Thinking of this statement took me a while, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It is a daily reminder to get out of bed and live my life to its fullest potential-no matter what that day has in store for me. Being positive is fun- there is no reason to add unnecessary negativity into anyone’s life. Thinking about my purpose inspires me to do everything to my maximum ability, and to inspire others to do the same!

Check out the Ted Talk Golden Circle Model below, and develop your own ‘why’ statement!

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, Leadership Education

Start With Why

“Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.” – Simon Sinek

In LDR 100, we were required to complete a book project for the end of the year. The project was to create a 20 minute presentation about a novel we were assigned in class. Each book had to do with leadership, and we were put into groups to work with.

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I was assigned the novel Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Start With Why is a book about a way of communicating that gives leaders the ability to inspire those around them. This novel was made into a well-known Ted Talk and has gotten over twenty nine million views since it was released. I attached a shortened version of the video below!

First, we started our presentation off with the “Why?” aspect of the book. We asked the class who their role models were, and told them to think about why this person inspires them. We then moved on to the “Golden Circle”, which includes three major parts. These parts are, “Why?” (what your purpose/beliefs are), “How?” (how something is different or better), and “What?” (what you do). We then moved on to the major themes of the book. The themes we mentioned were as follows: Inspiration, Passion, and Personal Leadership. We focused the Inspiration theme on the fact that the people we see as leaders are usually the ones who have inspired us. We then spoke about how we tend to find our “Why?” from the things we are passionate about. Lastly, we infused leadership with our own experiences and spoke about how  you have to be inspired in order to inspire others.

Now What? Simon Sinek taught me to find my own “Why?” statement and take a step back to really dig deep into things and topics that I usually wouldn’t think twice about. I can now rationalize my thinking, and am now able to explain why I feel the way I feel about a certain topic. This project was a fun one to create, and was even more fun to present!

Check out the video I made for our presentation below!

Leadership Education

COM 267L Reflection

debateFor our LAS scholarship, we are required to take COM 267L (Introduction to Debate). Taking a debate class sounded absolutely terrifying to me, as I hated public speaking, but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected it to be.

Our 2016 cohort was split into two classes: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 and at 12:30. I was placed in the 9:30 class. In our class, we were put into debate “groups”and were required to argue with/against those students for the semester. In my group, I had the pleasure of working with Lucas Gustafson, Mary Miller, Jacob Sova, and Megan Bird. Professor Cory Hillman (otherwise known as Dr. Professor Cory Anthony Hillman) presented information about Aristotle and gave us information that included learning about ethos, pathos, logos, and other topics. We then had a few practice debates and two formal, graded debates. My groups first argument (the Parliamentary Debate) was, “Should Performance Enhancing Drugs/Drug Enhancers Be Used in Professional Sports?” I was placed on the side that had to argue that performance enhancing drugs should be used in professional sports, and it was really hard because it wasn’t something I was passionate about. Our second debate (the Lincoln-Douglas Debate) was, “Should All Schools Be Year Round?” I had to argue that all schools should not be year round, and it was a tad bit easier for me because that I what I truly believe.

Now What? Although I had some nights where I would sit on my laptop and stress about whether or not my debate was going to go well the next morning, I did like the class. This course taught me that public speaking isn’t so bad- especially when you’re passionate about the topic you’re speaking about. I am excited to use the public speaking skills that I learned in other classes when giving presentations over the course of my college career. I can also apply skills like note-taking and heavy listening to my future courses.