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.

 

 

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.

Special Olympics College

Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about the Special Olympics. So, naturally, one of the first things I did on campus was join Special Olympics College, the organization on campus. My freshman year I spent as a general member and as the year came to and end it was suggested to me that I run for an e-board position. There were quite a few positions open, however, the one I ended up running for was Student Government Association (SGA). As I said when I ran for the position, my role on e-board extended beyond just representing SO College at SGA but also taking on a larger role throughout SO College. During the past year, I was able to take on a larger role in the organization. This included participating in many more unified sports and, of course, taking on my role of SGA representative.

One of my favorite parts of being part of the Special Olympics College is unified sports. For those who are not familiar with it, unified sports are intramural sports played with half Special Olympics athletes and half Central Michigan students. These sports includeUnifiedUnified Flag basketball, flag football, volleyball, kickball, and more. I took every opportunity I had to participate in these games which allowed me to take on a larger role in the organization and develop a relationship with the athletes.

One of the best moments of unified sports was heading down to Western Michigan University for a regional tournament. This allowed my relationship with the athletes that participated in the tournament to increase and gave me an outstanding opportunity with unified sports. The sprinkles on top of the sundae were that we took first place and will soon head down to Ohio State for the national tournament. Unified has been a wonderful opportunity for me and something that I have had a blast with.

Overall, I have cherished my participation with Special Olympics College on campus. SO College has provided me with countless opportunities to grow and limitless fun and priceless interactions with the athletes. In fact, one of my proudest moments of my Sophomore year was all my hard work as an SGA Rep paying off when I received a grant for over $1,000 to pay every member of our organization’s way to the Winter Games. This made all my hard work pay off and gave me a priceless reward for the effort I put in. When elections came up this year I was looking to take on a larger role in the organization. As a result, I ran for President and was lucky enough to be elected as the President for next year. I cannot wait for my involvement in the organization to grow and take on the role of President of SO College.

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.