Alternative Breaks

As I have previously mentioned, I have IMG_8644.jpgbeen involved with the CMU Alternative Breaks program for over a year now, and I could not be more happy with my decision to be apart of such an amazing program. I went to Immokalee, Florida last summer to volunteer in an elementary school, and this past spring break I went to Omaha, Nebraska to serve at YES, better known as Youth Emergency Services, as well as Completely Kids. Both of these trips allowed me to embrace one of my biggest passions— working with at risk youth in poverty stricken areas.IMG_2447.jpg

After both of these alternative breaks, I finally decided it was time for me to jump from being a participant to being a site leader. After recently finding out that I would be a site leader within this program I was filled with an overwhelming sense of pure joy and IMG_8705.jpgreassurance. Getting this position reassured me that my passions and eagerness to volunteer and serve communities are what really makes me most happy and most intune with myself. Service and giving back to other communities has always given me a warm feeling, knowing I really can help and use my time in a wise and great way. It isn’t always easy for people to find the time to give back, but even if you start by taking a couple minutes out of your day, it r
eally does make a difference. This program has helped me bloom into a person I am proud of and a person who truly does care for the greater good of others.

I cannot wait to see where this opportunity takes me in the fall as well as what break I will be site leading, so stay tuned!

 

Communication Works for Those Who Work At It

Spending an hour and fifteen minutes with half of my LAS cohort and Dr. Elizabeth Carlson could not have been a better way to spend my Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Communication through Leadership, or COM 461L, was a class that made me feel like I could express my opiniUnknown-1.jpegons, concerns, and gain a better sense of my leadership effectiveness overall. We are always told how important it is to be a good communicator as leader, but no one ever really mentions just how crucial it actually is in life. Throughout this course we learned about different communication styles in leadership, the do’s and don’ts of communication, as well as many stories and lessons from real leaders themselves.

Our cohort is extremely opinionated and participative which is why I believe this course was so successful as well as enjoyable. Dr. Carlson always made sure we understood the material we were learning by applying it to our lives, breaking us into discussion groups, and assessing us on our own personal experiences we have had with communication through leadership. At the beginning of the course we all had to discuss a time when we felt ineffective as a leader, and now we are ending the semester by explaining how some idea or key term from tUnknown.pnghis class has helped us or hurt us this past semester. I personally enjoy having the course come full circle by beginning with our weaknesses and then ending with how we attempted to improve a weakness.

This class was hands down one of my favorite LAS cohort classes I have taken for my leadership minor, and I am so thankful for this learning opportunity. I believe this class has helped me grow to be a more intentional and effective leader as well as just a better human being in general with good communication skills. While I am very aware that I have a lot to work on, I am grateful for how far I have come with communication and leadership these past two years. 

The ‘Eight People’ Political Science Class

 

Politics. This word seems to be used to scare a lot of people away or intrigue people in engaging conversations. Well, apparently it scared one too many people because a lot of my cohort decided to take SOC (no shame), and left us with an eight person LAS class. PoliticalScience_compressed_1920x1280.jpg
Thomas Stewart will let you know that political science is crucial to surviving in the society today as an active citizen, and I happen to agree. Politics have become huge on social media, in some ways this is good and in others this is bad. My generation has become extremely and actively engaged and participative in politics and the government as a whole, which I personally believe is a step forward.

This class really pushed my limits, my perspective, and my knowledge. Stewart would drill you with questions about your constitutional rights, have you spitting out the amendments in full length, and make you leave the classroom knowing more than you came in with, yet slightly confused. I left this class every period feeling like everything I thought I knew before, I really didn’t.declaration-of-indepence-1.jpg

To round off a semester filled with information that I can apply in my daily life, we wrote our final term papers on an individually assigned film that was to stimulate our thoughts about civil liberties. My assigned film was A Time to Kill, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, and Sandra Bullock. This movie was an emotional roller coaster about two white racist males raping a ten-year-old African American female and how her father murdered his daughter’s rapists. Most of the movie takes place with Samuel L. Jackson (the father) on trial for the two murderers, and every scene fills you with anger, sadness, and hope. During the return of the KKK in a southern and segregated town of Canton, Mississippi, this trial is creating all sort of buzz.

Overall, this class made me feel like I gained more knowledge about our justice system, societal issues, and our nation as a whole. I would highly recommend the class to anyone even the slightest bit interested, and definitely encourage all to watch the film as well!

