Leadership Launch, Pt. 3

For my Junior year we, as always, had the opportunity of being a part of a “LEAD” Team. LEAD Teams are part of the Leader Advancement Scholarship protocol where LAS Scholars get the opportunity to be a part of an intercohort team that works to put together a volunteer event. Our LEAD Team was in charge of putting on the Leadership Launch event. Leadership Launch is an event that brings in high school students, with and without intellectual disabilites, from all over Michigan together as an event to emphasize the impact they have and the importance of inclusion.

Previous years, I was the leader of one of the groups and my job was to lead the group from breakout session to breakout session and have meaningful discussions with them about the discussions. However, this year I took on a new role and was able to facilitate the Vison breakout session with my mentor, James Barber.  James and I have had a great relationship since high school and have maintained it through our time at Central, so being able to facilitate with him worked out great.

For our breakout session, vision, our goal was to have students learn about the importance of empathy by acknowledging how every person may view the same situation from different perspectives and see the situation differently. Our breakout session was called “Zoom”  and began by everyone receiving the same photo but zoomed in a different amount. What we told the students was that the photos they had were all a part of a story and their job was to place the photos in order. The story would begin with a picture of a rooster and became so zoomed out by the end that you could see the entire globe.

Some groups were able to realize the photos were zoomed and solved it quickly and easily while others we had to give hints to. However, the substance of the activity came from the debrief that followed. James and I focused on how this activity related to other peoples’ perspectives and how the students could implement what they learned into their school.

The opportunity to debrief and facilitate was a great experience for me, for a couple of reasons. The first is, as a future educator, having the chance to speak to different groups, explain the excercise, and just facilitate in general was great practice for me. The second reason that this was especially beneficial for me was being able to listen to everybody’s input to the activity and hear what they had to learn helped me think about how I could do a better job of being empathetic and looking at others’ point of view more in depth.  Leadership Launch, for the third year in a row, was not only a blast, but helped me learn to be a more inclusive and considerate individual in everything I do.

 

 

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Being a Mentor

As part of the Leader Advancement Scholarship, each Sophomore chooses an incoming Freshman to mentor. As a result, during competition day all the soon-to-be mentors flocked into the Powers Ballroom to scope out the incoming freshman, but more importantly, potential mentees. I don’t remember a lot of details from that day but I do remember meeting Thomas. He was introduced to me by a friend that gave him a tour. When he was introduced to me, my friend said later that he thought Thomas was a good potential mentee for me. So, after competition day, I did a little research and sure enough, Thomas seemed like a more athletic, better-looking replica of me. AKA, the perfect mentee.

So needless to say, I was ecstatic when I officially became Thomas’ mentor. As I got to know Thomas I quickly realized what a great guy he is. Thomas is extremely focused and goal-oriented. I know that when Thomas sets his mind to something there is not much that is going to stop him. I knew when I received Thomas as a mentee that he was a special guy. And sure enough, right off the bat, Thomas and I had a great relationship and our relationship became more of a friendship than a mentorship. Due to our interests being so similar, and Thomas being a naturally outgoing, happy-go-lucky guy, it didn’t take long for us to develop a strong relationship.

One point of mentorship that was emphasized to us prior to picking our mentees is that you don’t have to be best friends with them, just be there to support them and help them transition to college. Although not every mentor-mentee relationship results in a great friendship, I got lucky with Thomas and am looking forward to the amazing things he’s going to accomplish.

PHL118L

Central Michigan graduates ethical leaders. This is what I was told when I toured Central, when I competed for the Leader Advancement Scholarship, and repeatedly since I got here. I was always a bit skeptical, however. It’s easy to say that Central graduates ethical leaders but what will Central provide me that will make me a more ethical leader than graduates from other universities?

