Hey CMU… Pop Your Bubble

Central Michigan University is located in the small town of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where there is no mountain to climb. Mount Pleasant is apart of Isabella County, which is one of the most impoverished communities in Michigan. Many CMU students are not aware of this, because, to be so blunt, most students at CMU live in a little bubble. This bubble does not stretch far into the community. This bubble does not show that almost 50% of the community is living at or below the poverty line. This bubble does not show that there are community members struggling to find their nIMG_7073ext meal. This bubble surrounds CMU’s campus, the various Mission street stores, and the cute coffee shops. This bubble does not go far into the community, and this year I thankfully popped my bubble to expose myself to the high need that this community is seeking.

This semester I am student teaching at Mount Pleasant Middle School, formerly known as West Intermediate. I am teaching four periods of 7th grade English Language Arts and 2 periods of Study Skills for students with IEPs and 504s. Over 63% of my 128 students are living below the poverty line. Over half of my students wear the same clothes everyday. Many of my students are focused on where their next meal is coming from, if their parents are going to be at home, and whether or not they will be walking into their home with fighting or abuse after school.

I have volunteered in this community so much more now than ever before. I seek out local businesses. I stay after school to help students during Oiler Hour (after school tutoring program). My heart breaks for this community. We have had 15 snow days this semester. Many of these students won’t get any food on these days “off”. Many students don’t have heat. And when my heart is breaking for these students, there are people in this same community who have no idea what is going on because they live in this bubble.

I am up every morning at 4:30am, at school by 7am, and then home by 4pm. I am “working” full time, but not getting paid. Student teachers are expected to plan, teach, and do everything that a normal teacher would, but with no income. I’m thankful to be in a school with students that make me want to be up every morning. They inspire me to keep going. They have made me fall in love all over again with my passion for teaching. This might not be considered volunteering to some, but to me, my time I have poured into this community and school is irreplaceable.

I am excited to be serving a similar community in Phoenix, Arizona starting in May. I will be teaching middle school ELA in a community that is 75% hispanic/latinx, 15% black, and 4% white. As a white, female teacher I am figuring out how to best advocate, listen, and help my students feel welcomed and loved. This journey is not going to be easy, but Mount Pleasant Middle School is preparing me to take it on.

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And with a blink of an eye…

 

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My last semester spent on CMU’s campus was spent trying to stay involved while also

 trying to step back. I said my goodbyes to the many RSO’s and committees I was involved in over the years, and began my

student teaching journey in January. The RSO’s that I stayed involved in for my last semester were Alpha Chi Omega, being a Gamma Chi (recruitment counselor), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Student Government Association (SGA), and volunteering as a Peer Involvement Advisor (PIA).

I said my goodbyes to my leadership roles in all these organizations in December, which I thought would never come. With a blink of an eye, now I only have four weeks left with my Mount Pleasant Middle Schoolers. My time here at CMU was spent creating memories with wonderful IMG_9813people in wonderful organizations. As I passed on the philanthropy torch in AXO, the SGA representative in NCTE, and my PIA position, I am found feeling very thankful for all the leaders and role models that have helped shape me and push me into making my dreams a reality.

As I start to say my last goodbyes before I move to Phoenix, Arizona to teach middle school English, I am finding myself feeling very nostalgic. Everyone always told me these years would go by quickly, but I didn’t quite realize just how fast it would. I know I will always hold these memories close, and I am grateful to have them. But my next adventure is calling my name, and now I must go. It’s been real CMU.

LEAD Team

My second year co-leading a LEAD Team has been nothing short of wonderfully chaotic and filled with many Robby Café mornings with my favorite people. Taking on Competition Day for the second year in a row has allowed me to grow even mIMG_5885ore within the Leadership Institute. Bellal and Abbey were amazing co-leaders and I am very fortunate to have created successful changes with them by my side. From grading applications, hosting interviews, and running all the logistics the day-of, Bellal, Abbey, and the rest of the team were phenomenal. I was a facilitator my freshmen year, so this was my third year seeing Competition Day from the other side, however, it was by far the most smoothly ran and most calm that I have ever seen it.

