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.
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.
Everyone who attended the LAS Mentor/Mentee Retreat
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!
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.
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.
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.