Spark Leadership Series

 

spark3

Team Involvement after our first Challenge

For the past 4 weeks, I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to participate in the Spark Leadership Series. The Spark Leadership Series, also known as Spark, is a program put on by CMU’s Leadership Institute to further students’ understanding of their definition of leadership, their leadership style, and how they can further their capacity to lead on campus.

Going into my first session of Spark, I was a little skeptical. I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of leadership activities and simulations and I was really hoping that Spark wouldn’t be just a repetition of the same activities I completed throughout high school.

Thankfully, Spark was so much more than I imagined it would be.spark2

I think that one of the most valuable parts of Spark was being broken apart into groups that we stayed with for four weeks. My group, Team Involvement, went from being a group of strangers (minus a few of us in LAS who already knew each other) to a close-knit family. We overcame obstacles such as leading each other blindfolded through a room of mouse traps, discovered our personal leadership style, and expanded our perception of leadership.

Participating in Spark has furthered my understanding of my leadership style, considerate leadership, helped me develop new friendships within LAS, and has inspired me to continue to strive to BE better everyday.

Advertisements

Get Connected: Connections Conference 2015

I absolutely love leadership conferences. As soon as I found out that the freshman LAS class would be attending CMU’s Connections Conference in November, I got super unnamed-14excited. MASC/MAHS Leadership Conferences were some of my favorite experiences from high school; I formed new friendships, learned more about myself, and always found myself leaving with a desire to make a difference in the lives of others. I was eagerly awaiting to return to that atmosphere.

CMU’s Connections Conference is an annual conference put on by the Leadership Institute to unite student leaders from all different areas of campus. By uniting student leaders all with different experiences and involvements, we are able to share ideas and learn more ways to grown and evolve as leaders.unnamed-13

Connections was similar to other leadership conferences I’ve previously attended, however, it was also very different. The aspect of connecting with new people and gaining new ideas and resources to help us be successful was the same. One aspect of the conference I really enjoyed was being able to choose the educational sessions I attended. I attended sessions about Leadership and Personality Conflict, Worn out Leaders, Self-Awareness in Leadership, and Social Change through the Arts. It was refreshing learning about out different strategies to improve interpersonal connections, group dynamics, and overall learning more about myself as an individual.

Another fun part of the conference is that it’s held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. There was time set aside during the day for everyone to hang out in the waterpark 12191889_10153352434159075_7753267044626845543_n and go down the slides, float in the lazy river, and have the renown bucket dump 1000 gallons of water on them. During this time, I felt that I strengthened many of the bonds I’ve made with people in my LAS cohort and I was reminded how lucky I am to be part of such an amazing program.

Though Connections sadly came to a close on Sunday, I’m confident that the lessons I learned and the memories I made this past weekend will stick with me for the rest of my time at CMU.

Leadership Safari

Before I knew it, August 22nd arrived. To many, it seemed like just an ordinary day, however, on this day my life completely changed. I said goodbye to my friends and family and Holly, the town I called by home and was on my way to move into my new home at Central Michigan University.

11071609_10153261039997866_358309788583605508_n

Barnes Hall, my new home at CMU.

The thought of being a college student and calling Mount Pleasant my new home scared me and excited me at the same time. I was so uncertain what college would be like; the only information I knew was the opinions and advice from other people who have went through this before. Do college professors really not care about their students? Will I gain the freshman fifteen? Is the cafeteria food as gross as people say it is? These were all thoughts going through my head leading up to the big day.

11899969_1194294933920220_2180706253307704395_n

2,000+ Leadership Safari Participants along with their guides, the football and cheerleading teams, and the marching band.

I am so grateful that I signed up for Leadership Safari, a five day program for incoming freshmen and transfer students to get acquainted with CMU’s campus, other students, and feel at home before 20,000 other students would arrive five short days later.

Safari participants are each broken into groups with ten to twelve other CMU students and an upperclassmen staff member that is known as a safari guide. Each team was assigned a specific animal that their team would represent, anything from termite to zebra. Through these small groups, participants are able to form friendships with other students, have any questions about college life answered by their guide, and grow in their leadership capabilities.

11891128_1194303327252714_2966485035135044122_n

Team Tree Monkey

Shortly after moving into my new home in Barnes Hall, I found out that I was part of Team Tree Monkey (aka the best safari group I could’ve asked for). My fellow tree monkeys and I went from being a group of strangers to being a tight knit family by the end of day five. I was grateful I was able to experience safari with such a great group of people.

11904102_1193275927355454_7098857953751483098_n

My fellow LAS-er and Tree Monkey, Faith, and I maneuvering through one of the obstacles in the challenge course.

While I had already completed, and sometimes even facilitated, the leadership activities that we did at safari, what I took away from safari the most was learning to conquer my fear of college. College scared me. Let’s face it; I had never had such a large change in such a short period of time in my entire life. However, listening to the speakers at safari, having my guide answer any of my groups questions about college life, and even being able to have pizza with a CMU professor made me realize that I can do this. Before the rest of CMU’s student population arrived that Thursday, I felt like I was a campus expert. I knew the locations of all my classes, where the cafeterias were, and the fastest route to get from one spot on campus to another. On Welcome Weekend, other students would even stop me and ask for directions.

Safari made me so comfortable with CMU’s campus and I knew that I’d have no problem calling Central my home for the next four years. Safari made me realize if I dedicate myself to my studies, keep striving towards my dream of becoming a teacher, and keep being fearless, I will conquer college, one step at a time.