Chicken Soup for the Volunteer’s Soul

Leadership Training

One of my favorite aspects of being a leader is also being a servant. I love leadership positions that take place in the community, and that is one of my favorite parts of the LAS scholarship.

Being a leader and giving back to the community is a great way to demonstrate servanthood, and being held to that standard is very important. I also love that not only does LAS require that of leaders, but that CMU also offers so many fun volunteer experiences to choose from. Some of my most memorable volunteer experiences have come from just the last couple of years spent at CMU.

This year, my favorite volunteer experience was offered through my major, Elementary Education. Each year, the health residential college teams up with the education students and put on a Field Day event for students with disabilities, whether they are cognitive or physical. This opportunity was so rewarding, tiring, and humbling.

Waking up at 6am and not finishing until 3pm makes for one long day, however I wouldn’t want to spend my day any other way. I helped at a station where students tested their food sensory using touch, taste, and smell.

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Finding my people

Leadership Training, Uncategorized

Coming into college, one known as a “party school”, I was nervous that as someone who is very strong in their faith, I wasn’t going to be able to find my place. However, I was very fired up about going to CMU and I knew that if I felt called to go there, then God was going to provide for me, and boy did he.

I had heard all about this great church at many different college campus’ called His House Christian Fellowship, and I was eager to give it a try. However, with my anxiety and the fact that I knew no one there, it took me a while to work up the courage to go. After going one Sunday and falling in love with the community, the worship, and the message, I knew I had to get more involved. After introducing myself to the connection intern, he excitedly told me that joining what is called a “life group” would be the perfect fit for me. I eagerly signed up because I was excited to meet a group of girls that I could hopefully bond with while growing in my faith even further.

After just a couple of days I got a call from a girl named Alyssa- just from hearing her voice I knew she was going to be one of the sweetest young women at school. She invited me with open arms to join her life group with another leader named Lynlee and a few other girls. Luckily, one of the other girls’ names sounded familiar because she was in the LAS sophomore cohort.

Fast forward 8 months and I do not know where I would be without these girls. They are some of the sweetest, kind-hearted, strong, empowering women I have ever met. Each of them have their own stories and hearing all the different ways that God has worked through them is beyond powerful to hear. I always looked forward to my Wednesday nights because it meant I got to laugh and grow with not only God but with some of the best gals ever!

Because of this group and how much I loved it, I decided to take a leap of faith (literally), and apply to be a life group next year. I have always loved helping lead in a church setting because not only am I helping guide others on a topic I am so passionate about, but I also am growing in my own faith through others’ lives. I truly do not know what I would do without my faith and I hope that I can help others see how much God loves them and wants to have a life with them.

Future Child Advocates….part 2

Leadership Training

After falling in love with Future Child Advocates and all that it stood for, I decided to not only come back for a second year, but I also took on an eboard position as Public Relations chairperson. I loved working with the amazing girls that were on eboard and just seeing how passionate not only they were, but even the general members. The club consists of all girls (not on purpose) who each have such a strong passion to be a voice for kids who don’t have one. They are passionate about being a positive light in children’s lives and for sticking up for them when they need someone.

At each meeting we work towards furthering our education on child abuse and neglect so that we can be better prepared when we are working with children hands on in our professions and every day life. This RSO is also very dedicated to giving back to the community. One of my favorite memories of this year was volunteer at the Whaley’s Children Center in Flint, MI. This is a large foster care system that houses children who experience problems at their home. They are dedicated to providing the best service and care for the children there and I could see that all throughout the time I spent there. We got to spend the day just helping organize whatever they needed, we decorated their parlor for Christmas time so that it felt like home for the children, and then we actually got to spend time with some of the children. For me this was the best part. The kids were preparing a Christmas concert to perform for their families who could make it, so they asked us to stay and sing along with them. I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever sang louder or more out of tune in my entire life, but boy did we have a blast. Those kids taught me more about love and joy than anyone else, and yet for most of them, they have been so deprived of that for their entire lives. This experience really just opened my eyes to the what true happiness looks like when you have nothing.

