Community

Children with Hair Loss

I donated my hair for the third time in my life. It was scarier than the second time and the second time was scarier than the first, so I’ll guess that the fourth time will be even more scary than this time which oddly comforted me when on this long train of thought before the hair dresser chopped twelve inches off of my head. But now a little girl has a pretty wig and I hope she loves those twelve inches as much as I did.

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This doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is to me. I know how sad I was when I chose to cut those twelve inches off of my hair and still have another 8, so I can’t imagine how a little girl who has no choice but to not have any hair feels. My entire life my hair has made me feel pretty. When my hair looks good, I feel good. When my hair looks bad, I feel bad. That’s how my mind has always worked. This makes me so sad to think that maybe another girl out there feels that same way about her hair but she doesn’t have the choice to wake up tomorrow and curl it to feel pretty. Long-er hair is the most feminine part of a girl and the fact that there are girls who wake up and do not have the option to feel like a girl (which is damn-near the most empowering thing today, am I right ladies??) makes me want to cut off the other eight inches I have so that I can make another gal feel good again.

I would like to clarify that I am not trying to make the assumption or stereotype that girls are only pretty if they have long hair or that long hair is prettier, I just know that hair makes ME feel pretty, and I know I am not the only girl who feels that way. I just hope that in the case that if another little girl who feels this way about her hair has hair loss, she has the opportunity to get a wig and feel good about herself again.

Community, Leadership Development, Leadership Training

Special Olympics LEAD Team

As a special education major, you can assume that I am obsessed with Special Olympics. Special Olympics is a way for people with disabilities to be active and have fun in a setting that focuses on them and their personal achievements. Ever since my freshman year of high school I have been volunteering with Special Olympics. I’ve always known that there are events and games that I still have not yet experienced but what I didn’t know is that there were more opportunities for these students than just on the track, in the pool, on the slopes, or in the bowling alley.

As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, we are asked to join a LEAD Team through the Leadership Institute. We are given many options of which teams we would like to join based on what each teams focus is and what you are interested in. OBVIOUSLY when I was told that Special Olympics was one of the options that we had, I had my heart set on it. When people asked me what I put down as my choices as we had to choose three in case some filled up, I told them Special Olympics. When they said “what about the other two”, I literally said “I don’t know I just really want Special Olympics”. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing I could have done but truly I just have such a passion for this organization.

What I didn’t know about the Special Olympics LEAD Team was…well, pretty much everything. When I was told that I got the Special Olympics LEAD Team I was ecstatic. Then I realized I didn’t even know what we would be doing. I assumed we would be volunteering at the Special Olympics events and just helping out with whatever they needed. I was wrong and as much as I would have loved doing all of those things, I’m happy that I was wrong because it opened me up to so many new things.

The Special Olympics LEAD Team was focused on putting on a Leadership Conference for both students with and without disabilities. HOW SMART AND AWESOME IS THIS??? I would have never thought that Special Olympics would put on an event like this. I thought Special Olympics just hosted sporting events and competitions but I was so wrong and I was amazed by this.

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Sometimes I forget that not everyone sees themselves as leaders because I see everyone else in that way. Having a conference to show these students that they are leaders regardless of any restrictions that they may have is so important. These students have the ability to make such a difference in their communities and the lives around them but they need people to teach them what that looks like, how they can do that, and to simply encourage them and show them that they are capable of this and that is what this leadership conference is all about. The students went through several activities, lectures and sessions that taught them about different aspects of leadership and how it only takes one person to make a change.

My role in this conference was to be a guide during the day. I had a group of students that my partner and I were responsible for during the day. We would walk them to and from each session and help facilitate during their activities. The most important part of our job as guides was to encourage them and help them take away what they were supposed to from each session. Making sure that they were having fun and understood the purpose of each activity and how it applied to them in their communities and schools was vital to this conference being a success.

