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.

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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 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.

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.

As cool as the other side of the pillow!

One of the most influential sports anchors of all time was Stuart Scott. Scott was most known for his hip-hop style, new to sports, and his catch phrases, most notably “Boo-Yeah!” and “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” He was a truly a leader from the day he stepped foot on the ESPN studio. He led by the way he broadcasted, the way he inspired others, and by the the way he lived his life.

Stuart Scott was always so much more than an ESPN anchor: he was an icon. Referred to as a “groundbreaking broadcaster” by Rich Eisen, he brought an all new attitude to sports and changed sports commentating forever. He appealed to the African-American community like an anchor never had before. Despite the hate mail and at one point “ESPN officials asked him to consider dialing it back (Travis Waldron)” Scott refused, and continued his unique style. He continued to change sports commentating appealing to black and white audiences alike.

However, soon he became not just an icon for the new hip-hop style. He also became an icon for battling. In 2007 Scott was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer which he battled, on and off, until his battle ended on January 4th, 2015. His battle is what makes him the leader he is and the current event he continues to impact.

Stuart’s battle with cancer began in 2007 when he was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. After, he was diagnosed with cancer for the first time, and soon won the battle and went into remission. But this victory was only temporary as the cancer came back in 2011, and the a third time in 2013. The third time was different. He told Men’s Health “To be honest, I’m scared. I’ve always been afraid of cancer, but this time feels different. My confidence is shaken.”

But, before Stuart’s battle with cancer ended, in one of the most iconic moments of his fight, he received the Jimmy V Perseverance ESPY. But it wasn’t receiving the award was the iconic part-it was the speech he gave (below).

What makes Scott the great leader he was was not his revolutionary broadcasting style, although that played a role. It was that others are inspired to follow him and feed off of his energy and the strength he displayed throughout his his battle just as they were years ago.  For someone to go through what he went through and maintain his spirit, his joy, and his motivation and will to continue to battle people will naturally follow him. In the speech Scott says “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” These words along with how he lived his life are what make hime a leader.

Scott inspired thousands in their battle with cancer as well as impacting countless more through promoting the Jimmy V cancer research foundation. That’s what I admire most about him: he’s been through it all. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks it. That is such a crucial characteristic for leaders-to lead by example and understand what your followers are going through. Cancer has touched everyone in someway or another and Scott’s work for cancer research impacts everyone.

Stuart Scott touched, and continues to touch, countless lives. From his revolutionary broadcasting style to his battle with cancer, Stuart Scott was a leader in all aspects of life and truly was as cool as the other side of the pillow. His impact continues to be felt and will be for years to come. On behalf of myself and others everywhere: Thank you, Stuart Scott.

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.