Being apart of Future Child Advocates has been one of the best parts of being at CMU and I can’t wait to see what we do next year!

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Our donation of 2,000 socks to the local homeless shelter

The hype-st day of the year

Leadership Training

As part of protocol for the Leader Advancement Scholarship, I am required to be a part of a lead team. Freshman year I was placed in the special events lead team and I had such a blast planning fun events for all of the cohorts. This year, I was very excited to find out that I was going to be on the competition day team.

Competition day is probably the best day in the Leadership Institute. This is the day where about 100 high school students are invited to compete for the 50 scholarship spots.  It is so much fun to watch the high schoolers not only interact with campus and all the leaders here, but with each other as well. Although not all of the students get the scholarship, all students are encouraged to find ways to be involved in the Leadership Institute because everyone is a leader here.

Although our lead team didn’t meet very often, getting to help at competition day was a treat in itself. My job was the greet every student that came in and get their folder all set up with everything that their day was going to entail. I got to talk to families and say hello to all the nervous but excited students. Getting to see the next group of leaders come into CMU was so exhilarating for me because they are the next group of world changers. From the second they walked into the room you could tell that they wanted to grow and learn just at competition day.

Being apart of this lead team was fulfilling and exciting. I can’t wait to see what group I am apart of next year, and hopefully further my leadership experiences through my next lead team.

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Competition day with the best roomie

Year in Review: Leadership Style

Leadership Training

I would just like to start this post by saying “holy moly”!!! I cannot believe that I am just 7 days from technically being a sophomore in college. When people say that college flies by faster than high school, they aren’t joking. With that being said, I could write a whole blog post on how this year has changed me, and I might do that later, but for now I would like to share about what I have learned over the year about my leadership style.

Before coming into LAS, I honestly had no idea that there were so many leadership theories, let alone what they were or what they meant. After learning about all of them, I feel as though I really connected with the Social Change theory this year.

Being in LAS has given me the opportunity to follow a protocol that has allowed me to tackle many aspects of leadership. One part of my protocol that I would do even if it wasn’t a part of it, was to be involved in an RSO. The Social Change model applies to this in a sense that when you’re in the organizations, you are focused on the individual,  group and community. Within myself, I try to hold still to my values and beliefs before the group so I am competent and confident within the group. In the group, where I am now focusing on collaboration and interaction between myself and the organization, I am trying to instill the groups values into them for future leadership roles. For example, I try to implement the skills of helpfulness, being a servant, and collaboration among my group so eventually we can all foster these characteristics and implement them in our leadership behaviors daily on the job. Within the society, the group is trying to bring about change for the common good. An idea of this would be how certain organizations shape you into well rounded leaders that are career based, or major based, so you are ready to impact the field and others around you for the long run.

Through the 7 C’s of leadership, social change is able to happen. I’ll explain 2 briefly:

  1. Common Purpose- This is to work collectively with the group through shared visions and for everyone to participate actively in the purpose and goals of the group. An example of this would take place in SAVV (Student Advocates for Vegetarianism/Veganism) where they all share the common purpose of saving the lives of animals and protecting the environment from to the mass production of meat.
  2. Citizenship- This is not simply membership, but actively being engaged in the community where your ultimately  working towards social change. Although this is implied in every single RSO to go out and volunteer, this is another section of our protocol where 30  hours of service with in our community can impact us as leaders. As we gain more self knowledge in this act, social change can increase as others see the problems they face as connected to the problems of other people and choose to engage in it.

Social Change Model is something we should lead by everyday in trying to make yourself and the community better. Through this model you can find satisfaction and enjoyment from making a difference in the world. As emerging leaders on campus, this protocol is allowing us to apply the many realms of leadership in many unique ways where we can all make a difference.

I am so beyond thankful for this crazy and hectic first year of college and I wouldn’t have asked for a better freshman year!!

