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.

15 Things I’ve Learned My First Year of College

The time has come and yet I still cannot believe I am almost done with my first year of college. While there may have been a lot of lows, the highs still find their way of out-weighing them. I have made life-long friends, lost important relationships, and fueled my coffee addiction more than needed. Over the course of this past year I did a lot of learning, observing, and growing, so here are fifteen things I learned my first year at Central Michigan University:
1. Playing dumb was never and will never be cute.
I thought people in high school only did this, but apparently it still happens in college too. Looks will only get you so far, but a brain & a degree will get you much farther.
2. There really is a difference between being sassy and being disrespectful. 
I have had many sassy friends, but there is a line and some people do not care if it gets crossed.
3. Being in a relationship isn’t everything. 
Who cares if you’re single? Find your forever friends first- that is what college is about.
4. Finding me time is hard.
It is very rare to have time to sit down and enjoy a good book for fun, but try your best, because finding time alone with your thoughts is one of the most important growing points in your life.
5. Partying is a privilege, not a priority.
People tend to confuse the difference, but if your biggest desire in college is to go out every night, you might be in the wrong place. Don’t get me wrong, having fun is important but if you’re failing you might want to check your priorities.
6. Some people will never learn to be independent.
Being independent is key in college. If you constantly need someone by your side, branch out and befriend yourself.
7. Life is like one big group project, so get used to it.
My dad said this to me when I was complaining about a group project once, and never have I looked at them the same. People are everywhere and you’re going to have to learn sooner or later that it is better to work together and fail rather than do it alone and fail.
8. People will bend the rules for certain people and not others, welcome to adulthood where they still pick favorites.
Playing favorites still happens in college. People will wiggle their way around everything and anything, but that does not have to be you.
9. People will always find a way to complain about their lives and explain why they have it so much worse.
Get rid of those people. Complainers will only bring you down, find people who want to hear about your day and your family. Positive people do exist.
10. Some people really don’t care.
Whether it is about grades, people, projects, or meetings, some people really just don’t care. Don’t be that person.
11. Crying is normal. 
If you’re crying about grades, life, stress, or anything, just know that your tears are valid and you don’t always need a reason to cry. Wipe those tears, put some Nicki Minaj on, and everything will work out the way it is suppose to.
12. Distance sucks and always will suck.
But you learn to make it work if it means enough to you. Do not let anyone discourage your friendships by saying that distance changes everything, because while it may change a lot, it doesn’t have to change everything.
13. There is never a point to stop growing.
Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, or physically. Grow. Blossom. Change. Change back. Seek out new things. Learn. Branch out. Never stop growing yourself.
14. Getting older means missing more.
Being two and a half hours away from family and friends while taking 18 credits and being involved is hard. It means you don’t always get to go to family functions or your little brother’s Confirmation. You learn that phone calls and FaceTime can be the second best thing to being there in person, and sometimes that is hard to accept.
15. There are always people who have your best interest in mind.
Whether it is your mom, your best friend, or someone in your sorority. Someone is always a phone call away that loves you and has your back. Keep those people very close.

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:

Leadership: Is it a Yes or a No?

IMG_1380Growing 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.

IMG_4593I 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.

No Haters, Only Debaters

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!