I live in a small community. In my community, we take care of our own and support each other. Within my community, I go to a church called Millington Church of God. Within that church, both my mom and my sister carry out jobs that service both the young children and the teens in the church. This past semester had been particularly rough for me so I found myself at home a lot. This is when my service started.
I decided that if I was coming home I wanted to be serving alongside my family. I volunteered my time with the youth kids so I could help mentor them. I found that I really liked volunteering my time with the kids. They go through similar things that I went through and I feel as if I can help them. They also think I am really cool since I am in college so that helps me connect with them.
This helped me make more connections for when I am at home. I feel I am really making a difference in a community I grew up in that helped me become who I am. I have already committed to going on different youth retreats to chaperone and help them grow together. This is my new community and I love it very much. Not only do I get to work with kids, which I love doing, I also get to work alongside my mom and sister and grow with them in a different, adult way. I am connected and it is honestly a really good feeling.
By serving in this youth group I learned that I am never done being a mentor and I get to mentor an awesome group of kids. I have learned so much from being in my position and it has inspired me to become more involved with mentoring programs. Although I am not sure where I want to mentor, I know that it is in my future.
As a part of the protocol for the Leadership Advancement Scholarship, I took a class that was about Social Problems. We learned about different social issues that take place in the world, this could include gentrification, pollution, and the education system. We talked about broken systems that reside within the U.S. This was a class where we shared our opinion and discussed ways that we would try to fix these problems and why they could work or wouldn’t work.
There was much debate within this class. This debate brought light to issues that people within our class faced every day. We were from all over Michigan, including rural, suburban, and city areas. We had a lot of diversity and people from different backgrounds which made our discussions very personal, but at times, heated.
In this class, I was able to become more knowledgeable about social problems. These problems happen all around us, sometimes without us realizing that they are happening. As a leader, I will be faced with these social problems. It is my job to be a person who makes changes to these problems and tries to end them. In this class, I was able to not only learn but understand people who go through these issues daily. I
I DON’T WANT TO BE THE PROBLEM, I WANT TO BE THE SOLUTION
As part of the protocol for the Leadership Advancement Scholars at Central Michigan University, we are required to take place in small teams that all help the Leadership Institute to have events. Some of these teams include Diversity, Grad Ball, and Polar Plunge. In this past school year, 2017-2018, I had the chance to be a co-chair with my dear friend Olivia in the lead team called the Special Events Lead Team (SELT).
I was in SELT my freshman year of college and it was a great experience. I felt I was able to meet individuals in other cohorts and also become close to people in my cohort that were on the same team. When applications opened in the spring of 2017 I knew that I needed to apply and offer the LEAD team everything I had to offer it. I was very pleased to hear the news that both myself and Olivia had received the positions and we would be able to work together with a new team.
I would just like to say how awesome of a team we had this school year. Every meeting they came with fresh ideas with a great work ethic and we accomplished many great things. During our first meeting, we put together values that we could think back on while planning future events and we felt like we needed to remember why we were planning these events.
These Purpose, Goals, & Expectations were as followed:
Purpose: To plan, coordinate, and execute special/social events within the Leadership Institute.
Our lead team was still a fairly new team and had no prior expectations to what we were supposed to be planning. We were told that those people involved in the Leadership Insitute enjoyed traditions so we set out to start to find and begin new traditions. Our first event was called Ballroom Bash.
Ballroom Bash was a great success. There had never been anything, to our knowledge, that was like this event. This was a free fall themed event. Having inclusivity of all
members of the Leadership Institute was at the forefront of why the event was being planned. Having fun games, including Kahoot!, a floor tic tac toe, and cornhole, crafts, and season appropriate food and drink we had the perfect set up for a well-themed event. I was very pleased that our team was able, and willing, to go above and beyond to help promote our event. This included being the people in group chats to continuously send the same graphic over and over to let people know that this very fun event was taking place.
This slideshow shows a few pictures from the night, huge thank you to those who were snapping pictures the entire night!
Now moving on to our last and final event of the year: LEAD on Ice.
This is an event that has held tradition for many years within the Leadership Institute. This type of event tends to be more laid back than other events since it is ice skating. There was not a lot for our team to do other than promo the event to everyone they know. Our team made their own promo video which you can see here.
We had a great turn out and our team did a wonderful job promoting our event. I am so thankful for each and every on of them and all they did to make their event the best it could be.
These are some pictures caught throughout the night.
When planning events there it is a 50/50 chance that it will either turn out great or turn out way wrong. Our team was able to host two successful events. Both events carried the same values that we had set for ourselves at the beginning. I loved getting to know everyone on my team and seeing them get to know each other. We truly had an amazing team and I am happy I was able to be a part of it.
In just 18 days, April 20th, myself and my mentees will be celebrating our first anniversary of the day I revealed who I was to them. I remember that I was ready to help these two girls I fell in love with before I knew them, to prosper at Central Michigan University. I not only was able to help them have a smooth transition from high school to college, but I got to become best friends with two of the most amazing people I have ever met.
I was able to receive two mentees, Natalie and Kate. I knew that having two mentees would be a challenge in many ways and did not know what I could possibly be getting myself into. With two people who are as different as Natalie and Kate are from each other, there was always the possibility of them just not liking each other and I would have to divide my time to them even more than I was planning on.
This was not the case whatsoever. I love seeing all of the different pictures they send me when they’re together and how they support and understand the other and her challenges. It warms my heart that I was a factor in their friendship and making connections when they came to CMU. I’m happy that they could both know someone before coming to CMU.