Future Child Advocates

Leadership Training

One of my favorite things I have done since being on campus was joining the RSO called Future Child Advocates. This club was formed to help raise awareness for children who don’t have a voice in this world. At our meetings we always discuss ways that we can better inform the students on campus and even people in our lives on how bad domestic violence has gotten. Studies show that 3-4 million children between the ages of 3-17 are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. This club has opened my eyes so much to the ways in which I can help children who need a positive adult in their lives and I have also learned what to do in situations in which a child might need serious help.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was offered a spot on the E-Board for this club as the Event Coordinator. I will be in charge of planning any events that we want to do such as fundraisers and programs that we host for children. I am very excited to begin this position and become even more involved in this RSO.

Finally, this RSO has been really good for me because I have learned many things that I can take to my class as a future teacher. Through videos we have watched and guest speakers that we have brought in, I know that I will be able to help any student that may need me and I hope to be that teacher that influences my students in a positive way so that they may see that there is so much good in this world

Party Planners

Leadership Education, Leadership Training

What: As part of protocol, each LAS student was put into a group that they were interested in and were on the committee for planning any events or activities for that group. I was put on the LEAD team called “Special Events” and were in charge of planning any fun activities for LAS students to do outside of school that brought all the freshman-seniors together for some fun. Some of the events that my group put on were Minute to Win It Game Night, LEAD on Ice, and a final picnic.

So What: Being a part of this group was essential to being a part of LAS because not only did you get a chance to form relationships with the upper classmen, but, you were also put in a leadership position right off the bat. I am very thankful for my group because we were always energetic and we worked together very well when trying to plan events. It was very nice to work with fellow leaders and see all our hard work pay off.

Now What: Because I really enjoyed this lead team, I am thinking that I want to apply to be a part of this group again next year and maybe work my way up to be the leader of this group. I think this group really helped me learn more leadership skills such as teamwork and communication and I look forward to being a part of whatever lead team I get put on!

LAS in the D: Post trip reflection

Leadership Training

Well everyone it has officially taken me a week and a half to even try to find the words to sum up my 3o hour service trip to Detroit. Our trip was packed with many things to do, each giving me many new concepts to try to digest. I could easily write a book about all the amazing things we did and what I learned, but I’m gonna shorten it down to a blog post ;).

After many snacks and jam sessions, our bus arrived at our first destination: Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. Here, we got the chance to interact with the students that teachers picked out as the leaders of their school. We got into smaller groups and got the chance to facilitate activities with them so that we could get to know them and they could get to know us. Then, we broke off into separate rooms and facilitated larger activities where the students were able to learn more about teamwork and communication skills. I loved the atmosphere of my group that we set when writing out our community standards. Our group was very open with each other and we trusted each other and respected what others had to say.

Honestly, my time spent at Jalen Rose was the highlight of the trip for me. The students that were in my group were so happy about all that they learned that one student even asked “When are you guys coming back?” After telling them that it wouldn’t be until the next cohort goes the following year, another student replied with “please hurry.” I really felt like I was impacting these students lives on a deep level and I loved that feeling. As a college student who is pursuing a degree in teaching, working with students is always so fun for me and knowing I am really helping these students makes an even bigger impact on my life. Because this school is located in the heart of Detroit, it really hit me knowing that they don’t get a lot of the experiences that I got in high school due to low funding in their area. To even see the passion that the teachers there had for their job and the love that the students had for their teachers was so powering to me.

After an energetic afternoon, our blood sugar dropped and we arrived at the Quicken Loans building in the center of Campus Martius for some yummy pizza. Honestly, when I first heard we were going to Quicken Loans and having pizza I didn’t really understand how to two really went with each other, but I quickly learned. We had the chance to meet the Vice President of Strategy at Quicken Loans, John Fikany, who took time out of his weekend to come talk to a group of CMU students about how much he loved his job and CMU(did I mention he is a Chippewa alumni?). I have never seen such passion in a person before. I mean this man REALLY loved his job and it really showed. It was the first time that I heard someone actually say that they took a job at a company because of the companies why statement. Being able to hear someone speak so passionately about their job, got me really fired up to be in the teaching world and spreading my passion around to all my future students because I know that when people see how passionate you are, they get passionate too. After hearing John’s speech, we got to see the action come to life when taking a tour of the Quicken Loans building and really seeing why they are ranked the #5 place to work in the world.

