What is a Mentor?

When I think of what a mentor is I think of a friend but also a confidant and someone to rely on in times of need.

As I am going into my sophomore year of college at CMU I am required, as part of my protocol for LAS, to be a mentor to an incoming freshmen, or in my case two incoming freshmen. My cohort was given a presentation on how to basically be the best mentor we could be. We were able to split into groups and talk about things we had experienced on campus and wish we had known that we didn’t know to ask our mentors. This presentation was beneficial and got me into to the right mindset going into the following week when we were able to choose mentees which was such an amazing and exciting process.

Next fall I get to welcome Natalie and Kate into my LAS family. For them I want to do something my mentor, Garrett, was able to give me which was a friendship first and then we were able to talk and look to each other for questions and help. I am so very thankful to have had Garrett as a my mentor, he’s had such a huge and amazing impact in my life that I hope to be able to provide for my mentees. I want to be able to be their friend but also someone that Natalie and Kate are able to rely on and go to with their questions or if they are having a bad day and just need a quiet place to go and talk or hang out I want to be able to offer my apartment just around the corner from Barnes for them to be that place for them to go.

My ultimate goal is to be a mentor to my girls that they need as two individuals. From what I’ve learned about them in a short time I know I am going to be absolutely blown away by what they are going to accomplish and do during their time at CMU and I am so excited and honored to be a part of that journey for them. I absolutely know I am going to learn from them just like they are going to learn for me.

Congratulations Natalie and Kate! Hurry up and get to CMU, you both have a lot of people waiting for your arrival!

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Special Events Lead Team

Part of the protocol for the Leadership Advancement Scholarship I am a part at Central Michigan University of we have to be a part of a Lead Team. There are various Lead Teams such as planning for competition day ,which is when we get to meet the possible incoming cohort, and a Lead Team that plans a service trip in Detroit. I was a part of the Special Events Lead Team. When I first received the email about which team I was in it was called the “Fun” team, and it truly lived up to that description. We are in charge of planning the various events that bring the different cohorts together throughout the school year for just a way to blow off steam and just have fun. We’ve put together various events such as a minute to win it competition and LEAD on ice. From the very beginning we had decided that the common goal between the events was to bring the cohorts together and also so that we knew people outside of our cohorts and our “families”.

I think that we have done a great job for what we have had to work with. We have had successful events and I think that this is something that will just continue to improve as the years go on. I think that there is always room for improvement and that the team will continue to improve for as long as it’s a team. The team this year definitely kept out goals in mind and we were also very open to what everyone had to say during the planning process and I think that speaks for how successful our team was able to be.

I am proud to say that I am able to carry on the goal of connection between the cohorts as co-chair of the Special Events Lead Team. I think that this is going to be a great experience to have. I feel so honored to have been chosen to be put in this position so I can then carry on the goals that were set in place from this past year. I can’t wait to plan new events and to carry out the “traditional” events that are a staple for our team and that the other cohorts look forward to.

 

LAS in the “D” Reflection

On Friday, February 10th, myself and my cohort for Leadership Advancement Scholarship were given the opportunity to spend a mere 36 hours in the city of Detroit, MI. We were able to see the city as well as give time to volunteer in the city for non-profit organizations.

Starting on Friday we facilitated activities at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA).

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At Jalen Rose

JRLA is a charter school in metro-Detroit that was started in September 2011 and now serves over 400 students 9th-12th grades. This is a school that puts leadership in the center of everything they do, and that was very clear in how they ran things and how the students behaved while we were there. After leaving we were taken to the Quicken Loans building. Here we were given dinner and were able to listen to Buddy Henika who is very high up on the Quicken Loans pyramid, but in the middle of his presentation John Fikany took control of the presentation because of how passionate he is

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Outside of Quicken Loans Building

about Quicken Loans and how he was ready to give us summer internships and it was honestly amazing to see that he believed in us enough to basically offering us a really nice step into the Quicken Loans company. We got to learn a lot about the company and how involved they are in the well being of Detroit and how they want to proved jobs to people. You could really tell they especially like CMU students, they were happy to have us there and we were all very happy to be there. After going to Quicken we were able to go to the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA).

