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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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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A Leader’s Legacy

“By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter. By living each day as if we matter, we offer up our own unique legacy. By offering up our own unique legacy, we make the world we inhabit a better place than when we found it”

-A Leader’s Legacy

This book took a more in-depth approach on how Leader’s need to be and conduct themselves to leave behind their personal legacy and the “right way” to do it. The book was split up into four different sections and each having chapters within those sections. The sections are significance, relationships, aspirations, and courage.

1. SIGNIFICANCE:

This section went through what a leader needs to do to be affective. A leader’s main goal should be to serve others rather than serving and focusing on themselves. And a leader must also be wiling to suffer. Next a leaders are supposed to be the best teachers. The best way to learn is from others. A couple of questions you need to be asking yourself are “What am I teaching by the stories I tell?” and “What do I want other’s to teach me?”. But as you are teaching and learning there are going to be critics. A quote that wraps up this chapter is “Pity the leader caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers.”. It’s hard to find that middle ground between being too loving and too harsh when being critic. But you also need to be mindful when you are the critic so you don’t hurt and discourage others. Having a positive impact on performance is a part of your legacy. The next chapter focused on why we matter and reminding leaders that they can make a difference as long as they get up and do something and not just sit around waiting for it to happen. Next was that we NEED encouragement. Not all the time, but just enough to keep us feeling like what we are doing is in fact a good thing.  

“Keep in mind that going above and beyond what is required is a choice, and people are more likely to give when their efforts are appreciated.” 

2. RELATIONSHIPS

This section focused on the relationships and trust that needs to be built in order to reach the goal. Leadership is personal. Trust is the foundation of any team. Without it the team would fall apart and not be able to reach whatever goal they are going for. Showing vulnerability is a strength to being personal, and being a leader. The next chapter focused on being liked. Leaders should want to be liked. Likability can improves performance. I think Michael Scott from ‘The Office’ sums it up perfectly: “Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.”. Of course there are going to be disagreements and no one is always going to see eye to eye but that is when you need to come together and find out where the disagreement started and fix it. You need to be able to learn and grow and get one the obstacles that are in your way. 

3. ASPIRATIONS 

“Leaders must decide on what matters in life, before they can live a life that matters” 

Leaders are supposed to be leading from the inside out. This means you are supposed to become the authors of your own stories and the maker of your own history. My favorite quote from this chapter is “The best leaders turn their followers into leaders, realizing that the journey ahead requires many guides.”. To me personally we need to also focus on the people inside our organization as well as the people outside and focus on them equally. If we are only focused on the people outside the organization we cannot train those inside to become a leader instead of a follower. The chapter says that forward-thinking is a leadership prerequisite. We need to be thinking about the organization in the future and leave it better than when we found it. But we also need to be thinking about what the followers want and not just ourselves. It requires experiencing life as they experience it.” We need to be able to see their hopes and dreams and also their fears and uncertainty. You need to be able to let the leader inside everyone be liberated. Leadership is learned. It is not natural. It’s doesn’t come with a certain personality and anyone can be a leader but we need to make sure to try and set that leader free. A good leader is also a good follower.” We need to know when the right time is to step up and when the right time is to step down. It is important that we do not try to outshine others and overtake the organization and let other people be leaders too. Not one person can do it alone. We need to learn to be humble in certain situations. 

4. COURAGE

Leadership is just courage  in action”

What leaders need to remember is that there is courage in everyone. Courage is a state of mind. It isn’t just an emotional experience, it has a rational component. Everyone has moments of courage and courage isn’t just for heroes. “Moments of courage are moments of truth”. You cannot plan to be courageous, but you can choose to be courageous. There are three different conversations when it comes to courage. The first one is adversities. This means that even in hardships, they can be met with courage. The second conversation is fear. Courage was described as the point where fear meets danger. The third conversation is suffering. There will always be suffering but we need to be courageous to get past the suffering.  

 

At the end of my presentation we showed a video asking people around campus what they wanted their legacy to be. We had some amazing answers and I felt really inspired that we had people around campus with such amazing aspirations.

So my question is, what do you want your legacy to be?

 

 

Making CONNECTIONS

Going to the Connections Conference was such an amazing experience. I not only learned many useful things to bring back with me, but I also made connections with people that I don’t think would have been made if I hadn’t gone and put myself into the mix. This has been my favorite conference that I’ve gone to, even including my conferences I attended in High School. I got to connect and re-connect with people, as well as listen to great speakers.

We first started off the weekend in our Institute Group. These were random assigned groups. We got to talk in smaller groups about what we think makes up a leader and what resources on campus we had. It was amazing to see all of the different groups and their resources. I really liked how they rarely split us up into groups based on what group we were representing. I got to talk to other people outside of LAS or people I had met through the Leadership Institute. We got to end our weekend meeting with our Institute Group and this time we focused more on things we liked about our groups, things that needed to improve, and things that needed to change. I noticed that many other people put that they wanted their group to be more inclusive and that they also wanted the trash talking of other people to end. It was good to see that other groups faced similar troubles. But it was nice to rejoice that most people put that they wanted their friendships to continue, and positive attitudes, and inclusivity to continue. The positive always outweighs the negative and it was nice to see that other groups were similar in those ways as well. I really appreciate how the Institute Groups brought many groups together that were involved in different types of organizations and that we got to see how different we were and that we also got to see how alike we were. I think it’s very important to keep the fact that different people can come together and make something amazing the front of whatever we do as leaders. That’s what being a leader is to me.