My answer came in the form of PHL118L, Intro to Philosophy, with Gary Fuller. So often we view ethics as cut and dried decisions. Often, when I use to think about ethics, I viewed it as a simple decision: do the easy thing or the right thing. Do the thing that will make you more money, or the right thing. However, it did not take long in Professor Fuller’s course for me to realize that when it comes to a majority of decisions, especially those decisions that leaders face, it is not this cut and dried.

Throughout the semester we examined many topics including abortion, war, torture, euthanasia, and more. A majority of the class was examining the pros and cons of these topics and making a decision. One of the biggest things I took away from this course is that often there is not ‘right’ choice. Nonetheless, being in a leadership position we are going to have to make a choice. It is our responsibility to look at it from all sides, weigh the options, and justify our decision. This course was one that I enjoyed going to and truly helped me develop as an ethical leader.

Adding a Spark to Leadership

During my first semester on campus I had the privilege of partaking in the Spark Leadership Series. Spark is a four week program put on by the Leadership Institute that takes leaders from all over campus and enhances their leadership abilities and acts as a “leadership development workshop.” During these four weeks I was able to participate in a lot of leadership building activities that helped me grow as a leader and a person.

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Me and my Spark group!

Prior to Spark I was expecting just your basic leadership building exercises along with some speakers. Despite Spark fulfilling these expectations pretty well I took away more than I expected from Spark and had a blast while doing it.

The biggest thing I took away from Spark was how to use my leadership style to my advantage. During the second session we took a test that gave us one of the four leadership styles including direct, spirited, considerate, and systematic. The result of the test told me that I was a direct leader. We then received a paper highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of our style. The direct leader can be counted on to be efficient and quickly accomplish assignments but may become to competitive and prevent teamwork and burn out others.

Perhaps even more important than learning about our own leadership styles we learned how to work well with other leadership styles and use everyone to the best of their ability. Overall, Spark was a great series that offered me another opportunity to work on my leadership and interact with my my fellow Chippewas.

Leadership Safari

During my first week on Central Michigan’s campus I had the privilege of participating in Leadership Safari. Leadership Safari is an opportunity for 2,000 incoming freshman and transfer students to move onto campus a week early and go through daily activities that emphasized leadership, involvement, and developing relationships with our fellow Chippewas.Having the privilege to listen to all the different speakers, participate in all the activities, and just get to know all the new people made it the perfect way to begin my college experience.

Prior to Leadership Safari when I talked to students that had gone through it already and asked them about their experience their responses were always similar: it’s all about attitude. Despite these conversations I still had no idea what to expect. This resulted in a myriad of nerves and excitement.

Leadership Safari was an experience different than any I’ve ever had. The constant energy and optimism made it such an unforgettable one. Having the privilege of listening to all the speakers (including Eric Thomas, The Asia Project, David Coleman, Michael Miller, as well as a few others) varied from humbling to motivating. Despite the varying effects of these speakers the impact was always positive. Pairing this with the enlightening and flat-out fun activities is what makes Safari so special.

leadership safari

One of the most symbolic pictures of Safari: everybody working together to represent Central. 

My experience during Safari was far from what I imagined. I stepped out of my comfort zone more than I ever expected to and am glad I did. This allowed me to get the full experience from Safari and learn a ton. One example was the Fairness Lunch (which you can learn more about here). When I returned to my group with my pink bag with nothing more than some crackers I was confused to say the least. Then, as I began to see other members of my group with more food this confusion only grew. Why is my bag empty? What am I going to eat? Although, I was confused and worried at first my group soon assured me and shared their food as we all ate enough. Even though I ate more than enough, thanks to my kind group members, it was such an eyeopening experience about how fortunate I really am and the everyday struggles others experience.

Being more knowledgeable about all these topics allows me to be a much more efficient leader and overall considerate person. The speakers and activities at Safari taught me about how crucial it is to be considerate as well as the importance of stepping up to do what’s right even when it’s outside your comfort zone. Additionally, it helped for me to develop relationships with my fellow Chippewas. Overall, the Leadership Safari was a great experience and helped for me to grow as a person and transition to college.