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Candid picture of Markus at the DIA

I wasn’t really ever sure why exactly we were going there until a week after when I was told the history behind the DIA. I throughly enjoyed my time there. The art was amazing and the history now makes me appreciate my time spent there. Next we went to the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center where we spent the night and also got to learn about how it had basically risen from the ground and had nothing but is now something that people travel from out of state to come to.

The next morning we were off to CASS Community Social Services to serve. We were split into groups, my group being the kitchen. In the building where the kitchen there is also a shelter there, which is why they need a kitchen. In the shelter there are three different floors, the first floor is for mothers and children, the second is for veterans, many suffering from PTSD, and the third for men. The kitchen provides three meals a day everyday of the year and week and they serve at least a 1,000 meals a day. One of my tasks was to shred potatoes because they were going to be used to make hash browns for a special breakfast where the veterans in the shelter could come and special order a meal like they were at a diner. This is something that stuck with me the  rest of the day. I have never truly been in Detroit and have only really ever seen the downtown area which is where all the work and re-building is being done. This was the in the outskirts and was in poverty. CASS is a non-profit that is focused on taking care of their people. Providing jobs, food, and shelter. This is so important to have in that area because of the poverty that has struck the people there.

So now, I would like to go back to JRLA and get to know more about it. I learned so much from this part of the trip that I will always have with me. I thought going there that we would be the ‘teachers’ but I learned more from them than I anticipated. Going to Quicken gave me a place where I want to definitely apply for a internship. I can see myself there and I fell in love Detroit from this trip. But CASS gave me the most from this trip. I am not sure if I would go and volunteer there but it makes me want to volunteer more and help those who are trying to help a community. I live near Flint and I understand what is going on there and I want to go and find volunteer opportunities there because I know Flint and I have seen the city deteriorate throughout the years and I know that the city needs some love and if I am able I should be giving it the love it needs.

Now I know I need to do in regards on how to better lead people. I need to be mindful of others comfort levels and to also make sure that I am not automatically trying to take over the situation. I also need to keep an open mind to new learning experiences. Everything is a learning experience that needs to be learned. But now that I have the humbleness in mind I really feel as if I need to volunteer more. I realize how much volunteers are actually needed. I need to volunteer more especially since I am so close to a community in need. Between JRLA and CASS I realize that I needed a reality check and to be thankful for what I have and the life I have and that I also need to share my fortune and bless others the way I have been blessed.

LAS in the “D”

This Friday, February 10th, 2017 I will be going on a service trip in with my LAS cohort. I have heard so many good things about this trip and I am excited for what I will be gaining from this trip. I hope to gain a closer relationship with my cohort and to also have a humbling experience from what I will be seeing and doing in Detroit. I am aware of the poverty that has struck Detroit and the racism that is still present. I know of these things from what I’ve seen in the news and things I’ve heard and seen most of my life.

“Leadership Institute has worked to prepare the next generation of leaders who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live.” 

This trip to Detroit is going to give us more of an understanding of something that most of us have never experienced and I believe that this trip will give us the knowledge we need to continue our leadership in our future wherever we all end up. We are going to carry what we learn on this trip with us for the rest of our lives. I cannot wait to see what I will be able to take away from this trip.

(This is actually my favorite mural in Detroit)

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Debate Reflection

This was an interesting class to say the least. This was a class that was required to take for LAS unless you had something that was equal to it. I was very nervous for this class simply because I had never taken anything like debate in high school or something that was even similar to it and I had nothing to base the class off of. And I had thought that this class was going to just be everyone arguing and that it was going to be out of control and that made me nervous coming into the class. But having half of my cohort in there with me definitely made me feel less nervous because I knew that we were going to be able to respect each other and also take it easy on each other.

We did three debates throughout the semester. The first one was a practice debate which was in the style of a parliamentary debate. My group of five ended up doing the first debate for all three debates every time. But the second debate was the real parliamentary debate and our topic was raising the legal driving age to 18. I was on the government side which meant that I was for raising it. I found that every topic we chose to debate on I ended up on the side that I was on the side I didn’t agree with. This made things harder but it gave me a different perspective on the topic. For our last debate we did a Lincoln-Douglas debate and in this one after the government does their first constructive the opposing side gets to ask them questions and vise versa. Our topic was that the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18 in the U.S. This was a very hard topic to debate since I believe that it should NOT be lowered. This was my personal favorite debate because I liked being asked the questions for whatever reason. I felt that it gave me a chance to discuss more in depth things that I did not have on my research or that I didn’t get a chance to discuss more.

