Service Learning: MASC/MAHS Summer Leadership Camp

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 10.22.18 PM.pngThis summer I had the opportunity to return to one of my favorite places and volunteer as a junior counselor at MASC/MAHS Summer Leadership Camp.

MASC/MAHS Summer Leadership Camp is a week-long leadership camp for high school students. Students come to camp from all different backgrounds across the state to network with other student leaders, and learn about ways to better themselves, their community, and the world around them.

I spent my second year on staff being a junior counselor for a group of 20 high school students who were experiencing camp for the first year. Throughout the week, my staff partner, Brian, and I led these students through various activities, simulations, and discussions all to help these students further understand the immense need for leadership in our world and how they can make a difference throughout their everyday lives.

This was my 3rd year spent at MASC/MAHS Summer Camp, one as a camper and two on Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 10.22.32 PM.pngstaff. Every year I take away something new from my week-long experience. This year I was reminded of the importance of being intentional in my relationships with others, and the importance of perseverance through difficult times. I was reminded that no matter where you are in life, the relationships you build with others are the greatest blessing.

I am so grateful for my experience as a 2nd year junior counselor this summer and I can’t wait to return back to camp next summer.

A Year in Review

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 2.20.00 PMIt is hard for me to believe that just nine short months ago I arrived on CMU’s campus for the first time as an undergraduate student. I was excited, nervous, and anxious to transition into a full-time college student and to enter the “adult world.”

I cannot even begin to describe the immense impact that my first year of college has had on my life. It has undoubtedly been one of the greatest challenges thus far as it has made me look deeply at myself, my passions, and the role I want to play in making the world a better place.

While I could list the numerous clubs I joined this year or some of my most cherished memories, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet by telling you a few of the most important lessons I learned throughout my first year at Central Michigan University.

Lesson 1: Always ask for help

I learned that asking for help is not something that you should do, but something that is of uttermost importance to your success as a college student. Don’t know where your biology lab is? Ask someone. Struggling with a concept in Calculus? Go to office hours and the Math Center. Not sure what classes to take next semester? Make an appointment with an advisor. There are so many people on this campus who want you to succeed and would do anything to help you; make sure you utilize these resources and always ask for help when needed.

Lesson 2: Just because you may fail, doesn’t mean you are a failure

As a college student and someone who holds myself to high academic standards, I felt my heart drop deep into my stomach when for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t have all A’s. I spent hours a day going over calculus notes, doing calculus homework, and studying my butt off for days on end only to receive a B+ in the class. While in high school, I would’ve been deeply disappointed in myself for receiving a grade less than an A, Calculus I taught me that it isn’t the grade that defines your success as a student, it is your work ethic and dedication to understanding the material that does.

Lesson 3: Always, always follow your passion

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 2.27.45 PM.pngI came to CMU with a strong passion for teaching and education. I knew, with my whole heart, that becoming a High School Teacher was my calling and that with my career, I would be able to positively impact the lives of my students. As I enrolled in my first education course, completed all forty-five of my required observation hours, and joined the Student Michigan Education Association, my passion for teaching has only grown since I’ve been here. I am so grateful that my passion has allowed me to not only take education courses that I have genuinely enjoyed but has also connected me to other students on campus who share the same passion.

Lesson 4: There is happiness everywhere

1e49b39f-6255-45f1-a5ff-a99a8ce05957.jpgWhile being a college student can seem inherently overwhelming with never ending assignments, papers, group projects, and presentations, I have found that there is happiness everywhere, you just have to look for it. There is happiness within the close friendships you form. There is happiness when you get an awesome grade on a test you studied for days on end. There is happiness when the sun rises on the walk to your 8 am Calculus lecture. There is happiness when you sip your favorite Starbucks drink while studying in the UC. College is a place full of endless moments of happiness, you just have to embrace them.

There are many more lessons that I have learned throughout my first year of college and I cannot wait to see what new adventures the next three years will bring.

 

 

 

 

LDR 200L: Introduction to Leadership

70fd428d669eb1c63d37b3ca5157c1b6When I found out part of LAS Protocol was to take a three credit leadership course with my fellow LAS-ers, I couldn’t have been more excited. Although I had taken Student Leadership classes throughout high school and have been to countless camps, trainings, and workshops, I was excited to gain new college-level perspectives on leadership.

One of my favorite parts of this course, besides bonding over weekly snacks and Wednesday night dinners at the Robinson cafeteria after class, was learning more in depth about what researchers say leadership is.

Though learning about theories for three hours straight may sound boring, the way the material was presented in this course was a breath of fresh air; we were put into groups and were assigned to create an interactive workshop about the theory and how it is relevant to our lives as college students. By learning through this format, it was easy to understand complex theories and apply them to our everyday lives.

