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.

 

 

 

 

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Servant Leadership: Beyond the Classroom

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.47.12 AMThroughout my LDR 200: Introduction to Leadership course, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about many of the theories and approaches that help define what leadership is. For the duration of the semester, my classmates and I were split up into groups; each group was responsible for creating a workshop for a specific theory we given. Now that we

Now that LDR 200 is coming to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about how these theories we’ve learned (even th12417568_625062540980523_9015609560789164536_nough some of them are hundreds of years old) are applicable to our everyday lives as college students.

One of the theories presented in LDR 200 that really resonated with me is the Servant Leadership Theory. Not only is my own leadership philosophy centered around this concept, but I believe that as a college student, servant leadership is nearly everywhere.

The Servant Leadership Theory is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

12938074_625062574313853_7982738962821157617_nFor instance, this semester I joined the Student Michigan Education Association (SMEA). As our Outreach to Teach Community Service Project, we devoted an entire week during the semester to painting the inside of Ganiard Elementary School. Ganiard was looking for ways to make their school more of a warm, welcoming environment for their staff and students. SMEA members came together and spent more than 60 hours total at Ganiard prepping walls, stenciling, and painting. At the end of the week, our devotion to this project paid off and because of our efforts, the students and staff at Ganiard will have a warmer school environment.

Through this project, we displayed many of the characteristics of being a servant leader. We listened to other SMEA members’ ideas various ideas for the school and also collaborated with school officials to ensure we could provide what they11218480_625062567647187_9138030472145902539_n needed.

We developed a sense of empathy to better see what types of paintings would make students happy and comfortable to be at school.
We became aware of the impact our dedication to this project would have on staff and students at Ganiard.
Through this project, we built an even stronger community within SMEA as we each had a shared passion for teaching and the impact this project would have on the school.

I am so grateful for the opportunities I have every day at CMU that continue to inspire me to be a servant leader.

 

 

LAS in The D: Pre-Service Reflection

il_570xN.858021379_72xcI am so excited because tomorrow at 8:30 am I will be boarding a bus with 48 other Leader Advancement Scholars to spend just over 24 hours giving back to the city of Detroit. Countless people have told me that the LAS in the D trip was one of their favorite memories of their freshman year and that the bonding and personal growth that happens on this trip is unlike any other LAS event.

I have been to Detroit numerous times and I’d like to think that I’m fairly aware of the social issues that surround the city such as poverty, crime, and homelessness. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer with my church in Detroit working at a soup kitchen and helping at a neighborhood garden. After that experience, I feel that seeing poverty with my own eyes made me realize how real these issues are and how they impact the people of Detroit every day. Also, at home my family watches the Detroit news so a lot of my knowledge about Detroit’s social issues comes from the news.

As we head to Detroit tomorrow, there are many ways that this service learning experience relates to the purpose and mission of the leadership inDetroit Carestitute. The purpose of the Leadership Institute is to prepare Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society. I feel that the LAS in the D trip relates to the  LI’s purpose because on this trip, we will become more aware of the complex issues that surround the city and how as leaders, we can adapt to lead in these circumstances. The vision of the Leadership Institute is to prepare the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work. As we embark on this service trip, we truly are living out the vision of the LI; our service in Detroit will help to improve the quality of life to the students we work with and the community we will work with on Saturday morning.

I am so excited to see the personal growth I gain from going on this trip. I hope that being in the heart of Detroit will allow me to be exposed to more social issues that surround the city and seeing how I can make a difference against them. Additionally, I hope that I will even create closer bonds with people in my cohort and that we will come together as one big LAS family.

Spark Leadership Series

 

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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.

Start With Why

Why-PicWhy are you alive? What is your purpose on Earth? What do you want to be your legacy?

At some point in our lives, we’ve pondered these questions and questioned our purpose on Earth. Whether someone directly asked us, or we had thought about it when we were unable to fall asleep, the purpose of life is a question many of us have asked.

But in our day to day lives, how often do we think about our purpose? How often do we make decisions that don’t actually align with our purpose?

why simon.pngThis is exactly what Simon Sinek discusses in his TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. You see, people are drawn to purpose. People didn’t rally behind Rosa Parks because she merely gave up her seat on a bus; they rallied behind her because they supported her activism for racial equality. People don’t buy Apple Computers because they “look nice” (well, I’m sure some people do), they buy them because Apple markets their purpose is to enhance their consumers’ life and make technology easier to use.

So in the midst of all this talk about purpose, I questioned my own purpose.

Why do I get up in the morning? What am I passionate about? What do I want to change in the world and how am I going to do it?

In LDR 200, we were asked to create a why statement. Everyone’s why statement starts with “Inspire others to..” and then it was up to us to make our why statement our own. It only took me two worksheets and a few inspirational youtube videos to really get my creative juices flowing.

a47f04615a394cdb46fcac25cad1b7a6And then, boom, my why statement hit me like a big yellow school bus.

“Inspire others to live passionately and grow endlessly”

As soon as I wrote those words on paper, my heart glowed. I knew that these very words described my purpose on Earth. I believe wholeheartedly that life should be lived with passion and that everyone can always grow into a better person. If I could inspire someone to do anything, it would be to live a life filled with passion and always strive to be better than the person they were yesterday.

Though I may have figured out my why statement, I am excited to challenge others to find their why and wholeheartedly incorporate it into their everyday life.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.