As a Leader Advancement Scholar I have had many opportunities to give back, which is something I am deeply passionate about. In an earlier blog post of mine I reflected on my service trip to Detroit before going. I have always loved Detroit, but my love grew even more when I got to work with students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and volunteer at Cass Community Social Services. I was able to spend time doing various service projects with the students, such as making posters for Special Olympic athletes and making cards for veterans. The students were friendly and their smiles said it all. It was very refreshing and eye-opening talking to the students about everything from school to family. While the view from the Outdoor Adventure Center may have stolen my breath away, the service did just the same.
My favorite part of our 24 hour service trip was helping make mud mats out of recycled, illegally dumped tires. The workers at Cass go out and find these dumped tires, cut them into strips, and then string them together with wire and beads. The workers here are all previously homeless trying to get on their feet with the help of Cass by making these mud mats, working in the soup kitchen, or doing various other tasks. The mats are very intricately made and all the workers pride themselves on how beautiful they are when their completely done. The worker that oversaw Sarah Lemanski and I was the sweetest man and really helped us out to make sure we understood the process completely. We both teamed up on making the largest mat with six different colored beads, so he definitely gave us a challenge. After we finally finished with the mat I stepped back an couldn’t believe how beautiful this piece of work was, and what made it most special was knowing how they came from dirty old tires and got turned into something so beautiful. It reminded me that everything, even those covered in dirt and hardships, can have beauty.
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.
Every Thursday at 6:00pm- 8:00pm for four weeks, I spent those two hours bettering my leadership skills at a program called Spark Leadership. This program is hosted by the Leadership Institute and various facilitators who dedicate their Thursday nights to students across campus who are looking to get a taste of leadership and meet new people. I am thankful for everything and everyone’s hard work that went into making this program happen. I got to meet a group of strangers whose ages varied from freshmen to fifth year seniors, learn about my leadership style, expand my knowledge on how to better communicate with various personalities, and self reflected to no end.
I can honestly say that Spark was a great experience and that I enjoyed taking my Thursday nights to reconnect myself to my leadership identity while meeting people I wouldn’t have otherwise. I think that this program is a really great experience, but I think four days total isn’t enough. What would be awesome was if Spark was every other Thursday for a whole semester, so that you could create an amazing bond within your group, not feel rushed during activities, and have a longer and more open debrief session. This is just a suggestion for the Leadership Institute to look into, however, I understand how this could become elongated or maybe too time consuming for some. Overall, I highly recommend signing up for the Spark Leadership series and dive into discovering yourself as a leader if you haven’t already or just want to continue working on your skills as a leader. Here is a video to spark your interest:
” 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.
Growing 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.
I 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.
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am I spend an hour and fifteen minutes with half of my LAS cohort in COM 267L, or better known as Debate. I am quite an open-minded individual, but like everyone else, I do have my opinion. This class forced me to break down barriers and see controversial topics from both sides, as well as defending what I believe in without crossing the line. I got to debate about raising the legal driving age to 18, getting more funding for the arts in schools, and more. This class not only challenged my thinking, but it taught me how to spot faulty arguments, how to properly back myself up when getting a point across, and also how to debate in the correct way. Personally, this class taught me so much more than I ever expected it to and definitely brought me closer to part of my LAS cohort. My debate partner, Madi McEachern, helped me out immensely and always brought her A game to our debates against Katie House and Liz Colvin. I can proudly say that Madi and I won all of our debates and put in a huge amount of effort and research when doing so. Overall, this class taught me more than I thought it would and now I can successfully debate!
From personality disorders to why we think the way we do, Psychology 100 was definitely a class filled with laughs and learning. In the beginning of the year I was a little stubborn about taking another psychology class due to the fact that I already took AP Psychology in high school but only got a three on the national exam. I thought to myself “How much more can I possibly learn about psychology?”, but I was in for a real ride with this class. From Professor Prewitt’s detailed stories and encounters to the bizarre questions that would come out of a fellow LASer’s mouth, I can say that I will miss the laughs shared in this class and the late nights spent on MindTap doing pre-lecture quizzes.
What made this class so much better was the fact that I was surrounded by my LAS cohort and how we could just bounce ideas off each other, and of course the family dinner trips to Robby afterwards. I learned, and actually retained, a lot of information from this class and can apply it to my everyday life. By being a leader I can also use many of the tactics and tips I learned about and easily become a better person to work with and to be around daily. This was not just a regular psychology class, but one that actually challenged my thinking and helped me be able to apply what I learned to the real world and to the people I work with on a daily basis.
As I was walking through the large glass doors of the UC on move in day I was greeted by multiple people dressed as if they were on a great African Safari Trip. The energy was high and the smiles were wide while I gathered all my essential Safari belongings from the large tables. I was quickly named a Penguin, or as my guide called us, “Particiguins”.For the readers who don’t know, Leadership Safari is a large, week-long leadership conference for all of Central Michigan’s incoming freshmen and transfer students. Everyone is put into a home group of about ten people and each group is named after an animal. I swear to it; by the end of the week you’re guaranteed to find some of your best friends. There are inspirational and motivational speakers from all over, the energy is unbelievably high, you break everything you’ve ever known about trust, and by the end of the week you could have reinvented yourself completely, like I did.
A little disclaimer: I have oddly attended multiple leadership camps, conferences and workshops. Weird coming from an LAS scholar, right? Well after attending more leadership gatherings than I can count, I can quite honestly say that Leadership Safari was by far one of my favorite leadership oriented conferences I have been too. I got to meet countless incoming freshmen who were in the exact same lost, confused, and awkward stage I was in. We broke out of our comfort zones, became emotionally connected to our home groups, and by the end of the week we were pros at finding our way around campus. Leadership Safari is exactly what it says, a true leadership adventure.
I took the knowledge I gained through this phenomenal experience and applied it to my leadership style and how I go about my daily life. I took the positivity from those surrounding me at the conference and now shed that light onto everyone I meet. I learned how to manage my time and stress and keep my grades in check. I truly feel that Leadership Safari made me a better person, student, and friend. I owe all my progress to CMU and all their wonderful leadership and life opportunities they have given me.