Plunge into Leadership

letr-polar-plunge-logo.jpgStaff in the Leadership Institute organizes different teams for Leader Advancement Scholarship recipients to be on. This year, I had the joy of being on the Polar Plunge lead team. Lead teams have helped me over the past three years get to know members in different cohorts, work as a team and help in the community.

On the Polar Plunge team, my duties were to help fundraise, spread the word about joining the Leadership Institute’s team, get other organizations to create their own teams and help set up for the event. I reached out to my sales fraternity to learn they were already in the works of creating a Polar Plunge team.

The day of the event, I moved tables and chairs around and set up the changing curtains. I did this all in the morning before the event started.

With the help of our team, we helped Special Olympics raise money to send athletes to the games. We helped recruit others to participate in this wonderful event and spread the word about Special Olympics. We also helped assist in set-up for free, saving them money to put towards the athletes instead of hiring help.

This was the first year for this lead team, and as it continues to be a team I know it will grow stronger. We played around with what we were able to do to help the Polar Plunge event, so there is definitely room to grow. The suggestions I would give to future members to build what our team started are to pass out fliers teaching others how to build a team and speak about the event in classes.

I love Polar Plunge and want to look in to the opportunity of being on the student committee for next year’s event.

 

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Sisters for Life

In the fall of 2017, I went through formal sorority recruitment. After a week of visiting every chapter on campus, I found my home with Alpha Sigma Alpha. I knew they were the group for me when I realized how much our values aligned. I spoke to them about balance, integrity, service and faith. Everyone in the tent was sweet and genuine. I was excited when I opened my bid letter and saw the ASA crest.

Just after joining, I ran for a position that had opened up. My new sisters supported me as I ran for public relations chair. With their trust, I was elected. Since then, they have encouraged me and helped me thrive in the position.

Being in the chapter has allowed me to maintain being a strong student, Christian and member of the community. My sisters study with me, go to church with me and volunteer with me. There was one weekend where we all got up early to drive to Midland and volunteer at the Girls on the Run 5k (GOTR is one of our philanthropies).

Every semester, ASA hosts a mac and cheese philanthropy dinner and I had so much fun volunteering at that. Every sister is so passionate about our philanthropies and it’s wonderful when we come together and raise money for the S. June Smith Center, Special Olympics, Girls on the Run and the ASA Foundation. I look forward to the possibility of having our first philanthropy week next year.

Along with volunteering, ASA also gave me a mentor. We knew we’d be the perfect big/little pair as soon as we both learned our love for dogs, working out and Jesus. She has the same interests and passions as me and has been there through the stress of junior year. She was someone I turned to a lot and was always there with support. She wasn’t the only incredible person ASA blessed me with, I also got a new best friend.

I was supposed to go to a Christian conference in Indiana with some members of my chapter but the roads were horrible and covered with ice. I decided to stay home, as did my sister Makenzie. We decided to hangout since our plans for the weekend drastically changed. We went to the hot tub with our boyfriends, made dinner and played a card game together. We had so much fun that we have continued to hangout since then.

Makenzie has made a huge impact on my life this year from being a positive light. People say you become like those you hangout with and I’m so happy I have such a selfless and caring person in my life. She spends time volunteering every week, always offers support to sisters and saved a dog’s life by fostering him. She exemplifies what it is like to be a women of poise and purpose.

This chapter has given me strong bonds of friendship and laughs. It’s also given me the opportunity to step up and be a leader, even as a new member. I’ve learned how important it is to befriend people with similar values and passions. I’m happy to have gotten to work with new philanthropies I’ve never worked with, such as the S. June Smith Center.

For next year, I want to improve the bonds of sisterhood. I would like to grow closer to more sisters before I go alum. I am not sure if I am running for a position yet, but either way I will uphold the chapter’s values, serve as a role model and be involved. I will continue my current position until winter semester and keep striving to better Greek relations from what I have already learned. I am also planning on taking a little in the fall to mentor her. I will be there for her like my big has been for me. It’s important to be there for new members as they are getting acclimated because being in a sorority takes time-management skills. It can be hard making new friends and getting to know 80+ members. I am excited to help someone adjust not only to the college life, but the Greek life as well.

My Business Advantage For Life

Joining the professional sales and marketing fraternity, Pi Sigma Epsilon, has been a pivotal moment in my college career.

This year, I decided to dive in to professional development and networking opportunities by getting involved with sales competitions. I tried out for Pi Sigma Epsilon’s Regional Convention and made it on the team. I began preparing for the sales case as soon as it was released. A few weeks later, I competed against many of the top sales students in the region. My buyer and the judges were all recruiters from different companies.

That weekend, I applied my professional skills when networking with various recruiters and students, attending a career fair and dining using proper etiquette. I practiced carrying myself in a confident, competitive and sophisticated manner. I also learned new skills from peers at the competition. I was surrounded by many driven professionals all weekend, and the environment made me hungry to be successful.

I want to continue pushing myself outside of my comfort zone with these competitions. It’s a great way to learn and apply real-world sales skills, plus they are fun. After competing, I received a video of my role play and have reviewed it a few times to take notes. The feedback I was given from others and the notes I took myself were applied to my next competition at Quicken Loans.

There are so many ways to get involved, but I truly think the most valuable is attending competitions because I get to apply, practice and enhance my skills.