Overall the class was definitely not the worst class I’ve had to take this semester. I feel like I learned a lot from this class and can now use these correct debating techniques in the future for whatever reason I need to. I did find it harder though to remember the actual lecture material. Having debate for and hour and fifteen minutes for a 9:30AM class came with many challenges. There were some classes I had to find something to do to just keep myself awake and I had to study twice as hard for the quizzes and the exams because I wasn’t able to completely comprehend them in class. Of course this wasn’t every class but there were a handful of them. I feel that Dr. Professor Cory Anthony Hillman was a good teacher for our class and that he knew how to deal with the LAS kids because he’s had other cohorts before.

Overall this was a good class to take and I can relate it back to leadership in so many different ways.

SPARK Leadership

On September 16th, a Friday, I attended the Spark Leadership conference that is hosted by the Leadership Institute. Being someone who has been involved in Leadership since I was a freshman in High School I have been to MANY leadership conferences. But this conference, in my opinion, has been one of the best leadership conferences I have been to. Throughout the day we got to discuss leadership styles, how the different leadership styles work together, how they rely on each other, and how we can take our newfound styles back to our groups and improve the group. I appreciate how leadership styles and working together was focused heavily at this conference. Personally I had always questioned what my style was and how I could use it in my groups I’m involved in and how I can improve what I do and how I am as well.

I feel like the conference was meant to focus on creating inclusive leaders. The two activities that my group did focused on using each part of the team to get to the common goal. Nobody was able to work by themselves because if they did then the goal would not have been reached. One of the activities was working to get an “eagle egg” from one point to the next without it falling or any of us touching it or getting to close. sparkThe egg was balanced on top of something that had strings attached to it and that’s how we had to balance it. But it wasn’t just a straight path. We had to travel over “fallen trees” and other obstacles that were meant to represent the obstacles we face when leading a group of people. This was my favorite activity of the day. It was fun and got the whole group thinking and talking to each other about what they thought would work and then that would start group discussions on why they felt that it would work. It set up a good way to how group discussions are supposed to go. Sometimes it’s hard in groups no matter the size to get your ideas in but this made it possible to get into the practice of making sure our ideas our heard in group settings.

Overall this conference was about building stronger leaders on campus. One thing I really like about the Leadership Institute is that they don’t close off their conferences to just LAS recipients but they involve students around campus so we can learn together and become leaders for all organizations across campus to make our campus an even better campus.

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

If I was told to choose one word to describe the mentor/mentee retreat I wouldn’t be able to. The different emotions that I felt during that weekend were too many to count. I did a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t have done, I got to spend some time with my mentor, Garrett, and I got to be with my cohort all at one time, which was honestly the first time we had all been together.

To be completely honest, I was not looking forward to this retreat at first. Garrett had made the mistake of telling me about the high ropes course and being someone who has a phobia of heights this was not good. I couldn’t mentally prepare myself this, even though I had known about it for months, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. And to add on my anxiety was through the roof during the whole retreat, but I held it back and didn’t let it out until I had gotten home on Sunday. But when it came to actually doing the course I had gained enough strength mentally to at least try it. So as I was putting on the gear and I was psyching myself up for this course. Garrett had suggested we climb up the ladder that is wooden and just goes straight up and down and I agreed because that seemed like the best option. So he went up first, like a pro, and then it was my turn and I started climbing. I was good until about half way up until I realized exactly how far up I was. So I managed to make it to the top of the ladder which for me was such a big milestone seeing as I wasn’t even going to try. So I think that was the biggest accomplishment from the retreat for me.

But bringing it back I got to be with all of my cohort for two whole days! Seeing that this was the first time we were all together it was amazing. I definitely feel closer and more comfortable with my cohort which is a really good feeling. I’m not always one to talk in group chat or go and just start conversations with people because I just assume people don’t want to talk to me, but that’s just something stems from my anxiety and I’m getting over that. I feel bonded with my cohort and I just feel so blessed to be in such an accepting group of people.

I can’t wait until next year when I get to have that experience with my mentee. I know I have a little bit before I have to think about that, but it will probably come a lot sooner than it seems.

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