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.
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.
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.
When I think of ethical leadership, I think of someone that everyone can look up to because their vision is in the best interest of everyone. Pope Francis is a great example of an ethical leader because not only does he lead Roman Catholics all over the world, but he accepts and loves everyone for who they are. For example, he washed the feet of a woman who was a Muslim prisoner. That is what Jesus wants, for people to love each other despite demographics. People want to follow him because he is a non-judging person who has an open heart with outstretched hands to all. I really admire Pope Francis because he is humble and works to lead others in his direction without criticizing or excluding others. When you Google Pope Francis, almost every picture that comes up he is smiling in. Not only is he inclusive, but he is happy. I think that is another very import part of leadership; carrying yourself with a positive attitude. According to fortune.com there was a survey done in March of 2014 where 1 in 4 Catholics said they would increase the amount they donated to the poor this year. 77% of those people said they would because of Pope Francis. He is helping the poor though positively impacting other people. If that is not great leadership than I do not know what is. I really hope that people can look up to me in the way that they look up to him. He reminds me that everyone is equal and we can all benefit from reaching out to one another.
During the 2015 Connections Conference at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, I listened to four leadership lectures. My favorite one was by Central Michigan University academic advisors Kaela Humm and Georgina Main. Their lecture was all about improving time management skills. To better these skills, everyone was given a chart to map out where all their time was spend during the day. After doing calculations to see how much time is spent sleeping, studying, eating, showering, etc. on an average week, I found out I have roughly five free hours in the week (not including time spent on my phone or watching tv). Because I know where my time is spent, I can effectively use it and even map out when I need to do certain tasks during the day.
I learned the different quadrants on the priority grid: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and not urgent or important. Tasks in the urgent and important quadrant (studying for a test tomorrow) produce the most stress. I learned it is more productive to be in the not urgent but important quadrant (studying for a test that is next week) because you have time to get
tasks done. This will reduce stress and help me when multiple tasks are on my plate. I must start and finish my important tasks before they become urgent and stressful. I also learned tasks in the urgent but not important quadrant (friends are going to the movies now) are fine to do, but they interpret productivity. It is smarter to get important tasks done before enjoying free time. In fact, this could be a motivator to get tasks done quicker to allow for more free time.
After listening to Kaela Humm and Georgina Main, I am going to start mapping out my weeks into time frames and write down when important due dates are for assignments. This will help produce more efficiency and productivity in my life.