A Year in the Books

As my freshman year winds down and I take a look back I can’t help but smile at how my year turned out. Choosing where I wanted to attend college was undoubtably the hardest decisions I ever had to make. However, looking back now at that decision, I couldn’t be happier. Throughout the past year, I met some of my closest friends, found my calling, and learned quite a bit both inside, and outside, the classroom.

Perhaps the most helpful part of my freshman year was the people I met. I knew when I accepted the Leader Advancement Scholarship that it was a special program. However, I never dreamed of how awesome the people around me would be. From the workers in the Leadership Institute to members of my cohort, and everyone in between, there’s never a time where I questioned whether I could possibly be in better company. The impact that my cohort has had on me can’t be put into words. One thing the people around me have helped me do is be comfortable in my own skin. It’s easy to say I was proud of who I was in high school but since coming to college I have truly been able to be myself. My cohort has literally become some of my best friends and have helped me every step. Additionally,

Say Nice Things About Detroit

Me and my cohort during LAS in the D. 

seeing their passion shine, day in and day out, is something that has put things into perspective. Everything they do, they do for a reason. Whether it’s going vegan, shunning single-use plastic bottles, or encouraging me to vote whatever they do, they do with passion. They have helped me to be conscious of what I do, and be aware of my impact. As a result I have not doubted for a second that I am a better person because of them.

Furthermore, I have had more opportunities to fulfill my passion than ever before and it has helped me find my calling. During high school I had opportunities to work the Special Olympics but since coming to college I have been able to do more than I ever imagined. Throughout the past year I had the privilege of being a part of the SOMI LEAD Team, going to the SOMI winter games, and have even been name SGA Rep of the Special Olympics RSO. During this time and the myriad of experiences I have had I realized that working with students with intellectual disabilities, as well as teaching, is what I am passionate about and what I want to do with the rest of my life.

On a final thought, this past year has brought me more knowledge than I ever expected. Of course I hit the books and survived the gruesome freshman year with my GPA in tact. However, the knowledge I have acquired stems so much farther than the classroom. One thing I was not ready for coming into college was all the opinions and passion on every controversial topic out there. Whether or not you agree with their beliefs (which you won’t on every topic), you have to admire their topic. For example, even though I am not going vegan or becoming a vegetarian, I have learned tons about substitutes for meat, the harm it does, and the environmental impact. This is just one example from a years worth of learning about stats, governmental corruption, religions, and the list goes on. At the end of the day, knowledge is enlightening and I become more enlightened every day.

The past year has brought me friends, opportunities, and knowledge that continue to help me grow each and everyday. But I know now, more than ever, that when they say college is the best four years of you life, they aren’t joking. Let’s hope next year can be half as fun as this one.

 

 

 

LDR200L

During my second semester at Central, to fulfill my LAS protocol and work towards my leadership minor, I had the privilege of taking LDR200L: Intro to Leadership. This class provided a more serious and in depth look at leadership than LDR100. LDR200L was different than any class I have ever taken because it was so focused on leadership. Throughout this course we have taken a look at several important leadership characteristics, leadership styles, and have learned some valuable skills.

During LDR200L we were responsible for presenting on two different occasions: our leadership initiative and our workshop. The initiatives were much more casual than the workshops but provided quality, hands on learning experiences. The initiatives were particularly enjoyable for me because the short duration allowed the presenters to focus on only the most important information and it was easier for me to maintain my focus throughout the entire presentation.

Furthermore, the workshops provided a more in depth look at some leadership styles. It is no secret that there are limitless leadership styles but knowing what the different styles are and how to use them properly is a challenge. Taking LDR200L gave my cohort and me an opportunity to take a deeper look into some of the more prevalent leadership styles. These workshops gave me a wide variety of different leadership styles and how to apply them to my everyday life.

LDR200L has been a bit of an eyeopening experience. As leaders we naturally get comfortable with our leadership style and the way we do things. We may refuse to embrace other leadership styles, be unaware of them, or just not understand them. However, being able to take part in this course was an eye-opening experience to how to become a better leader and maximize my impact.

PSC105L

As part of LAS protocol we are required to take a Political Science class during our Sophomore year. However, because HST110L was full, I was able to take it a year early with the LAS Sophomores and some fellow Freshman. This experience has been interesting to say the least.

From day one, Professor Thomas Stewart has not hesitated to question our leadership. In regards to the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and politics as a whole he has openly called us out for not being knowledgeable about these topics. Although this caused many to become offended and frustrated, I enjoyed it. Rather than accepting what we came to class knowing Professor Stewart demanded more from us and refuses to accept less than our best.

Throughout the course we have learned about how the government branches and checks and balances as well as our Constitutional rights. Learning about these is interesting and something all Americans should know, however, it didn’t really help me as a leader. The days that I grew the most as a leader Professor Stewart wasn’t even there. Instead, we have had days throughout the semester where we split into four groups and discuss a crucial problem in society: distrust of the police and police brutality.

