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.

hair

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.

Leadership Education

Wait, You Can Learn Leadership?? LDR200L

In order to receive a leadership minor at CMU, students must take a class called LDR200: Introduction to Leadership. As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, you get to take it with your cohort and the curriculum is a little bit different from that of a normal LDR200 class.

ldr

LDR200L focuses on leadership style and theory. In this course, you learn a lot about who you are as a person and a leader, and how that fits into certain leadership theories. Going into LDR200 I did not know what we would be doing because how much is there really to learn about leadership? I thought that leadership was something that everyone has and it just gets stronger and more defined as you take on more and more experience. While I still believe this to be true, I’ve learned that it is just as important to know how you work and how that may affect others around you. Knowing what kind of leader I am and how followers work with me best is just as important as having experience working with those followers.

My favorite part of this course was the day that we watched the TedTalk: Start With Why. I loved this class session because I think it reached more than just my leadership skills, but because it has had an affect on a lot of decisions I have made since this workshop. Start With Why discusses your why statement and the reason for what you do. It talks about your drive and why you do what you do. Everyone’s why statement is a little different but ultimately says why they do what they do. What do you want as a leader and a person and how does that play into the career you have and life you live. My why stateldr22ment is to “Inspire others to find the beauty in everything and seek the things that make them happiest”. Ever since going through this workshop and digging deeper into the meaning of why I do what I do, I find myself looking for this in the decisions I make and what I preach to other people. When I make an important decision (like change my major ha ha.. ha……) I ask myself why I want to make the decision I do. Does it follow my why statement? Am I going to get the outcome that I want and will I have the positive effect on others that I desire. I also find myself teaching others about my why statement and truly putting it into action in my daily life.

 

Another LDR200L requirement was to go on a service trip to Detroit called LAS in the D. During this service trip, I could not stop thinking about my why statement. I had this moment at the beginning of the trip while at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy where I realized I was literally preaching my why statement to these high school students. Let me clarify in saying that I wasn’t being annoying and telling them all about me, I just found myself trying to make the students see the positive side of things and find joy in what they are doing. During debrief I was talking about how they were so positive and that is so important in being a leader. A leader needs to be encouraging and positive and happy and make their followers WANT to follow them. I reminded them that had they just been negative and just hated the activities that were really difficult from the beginning, there’s no way they would have done as well as they did and had fun with it.

During this moment I just found all of these things that we had been talking about and learning coming together. I really saw myself be the leader I want to be which was the most motivating, rewarding, and damn-near coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. LDR200 for me was really and truly the opening of leadership for me. I have always known I am a leader and what the general definition of leadership is, but I never actually saw the smaller more detailed picture of leadership. I never knew that all leaders are different. I never knew that there are different ways to lead and none of them are really better than the others, it’s just what works for you. I really never knew that there were different theories to leadership and how they can affect the ways that you learn, teach, and practice leadership. LDR200L was truly just an eye-opening experience and changed me as a leader.

From this, I just hope to be more aware of my own leadership. I would say I’d like to share this with other people and followers, but I don’t think I am at that point yet. The best way to sum up this class is that I now know enough about leadership to know I pretty much know nothing. I know I am a leader and I am a pretty good one at that, but there is so so much more to this that I don’t know and I want to become more educated and aware of my own leadership. I want to self-reflect after any kind of leadership role and see what kind of leadership style I practiced, if my why statement was a main drive for this, and how well my followers reacted to my leadership.

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.

14566356_10154167523679075_1551606292737705397_o

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.

14882264_10154167531234075_7865254238959319728_o

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

img_1581

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.

img_1548

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.

img_15971

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leadership Education

“Enter a Learner…”

Tomorrow LAS class of 2020 will hit the buses to head to Detroit for a service learning trip. We will have the opportunity to facilitate activities for younger leaders, volunteer for different businesses in the Detroit area, and get to explore the city of Detroit.