Also, there are some pretty neat aspects of this course that are unlike any other college class I’ve ever taken that I will apply to my future classroom one day:

  • A warm, welcoming classroom environment
  • Powerpoint presentations that don’t have 8,233,936 words on one slide
  • Funny, but relevant, videos
  • A genuine care for the success of all students
  • Lively, engaging lectures and activities
  • Self-reflection
  • and so much more

I still have about a month left in LDR 200L, thankfully. In this last month I’m excited to:

  • Receive my own mentee ❤
  • Present my workshop on The Social Change Model
  • Travel to Detroit, Michigan and volunteer with my cohort
  • Continue to develop as a leader and learn more about how others perceive leadership

 

Leadership Comes from Saying Yes

d1352bb06a6b6bfcdb0dcebf051e93a0When I think of leadership and the multitude of decisions that leaders make on a daily basis, I believe that true leadership comes from saying yes.

Everything about leadership revolves around the principle of saying yes. Being a leader means that you’re willing to say “Yes, the world we live in can be made better and I am going to be part of that change.” Being a leader means you’re willing to say yes to the challenges and obstacles you will face and not steer away from them. Being a leader means you’re willing to say yes to leaping outside of your comfort zone and not just living inside your shell. And being a leader means you’re willing to say yes, I am passionate about this and yes, I am going to put my passion to action.5f0a2d9b2e484eb511006908f44c9e79

Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, George Washington and Nelson Mandela are world renown leaders because they chose to say “This isn’t how things should be and yes, I am going to take a stand to make our world a better place.”

True leaders know that saying yes isn’t always the easy choice. If it was easy to accept the challenge of trying to change the world, everyone would do it. If it was easy to challenge yourself to be a better person every day, everyone would do it.

We live in a world where it isn’t always easy to say yes, and that’s why leadership comes from a yes.

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.

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

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Freshmen & Sophomore LAS cohorts at the Mentor/Mentee Retreat

Two high ropes courses, 100+ fanny packs, and 91 Leader Advancement Scholars; what do they have in common? They all played an integral part in the Leadership Institute’s annual Mentor/Mentee Retreat.

Bright and early on Saturday September 12th, the freshmen and sophomore LAS classes piled into two school buses and headed off to Eagle Village in Hershey, Michigan. The Mentor/Mentee Retreat is a LAS tradition. As part of the LAS Protocol, LAS sophomores are required to mentor an incoming LAS freshman. While mentorship sounds as if it’s just something required by protocol, it’s actually one of the coolest aspects of being a Leader Advancement Scholar. Our mentors become our “survival guides” for our first year at CMU. They alleviate our nerves with the transition from high school to college, become our go-to person if we need help, and most importantly, they become our friend.11809647_1603303416597270_1051086970_n(1)

One hour later and we’ve arrived at Eagle Village, our destination for the weekend. Soon after arrival, we were broken into groups with our mentors and several other mentor/mentee pairs. The groups were all named after LAS inside jokes; our group was named, “Team Bloutfit” which stands for black outfit (when someone is wearing all black clothing it’s called a bloutfit in LAS terminology). After two short days icebreakers, teambuilders, and obstacles Team Bloutfit became a tight knit family and had made me come to the realization that all of these people are there for me, not just my mentor.

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Me with my LAS family; my twin, Katie and my mentor, Meghan.

The entire weekend, I was consistently reminded of my BE goal: BE fearless. I made a goal for myself to leap out of my comfort zone by talking to new people and participating in group discussion even when I was unsure if my insight would be beneficial to add to the conversation. I wanted to leave Eagle Village knowing that I did everything I possibly could to make myself uncomfortable and truly grow as an individual.

The most challenging part of my weekend was going up on the high ropes course with my mentor, Meghan and my LAS twin, Katie. I always knew I had been somewhat scared of heights, however, as I looked up at the obstacles from the ground, I had not a doubt in my mind that I could conquer this course. I told myself that this would be a breeze.

Once I was standing twenty feet above the ground and the only thing securing me was my harness being clipped to the metal wire above me, my emotions changed pretty fast. I was nervous. I was afraid. I questioned if I would actually be able to make it through these obstacles. I knew that my biggest opponent, fear, had set in. 11998873_10103432851724638_7197907013465967067_n

To say that the first obstacle I attempted scared me was a complete understatement. The first obstacle I attempted was simple; it was so simple that the thought of going across it made me shake. The only thing between the platform I was on and the platform I needed to go to was a thin metal wire. It had no handrails, nothing to hold onto, nothing to catch you if you fall. The moment I stepped onto the wire my hands began to shake, I could feel my heart racing, and I questioned if I should just return back to the platform where I felt reasonably safe. But with the encouragement of my mentor Meghan, my twin, Katie, and reminding myself of my goal to BE fearless, I was able to cross the wire, one step at a time.

