Leadership Education

Oprah Winfrey; A Leader of Today


When thinking about the leaders of today the first thing that came to my mind was…well…Donald Trump. This made me actually worry for our country for a moment. Then, I really thought about it. Who is someone that we all know and why do we know them? I came up with people like Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, and even Miley Cyrus. While I truly believe that all of these people are leaders in their own way, I then thought of Oprah Winfrey. I’m not sure why Oprah popped into my head but I’m glad that she did. We all know Oprah. You don’t even have to know her last name and you know who we’re talking about. When I was six years old watching Drake and Josh on Nickelodeon, I knew who Oprah was. I was then hit with the big question: why is she a leader?

To be honest, I did not know how to answer that question. I thought “well she’s inspiring, the richest African American in the world, and I always hear about her giving to charity”. Cool. Then I realized that a lot of people do things of that nature. What makes Oprah so special? So, I did some research. I learned that Oprah grew up in poverty to a single teen mom. I learned that Oprah was molested at a young age and became pregnant due to this at age 14. I learned that Oprah Winfrey’s son then passed away during infancy. Let’s stop there; at age 14, Oprah Winfrey had gone through more tragedy in her life than most people ever do. I’m not saying that makes you a leader by any means but I think that if you look simply from where she was then to where she is now, she had to do something pretty terrific to come back from that.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

So let me tell you about all of the things that she did in the middle that make her a leader. Oprah decided to move in with the man that she calls her father in Chicago after losing her son. By age 19, Oprah had landed a job at a radio station co-anchoring the local evening news. From there, her career prospered due to her childhood story and she became the talk-show host at a local talk-show in Chicago. After becoming a third-ranked local talk-show host, Oprah decided to launch her own production company and begin her most famous talk-show, the Oprah Show.

“What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you” -Oprah Winfrey

What makes Oprah special to me is that she did not stop there. Oprah continued to work hard and help others as much as she could. She didn’t say “I made it, I’m done”. Oprah now is also a producer, actress, and philanthropist. Oprah Winfrey has made her way into everyone’s lives. Oprah Winfrey is such an influential person that she brought almost one million votes to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 solely for giving him her vote. Oprah Winfrey is the face of Women and African American rights.

One thing that Oprah Winfrey did that inspires me the most was the Oprah Angel Network Katrina registry. This was a network that Oprah created following Hurricane Katrina which raised more than $11 million dollars for relief efforts. On top of this, Oprah personally gave the cause $10 million dollars.

Let’s flash back to where she was in the beginning; poverty. Oprah rose herself up. This is what makes her a leader to me. I and so many others are inspired by Oprah Winfrey because she was not given some kind of miracle. Oprah wasn’t just picked up by some famous celebrity. Oprah saw the things that she wanted to do and give to this world and she found a way to make it happen. The fact that she once had nothing and still shot for dreams of where she is solely to help people who need it. Solely to make her mark on this world. I am inspired by this because that is all that I want out of the life I am living.

I might not be shooting for dreams of being the richest women in the world or starring on Drake and Josh, but I want to change something. I want to leave this world better than how I found it and if Oprah can live the life and make the impact that she has from what she has been given, so can I.

“The essential question is not, “How busy are you?’ but ‘What are you busy at?’ ‘Are you doing what fulfills you?” -Oprah Winfrey





Leadership Education

A New Kind of Debate

When I heard that I was required to take a debate course for my LAS protocol I immediately got scared. I don’t do conflict. When I think of debate I think of people stuck in their ways trying to convince each other to believe them but having no intentions of really listening to the other side. I was surprised when I walked into this class and on the very first day, Dr. Professor Cory Hillman elaborated that this class would consist of debate through reasoning and knowledge. I really enjoyed this class because it forced us all to think of things from both perspectives. In our debates we had to actually refute what the other person was saying. It was less argumentation and more discussion. I think that what I’ve taken out of this class mostly is to be open minded and see things from all points of view. I’ve learned to realize that there is not always a right way and sometimes there are equal pros and cons to both sides of an argument. Being forced out of my comf0rt zone to argue for things that I don’t necessarily agree with forced me to have to see the other side of an argument and realize that there are pros to everything even if I still don’t agree with it. Overall, I’ve learned being able to accept everyone’s opinion and views is a very very important part of being an effective leader.


Leadership Education, Leadership Training

Making a Connection

As a Freshman in LAS, we are taken to Central Michigan Universities Leadership Institute Connections Conference. The Connections Conference is held at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City (yes, we did get to play in the water park).

Going into Connections I really and truly had no idea what to expect. I was thinking something along the lines of a High School Leadership Conference; we all get lanyards and get in groups of people we don’t know, it’s awkward for a minute but then we all get really comfortable doing different leadership activities together. While it was kind of like this, it was not exactly.

When we first got to Connections we all went to our rooms to settle in for a minute, and then we went to this big ballroom where we had an introduction from the Leadership Institute. After the introduction we split into groups based on the ballroom written on our name tags (this I predicted). In the session we discussed some things dealing with leadership on campus and connecting with new people. After this meeting we went back and had dinner at tables based on a different sticker on our name tag (I was still right about the name tag thing I’d like to remind you). At dinner we had conversation cards that we used to get to know the other people at our table. It was really nice to get to know new people on campus and the different things that they’re interested in. After dinner it was water park time.. My mentor, Morgan was unable to go her freshman year, so she came this year with my cohort. Morgan and I spent most of our time obsessing over all of the babies in the water park and walking back and forth from the water slides and the hot tub. We left the water park to get ice cream and shower before we had to be back at the ballroom for a pizza speed dating. Here we just ate pizza and walked around and talked to people that we didn’t know trying to make connections with each other whether it be about leadership or our personal interests. I really liked this because it pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet new people and learn about their interests and passions on campus. After pizza and speed dating, it was time for bed.


On the second day we woke up and had breakfast and then began our speaking sessions. This was the part that I had never experienced before and I really enjoyed. At every other conference I’d been to, everyone had the same speakers and whoever the conference had was what you got. At connections, there were about 5 different speakers for each of the four sessions. You were allowed to choose whichever speaker you wanted to listen to based on your interests and what you though would be most beneficial for you. After the session was up, five entirely new speakers would arrive and you would pick out of those five who you wanted to see. I really liked this because you were able to pick the speaker that interested you and benefited you the most. A lot of topics I’ve listened to people speak on a million times so it was nice to have options of things I might not have heard about yet. After lunch and those four sessions were over we met back with our original groups to discuss some more things about leadership on campus and how we can apply the things that we’d learned to our roles on campus and in our leadership positions.

Ultimately what I took away from from the Connections Conference is how making connections with people is the best way to learn about and accept the things that we do not understand in our lives. Everyday we see things and lets be honest you wonder what the point of something is or who would ever want to do or have that. Why would anyone ever want to join a squirrel watching club? Who would ever actually want to do that? Good question….. Here’s what I learned: ask. Ask why people are interested in what they are, why they do what they do; you’ll be surprised how much sense that makes and what you may be interested in as well. Try to make connections with the people you think you have no connections with because you will be so surprised.