This semester I took the class Social Problems, at Central Michigan University, and had no idea what to expect. Six months ago, I did not even know about half the social problems that I do now. Each day I attended class, I was shocked and I always left feeling sad because I found out about issues I was not fully unaware of, such as violence and crime. I also learned more about issues I thought I was well versed in, such as gender inequality. However, even though being sad is not viewed as a good thing, there can be positives to it. The first step in fixing an issue is to know it exists. Now that I know about so many more issues in the world, I can start to take action and notify other people. For example, over the course of the semester I found out that I really want to become more sustainable and reach out to others and educate them. SOC 221 has a semester long project where each student selects a social issue, researches it, writes a paper on what institutions are causing the social problem and what can be done as a society to fix the issue, and then to take action themselves. For my topic, I chose plastic water bottles in the ocean. This class allowed me to fully educate myself on a social issue and take action to make a positive change. I gave a persuasive speech on the harms of disposable plastic water bottles in my Public Speaking class and encouraged everyone to start using reusable water bottles and reject plastic water bottles when they are offered them. I then typed my speech out, posted it on my blog, and shared the link on Facebook. I really do believe that as humans, we need to take better care of the Earth. This class has allowed me to speak out and create a positive change for the environment. I also plan on taking the information I have learned about other social problems in class, and sharing that knowledge with my peers..
As a Leader Advancement Scholar at Central Michigan University, I have to follow a specific protocol to ensure my scholarship is renewed each year. Part of the protocol is to volunteer in at least one community service activity. I believe service is essential in leadership because it displays the importance of community, and inspires others to step up as leaders and give back to the community. Some of the service work I have done throughout the course of my freshman year have been: contributing in the making of tie blankets for a children’s hospital, volunteering for Program Board to ensure events on campus run effectively and smoothly, making cards for veterans, visiting my adopted grandparent at her assisted living home, and taking a service trip to Detroit with my LAS cohort.
Through the service I have done to satisfy the LAS protocol, I have witnessed servant leadership in not only myself, but others as well. According to the 7th edition of Leadership: Theory and Practice, by Peter G. Northouse, servant leadership “emphasizes that leaders be attentive to the concerns of their followers, empathize with them, and nurture them. Servant leaders put followers first, empower them, and help them develop their full personal capacities.” There are ten characteristics of a servant leader and I am going to touch on a few that I have seen a few of them in myself, and a few of my friends.
Me – When I visit my adopted grandmother, we always communicate with each other. Communication is a two way road: speaking and listening. Even after visiting her multiple times, I always leave with new knowledge acquired from my visit.
Josh Geary – Although it was not community service for our protocol, I have seen Josh display the listening characteristic of a servant leader when I was having a hard time one night. He sat there and listened to me ramble on about whatever I was sad about at three in the morning when he could have easily told me he was tired and wanted to go to bed. True leaders are there to listen to others no matter what.
Me – There was a girl I saw eating alone in the cafeteria almost every day my first semester at college. I pictured her as myself and wondered how I would feel if I never had anyone to sit with and converse with about my day. One day I rounded up all of my food and took it over to her table and asked if I could eat with her. She said yes and I had a wonderful meal sitting there and talking to a new friend. It’s important to place ourselves in other people’s shoes to see what we would want. After that, we must work to make it happen.
Rachel Kremm – Rachel always goes out of her way to make sure people feel welcomed and appreciated. Also, her passion for veganism is so inspiring. She is so concerned with the treatment of animals and expresses the need for change. It is very obvious that she feels empathy for animals and would never want to be treated the way that they are before they are produce.
Me – I have worked in group projects where not everyone got along great. Collaboration is not only essential for receiving a good grade, but also for overall happiness. It was important for me to get everyone on the same level and see that we all had a common goal and that everyone was needed in the group for a reason. When those two things were realized, the group members actually started to get along and have fun working together, they just needed a mediator to help them realize it.
Gunther DeDamos – Gunther never fails to break any awkwardness that ever arises in a group of people. His energy and optimism are infectious and he has the potential to get any group of people to collaborate and work together. Gunther always makes sure people feel recognized and included, and invites anyone into his group to get to know those that he is around.