For four days during the semester four graduate assistants came in and each took a group of students to discuss these problems. Before each day we were assigned readings to educate ourselves on the topics before discussing them amongst our groups. This experience was an extremely enlightening experience. Hearing the opinions of my peers Police Brutalityon such a hot topic was interesting. But these discussion groups have been more than just discussing police brutality; we talked about the causes and what we can do to prevent it. These groups have helped me grow as a leader by making me more aware of the problems people face everyday and making me consciously think about what I can do to help.

PSC105L has been one of my favorite courses throughout the semester without a doubt. From Professor Stewart constantly pushing us to learn our rights as Americans to discussing some of the most concerning issues in our society, there is never a dull moment in Political Science. Throughout the semester I have grown as a leader and as an American.

SOMI LEAD Team!

As part of our LAS protocol, we participate in a LEAD Team our freshman year. I had the privilege of being a part of the Special Olympics LEAD Team. As a part of the Special Olympics LEAD Team our main project was the Leadership Launch, however, we also participated in the Fall Games. Participating in the Special Olympics was always something I loved to do, but being apart of the LEAD Team took this love to a whole new level.

The first event as a part of the SOMI LEAD Team was the Fall Special Olympics held in Ypsilanti. At the Fall Games I was able to help out with Golf for the majority of the time I was there. At the beginning I was stationed on a specific hole to help the athletes find their balls and encourage them. I enjoyed this because I was able to meet so many different athletes and have quality conversations with them. Meeting so many different athletes and personalities made sure there was never a dull moment. After, another volunteer and I were paired with an athlete. We drove the athlete from hole to hole and accompanied them during their game.

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There were two athletes and four volunteers per group. This experience was particularly enjoyable because I was able to form a strong relationship with the athletes and the other volunteers throughout the 9-hole game. Then, of course, there was the dance. One of the best parts, if not the best part, of the Special Olympics, is the athlete-volunteer dances after closing ceremony. Here, the athletes get to go wild and just have a blast with the volunteers while jamming out to their favorite songs. The athlete-volunteer dance is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been a part of.

The second part of the SOMI LEAD Team, and the main event, was the 2015 Leadership Launch. Here, the Leadership Institute brought in students, with and without intellectual disabilities, to participate in Project UNIFY. Project UNIFY emphasizes respect and unity for everyone, especially those with intellectual disabilities. During Leadership Launch a fellow LAS scholar, Sam, and I had the privilege of being a facilitator of the Green Anaconda group.

As a group we were able to first get to know each other through multiple icebreakers, then partake in some activities to emphasize inclusion and acceptance. One activity that stuck out to me was called “RESPECT-Houston, we have a problem.”During this activity each participant was given a flashlight and pointed the shining flashlight towards the ceiling. The flashlights represented joy and acceptance in the community. Then one facilitator gave a number of insults and after each one a flashlight turned off. Eventually, all the lights were turned off and the facilitator took a second to explain that the dark room represented an exclusive school or community in which there was no respect for each other. But then, the facilitator began saying compliments. One by one the flashlights began turning back on and soon the room was lit back up. The facilitator highlighted the importance of being respectful and inclusive to keep the room lit up. This stood out to me because so often we see people not being inclusive and seeing the room go darker and darker. As a leader it is my responsibility to be inclusive and make sure everyone else is being respectful and inclusive and throughout the day we tried to instill this same belief in everyone at Leadership Launch.

Being a part of the SOMI LEAD Team was easily one of the highlights of my Freshman year thus far. Being a part of this group was truly a privilege. I learned a ton about inclusion, respect, and about myself throughout my time on this LEAD Team. Between the Fall Games and Leadership Launch I can’t think of a better LEAD Team to be a part of.

Does Leadership Come from a “Yes” or “No”

As part of our LDR200L course we were asked the question “does leadership come for a ‘yes’ or ‘no?'” When I first heard this I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret it. Is the question asking whether leadership comes from either a yes or a no, or is it asking if leadership comes from a yes/no decision or not? I interpreted it with the latter of the two: Does Leadership Come a Yes or No Decision?

I went back and forth on this topic for quite a bit before deciding yes, leadership does come from a yes or no. The reason I believe this is because at the end of the day the decisions that go into being a leader, and a follower, come down to yes or no’s. When I was thinking about this prompt I decided that leadership does come from a yes or no because of these decisions. For example, the biggest one that stuck out in my mind was that a follower has to make the decision yes or no decision on whether or not to follow. But there are so many more than just this decision. It starts with the leader deciding whether or not to take that first step, then the followers deciding whether of not they buy into what the leader is saying, and then decided whether or not to follow the leader with a million other decisions along the way.

Yes, leadership is an extremely complex thing and a ton goes into it. However, leadership doesn’t come from just a single yes or no-it comes from all the yes or no’s that are made. All too often we complicate things into being so complex that we can’t imagine all the possibilities and the potential decisions. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. Rather we can simplify our decisions into yes or no’s. Do we take the action, or not? Do we support this person, or not? These yes or no decisions, that we make everyday, make up who we lead, who we follow, and who we are.