I plan to continue trying out for the sales competitions and being involved with PSE. It’s a great organization that I’m flourishing professionally in. At the end of the year, I decided to apply to be on the executive board for next semester. In the fall, I will be my chapter’s Vice President of Alumni Relations. I will continue using the networking skills I have gained to reach out to the alumni and invite them to remain involved with the chapter by coming to our events. I’m very excited to continue being a leader in this organization.

 

 

Alternative Winter Break: Access to Sports and Recreation

For winter break, I decided to give up a week to volunteer my time in Asheville, North Carolina. Eleven students and I packed our belongings Saturday night after finals and started helping on Monday. My group partnered with a YMCA in Asheville where we assisted them for the week. Tasks included: power washing buses, cooking rice, talking about healthy eating and exercising in schools, landscaping, sorting fruits and vegetables, and working mobile food markets.

The first day, we power washed three buses. Power washing was helpful to the YMCA because they were going to sell the buses and put the money towards programs for kids. We also had to push one of the buses out of the grass and into the parking lot. This helped the YMCA because without us, they would have had to pay over $150 for someone to tow it. That would have taken money away from programs.

Next, I headed to the kitchen.

I helped cook whole grain rice for students at a school so they could see healthy food can taste good. At the school, we handed out worksheets about the importance of colorful plates. With the lesson, students would be better informed on fruits and vegetables. At a different school, we facilitated a game of Simon Says. We incorporated different exercises to get students up and moving. Not only did it get students to exercise, but it also taught them different exercises they might not have known.

As much as I preferred to be inside where it was warm, I also had to put on work gloves and pull some weeds.

Landscaping helped the YMCA because they needed weeds cleared out for kids to be able to play. We did not clear out every single weed, but every bit helped. Somewhere down the line, some sort of structure will most likely be put in the area. In the past, students that went on the same Alternative Break installed a disc golf course and gaga ball pit.

Everything I did on the break was fun, but my favorite part was the direct service handing out food.

Many grocery stores in the Asheville area donate the fruits and vegetables that are not “shelf-quality” to the YMCA. The YMCA then sorts through all of the fruits and vegetables, throwing away the moldy and squishy produce. They keep what is edible, sort them in crates, load the truck and distribute the food in the community for free. When distributing the food, there is no questions asked about income.

Our role as a group was important because we provided extra hands. We allowed the process to run more efficiently by reducing the time it takes to sort and load the food. Because we reduced the time, we were able to load more food in the trucks before it was time to go. The workers at the YMCA said we broke their record for the most mouths fed. Not only is this important in itself, but we also did all the work right before the holiday season. The families we supplied food to would not go hungry on the holidays.

 

One thing I’ve taken away from this experience is to not waste food. Just because something doesn’t look picture perfect doesn’t mean it’s not edible. There are plenty of people in the world who would love to eat the food people throw away because it has a brown spot or is a little squishy.

Another thing I learned is tasks may seem little and easy to me, but they could really help someone else. Moving the bus from the grass to the parking lot took very little time and effort for the group. However, without us, there would have only been two staff members for the task. They could not have done it alone. This would have resulted in having to hire someone. I will keep this lesson in mind and remember that little things to me could make a huge impact on someone else.

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

Street Squad

 

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Banner from the Art Reach promotional event in the Bovee University Center

At the beginning of second semester, I was brought aboard the Street Squad team, which does marketing for the student-run newspaper, Central Michigan Life. My duties include brainstorming promotional ideas and events for CM Life’s clients, run tabling and promotional events, attend weekly meetings, create presentations to pitch ideas for clients, distribute newspapers around CMU’s campus, and represent a positive face for CM Life. My first pitch I created was for Buffalo Wild Wings with a partner. We came up with ideas to increase awareness of vegetarian options and discount wing nights at the restaurant. The ideas were then put into an organized and professional presentation that I pitched by myself in front of other Street Squad members, my manager, and the Assistant Director of Student Publications. The pitch went really well, and the Assistant Director was interested in the ideas my partner and I came up with. Our ideas might even be possibly implemented in the future.

 

Street Squad is giving me hands-on experience outside the classroom. I am gaining real world marketing and public relations experience through trial and error right here on campus. Through advertising and promoting companies in Mount Pleasant, I am expanding my comfort zone and challenging myself with every tabling event. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities CM Life is providing me, and I plan on moving up in the office and advancing my skills as I move forward with this organization.th

Being a Mentor to a Wonderful Mentee

I met my mentee at the Leader Advancement Scholar picnic the first week of classes. We had texted a few times over summer break and I sent her a college packing list, but we had never spoke in person until the picnic. Being a sophomore, I am a mentor to a freshman in LAS and I could not have been paired with a more perfect one for me.

Alexa and I did not get to talk much at the picnic because she left early, but when we went on the annual LAS Mentor/Mentee Retreat, I really got to know her. We guided each other through a high ropes course 30 feet in the air and placed our trust not only in the harnesses, but in each other as well. I am not one who is afraid of heights or trying new things, however I hesitated a second before leaning backwards and falling off of the edge to return to the ground. I was scared the man standing below was going to lose his grip on the rope that held me. With Alexa’s encouragement, my hesitation was short lived and I leaned back. Even though I am her mentor, I still learn and grow from Alexa.

As we ate lunch and dinner, waited for our turn to do an activity, and sat around the campfire, I learned that Alexa is a beautiful human inside and out. She is extremely talented, caring, and also knows how to be goofy with me. I could not ask for a more perfect mentee.

Unfortunately, Alexa had to leave for a semester, so I did not get to see her all of second semester. However, I will always be there for her no matter what and I cannot wait for her to return in the fall. I miss my wonderful and inspiring mentee!