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.

Student Government Association

As a result of my e-board position for Special Olympics College, I took on another role in the Student Government Association as a representative for SO College. Although when I accepted the position I knew very little about SGA, it did not take long for me to learn what SGA was all about.

My first day at SGA I had the opportunity to choose a committee to be a part of for the year. I chose Academic Affairs because, as a a future educator, the more experience I gain in the field the better. As a member of the Academic Affairs committee we worked together to first look at problems on Central’s campus in the field of academics. We did this by looking at each member of the committee’s personal experience and then, more importantly, did some tabling. Our goal during tabling was to survey a random population of Central students to see what types of problems students were having with academics.

After obtaining this information we set our goals on writing some proposals to get some change on campus. Throughout the year we wrote a couple of proposals including one for an online bump system to speed the process up, one to extend the library’s hours (open an hour earlier and stay open an hour later), a proposal to assist students in the case of medical amnesty, and more.

On top of participating in the committee I was also a part of the House of Representatives where I represented SO College. My job as a representative was to give my input on proposed bills and vote on these bills, just like the United States House of Representatives.

SGA provided me the opportunity to make a positive impact on campus and make my voice heard.  Although I wasn’t always ecstatic about attending the meetings every Monday night, I am glad I was able to be a part of such a positive organization. The people I met and relationships I made, paired with the constant opportunity to improve Central Michigan made my time in SGA a great experience.

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.

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.

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.

Connecting the Leaders

As part of the LAS protocol we are given the opportunity to attend a leadership conference at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City called Connections Conference. Connections Conference offers a weekend getaway for 150 Central Michigan students to go to the Great Wolf Lodge to meet new people, work on our leadership, and, of course, play in the waterpark.

Connections started off by splitting us into predetermined groups. I was a part of the Coles Institute. My group emphasized being aware of and utilizing the myriad of assets that Central has to offer. These include the countless registered student organizations, the Leadership Institute, the library, student activity center, and so many more.

After we broke out of our original groups we proceeded to attend four speeches emphasizing leadership. This time we were given the choice as to which ones we wanted to attend. The first session I chose to attend was the session “Need more Personal Movement and Balance? Maybe it’s time to look at your D.A.M.M.” This session highlighted effective ways to manage your time. We examined how we spend our time and more efficient ways we could potentially spend our time. I found this session to be very interesting and enlightening, showing me just how much time I actually waste and how to manage my time which is arguably the toughest thing to do efficiently in college.

The second session I attended was “Polishing your leadership image.” This session discussed the importance of first impressions, the image we portray, and how to maintain a healthy, attractive leadership image. This included things along the lines of what we post on social media, how we introduce ourselves, and tricks for more efficient personal interactions. This session provided a healthy reflection of the type of image I portray everyday. It was definitely a good thing to take a step back and examine the things I need to work on as well as the things I do well because our leadership image is so crucial.

The third session I attended was “The Authentic Leader: Promoting Self-Awareness in Leadership Development.” This session took a different approach to the other sessions I attended. Instead of teaching us a new concept or reminding us of important ones this session focused on self-reflection. For a majority of the sessions we were examining our themes. We did this by taking an online quiz which gave us our five top themes. My themes included restorative, adaptability, achiever, includer, and belief. To see what my themes are gives me the ability to consciously
use the abilities and incorporate them in my leadership styles.

The final session I attended was “Don’t Get Caught in the Mouse Trap of Communication.” This was easily the most hands on of all of the sessions. To begin the session we were paired up with a fellow student. One student closed their eyes while the other verbally guided them to disarm a mouse trap. After practicing this for a couple minutes and overcoming the original fear the guide explained how essential communication is especially for leaders.

Perhaps the best part of Connections was the opportunity to network with our fellow Chippewas in a form of speed dating. Being able to meet so many Chippewas that I don’t

Connections Conference

Some friends and I taking advantage of the waterpark.

normally get to see and getting to know them was a nice change-up. Enjoying the water park was a great networking opportunity but there was also plenty of other opportunities over the weekend including speed dating. Speed dating was set up to help us get to know people that we normally don’t see around campus. The only rule was we couldn’t talk to someone we already know. This helped to introduce me to a ton of new people I had never seen on campus, let alone meet.

Connections was not only a blast but also a great opportunity to grow as a leader while forming bonds with my fellow Chippewas. The lessons I learned from Connections I still take with me and I often find myself reflecting on what I learned during the time I spent there.