For the past two years I have been a part of University Recreation as an Intramural Official. I originally applied for the postion as a Sophomore looking for a part-time job to get some extra spending money but since it has become much more than a job. Since joining the URec team I have officiated flag football, basketball, and softball, as well as participating in these sports with many others. Officiating has relit my passion for sports as being able to play a crucial role in these high-stake (for the students participating in them at least) sporting events. It has given me the opportunity to be a student of these games all over again, from a different perspective. Not only have I had a blast officiating but I have been able to meet a ton of great people. Being able to go through training and officiate with so many people has given me a sense of community with Intramurals and at the student activity center.
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
As part of our LDR100 course, we were assigned a group project called the Fred Factor Project. This project was based on the book Fred Factor written by motivation speaker Mark Sanborn. The book highlights Mark’s experience moving to a new neighborhood and how his mailman (yes, his mailman), Fred, impacted his life. Fred was nothing more than an average mailman except he took his ordinary job and did it extraordinary. this included simple, yet remarkable, things that went far out of his job description. One example of this is Fred delivering a UPS package that was delivered to the wrong house to the correct one. Despite it having nothing to do with his job and even being a totally different delivery company, Fred went out of his way to fix the mistake.
Mark was so taken back by this extraordinary care by his mailman that he wrote Fred Factor. In the book Mark highlights four main points that make someone a ‘Fred’:
- Everyone makes a difference
- Everything is built on relationships
- You must continually create values for others, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny.
- You can reinvent yourself daily
So, for the project, it was our responsibility to do something around campus that made us Freds. For our project, we decided to emphasize gratitude and the impact it has. As our video (click here) highlights, being grateful increases happiness, not only for the person receiving it, but also the person giving it. So we asked a couple random people to write down someone they were thankful for. Then things got interesting, and we asked our participants to call the person they wrote about.
We found that this was often a difficult thing for them to do and that they were often hesitant. However, these calls often brought them and the recipient to tears which made me realize that as easy as it is to give gratitude, so often we don’t do it for whatever reasons. I decided, as a result, that I’m going to be a Fred by showing the gratitude that is so rare and that I’m going to be grateful for those around me and let them know.
One of the most significant benefits of being a part of LAS is all the Sophomores adopt a Freshman and become their mentor. One of the first weekend of the semester, all the Freshman and Sophomores in LAS take a weekend trip to Eagle Village to get to know their mentors/mentees as well as their fellow Leader Advancement Scholars. I had the pleasure of being paired with James
Barber. James and I were already friends prior to him being my mentor but our relationship soon became much stronger. The retreat gives all the new members the opportunity to bond with their mentors, as well as all the fellow LAS members. Prior to the retreat I had heard bits about what to expect but it didn’t quite prepare me. However, it didn’t take me long to realize how much fun and how great of an experience the retreat was going to be.
At the retreat we participated in numerous team building activities, primarily with our mentors, including wall climbing, a high ropes course, as well as multiple blindfolded exercises. These activities proved to be a great way to strengthen our bonds with our mentors, help us get to know other members of LAS, and improve our leadership skills. Throughout the retreat our Leadership guides emphasized an inclusive environment and communication and how essential they are to be an effective leader.
For example, every mentor-mentee combo took part in the high ropes course. The high ropes included a ton of obstacles varying in difficulty. Additionally, the Eagle Village guide provided potential ways to make the obstacles more difficult to assure everyone was challenged. For some this was just getting up on the course; for others this meant taking on some obstacles blindfolded. No matter what difficulty you went with you were guaranteed to step out of, and expand, your comfort zone as well as bond with your mentor. Here is a video of my experiences at Eagle Village made by my classmate Riley Bussell!
Being able to participate in these exercises and hearing our guide connect them back to being an effective leader really strengthened my leadership ability. Having the opportunity to attend the Eagle Village retreat helped for me to grow as a person, a leader, and develop a bond with my fellow LASers