Special Olympics College: Senior Year

Throughout my four years at Central Michigan University, one of my biggest involvements and some of my proudest moments have come as a member of Special Olympics College. My Freshman year when I became involved with Special Olympics College I had some experience with the Special Olympics but I never would have imagined how involved I would get. Since then I have served on the Executive Board for three years as the Student Government Association Representative, President, and as the Vice President. Special Olympics College has helped me to grow as a person and a leader.

When I took over as President my Junior year I was overwhelmed and underprepared. Although I gave it a great effort, I was not prepared for the amount of work and stress that I would be put under. This was my first time taking on a true leadership role where I was in charge. Throughout the year I struggled to make concrete decisions, often fearing people in the organization disapproving of the decisions or not agreeing with them. As a result, I often tried to hold votes or asked people’s opinions about decisions that I could have made on my own. This caused the processes to take longer than they should have and, as a result, we missed out on some opportunities and were not as effective, as an organization, as we could have been. One other aspect of leadership that I struggled with was allocating work effectively. As a result I often felt overwhelmed and frustrated and as though I had to do all the work on my own, when I could have given it to This experience, although it did not always feel like it at the time, was a great experience, helped me grow, and taught me that I have a lot to learn as a leader.

As the Vice President Senior year, my role looked a bit different but I was still able to play a large part in the organization and the decision making. I learned from my experience and my mistakes from Junior year and was able to be more confident and decisive in my role. Although I was no longer President, I feel as though I was able to take an even bigger role in the organization by taking leadership roles and responsibility for projects including creating and coaching a team to compete in the Unified Basketball Division at regionals and nationals, as well as leading the Spread the Word, Inclusion committee which tabled all over campus advocating for inclusive language, especially regarding those with intellectual disabilities. Being able to take a leadership role in these projects has been extremely rewarding and has helped me develop as a leader.

This experience of not necessarily being the leader OF the organization, but rather taking leadership positions within it has been an eyeopening and extremely beneficial experience. Being a part of Special Olympics College throughout the last four years is something that will stick out as a huge part of my college experience and one that has helped me grow as a leader and as a person.

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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.

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.

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 undoubtedly the hardest decision 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 to 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 has 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 named 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 intact. 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 passion. 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 year’s 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 every day. But I know now, more than ever, that when they say college is the best four years of your 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.