 

Right or Wrong?… it is up to you to decide

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

untitled.pngEvery Tuesday and Thursday at 8am my lovely roommate, Lianna Riley, and I would take the short walk to Gary Fuller’s Philosophy 118L class. I have done many things in my life to start my mornings out right to ensure that my day is filled with more positivity, such as yoga, drinking tea, daily devotions, and much more. However, nothing gets my day started more than a riveting controversial debate at 8am with my LAS peers. I may sound sarcastic, but seriously, this class was a catch. Not only did I learn about my own opinions and stances on such topics, but I learned a great deal about my peers and their stances as well.
Philosophy at 8am may sound like a nightmare, and while it may have been just that on some days, Gary Fuller always knew exactly how to get the class stimulated and participating. We discussed pressing controversial issues such as euthanasia, affirmative action, abortion, gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, and the death penalty, all while remaining mostly civil and open-minded. A large topic in this class was whether certain topics were justifiably morally right or morally wrong. We wright-and-wrong.jpgould spend class periods analyzing such issues and debating over the morale and values of the issue, and why we did or did not agree with specific topics.
Overall, this class was honestly one of my favorite LAS classes because it made me think, defend, and reason with my peers about issues that meant a lot to most of us. While Gary Fuller had his unique quirks and long stories, he always kept us entertained and on our feet. If you or anyone you knows is interested in philosophy, I definitely recommend this class.

Let’s get Social

A part of my leadership minor protocol is to take LDR 200, which is a class that helps develop my leadership skills and ability. This class is not like any other class, in the sense that it is student driven and almost everything taught in this class is by my fellow cohort members. As we learned about different leadership theories and such, there was one in particular that stood out to me- The Social Change Model. The Social Change Model’s goal is to enhance student learning and development by analyzing one’s self, the group at hand, and the surrounding community. The most import concept of this model is the Seven C’s of Leadership, so here they are and how I personally identify with each:

1.Consciousness of Self

Being aware of my words and actions is so important, because you never know who could take offense to what I am saying or doing.

2. Congruence 

Having my morals, acts, and values all align is very important. The best way to put this is the old saying “practice what you preach”.

3. Commitment 

Staying committed to something can be hard, we’ve all been there. Trying to balance 18 credits, a sorority, school work, finding alone time, sleep, and a social life is very tiring. At times I question if this is what I am suppose to be doing, but at the end of the day I have more blessings to count than I do negatives. Staying committed to what you love makes the exhaustion worth every bit of it.

4. Collaboration 

Be open to working with people and do it with grace. In a previous post I mentioned something my father once said to me, “Life is like one big group project, so get used to it.” Don’t be the person who no one likes working with because you never do anything. Being open-minded and contributing is key.

5. Common Purpose 

You can always find someone with the same interests, goals, or likes as you, so branch out and don’t be afraid to talk to someone just because you’re different than them! Differences can lead to similarities! Find common ground, plant your roots, and blossom together.

6. Controversy with Civility 

Having controversy is OKAY. Step in the other person’s shoes and try to see their perspective on things. It is alright to disagree with someone, but it is not alright to hate someone because of one disagreement. Differences only make you more human, embrace that.

7. Citizenship 

Being an active citizen and volunteering in the community and elsewhere is so crucial in life. The feeling of giving back is something that cannot be bought or borrowed, do good things with good intentions and you won’t regret a single minute of your time.

So those are the Seven C’s of Leadership and how I relate to them. I try my best to live them all out daily, and I am still in the growing process of making sure to hold myself accountable to all of them.

LAS ASSEMBLE!

*Insert sound of 50 LAS students clapping once over their head*

This is one of the many memories I will always have from LDR 200, a once a week, two hour and fifty minute class filled with absurd amounts of snapping, reflecting, facilitating, and best of all, leadership. As if my LAS cohort couldn’t be more obnoxiously obsessed with all of each other (we all secretly love it), imagine a room filled with all of us every Wednesday night from 4pm-6:50pm. Craziness, right? Well it is definietly crazy, but absolutely wonderful all the same.

From facilitating 45 minute long workshops to strengthen all of our leadership skills to participating in reflection of one another and ourselves, this class has opened my eyes and challenged me in ways I didn’t think possible. Having a class full of 50 leaders means having a class full of 50 different opinions, 50 different personalities, and 50 big hearts at the end of each week, regardless if I didn’t noticed it at the time. We may get annoyed, angry, or pissed off at one another, but at the end of the day I can still say that I have 50 people who I could go to and cry on their shoulders.