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What I took away from this was just as important as what the students took away. First of all I got so many new experiences through this lead team. I have worked with students with disabilities and without disabilities in so many different environments but never in one like this. Gaining this experience of facilitating and managing groups of students in this atmosphere was so new and exciting for me. It also reminded me that EVERYONE needs reminders that they have the power to do the things that they want to. Society can put stereotypes on people and groups and even the people that fall under these stereotypes and groups forget that the limitations put on them are false.. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what circumstances you have, you can make as big or little of a difference that you want. I grew up just knowing this but not everyone has that. This conference reminded me that everyone has those abilities but some people need reminders of that. As a leader in society and an advocate for those specifically with special needs it is my job to be the person to give them those reminders and the tools to be the best that they can.

This conference is so important and just shows that Special Olympics will never fail to amaze. From this conference I now know what kinds of things people should know about leadership and that there truly are no limitations for anyone who wants to be a leader. This was such an important experience as a future educator specifically for students with special needs and I can’t wait to continue instilling these ideas and experiences in the students and advocates of special education around me.

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Community, Leadership Development

Kappa Delta Pi

As a Freshman in LAS we are asked to join at least one registered student organization. As you can imagine, a lot of us join more than one. Actually, most LAS kids end up joining way too many than they can possibly fit into one schedule and end up having to narrow down their choices. As a freshman I also joined many RSOs here at CMU. One organization that I joined and have already gotten so much out of is Kappa Delta Pi.

Kappa Delta Pi is a a national honors society for future educators. I am currently an honorary member in KDP because you cannot be a full member until you are in your sophomore year. In Kappa Delta Pi, we are given opportunities to do free professional development, discuss with other future educators about the field of education, and work hands on with students and in schools to gain more experience in the field.

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Kappa Delta Pi is so rewarding because it reminds you that education is fun. In today’s society, education is almost always thrown in the heat of things — and not in a good way, usually. Being in an organization that is focused on the positives of education and how we can make a difference in the classroom before during and after our career is so refreshing. I am constantly surrounded by people who are just as passionate about the same things as me and I think that this is something that is very important for a college student. Kappa Delta Pi does service events to help the community while simultaneously building out skills as future educators.

The event that I find so fun and beneficial is Literacy Alive. Literacy Alive is a week long event that Kappa Delta Pi puts on in the local schools around Mount Pleasant. Members of Kappa Delta Pi can go to the schools and read with the students. This is a really awesome thing because kids love it. Kids read every day in school but think back to when you were six years old and just learning to read; when new people come in your class you want to show them everything you can do. You were so excited to show off your skills. During Literacy Alive we are getting students excited about reading while also gaining skills in the classroom and getting hands on experience with the students. Being able to promote learning in a way that gets students excited is what education is all about and this is one of the really great things about Literacy Alive.

Another cool aspect to Kappa Delta Pi is that like Greek Life we have a Big-Little program. As an honorary member you cannot be a little yet, but you can be a mentee and receive a mentor. My mentor’s name is Michaela. I’m really excited that I got Michaela because Michaela is on the executive board as Treasurer of Kappa Delta Pi and I would eventually love to run for an executive board position. I hope that I can learn a lot from Michaela as an executive board member.

I am so excited to continue my experience in Kappa Delta Pi over the next few years here at CMU. Kappa Delta Pi has already given me so much knowledge and experience and I can only imagine the things that I will take away from KDP in the years to come.

Community, Leadership Development

“…Exit a Leader”

LAS in the D was an experience that I wish everyone had the opportunity to do. LAS in the D is considered a service trip. We are supposed to go and do things that service those in Detroit. I really and truly did not feel like this was a service trip. I felt like Detroit was doing things for us. Detroit was changing me more than I was changing it.

img_1557In Detroit our first stop was at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. At Jalen Rose we were split into groups and asked to help facilitate ice breakers with the high school students. Ultimately I thought that this was going to be cheesy and awkward but it actually turned out to be some of our students’ favorite parts. We were able to learn more about the students and make connections before we even began doing any real activities. After we spent some time getting to know our students we helped facilitate and participate in some activities working on teamwork and communication. These activities were actually a challenge for me because I found myself over participating in some of the activities. I had to keep reminding myself to let the students have their turn to lead. We then did some debriefing and after just a short time with the students we said our goodbyes and hit the bus.

