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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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.

 

 

Fred Factor Reflection

41R6kggnMZLAs part of my LDR 100, Introduction to Leadership class, we were asked to do a project on Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred FactorThe Fred Factor is a story about Sanborn’s mailman, Fred, who consistently goes above and beyond doing his job. Sanborn was so impressed by Fred that he decided to write a book called The Fred Factor to help ordinary people live a life with as much enthusiasm, love, and passion as Fred.

For our Fred Factor Project, we were split up into groups and our assignment was to “Be like Fred”. While many groups in my cohort decided to target their projects towards bringing positivity and happiness to random strangers, my group took a different approach.

During one of our many group meetings, we came to realize that we are all blessed with so many wonderful people in our life, whether that be family members, friends, roommates, LAS family, teachers, etc. We also came to realize that we don’t appreciate these people in our life as much as we should.

As a result, my Fred Factor Group decided to write little notes of appreciation, also known as warm fuzzies, to our entire LAS cohort. We arrived a half hour early to class one day and left each of our classmates an appreciative note to open once they got to class.

By showing our gratitude for people we care about and mean the world to us, we demonstrated the four principles of being a Fred: Everyone makes a difference; Success is built on relationships; You must continually create value for others and it doesn’t have to cost a penny; and you can reinvent yourself regularly.

MASC/MAHS Student Leadership Camp 2015

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As a member of the College Volunteer Facilitator Corps, this summer I had the opportunity to return to what I like to call the happiest place on earth. MASC/MAHS’s Summer Student Leadership Camp is an experience unlike any other summer camp. For just one week, student leaders from high schools all across Michigan come together at Albion College to learn more about leadership, step outside their comfort zones, and create new bonds and friendships with other student leaders. Camp creates a warm, friendly atmosphere where everyone is valued, accepted, and cared for, no matter what. 

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Level one JC staff

There are three levels of camp: level one, level two, and level three (creative names, I know, right). Each level has a different leadership curriculum for students based on their camp experiences. Level one is for students who are attending camp for the first time, level two is for students who are attending camp for the second time, and level three is for students who are attending camp for the third and final year.

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Past and present CMU students at camp representing Central on college day.

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My wonderful campers along with my SC

Each camper is placed into what we call a council. This council is comprised of 15-20 student leaders from all over Michigan, typically every student being from a different school. Also, each council has two staff members, a Junior Counselor (aka JC) who is a college student and member of CVFC and a Senior Counselor (aka SC) who is an adult with a college degree who is passionate about student leadership among adolescents.

It’s hard to believe that just a year ago I was a camper myself, having no idea that this camp would absolutely help me find my purpose, develop goals, and shape me into who I’d always wanted to be.

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Me with my campers after defining what leadership truly is

When I found out that I was selected to be a level one JC at camp this summer, I couldn’t contain my happiness. My heart was filled with love, and my passion for leadership was like rays of sunshine beaming off my face. I was going to have my own campers. I couldn’t wait to inspire them and watch them grow.

As soon as I found out that my council color was yellow, I went Pinterest crazy with ideas. I planned cute yellow outfits and decorations for my council room. I couldn’t wait for the day that my campers arrived at Albion to experience one of the most life-changing weeks that they’ll ever have.

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My council room; the room where our council met daily and completed activities and reflections.

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The very first time all my campers were together as a group was heartwarming. They were all complete strangers and were able to connect with each other by working together to create a council name, mascot, cheer, and chant. My campers named our council the Beyellonces, making Beyonce our mascot and adding in the “yello” for yellow torches. I knew at the end of day one that I had an incredible group of student leaders I was going to spend the rest of the week with.

As the week continued, I challenged my campers more and more. I challenged them to think outside the box, leap outside of their comfort zones, and put their passions to action.

My favorite part about camp was connecting with my 17 campers. Every single one of them was filled with love, passion, and a desire to change the world. I enjoyed listening to their experiences at school and their aspirations to continue to grow and BE better everyday.

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My campers right before the level one sound off and olympics

My Beyellonces will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m so proud of the leaders they are and the difference they make in their schools and community. MASC/MAHS Leadership Camp changes lives and I’m grateful to be part of CVFC and the entire MASC/MAHS community.

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.