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. 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.

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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.

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.

 

President Ross

During one class period of our LDR100 course we had the privilege of listening to Central Michigan President, George E. Ross speak. He discussed his tough and inspiring upbringing, his educational and work careers, as well as what Central Michigan is doing for us. To hear firsthand from the President, what Central is doing to help us succeed as well compete with other schools was encouraging.

He also emphasized leadership and how essential it is. He didn’t fail to remind us that “CMU graduates leaders” and we are some of those leaders on campus. For President Ross to come in to speak to us spoke volumes. Not only taking the time to discuss the ins-and-outs of what Central is doing for us but answering our questions. For me, I feel that having the ability to answer our questions was more reassuring than any speech he could have given. Anyone can give a rehearsed speech about how great their school is but to answer the questions about why, and explain what Central does for us was interesting. President Ross provides us a prime example of the exact type of ethical leader that CMU emphasizes and ultimately, graduates.