 

 

I owe all this to the wonderful team of IMG_5887leaders, and while I am sad to say that this was my last year leading for the beloved comp-day squad, we went out with a bang. As I will still be around quite a bit in the fall to help, I will be student teaching during next year’s spring semester. However, I have all the confidence in the world that Abbey and her new team will continue to create amazing changes and find the best leaders out there.

Alternative Breaks (Round #2)

The Alternative Break Program here at CMU has not only impacted my time during my undergrad, but has impacted the way I serve others and the communities around me.IMG_5439

I am very fortunate to have been able to go on multiple Alternative Breaks during my past three years, however, the real game changer for me was being able to lead the Survivors of Aggression trip to Greenville, SC.

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Being a part of an organization that educates people on the many social justice issues this world has, and how to help, has impacted me in unspeakable ways. It has sparked conversations about how to create change, has allowed me to broaden my perspectives even more, and led to me living a more minimal and plant-based lifestyle. As of December 2017, I have been vegan and it has honestly changed my life for the better. I also compost with my roommates (shout-out to Nicole Lazzara for her worms), recycle, and no longer use single-use containers, bags, food wrap, and straws. I have reduced my carbon footprint and waste tremendously and I owe that all to the AB program

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OWLS

As previously mentioned in another post, I am an advocate for marginalized groups and those who face adversity. I am an ally to people and an advocate for social change. While I could say that I have always been this way, that would be a lie. I believe I have always, in some form, been aware of many injustices people face, however, I never really found my voice to let others know about these issues. I educated myself, and still do, on various social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, racism, mass incarceration, and many more, however, one that I found myself consistently drawn IMG_5957back to is women’s rights.

After my service trip to Greenville, SC serving the women and children of SAFE Harbor Women’s Aid Shelter, I was persuaded to join the Organization of Women Leaders (OWLS). One of my lovely participants, Emily Jones, sold me on joining during the trip, so as a woman of my word, I did.

I can honestly say that this organization has fueled my advocacy to a whole other level. I got to experience the second annual Women’s March in Lansing, Michigan with a bunch of other kick-ass women. I am a firm believer in the statement “empowered women empower women”, and I hold true to that. Joining this organization has not only taught me how all social injustices are intertwined with one another in some form, but they taught me how to use my voice and to not be shy about it.

Advocacy is so important. Creating change through actions, not just awareness, is crucial to a better society. This world has so much corruption and cruelty, but every voice matters. Use yours for good, for change, and for those who cannot.

Service Reflection

Since I was a little girl I have always been involved in community service. My mother has a servant’s heart and showed me what it meant to give time and help to others. This past school year I have served in more ways than I can count, and I owe that not only to my mother, my passion, or my school, but to the Alternative Breaks Program.

The AB program has been a part of almost every single semester of mine here at CMU, and I am very fortunate for all the opportunities it has given me. This past December I led an AB to Greenville, South Carolina to serve for a week in a Women’s Aid Shelter. I would need much more room to even begin to explain my experiences as a site leader, a volunteer, and an advocate for these women and children. My passion for Domestic Violence Awareness runs through my veins and deep down to my very core, and this service trip fueled that passion in ways I didn’t know possible.

IMG_5508What:
Twelve women. Five days of service. Two shelters. One resale store. Walls painted. Holiday gifts organized & wrapped. Leaves raked. Donations sorted. Unconditional love spread.

So what:
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Now what:
Use your voice. Do not let moments of injustice get swept under the rug. Validate people’s experiences. Listen to learn. Become educated on your local and national resources. Be a resource. Become aware, BUT also use your awareness to act. Being aware goes hand-in-hand with being an activist. If you are aware but do not speak up, you are no better off than those who are unaware. Spread awareness. Instill activism in those around you. Bring justice to social issues.
#SoNowWhat #CmichAB #SurvivorsOfAggression

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.