On the high ropes course, I quickly found which obstacles were easy and which ones were challenging. On the easier ones, I challenged myself by attempting to do the obstacle blindfolded, and believe me, that added a whole new dynamic to my experience. The obstacles I found most challenging were similar to the very first one I tried; they all had a small metal wire and nothing else to support me. I told my mentor, “The ones with the metal wire scare me the most so I’m going to try another one”. I knew that by doing what scares me, I would be making progress in BEing fearless.

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Our freshmen LAS class at the retreat.

The high ropes course and the Mentor/Mentee retreat taught me so much that it’s difficult to put into words. I was reassured that by facing your fears, you are able to grow so much more than you could if you were tucked away in your comfort zone. When you leap outside of that safe spot or comfort zone, the magic happens. I am also very grateful to have a mentor and two entire LAS classes that I can lean on and will support me no matter what. I know it’s still a ways away, but I am very excited to have my own mentee next year and be able to guide them through their first year of college and this retreat.

LAS is more than just a scholarship; LAS is a family.

TEDxYouth@ Clarkston: The Future of Education

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Giving a TED Talk at Clarkston High School’s TEDxYouth@Clarkston was by far one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life.

A group of Clarkston High School Students known as “The Thinking Project” hosted their first Annual TEDxYouth@Clarkston Event on Saturday April 18, 2015. Their vision was to select 12 high school juniors and seniors within Oakland County to each give a 10-12 minute TED talk revolving around the theme of the conference, The Future of Education.

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TED Talk Speakers and Clarkston High School’s Thinking Project

To select speakers, Oakland County principals were given the opportunity to nominate up to three students from their school. Next, nominees filled out a speaker questionnaire which questioned the individual’s experience with public speaking, their opinions on current issues with education, and most importantly, if selected, what would their TED talk discuss. After receiving 30+ nominations, CHS Students narrowed it down to a list of 16 potential speakers who all went through a phone interview process, being questioned more in depth on why they want to give a TED Talk, what makes them stand out from other candidates, and elaborating on their TED Talk ideas. Finally, 12 Oakland County Students, including myself, were notified that they will be giving a TED Talk at TEDxYouth@Clarkston.

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When my Student Leadership Advisor, Mrs. Street,  first told me that I was nominated to give a TED Talk, I thought she was kidding. She said, “I don’t know much about it right now, but wouldn’t it be really cool if one of our students from Holly ended up being chosen to give a TED Talk?” I filled out the nominee questionnaire elaborating on my passion for education as a future teacher, my experiences working within an 8th grade classroom, and aspiring to give a TED Talk on influential teachers. I clicked send and hoped for the best. A few days later, I was notified via email that I was one of the lucky 16 students who made it to the interview round of the selection process. I signed up for a phone interview that would occur on Tuesday, March 11th during the last ten minutes of my second hour and would be the deciding factor if I was chosen for a TED Talk. Sure enough, that Sunday I received the email I’d been eagerly anticipating; I was chosen to give a TED talk.

I started to draft my TED Talk as soon as I received the email. I chose to write my talk on influential teachers and the words instantly flowed from my fingertips to my keyboard. Writing my talk was one of the easiest and hardest things I’ve ever done. I chose to focus on three teachers who have all touched my life in very different ways: my seventh grade english teacher, Mrs. Briggs, my social studies teacher and student leadership advisor, Mrs. Street, and last but certainly not least, my sociology and psychology teacher, Mrs. Wheeler. As I wrote my talk, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love for these individuals who have each helped shaped me into who I am today.

I continued to revisit, revise, and practice my talk nearly every day leading up to the big day, fixing some quirks, changing a few details, and going over it to make sure my intended message, teachers do change lives, was heard. I read it to Mrs. Street as we were driving home from a Flint Metro League Student Council meeting. I read it to Mrs. Wheeler one day during lunch and she teared up. The Wednesday before the conference, Mrs. Street had me practice my talk in front of my leadership class to rehearse before the big day. I was scared. To be honest, I think I was more nervous to present it in front of my peers versus the real deal.

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One of my favorite teachers that I tell the audience about, Mrs. Wheeler, and I before the conference started.

Finally, the big day was here. I was going to give a TED talk. The though of that scared me to death and excited me at the same time. I ran through my speech one last time at dress rehearsal that day and then it was show time. The overwhelming support from my peers, teachers, school board members, friends, and family, was one of the biggest blessings I could’ve ever asked for. The superintendent, coordinator of curriculum, my high school principal, my favorite teacher, Wheels, and my parents and classmates arrived to support me. With their love and support, I did it. I gave a TED talk and I know that I conquered one of my biggest fears by doing so.