Compared to my classmates I truly feel like I do not know much about Detroit at all. I have been downtown for a Tigers game and maybe a few concerts here and there but other than that I’ve never seen much and do not know a lot about the city. From what I’ve heard stereo-typically, Detroit is scary and dangerous. Whenever I’ve gone to Detroit my friends and family have always said “we don’t want to get lost in Detroit” in a bad manner as if that would be dangerous. From what I’ve learned in the past few days just from hearing about the things that have been discussed in our Leadership class and within my cohort, people love Detroit. There are so many amazing and beautiful places to visit and honestly I’m so conflicted. How could we go somewhere where people are so scared yet also so amazed by its beauty? I have heard about the social issues of poverty, violence, and racism in Detroit being at all time highs and to be blatantly honest I’m so curious to see what this is all about. I don’t know much about these issues in Detroit specifically but from all of the buzz I can only imagine that it has to be more extreme than what I’ve personally seen before.

detrit-2

Within the Leadership Institute here at CMU, there is one main purpose and vision for the students, staff, and community that is affected by us:

“PURPOSE: Central Michigan University is committed to preparing Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society.”

“VISION: The Leadership Institute prepares the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work.”

Our trip to Detroit is a great example of how the Leadership Institute includes the purpose and vision of the LI in the daily lives of its students. Going to Detroit and experiencing all of these new businesses and communities that many have us did not really know existed will open our eyes and prepare us for the real world. Already I am realizing that things aren’t the same everywhere; in fact they are very different. I personally have never experienced or seen a prime example of racism or poverty and I am hoping this service trip will open my eyes too all of the things that this complex and challenging society that we live in has to offer to emerging leaders like my classmates and myself. Being in Detroit will also allow us to leave our own personal impact on Detroit. We will not be able to save Detroit in 30 hours; this we are aware, but being able to go and leave a mark and realize that even though we aren’t changing the world we are making a difference which is just as important is a very important thing for us to see and learn. Realizing that if we all work to make the small changes in our own community and lives around us, big things happen. I think that this trip works to make an impact on our lives as leaders just as much as the lives that we are impacting while on this trip.

Overall I think that this trip is going to be one of the most impactful things on myself that I have ever done. I think that going to Detroit will open my eyes to so many things in our world that I didn’t realize truly existed in the daily lives of Americans. I think that this trip will help me realize how much still needs to be done in this world and in our own communities in general. I think that this trip will make me realize that each of our small contributions truly make a difference. The motivation that I get from this trip will be outstanding. I think that the skills and knowledge that I gain from this trip will be one of a kind and something that I will use for the rest of my life.

detroit

Leadership Education

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

My recommendation before reading this blog is to watch the video that I have posted above. While I plan to give you my perspective on this video I think that what everyone takes away from this is different and the same all at one time therefore it is important to watch and see what different things you take away from this TED Talk.

The first thing that I took away from this video was the discussion on why we follow the people we follow. Why are certain people leaders? While I’m sure that there is more to it than just this, Sinek discusses that we follow who we follow because we know why they are doing something. We agree with their reasoning or relate to their situation. We did not follow Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he told us he had a dream, we followed him because he told us why he had this dream. In the same situation, we do not buy a dell mp3 player but we buy Dell computers because Dell has constantly advertised their computers and why we should buy their computers. Ultimately, it is not what you’re doing that matters, it is why you do it.

While watching this Ted Talk it reminded me of my previous post discussing whether leadership starts with a yes or a no; it doesn’t matter if you pick yes or no it matters why you pick yes or no.

In our Leadership 200 class, we partnered up and talked about our own whys. Why are we passionate about the things that we do and what drives us to get out of bed in the morning. My partner was one of my best friends, Lucas. Lucas is a goofy kid and honestly I didn’t know how well this was going to go. Turns out Lucas knows a lot about me that I didn’t even realize about myself. Lucas told me that from what I said, I ultimately do everything to make others happy. I just want to see other people smile. I found that literally every thing I do I do because it means that someone else will have fun or be happy because of it which ultimately makes me happy. I find the most joy in seeing others smile.

I then listened to Lucas talk about his passions and what he cares about and it was so crazy to me to realize that when you look at it from the “why” perspective, literally EVERYTHING we do pretty much ties back to that one reason. For me it is to make people happy, for Lucas it was to be an escape for people and make them realize everything is going to be okay no matter what. From here, we discovered our “why” statements.

My “why” statement is to inspire others to find the beauty in everything and seek the things that make them happy. This is why I do what I do. This is my goal as a leader. From now on, when I take on any new endeavor or even get frustrated with something I am already doing, I will come back to this why statement. I will remember why I am here and what my goal is. My goal is to make people happy from there I can evaluate to see if I am reaching this goal and what I need to achieve it.

img_6785