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 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.

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.

Leadership Training, Service

Pre-Service Trip: LAS in the D


On Friday, February 10th, I will be traveling to Detroit with my LAS 2016 cohort and some amazing faculty members to partake in a service trip. We will be going to the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy to lead initiatives and activities, and we will be volunteering at different locations that we are assigned to.

Living near Detroit, I am able to visit there pretty often. Whether it’s rocking out at concerts, going to baseball games, visiting little coffee shops, or just looking around the city- I notice how different it actually is from the stereotypes it receives. I am aware that there are many social issues in Detroit- some of the issues including the lack of funding for public schools, poverty, and crime. We hear about these things all the time on the news, but we never think twice about them. Most of the time, we hear only about the bad things that happen in the city- never the good things. Detroit is so much more than it appears to be, and I can’t wait to serve in the city.

The purpose of Central Michigan University is to prepare Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in a challenging and complex society. This experience will help familiarize me with roles of being a leader as I perform tasks and lead initiatives with my group. Being assigned to run through activities will help me gain experience that I can use in the future. 

The vision of the Leadership Institute is to prepare the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, improve the state of the economy, and improve the communities in which they live and work. This trip will work to inspire us and challenge us to open our eyes to the bigger issues that surround us. It will make us realize that we have the potential to change not only the community we live in, but the world, and I am so excited to do just that.

Going on this trip will help me grow as both a leader and an individual. I am ecstatic to be able to improve my leadership skills by running activities and leading things on my own. I have never led a workshop or facilitated group activities before, so I am ready to take on a new challenge and get out of my comfort zone. I am so excited to be able to volunteer while helping people in need. I am also ready to make new connections with people I don’t know that well and form new memories that I’ll always have to take with me. I love helping out the community and I am ready to be exposed to issues that our society faces today and further my knowledge on Detroit. Fire up for LAS in the D!

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.


Leadership Development

Current Leader Reflection


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.