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.

AXO Executive Board and More

Serving on Alpha Chi Omega’s executive board for the entire 2017 year as the Vice President of Philanthropy has not only challenged me in many ways, but allowed me to establish myself as a leader for the people and for change. I was very thankful for all my experiences working with ourIMG_4515 philanthropy, Domestic Violence Awareness, and can confidently say that I have left my mark on AXO with the service and commitment I did during my time on e-board.

My committee and I executed another successful fall semester spaghetti dinner raising money for the local Women’s Aid Shelter and also implemented many new ideas as well as spread more awareness on campus. We were also able to be a part of the entire Greek community raising $100,000 for Women’s Aid Services and Special Day Camps this past Greek Week.

With my term ending in December, I have now stepped back in AXO, however, I still hold two committee positions and used my leadership capstone project to re-implement our My Journey program. Essentially, I spent this past semester working to bring back a program that focuses on mental, emotional, and physical health that we lost this past year. I successfully brought it back and it will now be up and running this fall semester.IMG_3676

Since I first joined Alpha Chi Omega three year ago I have always had a leadership role and I am very grateful that when I go alum from the chapter in December I will be finishing up my two committee positions. This organization has supported me and given me so many opportunities to flourish, to create change, to grow, and to be a leader that cares.

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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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. 

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).

Spark-ing Leadership

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:

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.