In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I decided to join Pi Sigma Epsilon, the marketing and professional sales fraternity at Central Michigan University. I was initiated at the end of February and I have already experienced many of the benefits PSE has to offer. I have attended a professional sales networking night with business professionals, fundraised with my new member class to fund future sales competitions, attended weekly meetings to listen to numerous employer spotlights, learned how to dine with professionals at an etiquette dinner, cleaned up garbage on the side of Deerfield Road for Adopt-A-Road, volunteered at PSE’s annual Dart Tournament, attend my chapter’s formal, and network with my peers.
Even though I have not been a full-fledged member for a whole semester yet, I have had so many wonderful professional and fun experiences. The fraternity is valuable because I am further developing myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. For example, at meetings random members will be called on to stand in front of about 100 other members and give a sales pitch on a random object they are assigned. One time I was called up and had to try and sell Cabbage Patch Kid dolls to college students. It was difficult to come up with points off the top of my head, but it was a great way to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something I do not get the chance to every day.
I know I am ready to step up and take a leadership role in PSE; that is why I recently applied to become the Director of Public Relations. Next year, I plan on running for Vice President of Public Relations for the Zeta Nu chapter. I am passionate about sales and want to put as much effort and time into my fraternity as I can to get the most out from it. PSE really is helping me grow into a successful business professional.
All Leader Advancement Scholars are required to participate in a LEAD team every year. Last year my LEAD team was special events; this year it was Relay for Life. Relay for Life did not take place until March, so my team only had one meeting during first semester. As second semester rolled around, we still had not met again. I kept asking my friends on the team when we were meeting and no one had a clue. Finally, about a month before the event, I received an email from a young woman who works with the Leadership Institute. She told me that my original LEAD team captain stepped down and the position needed to be filled; a few scholars had been nominated by the Leadership Institute staff and I was one of them. Two other scholars and I took on the role as co-chairs for the Leadership Institute’s Relay for Life team.
Part of our duty was to fundraise prior to the event. The only money that had been raised was $10. We had a team goal of $1,000 and we had about a month to do it. We called a last minute meeting with the team and decided to have a table in the Bovee University Center later that week. We were going to hand out suckers for a dollar and ask people to join our Relay for Life team. The table was not a success. We were stumped and had to come up with a new plan. With time running out, we could not organize any large events. My co-chairs and I sent out many emails to keep our team updated and gave everyone individual fundraising goals.
When the event rolled around, we had people pie our team in the face for $2. If they did that, they also received free cookies. We were also selling extra Leadership Institute clothing from previous years. At the end of the night, our team had raised $1,713.01! We were all super excited that we exceeded our goal by $713.01 and were the 7th highest fundraising team at the event.
I really learned from this experience that leaders can come together in a short amount of time and still be effective. My co-chairs and team members were superstars and I am so proud of everyone who made the event a success.
My story does not just stop there. Through it all, the janitor came up to me and asked if we could pie him in the face in front of everyone. He offered to buy us real pies during his break instead of the whipped cream pies we were using. He told me it has been a dream of his since he was a little kid to receive a pie in the face while wearing nice clothes in front of a crowd to make them laugh. I told him we would make it happen and he came back after he was done with his shift. He walked up to our table, dressed up, carrying six pies. I began to tell the people on the track that they should watch as we pied the man. A few of the walkers even jumped in and grabbed a pie, including a cancer survivor that he asked to come pie him earlier in the day. After we finished, the man was so happy. He gave me a hug and told me I made one his dreams come true. I was filled with happiness that I not only helped raise money for cancer, but also helped a man fulfil one of his childhood dreams.
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.
Normally when I visit Detroit I go to see a concert or to cheer on the Tigers. I have never ventured to Detroit to volunteer, but on April 1st, 2016 I traveled there with my Leader Advancement Scholar cohort to volunteer at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
and CASS Community Social Services. With the Jalen Rose students, we all split up into groups and rotated to different service projects. My group started off making cards for veterans, then moved to another room to de-fuzz material for a nonprofit in Detroit called Arts & Scraps. After that, my group made door signs for the Special Olympics Summer Games, which are going to be held at Central Michigan University this summer. The signs were made for individual people to greet them as they come to stay in the dorms. The last rotation was very heart touching as we saw a presentation on OK2SAY, which is a program where students and other people can submit anonymous tips when they feel unsafe. After eating at PizzaPapalis, we went to see beautiful art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. At the end of the night, we stayed and did a debrief of the day at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. In the morning when we all woke up, we set off to work at CASS Community Social Services. Some people went to shred paper, some went to work in the soup kitchen, and others went to make mud mats. I started off at the soup kitchen sweeping all of the floors, but when I was done I was sent over to mud mat making with a few other people. Mud mat making was a little bit different from what most people would expect. The mats are made from illegally dumped tires in Detroit. Homeless men are employed to make them, and the money goes back to CASS to help with other programs. After working with CASS, my cohort had completed our service trip and returned to Mount Pleasant.