This class taught me better patience and stronger relationship connections. This class taught me that sometime people just need a hug and thats all. This class taught me that it is okay to embarrass yourself in the front of a room for the benefit of learning something and being able to remember that moment. This class taught me to see the good in everyone, even when we really don’t want to. But most importantly, this class taught me to see myself as a leader and to not hide that or doubt that. And for all of these things, I wouldn’t trade all of it for anything (except maybe some moose-tracks ice cream).

Because Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

Like one of my favorite women leaders from the past once said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the many leaders I was fortunate enough to learn about in my history class this semester. A part of my protocol for LAS is to take HST 110L, and man was it a journey this semester. This history class is all about American history and personally I feel like I am one of the very few who actually enjoyed this class. I found our professor’s passion for history to be very inspiring, and if you take the time to talk with her she is always overjoyed and helpful. Our professor reminds me very much of someone I want to be– a passionate educator who isn’t afraid to be a feminist and advocate for equal opportunities for everyone.

Through this course I challenged my knowledge of American history and found a love for reading the letters that were exchanged between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. I think if people appreciated history more and actually read the class readings they would have enjoyed learning about all the struggles and pain that Americans faced. I’ve always loved history and knowing where we came from, where we are, and where we can go. I learned about some of America’s greatest leaders in this class, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Thomas Jefferson, and so many more. I think if we take the time to learn about leaders from this country’s past, then maybe we can better the leaders in all of us. And who knows, maybe one day one of us will end up in a history book along side some of America’s greatest leaders.

The Golden Circle

” Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with ‘why’ that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.” 

What. How. Why. These are the three key words that make up the golden circle of great leadership. In the Simon Sinek TEDTalk, he begins with a simple three-ringed circle drawn on flip-chart paper. He starts with the outer most layer and labels it ‘what’, then labels the second most inner layer and labels it ‘how’, and then he labels the inner circle with ‘why’.

Sinek’s TEDTalk made a clear point that people usually know what they are doing, some know how they do it, but often people don’t know or state why they do it.  He mapped out this circle to prove a main point: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” He uses this tactic to explain how inspirational leadership and genuinely good leadership comes from starting with your ‘why’, because once you start wit your why everything else falls into place.

Simon Sinek also uses examples like Apple, the Wright Brothers, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because all of these people and companies start with their why to become successful. People believe in you as soon as you stand strong for why you’re doing something or why you’re fighting for a cause or why you want change. People don’t listen about what you want, they listen about why you believe it because it shows that it really means something to you. I really love this TEDTalk because I couldn’t have said it better myself. Believe in yourself and your leadership skills, and so will others.

 

Leadership: Is it a Yes or a No?

IMG_1380Growing up as a child I spent most of my time (when not being a dramatic diva) never knowing how to say no, and truthfully I’m still working on that flaw of mine. While I am a very blunt person, I have a very big heart and struggle with saying no or turning away people. I was the awkward elementary student who didn’t know how to say no when the big kids demanded the monkey bars for all of recess. I was the shy girl in middle school who did not know how to say no to the bully or popular girl when they asked for my homework answers. I was the overly involved high schooler who didn’t know how to say no to joining 12 clubs and taking on positions in over half of them. But what I did know was that I needed to put my foot down in certain situations. So maybe I was called a pushover or known as someone who couldn’t say no to a sob story of why someone couldn’t finish their essay, but through never being able to say no I learned how to say yes.

IMG_4593I believe that leadership stems from being told no. I think if I was never told no in my life that I wouldn’t be so determined or accomplished as I am in my life right now. I was told no a lot, but I never knew how to tell others no because I was caught up in their feelings. I was told no when I wanted to be President of the United States in second grade, “The President has to be a boy, so you can’t do that!” I was told no when I said I don’t want kids, “If you ever want to get married you should reconsider that. Guys marry girls to pass their family name on.” I have been told no when I said I am going to become a teacher, “You think you’re going to be able to support a family with that kind of income?” Through my life time of being told no, I learned to be a leader and tell myself yes. Yes I am proud of what I am doing. Yes I am getting an education to better myself and expand my knowledge. Yes I am a female leader. Yes I am a woman that does not want children. Tell me what I cannot do and I will show you that I can. Leadership is a no that turns into an individual challenging themselves to say yes.