Taking on a Leadership Role

A month after I joined my sorority, the public relations chair stepped down. The position was open and I decided I wanted to run for it since public relations is my major. I received the position and immediately jumped on board with coming up with new, creative ideas. I thought it would be a great idea to paint large pumpkins for all the fraternities and sororities at CMU. I bought 23 pumpkins, gathered painting supplies and had a painting event with my sisters at the Alpha Sigma Alpha house. After the pumpkins dried, a few of us delivered them to the chapter houses.

All of the chapters were thankful for the gifts. I came up with this idea to maintain and increase Greek relations. When handing them out, I was friendly and tried to engage in some brief conversation to get to know people in other chapters better.

About a month and a half after I was elected in to the position, it was time for elections for the whole chapter. I ran for the position again and received it. Because the pumpkins were such a hit, I decided to hand out holiday stockings right before winter break and mini Valentine’s Day mailboxes in February. Again, the chapters were grateful for the gifts.

I believe I was able to increase our Greek relations. It’s nice to know you are cared about and these gifts expressed that. Each gift had a lot of time and effort put in to making it. The pumpkins were large and tailored to each chapter. For example, one of Phi Mu’s colors is pink so their pumpkin was painted pink with their letters on it. Many brothers in ASP like the TV show Rick and Morty so Rick was painted on their pumpkin. The holiday stockings had glitter paint and puffy paint on them, an ornament with their letters pained on it and lots of candy. The mailboxes were filled with many goodies. Nothing was hand-crafted in these, but there was a lot of work put in to making them still.

I want to take what I have learned in this position and apply it to my new position as Vice President of Alumni Relations for my sales fraternity. I plan on writing handwritten cards for our alumni to maintain relations with them. I have learned more about the power of communication and taking time out of my day to go the extra mile. I think handwritten cards will express that and enhance the relationship. My goal is to have more alumni involvement and attendance at events. Being public relations chair has set me up for success for this position.

Other duties I have as being the current PR chair for Alpha Sigma Alpha are to run our social media accounts, monitor chapter member’s personal social media accounts and work alongside the Vice President of Public Relations and Recruitment. Monitoring social media is hard, and it was even harder when I first took the position. It was difficult being a new member and having to ask sisters who have been in the chapter for three years to take posts down. After a while, it got easier. I asked sisters nicely and explained why each post had to be taken down. I also offered to speak with them if they had any questions regarding the social media policy.

From monitoring social media, I have gained more authority and confidence in my position. This is a skill I can take with me everywhere. I feel more comfortable asking others to stop doing things if it’s against policies because I have learned how to effectively do so in a way that does not anger anyone. I have also learned how to build a brand for a social media account by establishing ritualized posts or stories and maintaining a common filter theme. I am very thankful for this position as it has prepared me for more public relations work to come.

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Stepping Up To Be A Leader

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.

untitledPart 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.

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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 sduring 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.d

LDR 200L: Introduction to Leadership

Introduction to Leadership was taken my second semester at CMU with Jesi Ekonen as the professor. This class was my first 3 hour class and my first night class in college, but it was still enjoyable to attend every week because the energy of my professor, the teacher’s assistants, and the rest of my cohort was infectious. In this class, I learned about the different leadership theories and styles and how different ones evolve over time. My class was split up into groups and we taught each other the different leadership theories and styles through workshops. My workshop group covered Servant Leadership and made sure we taught it to our classmates with the best of our abilities. The class was split into groups again so everyone could facilitate a leadership activity. Towards the end of the semester, my class also took a service trip to Detroit to volunteer with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and CASS Community Social Services.

From LDR 200L, my facilitating skills increased immensely. Before, I never knew what facilitating was, let alone that effective facilitators debrief at the end of their sessions. That term was completely foreign to me. I would just jump right into an activity and jump right out, but now I know how to properly introduce an activity and bring meaning to it at the end by tying it all together. I also learned about different leadership theories and styles, for example the Trait Approach says leaders are born and not made while the Skill Approach says the opposite. While each theory might be true, it is important to understand both and why they were each developed.

It is important to know the different theories and styles to understand different leaders and see why they act the way they do. Knowing about each of them also shows everyone the different skills and weaknesses they have. Different approaches work in different scenarios. Followers are essential to leaders so it is vital to understanding when to act in certain ways. From doing my workshop on Servant Leadership, I can now be conscious if I am genuinely acting like a leader. When I am doing community service, I can ask myself am I just doing service for attention, or am I actually displaying the 10 characteristics of a servant leader (listening, empathy, healing, etc.). I will also carry my facilitation skills with me and can apply them everywhere: in group projects, work, and activities I have been instructed to lead. Effective facilitation is important because it brings a group together and helps get creative thoughts to flow between members.