We then were headed off to Quicken Loans in Detroit. The difference between Jalen Rose and Quicken Loans was outrageous to me. Quicken Loans was a very big expensive building with high security and such nice facilities where just 10 minutes before at Jalen Rose there weren’t very many nice buildings and things. At Quicken Loans we had the opportunity to hear a presentation from the Vice President¬† of Quicken Loans. He told us of the history and what Quicken Loans stands for and all of the different things that Quicken Loans is doing for Detroit. This was an absolutely amazing and eye opening experience. For the rest of the night we had the opportunity to hangout at the Detroit Institute of the Arts and spend the night and learn about the history of the Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center.

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In the morning, we woke up and packed out bags for Cass. Cass is a community organization which helps the homeless get back on their feet. They have kitchens to feed the homeless; donation centers of food, clothes, and housing items, for the homeless; and have a shop where they make rugs out of tires that have been dumped on the street that they sell to make money for the organization. The really cool thing about Cass is that they hire mostly the homeless people that they serve. They give the homeless¬† that second chance because most other companies won’t. Cass also has apartments that they rent out to their employees once they get enough money from working. Ultimately Cass takes people from the lowest of lows and slowly helps them to rebuild their own lives. Nothing is just handed to them but they are given the chance to earn the job and earn the apartment. Cass has many employees that are able to build a resume from working at Cass to help them get out into the workforce and get better paying jobs. This really touched me because nobody ever talks about all of these organizations that are doing amazing things and doing so much to rebuild Detroit and help the people become functioning members of the community. Bringing light to these organizations is so important in making Detroit the city that it deserves to be. LAS volunteered at Cass with these workers who were able to tell us their own stories of what Cass has done for them and I think that if everyone had that opportunity, Detroit would be so different in the eyes of those who have no idea what it really is.

In Detroit we had the opportunity to facilitate leadership activities at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, tour and learn about Quicken Loans, roam through the Detroit Institute of the Arts, stay at the Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center, and then spend our morning volunteering for Cass. With so many different opportunities to learn and grow, I find myself stuck on one moment of our trip.

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Ya know those moments in chick-flicks where the girl has the realization that she loves the boy and the world starts spinning and music starts playing? Yeah I had one of those moments except mine was while I was sitting on a dusty Detroit high school classroom floor and I just realized what I had known all along. In class the week before our trip we had to discuss why we did what we did. What we were passionate about. Ultimately what gets us out of bed in the morning. We then turned this into a why statement. Everyone had a different why statement because they were personal to your passions. My why statement is “Inspire others to find the beauty in everything and seek the things that make them the happiest”. The moment that I had my ‘moment’ was when I realized that I was living and preaching this all along and didn’t even realize it.

img_1598While debriefing about the activities that we had done at Jalen Rose with the students we all got to put in our advice and thoughts. I raised my hand and pointed out the fact that the thing that continuously kept the group going was their positivity. I told them that they just kept trying and having fun with it instead of getting frustrated and angry. I reminded that them we could relate this back to situations in real life and try to find the good in bad situations and have fun with the things that could frustrate us. After I was finished talking I had my moment. I realized that I was teaching students about the things that are most important to me. As someone who is so passionate about education and learning and wants to be a teacher to realize that I am sitting there teaching students about being positive and happy and all of the other things that I’m passionate about and that are important to me was so crazy. I realized that in that exact moment I was doing the things that are the most important to me.

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After the fact I realized that maybe I’d been actually instilling these thoughts and ideas in the people around me all along and didn’t even realize it. Maybe I had been living my passions this whole time before I really knew that those were the things that wake me up in the morning. Being in Detroit gave us so many opportunities to give, and while I think that I did do my part in giving back to Detroit, I think that I took so much more.

I hope to now be more aware of leaving my mark and the things that are important to me anywhere I go. Leaving a lasting mark and impact with the things that matter the most to me on the things that matter most to me was such an inspiring act and I hope to continue doing this from now on wherever I go.

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