Adopt-A-Grandparent

Three semesters ago, I started visiting Maplewood Assisted Living Home once a week to see my adopted-grandmother. I got involved with the program when my biological grandmother went to an assisted living home for a short period of time due to a hip injury. I went home to visit her and realized how bored she was. Even with all of my family going to see her, I still wished she had more people to visit her. After returning to campus, I heard about the Adopt-A-Grandparent program and immediately wanted to join. After being accepted into the program, I was paired with an amazing adopted-grandmother!

I have been visiting my adopted-grandmother for three semesters now.  We always talk, do puzzles, and a month before Christmas break, she started to teach me how to knit. Let me tell you, it is way more difficult than it looks. Right now I’m making a dish rag that was originally going to be a part of my mother’s Christmas present, but now I’m aiming to have it done by Mother’s Day (you will receive it eventually, mom. I love you). I have messed up so many times and my adopted-grandmother has had to take a few rows out and fix my mistakes. But hey, as humans we learn through our mistakes, so each time I have to redo a row I know I’m getting that much closer to getting the hang of it. It is always fun to go and sit with my grandparent and knit. We also really enjoy doing the puzzles together. They are super relaxing and a good way to exercise the brain. I even did one over the summer at my house because I learned I enjoy doing them so much.

Over the past three semesters, I have really grown close with my grandparent. She is definitely a mentor in my life and I have learned so much from her. I have gone to her for advice, laughs, and support. She is such a caring individual and I really do see her as family. I have spent over 30 hours visiting my adopted-grandmother this school year, but I really do not think 30 is enough. Next year, it is my goal to shoot for 40 hours. It is hard finding time being a college student, but it is so rewarding and fun to go visit my grandparent. Plus, I will have a car on campus next year and can use the time I would normally spend walking as extra time visiting. I love visiting her and I plan on being a part of the Adopt-A-Grandparent program until I graduate. I also highly encourage everyone to get involved and apply to become a co-mentor for the program because it truly is a wonderful experience that I have grown so much from. To my adopted-grandmother, if you are reading this, thank you for being the best adopted-grandparent I could ask for!AdoptaGrandparentLogo maroon-gold WEB

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Leadership Theory Application

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.

  1. Listening
    • Me 12715305_1005936939473660_5932257340335704333_n 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.
  2. Empathy
    • Me – There was a girl I 12308243_970565349677486_4411004663380731200_n.jpgsaw 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.
  3. Building Community
    • 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.

But Mom, I’m Not Ready To Come Home Yet

Transitioning from a high school with roughly 375 students to a university that has nearly 27,000 students enrolled on-campus and online was a bit of a culture shock to me. However I love being able to venture beyond my small town I call home and interact with new faces everyday. One of my favorite things in the whole entire world is meeting new people, and at college I am constantly doing that.

 

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I fell in love with Central Michigan University before I even moved into Barnes Hall at the beginning of the year. Every bit of my heart loves it here. The people are so friendly, as they always smile at me on my walk to class. There is never a moment when I feel unsafe walking around on the campus. One of my goals before next winter is to actually go out and explore campus at night! Along with so many new experiences, in a new atmosphere I have definitely grown as a person. When I first got to Central, I wanted to major in Recreation and Event Management. After taking the introductory course I realized that was not who I was and I had a little bit of a freak out moment. People are always saying that you don’t need to know your major until the end of your sophomore year, but I wanted to know so I could get going on my classes and not have to worry about picking a major later. I was so stressed out and did not know what to do. I was constantly calling my mom and sister asking them for advice and all I kept hearing was everything was going to be okay. And they were right, it was going to be okay, I was not going to die just because I couldn’t pick a major my first semester in college.

At the end of my first semester, I was really starting to learn to relax and let things work themselves out. My dad was a big contributor in teaching me that. He never wants to see me stress, and always reassures me that he will be there to catch me if I fall, but he knows I’m going to. Even though I did quite a bit of talking with my dad, I still wanted to consider majors. I knew I wanted a major that I would be interacting with other people a lot, so I talked to my GGG Mentor, who is a Leader Advancement Scholar and a Communications major, I figured out I wanted to take some Integrative Public Relations courses. At first when I started taking them, I was still unsure if that was what I wanted to do, but mid-semester I was assigned a paper about my dream job in pubic relations and was sold. One thing that I have ALWAYS been sure about was that I wanted to work in sports, specifically professional baseball. The job I chose to research was Coordinator of Community Relations for the Kansas City Royals and I fell in love. I ended up signing my major in the middle of second semester. My dad was right, everything eventually works itself out.