Although we were starting to make connections before the fall semester started, like at Natalie’s final choir concert and Kate’s open house, I feel as if we were able to really connect at the LAS mentor/mentee retreat in October. The retreat is an annual retreat to help grow connections between the mentor/mentee pairs and the freshman cohort. I did not have a great experience the year prior and I knew that I wanted to make my girls experience great so that they could grow from it and continue to make it great for their mentees. Natalie and Kate got together, on their own, and decided that our family needed to be extra and make capes to wear on the bus so that people would know that we were a family. This was one of many memories that I will always hold in my heart forever. I was so happy that they wanted to do this and let everyone know that they were “twins” and I was their mentor. For this retreat, I was the designated picture taker and I took many pictures to document this experience with my mentees so that I could look back and remember the moments we got to share together. We were able to support each other in different activities done at the retreat. I was able to help Natalie climb an outdoor rope course blindfolded. Kate and I were not as willing to do the rope course, both reasons because of awful fears of heights, but were right there to cheer Natalie on as long as she needed us. On the way home while Kate slept, Natalie and I were jamming out to some oldies on the bus ride back to campus. One of these songs included a duet of ‘A Whole New World’ from Disney’s ‘Aladdin’. This was one of my favorite memories.
Getting a front-row seat to all Natalie and Kate got to experience was a great feeling. I not only got to cheer them on but also some members of their cohort that I became attached to. I knew that becoming a mentor meant that I was a mentor to all, not just two people. I lived by this and my family grew and multiplied. I met these people through my mentees and I’m so happy I was able to. Not only did I help them when I was in Barnes Residence Hall, which was a lot, I also got to know and appreciate their different personalities and grow to love each and every one of them.
Being a mentor was a great experience. My college experience would not be the same without it. My hope is that the people I was able to mentor to are able to go and mentor others to share the knowledge they gained.
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).
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
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).
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.
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.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
I recently watched a TedTalk video featuring Simon Sinek. This video was titled “How great leaders inspire action”. In the beginning of the talk he introduced The Golden Circle which he referred to throughout the rest of the talk. The Golden Circle is a diagram that has three levels of thinking: what, how, and why. The “what” is “What do they do”, the “how” is how they do it, and the “why” is why they do it, To put this in perspective various companies were mentioned but more so The Apple Company. Apple is one of the very few companies that utilizes the “why” and tells consumers why they make what they make and the reason is because they believe in challenging the status quo. Another company could come up with an idea and be able to tell you what it does, and how they made it but if they don’t tell you why they made it, you are not going to be as inclined to buy the product. You don’t feel motivated to buy it.
“If you talk about what you believe you will attract people who believe what you believe”
Why is this important? It’s important to have people supporting you who have similar beliefs because if you do not then that task you are setting out to do will not succeed. Sinek brought up the Wright Brothers for this example. The Wright Brothers were famous for flying the first airplane after continually failing and then improving from that failure. Because they had people working for them who wanted to be there in helping them create their dream into a reality they were successful. One person most people have never heard of, including myself, was Samuel Pierpont Langely. Langely was also in the race to fly the first airplane. He hired the brightest of minds and worked hard. The difference between the Wrights and Langely is that the Wrights had a “why” and Langely did not. The Wrights had people helping them who were there to support them and their beliefs and dreams when the people working for Langely did not. The workers for Langley were there for the paycheck, that was their purpose.
“We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to.”
It is our job as leaders to have a “why” statement. If we don’t have one how do we really know that we are leading those with similar beliefs. People choose to follow us. It’s not “I have a plan”, it’s “I have a dream”. I know that after watching this TED talk that I want to be a leader that leads with a “why” rather than not having one at all. I know that I need to start thinking about why I am doing things and not do them because they need to be done. I need to have purpose and passion.
My Why Statement: “Inspire others to find their passion and love loudly”
“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.
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.”
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.
“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 journeyahead 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 experiencinglife astheyexperience 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 leaderis 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.
“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?
August 20th through August 24th I attended an event called Leadership Safari. Leadership Safari is offered to Central Michigan Universities incoming freshman and transfer students. I didn’t know about the life changing experience I was signing up for, I just wanted to move in 5 days early and get out of my parents house and start my first year of college.
Like I mentioned before I did not know what safari was. All I knew was that it was something to do with leadership and I was in. I hadn’t watched any of the videos from the years prior, I didn’t know how crazy it would be, and I didn’t know about all of the amazing things and friendships I would receive from those five days.
If I had to choose my top three favorite moments from Safari I would have to choose bagging food for kids in the community who do not have access to food outside of school, listening to Michael Miller, and being with Team Starfish the whole time.
I feel like I definitely learned a lot from this week. I was with an amazing group who held no judgment and truly cared what everyone had to say and also what everyone was feeling. I know that had a lot to do with my overall experience at Leadership Safari. I consider myself an outgoing introvert, which is a thing, and sometimes it’s very hard for me to be myself with people I don’t know. Having anxiety doesn’t help with that either. But I learned how to step outside of my comfort zone all over again. About half way through I was able to give 100% in everything that was happening. I was able to be the leader I know I am.
I absolutely recommend Safari to any incoming freshman or transfer student because it is going to open doors for friendships, networking, and is also an amazing learning experience. The amount of knowledge you gain from those five days is impeccable, and there are not many places that can give you that same type of experience. I am so blessed that I chose to go to a college that offers this type of program and encourages everyone to attend, thank you CMU.