The first speaker I listened to was Erin Smith-Gaken. Her workshop was called the Dirty Dozen. It was mainly based on making ethical decisions. She gave us different scenarios and we got to anonymously answer them with a clicker. For example, one of the scenarios was talking about taking extra food out of the cafeteria and most of chose that we would or would have done it before even though the rule is that you are only allowed to take either an ice cream cone or a piece of fruit out of the cafeteria. The majority of the reasoning for taking the extra and “un-allowed” food out is because we’re paying for it in our food plan. It made me really think about the decisions I make as a leader and how they need to be ethical and moral while I’m in that position. It was really interesting to see that I wasn’t the only one making the more unethical decisions. Every time I went to go press the clicker I was almost afraid to see that I was the only one making the worser of the decisions, but it was nice to see that it wasn’t just me.

My next session was with Jamie Brown and it was called Taking Care of Your Leadership Garden. This workshop was about how when you take care of people you need to nurture and help them grow as well as create a plan of action. Although I feel I didn’t get as much out of this session as I did the in my other sessions, it was still a nice refresher that I can’t only be focused on my growth but I need to focus on the others around me.

My third session was with Jill Balliet, Emily Seward, and Madeline Klozik. This session was called Rooted in Growth: Mentoring Peers in Your Community. I thought it was a good idea to go to this session because coming up in May I will be becoming a mentor and will be helping my mentee get through their first year at CMU. Even though I’ve had a wonderful mentor and know the way to be I want to mentor and the relationship I want with my mentee, I figured that going to a workshop wouldn’t hurt anything. I actually learned other techniques on how to properly mentor and how to handle situations and questions the right way to actually help them. We got into groups and were given situations and got to switch up who was the mentee, bad mentor, and good mentor. It was really nice to be in each perspective and how it felt to give the bad advice and how it felt to receive the bad advice. This session was more relatable to me because I’m nervous that to become a mentor and have someone rely on me for actual advice.

My last and final session was with Tim Popma and Steely Pegg and the session was Leadership through the Eyes of Disney. I thoroughly enjoyed this session because I got to relate how I lead back to my favorite disney characters. I felt that my leadership style closely fits with Peter Pan. This is because I keep my imagination open and am still able to lead people. Although I go off on different paths sometimes, I still am able to come back to where I need to be and reach the goal. I loved being able to just have fun with Disney but still learn about leadership. Growing up only being allowed to watch Disney movies this was a great way to bring some of my childhood to my adulthood.

I’m very happy that I got to attend this conference. This was my first time ever going to Great Wolf Lodge and I’m happy I got to make new friends while I was there. Good enough friends that I’m taking them home with me to take them to Frankenmuth since I live so close. I actually made CONNECTIONS at the CONNECTIONS conference. Who would have thought?

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My First Two Months at CMU

August 20th, 2016 – This was a crazy day. I had so many different emotions on my way to campus bright and early that Saturday morning. I was driving my sisters car alone while my parents were about 45 minutes behind me. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Excited because I was moving to a campus I fell in love with the second I step foot on it and also because I was moving out of my house and going to start my adult life. I was also nervous because I was moving to a place that I didn’t know very well. I hadn’t made that many friends that I felt I could trust. At that point in my life I considered myself and ‘outgoing introvert’, but in all honesty, I was an introvert and was too scared to actually try and make friends. I remember that day I was holding back multiple panic attacks and was so completely overwhelmed that I knew if I talked to anyone I wouldn’t be able to hold back my emotions and I would make a complete fool of myself. The only person at this point I actually knew and felt cared to get to know me was my mentor, Garrett. I was not truly happy at this point in my life. I was still upset and petty over relationships that ended in the summer and what had led up to them ending in the prior school year. I was scared to let new people get close to me because I was scared to trust anyone after what I had gone through. It was hard to let people into a world where I was in a constant state of anxiety and felt like I had no control. I just wanted to get through the first two weeks and go home to see my family and my best friend.

October 20, 2016 – It has been a crazy two months. It feels like I haven’t been here for two months, A.K.A 8 WEEKS, it feels like I’ve been here for just a couple weeks. These weeks have been full of stress, full of tears from missing my best friend and missing my family and dogs. But I can honestly say that I haven’t had a panic attack in one month and it is the first month since March that I haven’t had one, and it feels awesome. I have made many friends, a few being my lifelong friends, and those acquaintances who will like the pictures of my children I put on Facebook in the future. I was always told that I would find those people in the first couple months of being here but I didn’t think I would. I thought that some of the friends I made in high school were lifelong friends, but life happens and it’s taken time to forgive, but I am moving on and enjoying life.

When I was in high school, I always thought that I wouldn’t be very outgoing in college because there are so many different people and I would get walked over but that is not the case. I now consider myself an extrovert and it’s the first time I have ever considered myself as outgoing. Recently I have been described as having a “loud personality”. That was new, but exciting.

I can’t say I haven’t missed being at home. And I can’t say I haven’t thought for a full day of dropping out and moving to California, but then was talked out of it by some good friends, so thank you. These past two months haven’t been perfect, but they have been amazing and I can’t wait to see where these next four years take me.

I feel blessed to know that the people who I have surrounded myself with are going to push me to be the best leader I can be and I know that they will help me succeed in my life.

Fire Up Chips!

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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