So how does this contribute to how I have grown as a leader? Not everything in life always turns out perfect. When life threw me a curve ball I got scared, but I’m in the process of learning how to ride out curb balls and trust that I will eventually make it into the glove. I’m beginning to place more trust in the environment that surrounds me and know that everything is going to be okay. I may wind up in situations where I have no clue what to do, and extra pressure will be added if others are looking up to me. As long as I stay cool, collected, and optimistic, the ride will be greatly reduced in stress. Along with that, I have also learned that I cannot sit around and do nothing because consequences will take a toll. I have learned the hard way that prioritization and time management are key elements in college. I was given an essay guideline a few weeks back and it was a research paper with a length requirement of 10 pages. Guess who stayed up until 3:30 AM last night and wrote more than half of the paper then? Yep, me. I should have scheduled time earlier in the week or toke a day off of working out so I would have more time to complete it, and earlier in the day. I would definitely advise my future self to work a little harder on making sure I have time to get stuff done before the night it is due. But the good news is at least I finished it!

I have definitely grown as a leader my first year of college by the way that in high school, I did things because I was getting some type of benefit out of it. Whether that be getting service hours, a good grade on a group project, or activities being put on a list of involvements. Now I do things because I want to do them for other people. I visit the assisted living home once a week and I am only required to stay there for an hour but I usually stay a little bit longer than that. I like talking to my adopted grandma and I know that she enjoys it when I visit her. Also, when I have time, I love volunteering at certain events Program Board puts on. I love knowing that I’m bringing entertainment and happiness into other student’s lives. None of this is required of me, I just simply enjoy it and look forward to it. I have learned to put my efforts towards passions because the value that comes out of it will be so much more valuable. I’ve also learned that when working with others, it is important to give my undivided attention to those I are serving, helping out, or working with. To get respect I have to give respect and at school I have seen so many people act in disrespectful ways that it makes me want to be that much better of a person when interacting with others. Plus, those who give respect usually end up working more efficiently with their team and have a more enjoyable time doing it because the atmosphere is way more welcoming.

Overall one of the biggest takeaways this year for me was the relationships I have built with other people. Without the support of all of my family, friends, and faculty I have gotten to know here, college would have been extremely stressful and scary to me. I have learned it is okay to admit I need guidance from others. I’ve also learned to be the light for others when they are lost and I can help.

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Service Trip to Detroit

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 12931016_1044866448914042_120440694729713680_nand 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 12924341_1044866438914043_7240802505704716853_n.jpgvolunteering 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.

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Pre-Service Trip to Detroit

I have been going to Detroit for Tigers games since I have been in 4th grade. The experience has always been amazing for me by seeing the big buildings, walking in crowds of people who are just as excited as I am, watching baseball, and spending time with my family. I had always been aware of the homelessness in Detroit from seeing people on the streets before and after the games, but it never felt real to me until I was leaving the Quick Lane Bowl Game this winter. As I was trying to exit the city in my dad’s car, I saw people huddling on the sidewalk for warmth under tarps when it was pouring down rain. I realized that not everyone is fortunate enough to lie down in their own bed at night in a warm home. We should all be thankful for what we have.

The service trip that I am going on to Detroit relates to the purpose and vision of the Leadership Institute because I am going to learn hands-on how to make a difference in student’s lives at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy by taking on a leadership role and facilitating volunteer work for them. I will also provide service through Cass Community Social Services and actively help the community of Detroit by improving the quality of life and the state of economy there by doing whatever is asked of me with eagerness and willingness.

I think the service trip will help me grow as an individual by taking me to places in Detroit where I have never been before. There, I will see things I typically do not see on a day-to-day basis. I grew up in a small town with a small community and I am not used to seeing what life is like living in urban areas. I will be able to extend a helping hand to those who need a little boost, and I will get to see the impact I make on the lives of the students at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. I will not be serving alone, but I will be helping with 50 other servant leaders; I already know that seeing others helping and caring will make the trip that much more meaningful to me.

Mentor/Mentee Retreat Experiance

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The mentor/mentee retreat took place at Eagle Village, where we spent the weekend solidifying relationships with each other. There, I developed a deeper relationship with my mentor, Sam! Simply saying Sam is just my mentor is not an accurate description of her. She is there for me when I need someone to talk to or need advice. Together, we completed rock climbing walls, a high ropes course, and bonding challenges with the rest of our cohorts. There were times on the high ropes course where I put on a blind fold and trusted her to lead me through the obstacles safely. I learned it is okay to place your trust in others because it can lead you to success. I also learned it is okay to feel uncomfortable sometimes because it can make me grow in the long-run. Because my mentor has been such a positive influence in my life, I want to in turn do the same for my mentee. I will be a figure they go to for guidance and can trust in any situation. We do not only learn from our mentors, but they also learn from us.

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2015 Connections Conference

11039275_1212506692100016_3420782034282291711_nMy 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 utilitiesSnapchat-4181004165534229232 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.