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they let us take free slushies from the kitchen!

After being surrounded by so many people, it was perfect timing that we made a stop at the DIA. I had gone to the DIA a couple of times before this trip and loved every single experience there. I find it such a great time to just reflect and not really think about what is going on around you and just soak up the amazing art. During this time, I walked around the exhibits with my roommate Sophie and we just reflected on what we had already experienced, but we also walked in silence sometimes just to let each other focus on how we were feeling.

Finally, to conclude the day, it was time for some real fun; the run around a huge adventure center and be a 5-year-old kind of fun. For those of you who think that sounds like fun, I would definitely recommend checking out the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. It is owned by a woman whose son is in LAS and she has such a heart for this place and has been working on it since the beginning. We got the chance to hear all about how it came to be and how it has taught so many people about the wonderful northern Michigan. We even got the chance to play for about 30 minutes and it felt so good to be a kid again.

After getting a whopping 3 hours of sleep(which is a whole other story), our group headed to CASS Community Social Services where we got to volunteer in many different areas where help was needed. For those of you who don’t know, CASS is a great program that hires homeless men and woman to help get them back on their feet and build their resume again. They provide housing for them to live in too which is really great for them. My job while we were there was to sort and organize all the donations that they received and boy was I excited! Organizing is right up my alley. I will say at some parts it got a little frustrating. We were given instructions at one point and then given totally different instructions at a different point which caused us to have to unsort everything and resort it. I felt myself getting a little annoyed and quickly whipped myself back in shape and told myself that I was there to help them and I needed to have a positive attitude and be ok with the change. It was really cool to see the outcome of everything all neat and tidy and I know that we were really helping them out by doing that. I LOVE volunteering and so doing this made me very happy.

“So What”– What did I learn from all this you may ask? I learned so much about passion. If you have the passion and drive to do what you want, you honestly can achieve it as cliché as it sounds. But from everywhere I went from Jalen Rose to Quicken Loans, the teachers and the workers absolutely love what they do because they have such a passion for what they do. The passion that I talked about also has so much impact on leadership. The place where I saw the most leadership was at Jalen Rose with one of the teachers. I touched on it a little earlier but when these students saw this teacher, they would get the biggest smile on their face and would run up to him. Maybe it helps that he was the leadership teacher 😉 But just seeing that and knowing that teacher must be such a positive role model in those students lives in order for them to act that way, really gave me something to look forward to in my future.

If we are talking just generally about Detroit, I learned a lot about how things like Quicken Loans and the Outdoor Adventure Center really changed the heart of Detroit. Hearing about how bringing Quicken Loans into the center of Detroit helped the city SO much was really positive because you can tell that Detroit has worked so hard to bring back many businesses and it is definitely helping them. But Detroit isn’t just about Campus Martius. Yes, it was cool to expereince the really nice part of Detroit, but it still isn’t all like that. To me, hearing about what CASS is doing to help homeless men and women get a job and build a resume just put the biggest smile on my face. I had always wondered if places like that existed and if they didn’t, why? I heard a story about a man who got a job at CASS and is currently taking classes at a community college and is getting ready to transfer over to Oakland University to continue his college careeer: I got goosebumps. I learned how important it is to keep an open mind because you learn so much more when you are willing to hear more than what you want to hear.

“Now what”= And finally we’ve arrived at the big part of this blog post and a big part of what we talked about on the trip and that is “how are we going to take what we learned and apply it to our lives back at CMU or just in the world?” First off, I just want to take back all the passion that I saw not only in a lot of the leaders at the places we visited, but also just the passion that I saw in so many of my cohort members. A lot of my cohort cares so much about Detroit and it was so cool to see so many of them getting so into all the things we were doing and it really motivated me to get more involved in the things I am passionate about like kids and music. This trip also really motivated me to be more of an active leader and push myself to find so many more things to get involved in and maybe even find more ideas to become passionate about.