I loved going to Detroit and volunteering because the service we did was different from what I was used to. The most impactful part of the trip for me was when I went to the soup kitchen and talked with some of the people who were homeless. They were so grateful for us being there to help, but they did not look at us any differently than they did their friends. When one of my friends was mopping, she told a man to be careful because it was slippery and he smiled really big and acted like he was sliding on the floor. He was joking around with us and I thought that was really cool because even though we were there to do service work, the people we were helping treated us like friends. Before we left, one man came up to our group and told us that if we ever have any trouble to let him know and he will always be there for us. After he said that, it really showed me that we were there for him and made a difference in his life. Volunteering should not be done for the sake of a picture to post on Instagram, but it should be done to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Sometimes service done does not even get credited, but it still betters the lives of others. When we all went to the Detroit Institute of Arts, there were so many statues that were made by unknown sculptors. Even though these amazing sculptors did not get credit for their work, they still created something beautiful. Service does not always have to be recognized. It is perfectly fine to let your stamp on the world be unknown, as long as it helped someone else have a better life.
Another part of the trip that I really enjoyed was partnering with the students at Jalen Rose to show them that service is fun. We showed them different types of service projects that they can do on their own time without us and they really enjoyed that. Because they partook in service projects they could do without us, I feel like they will be more likely to do them again. You could really tell that they enjoyed their day, and I really enjoyed my day too. The kids were so excited at the end of the day when they heard how many lives we had all touched through our 4 hours of service. Service really is an amazing thing and I truly believe everyone should try to reach out and donate an hour of their time to any cause at least once a week. It does not have to take much time to volunteer and it is such a rewarding feeling to know you have made a positive impact on someone else’s life.
This year I participated in the Special Events LEAD Team. My team was in charge of creating, planning, promoting, and executing special events for the Leader Advancement Scholars in the Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University. I met with the team a few times over the year, but we also communicated quite a bit through email. We held an event called LAS On Ice, which is an event that has been done for many years where all of the cohorts go ice skating together. My team came up with a date, time, location, and even a theme, superhero, to make the experience more fun for everyone. The team was split up into committees, and I was on the committee to take pictures at the event. There was one other person on the picture taking committee with me, but she was not able to make it to the event. It was my duty to step up and take pictures of the event and send them to the person in charge. Because I could not capture every moment myself, I asked my friends to send me pictures they had taken as well. One lesson I learned from being on the LEAD Team was to keep up with with all of the information that gets sent to me via email.Trying to get the agenda electronically was a little more difficult as opposed to receiving it in person because in person it is always easy to write down information when it is heard. With having dates and tasks sent, I always wanted to write them down later when I had something to write with, but I knew that I would forget to re-open the email so I had to stay on top of everything at all times. It took a little more effort than normal but I kn
ow this method of communicating information through email helped with my communication, planning, and organization skills. Learning how to effectively organize and write down information from emails with others will help in the future because so many people use email to communicate information. I have already started writing down all important information and dates provided in emails because I want to be reliable and never miss a thing, especially when I have a team relying on me.
There are people in this world who truly love what they do and do what they love. The Fred Factor is a book written by Mark Sanborn about his mailman, Fred, who brought joy to his work, and to others. The four principles that Mark goes into about Fred are: everyone makes a difference, everything is built on relationships, you must continually create values for others, and you can reinvent yourself regularly. In my Introduction to Leadership class, we created a project where we represented these four principles and documented our work. My group set up a table and had people passing by write how they were going to leave their stamp on the world. They were to take that sticky note with them and keep it as a reminder how they were going to positively impact the world using the four principles. From this project, I learned that it is never too late to recreate yourself and that small acts of kindness and encouragement can completely turn a person’s day around.
My Leadership Advancement Scholar cohort traveled to the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City with one hundred and fifty other student leaders around Central Michigan University’s campus for a weekend long conference. We listened to speakers and discussed utilities around campus we can access to enhance our leadership skills. For example, registered student organizations connect us to multiple volunteer opportunities to help out all over campus and in the community. On Saturday night, every student and faculty member at the conference had a few hours to play in the water park. That was a lot of fun for me because during the day, I carried myself in a very professional manner. However, during the time in the water park, I had the opportunity to ride water slides and let my inner child shine. Later that night, all of the leaders met in a ball room to mingle and ask quest
ions to each other for two minutes before switching to another person. This was called “speed connecting”.
After evaluating the different utilities around campus to help me grow as a leader, I really want to become more involved at the Volunteer Center. There, they provide diverse opportunities to reach out to the community. One of the four speakers I listened to provided excellent information about time management skills. I engaged in an activity where I evaluated how much time I spend sleeping, eating, studying, in class, and having free time I have during the week. After taking into account where I spend my time, I am going to start mapping out my activities so I can use my time effectively. This will help me stick to tasks that need to be done so I can be a more effective and organized leader.