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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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.

 

 

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.