Before going on this trip, I was really struggling with the idea of “changing the world” because I have never really seen myself to be someone who could do that. After going on this trip and meeting John Fikany, a CMU alumni who is the Vice President of Strategy at one of the top companies in the world, my mind was just blown. Bringing Quicken Loans to Detroit has helped Detroit thrive as a city and knowing that someone who was once at CMU helped make that happen was just so cool. And no, he isn’t “changing the world” but he is working the make parts of the world better and I know I can do that.

I applied those thoughts to what I learned at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. Many teachers who work in areas like Detroit and other rural cities are teachers who don’t want to be there or, they are teachers that are so passionate and want to help those students succeed because they know that all students deserve an equal education. Seeing the teachers at Jalen Rose and knowing that they were so passionate about their jobs and loved what they were doing just really fired me up. Who knows, maybe one day God will call me to teach in an area like Detroit. If that day were to come, I know that I would use what I experienced on this trip and I would inspire and motivate my students to inspire others one day with their passions.

I am so beyond thankful for this trip and my LAS cohort. Life just wouldn’t be the same without it.

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my cohort in the Jalen Rose gym. Photo cred to Vincent Thurman

Gearing up

Leadership Training

I am so excited to announce that this weekend I will be joining my wonderful LAS cohort on a service project to Detroit on Friday and Saturday! We will working with many non-profit organizations while learning more about Detroit’s history. I will be writing two blog posts on my pre and post thoughts of the trip.

Detroit has gone through quite a ride of ups and downs and I am so humbled to help serve in a city that is very near and dear to my heart. Right now, there are many social issues happening in Detroit. Although I have not experienced them myself, some of the issues that I have heard of are poverty, racism, and crime. Many times when I visit Detroit whether it is with family or friends, one of the most said quotes of the time is “stick nearby” or “buddy up” because many tourists fear the city. Although I have witnessed poverty in the city in person, issues such as crime and racism I have only heard about many times through the media.

Part of the reason my cohort is going on this trip is because of the Leadership Institute’s purpose and vision which states:

PURPOSE: Central Michigan University is committed to preparing Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society.

VISION: The Leadership Institute prepares the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work.

It is incredibly important that as leaders we are humble to every society and know how to lead in any situation and culture that we are in. This service learning experience will help us as young leaders learn what it is like to lead in a “complex society” and it will open our eyes to all new experiences while humbling us to how blessed we are. This experience will also push us to further the quality of life in a town that needs more emerging leaders! Although we won’t be able to change the whole city of Detroit, we will be making some sort of difference and that is all that matters.

Finally, I am looking forward to growing as an individual from this experience. I am excited to spend the night in the city and just keep my eyes open to what I am experiencing. After talking to my mentor about this trip, she says “what you put in is what you get out” and I am very ready to put my all in so that I can further grow my knowledge in every aspect that this trip has to offer.

 

Finding That Spark!

Leadership Training

What’s being a leader without going to many leadership events??

This past Friday I was able to spend a chunk of my day at an event called Spark that the Leadership Institute here at CMU puts on for any student on campus that wants to better their leadership skills. As a part of this event, we took time to really learn about leadership styles and what our leadership styles are. There are 4 leadership styles: direct, spirited, systematic, and considerate. I scored the highest in the considerate leader style, meaning that as a leader I work to accommodate everyone’s needs in the group and help maintain team harmony. Although I scored highly in this style, I can also see a little bit of myself in each of the other categories and that’s whats important. No leadership style is better or more important than another. Each style works together to be successful.

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picture by the Leadership Institute staff

After leaving Spark, I am now very eager to work with groups and use the strengths of my style to help lead. I am also looking forward to challenging myself to become better in the other categories as well. One style that I would like to work on is becoming more of a spirited leader as well. I want to be able to provide a spark to groups when their energy seems to be dragging or just be more spontaneous. I know that a lot of my favorite leaders were the ones who were very fired up and that made me more excited as well. I encourage you to find which leadership style best describes you and to read into it more! Everyone is a leader whether or not you think you are.