Diversity Committee

This past semester I was very fortunate to represent NCTE at the weekly Student Government Association (SGA) meetings. The National Council for Teachers of English elected me to be our representative and I quite honestly did not know what to expect. I served as the middle-person who would report what was happening with our RSO to other people in SGA and then would go back to NCTE and report wh

27858893_10156308054374994_1641781592374293175_n.pngat’s happening on campus to them. I found the two-hour Monday night meetings with SGA to actually be extremely informative and quite entertaining. As a part of SGA, I also got to sit on the Diversity Committee, which was also an amazing experience. Our committee hosted events, put on panels, supported multi-cultural and diversity organizations on campus, and essentially served as the platform for all organizations that were centered around diverse experiences and events.

 

This committee allowed me to meet mo

29543197_10156433215864994_3516597389594498763_nre people, engage with other organizations that I really had no idea about, and attend events that were cultivating and striving for a more diverse community here at CMU. It was an amazing experience and I am excited to be returning in the fall for one last semester.

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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

Comp Day Squad

Being on LEAD team through LAS has been one of my favorite experiences of my college career. I was one of the chairs for the LAS Competition Day LEAD team, along IMG_0040.jpg
with David Walter and Bellal Ammar. These two guys made my first year as a chair very enjoyable by throwing me into all the details and showing me all the ropes. This team is on that includes A LOT of preplanning, dedication, and coordination. I was very lucky to work on such a cohesive team that got along well and always had a sense of humor.

Competition Day is where it all begins in LAS. This is the day that really determines who is going to be in the next LAS class, so naturally everyone is jittery and filled with
excitement. I was fortunate to see and participate in all the behind the scenes activity that goes into making this day perfect for potential scholars. While David is graduating this year and leaving the team, I am thrilled to take on another year with Bellal as well as work with Abbey Claes, our newest addition to the team.

My goal for the team next year is to be more organized and work o
n our communication as well. It is really difficult to keep every little detail straight with this event, which can lead to miscommunication between other team members or other LAS students as well. I think Bellal, Abbey, and I will do a really good job with theseIMG_0036.jpg improvements this year. I also want us to work on better advertising and reaching out to high schools that are not fully aware of the LAS scholarship. Encouraging high school seniors to apply to the program is something we really need to work on as well. Overall I am very fortunate to work on such an amazing LEAD team and cannot wait to do it again in the fall. 

Donut Let Love Hurt

IMG_2488.jpgApart of my involvements on campus began last year with sorority recruitment. I’ve mentioned before that I was never even thinking about joining a sorority until I got to CMU, but I sure am glad I did. In the Fall of my freshmen year I joined the Delta Zeta chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, but little did I know what I was really getting myself into.

During recruitment I fell in love with Alpha Chi for a very specific reason― philanthropic passion. Philanthropy day is what sucked me into such an amazing group of women who advocated for the survivors and victims of Domestic Violence by spreading awareness. I knew I wanted to be in a chapter that cared so deeply about something I was, and still am, passionate about.

Fast forward a year and half later and here I am today, as Vice President of Philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega. I was beyond blessed to be elected into this position this past December, and I continue to thank my lucky stars and Jesus for giving me this opportunity. As Vp Philanthropy I was in charge of planning our philanthropy week this past spring ‘Donut Let Love Hurt’ to spread DVA awareness. We raised over $2,000 during the week for the local Women’s Aid Shelter and I could not be any more proud of my sisters. IMG_1055.jpg

While I have had my low points in the chapter this past semester, I am focusing in on the people who genuinely care for Alpha Chi and stick to our values. Regardless of what organization or group I am apart of, I have learned that there will always be struggles and that it is very possible to get through them. I am excited to be recruiting in the upcoming fall semester for a third time as well as be apart of our philanthropy day, the exact day that got me to fall in love with Alpha Chi Omega.

A Service Filled Life

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

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Those who know me well know that my mom is my everything and more. Gina Bastian is more than just a mother of four children, a dedicated worker, and a kind soul that touches the lives of many. No, Gina Bastian is the person who led me to my life of serving others. From a very young age she taught me to be kind, give back, and stay humble. While over the course of my lifetime this is a struggle to always do, I’d like to think that I am doing a pretty good job. But serving others is not about self satisfaction, it is about simply putting others’ needs before your own without expecting anything in return.

I have been involved with the CMU Alternative Breaks program for over a year now, and I can honestly say it has changed my life. This past spring break in March of 20IMG_2447.jpg17 I went with eleven other CMU students to Omaha, Nebraska to serve their community in multiple ways. During our week long trip we volunteered at YES, better known as Youth Emergency Services, as well as Completely Kids. Both of these program centers allowed me to interact with direct and indirect service, which left room for reflection on both.

I have always been a big people person and love directly serving communities and the youth, which is exactly what I was able to do at Completely Kids. In the past I often struggled with indirect service, however, this trip flipped that switch off and clicked on a light that made me fall in love with this specific type of service. With YES my group and I did all indirect service, including painting their shelters, moving offices around, and helping sort the food pantries and clothes closet. Doing indirect work is sometimes difficult because I don’t always see the direct impact it is making on people’s lives, however, this trip allowed me to reflect deeply and truly see how something as simple as painting a wall can completely affect a person.

After this trip I had a revelation that I was called to a life of service, which makes sense as to why I want to teach middle schoolers who are considered at risk youth. Over the past year I have regrown my faith with Jesus and have made these connections with a life filled full of service for Him and for the greater good. I am continuing my journey with the AB program this fall as a site leader and I could not be more thrilled to be apart of such an amazing and soulful part of campus.

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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. 

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.