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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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.