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.
*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).
BAS-KET-BALL! If you understand this, then you’ve either been to a Detroit Pistons game, live in Detroit or Metro-Detroit, or you’re very confused. Detroit, Michigan is a place my parents and family know very well. From my mom growing up in Detroit to my dad working in downtown Detroit for over twenty years, Detroit is not its bad-rep or its famous name, it’s home. I may have grown up in Metro-Detroit but many of my favorite memories were made in the rough and grey areas of downtown Detroit. My dad was a truck driver for LaGrasso Brother’s Produce Business and moved his way on up over the years. I remember tagging along on deliveries with him in the early mornings of many of my elementary-age days, but those are fond memories– not scary ones.
The stereotypes around Detroit are what gives the city its bad name, but I believe in the beauty of struggle. Detroit knows poverty, it knows struggle, it knows hunger, it knows gangs, it knows violence, and it knows weakness. But what people don’t realize what Detroit knows is love, family, empowerment, hard work, success, and strength. Detroit is a first love of mine, so I am very excited for the beautiful city to meet another one of my true loves: The Leadership Institute.
The LI and my entire LAS cohort are taking a 24-hour service trip to Detroit on April 1st; and no this isn’t an April fool’s joke. This service trip is going to be one for the books, from helping out in the community to directly working with students, I am all over this trip. The LI’s purpose is to prepare Michigan students for leadership roles in society, so by having us work with a struggling yet strong-willed city we are improving ourselves and our leadership skills. I am looking forward to bonding with my cohort and the many faces we meet over the course of the next two days. I really think that I will personally grow a lot because I finally get to help out a city so near and dear to my heart and my childhood. Detroit, get ready… because we’re comin’ for ya!
I’ll be honest, I used to have a major stigma against sororities all because of over dramatic movies and ‘hazing’ articles. So when I first came to CMU and Meet the Greeks night was coming up in a few days, I wasn’t so sure about it all. My three roommates were on the edge about going through recruitment as well, but the four of us went out on a limb and signed up anyway.
That was the best sign up sheet I ever submitted.
The recruitment process was long, confusing, a tad emotional, and a lot of talking. But on the first of five days I knew where my home was going to be. Alpha Chi Omega. The girls there made me feel at home and like I was already their sister. From jumping home on bid day with two of my roommates into the arms of dozens of happy-crying sisters to getting initiated this past November, joining this sisterhood was one of the best decisions I have made here at CMU.
Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy is Domestic Violence Awareness, which is something very close to my heart. We raise money and volunteer through Mt. Pleasant’s local Women’s Aid Shelter as well as Domestic Violence Awareness nationally.
And no, I do not pay for my friends. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to put a price on these powerful, real strong women. I can’t remember a happier day in my
life than Big/Little Reveal when I got my big, Nicole Lazzara. I joined the Flam Fam and got the best family around. Alpha Chi Omega has changed me, made me a stronger woman, and introduced me to my life-long best friends and sisters. #AlphaChiUntilIDie
During the Connections Conference I was lucky enough to attend a session called Redefining Empathy, and we sure did just that. Empathy is often confused with sympathy, yet these two words could not be more opposite. As Steely Pegg and Tim Popma, the session speakers, said “Empathy is not just a buzzword, it’s a way of living and leading.” Usually people view empathy through a one-dimensional lens but in reality vulnerability, courage, and being connected to a person are extremely powerful forces that create change within communities and relationships.
Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Sympathy: feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
To feel pity on someone, sympathy, is not the same as understanding and sharing the same feelings, empathy, as someone else. People often think that they are being empathetic when they try to “one up” someone’s situation or tell them that things could be worse. Here is a video to explain the difference a little more:
This session helped me to understand how to be an empathetic leader and that it is okay to be vulnerable and open up. I have always been a very open person who likes to listen to people and comfort them, so being empathetic is in my nature. But often times people, even myself, will confuse empathy and sympathy. It is good to know the differences and when both are acceptable and when they are not.
FRED. It is not just a person’s name, but a way of life. In LDR 100 I was given the opportunity to showcase what being a FRED really is, whether it is a mailman going out of his way to make sure you get your mail efficiently or a stranger holding the door open for you. Being a FRED is being someone who cares about the little things, someone who smiles at everyone passing by, or someone who writes a note to someone they are grateful for. When we were assigned this project I was a little bit hesitant because there are so many different ways that people can be FREDs, so how were we going to display what being a FRED means if everyone does it in their own unique ways? Well we decided to set up a table in the Leadership Institute and ask passerbys to write down how they were going to leave their stamp on this world. By doing this we got to see people’s faces begin to glow at this question, because everyone has some sort of passion they want to use for good in this world. After asking them to write it down we told them to keep it and put it some place where they will see it everyday so that it will remind them to keep chasing their dreams. Watch the video below and you can see our video project and how people are going to make a difference and leave their stamp on this world.
Leadership conferences are something that have consumed my life in the best way possible. From MASC/MAHS conferences to MYLead conferences, leadership is something that I have lived and breathed for over the past six years. Taking time out of my busy college life to attend a weekend at The Great Wolf Lodge for this year’s Connections Conference was one of the best decisions I have made (even if it was required to attend). This leadership conference helped me realize why I was at CMU to begin with and it reenergized the leader in my soul.
From hearing guest speakers talk about their experiences or giving us helpful tips, Connections truly brought CMU students together as a whole. I met people from all different Student Organizations and got to bond with them in a way I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for this conference. My LAS cohort and I got to experience a wonderful break from college for a while, but all whilst bettering ourselves as leaders so we could go back to campus feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of our first semester. I am forever grateful for the many opportunities the Leadership Institute has provided me with, this conference being one them. I recommend any CMU student leader that wants to learn how to better themselves and their community to attend this conference in 2017! If you click here you can find out more about the Leadership Institute and be on the look out for any updates for things to enhance your leadership skills.
As the buses rolled up bright and early, the entire Barnes Hall lobby was filled with tired eyes, but bright and energetic souls. All the freshmen in the 2015 LAS cohort quickly found their mentors, strapped on our fanny pants, and began to awe over the weekend ahead. As we arrived to Eagle Village and went over the ground rules of the site, we dove right into some challenging leadership activities. Everyone and their mentors were assigned to a small home group with about eight or nine other mentor/mentee pairs. My group and I first headed over to an outdoor wide-scale obstacle course, and my was this hard. All twenty or so of us had to carry a little tub of plastic balls and foam cubes through each obstacle—but everyone had to be touching the tub or a rope clipped to a tub. Although this was challenging, it brought out everyone’s leadership style and helped us bond as a group so that we could be successful in the end, which we were.
As the day carried on and more activities challenged not only the way we think but how we act, the night bonfire was something I might not ever forget. Two cohorts formed one large family around this bonfire and emotions were high as many opened up about themselves. This bonding moment was something completely different and wonderful all on it’s own.
The high ropes course was Sunday morning and boy did it have me feeling some type of way. As me myself am afraid of heights, I did not think this whole “strap yourself in with a harness and climb around obstacles in the air” thing would work out. Oh how wrong I was. Once I climbed up the ladder to reach the first obstacle I felt such a surge of adrenaline and empowerment—I could actually do this. Through the support of the fellow LASers on the course with me, I felt so unbelievably great and conquered one of my biggest fears. I cannot wait until I get a little mentee of my own and am able to help guide them through the many obstacles, not only at Eagle Village, but in life.
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.