Leadership Development

A Year in Review

College is weird. Growing up is weird. Life is just simply weird. This is ultimately what I have learned this year.

I don’t know what my expectations of college were but I can tell you I could not have imagined what I have experienced. School this year has been wonderful. I have cried. I have laughed. I have laughed until I cried. I have had so many new experiences. I am a completely different person than I was at the beginning of this school year. I absolutely loved myself and who I was when I came to school so this actually is weird for me to say. Why change things that are already good? Well because there is always room for growth. I am so different than I was before this year and I am so happy about it. I now know how to love as deeply as possible. I now know how important it is to make yourself uncomfortable sometimes. I now know that it can be a good thing to disagree with people, for how else would we really find out who we are and who we are not? I now know that people are so different and appreciating these differences is the most wonderful thing that this world could possibly do. I know that people and things change and this can be really hard but it is usually for the better. I have learned to open up; to hold the people close to you even tighter. I have learned ultimately that life is really good even when it doesn’t seem that way to the eye.

The people that I have been surrounded with are the reasons that I have learned the things that I have. I have found my people here at Central which is so so special and crazy considering the fact that I had no idea who most of these people were a year ago. These people are crazy weird. I have never met people this fun and open and truly genuine. I have been so blessed to call the people below some of my best friends. To start off, I’ll just start with my roomies.

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Allie is my person. This is something that I have known for much longer than the past year. Allie and I came into college as high school best friends and are leaving as lifelong best friends. After this year I really and truly think my life would end without Allie. Allie has taught me how to care so much while simultaneously being spontaneous as hell and doing whatever comes at you. Allie has her shit together. She doesn’t think she does, but compared to most people our age, she’s pretty much superwoman. We call her mom for good reason and that’s because she generally knows what the responsible and right thing to do is. The best part about this is that she’ll be standing right behind you to support you even if you choose to do the not-so-responsible thing. Allie is this spicy ray of sunshine that can be so brutally honest and tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear but also be the one to pick you up and push you further when you fall down. I think it is easy to be either the person who is always picking people up or the person who is always being real with everyone, but I think it is so special and amazing to be both of those people at the same time which is what Allie is to me. We don’t always see eye to eye but the friendship and bond that Allie and I have is completely unbreakable. I cannot see this life without Allie.

Now, Julia. Julia is just a ball of fun. Julia is the person that constantly reminds me that it is okay to do whatever the heck you want sometimes. Sometimes you need to stay up until 2am laughing just because even though you have an exam at 8am and that’s something that Julia reminds me. Julia has taught me that everyone is different but everyone is perfect. My favorite part about Julia is that she recognizes and constantly reminds those around her that we don’t have to do everything exactly right to be wonderful. Julia is understanding and genuinely cares about everyone around her. Julia is not afraid to be spontaneous and has a mind that is so deep and complex that she cannot focus on just one thing at a time. Julia wants to make everyone happy and wants to change the entire world all at once. Julia has so much passion and desire that she cannot contain it and this is what I admire from Julia the most. I only had the opportunity to live with Julia for one semester but I can tell you second semester was way more interesting than first and I can’t help but think that this is largely in part to Julia Nachman.

Anyone who lives in Barnes Hall also knows that I have some honorary roommates, also known as room 108. Room 109 and room 108 might as well have been combined because we all pretty much had entrance rights to each others rooms at all times anyways. Room 108 consisted of Kyle, Noah, Thomas, and Jake. I can honestly say these boys are some of the best friends that I have had and will have in my entire life.

I don’t even know where to start with Kyle. Kyle drives me absolutely nuts with his constant need to make noise and move but I wouldn’t change it for the world because he is my go-to when I need some entertainment. Kyle knows how to make people laugh. Kyle can twerk better than any girl I’ve ever known and also has the best impressions of anyone out there. Kyle is one of those people that you naturally just let go around. Kyle is the most sarcastic person I have ever met but after getting to know him and his sarcasm, I have learned that Kyle is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. Kyle has taught me to always shoot for the stars and to do whatever makes you happy.

Now, Noah. Where do I even start. Noah is like the one I go to when I need a light heart. Whether it’s some constructive criticism, just a late night conversation, or a person to make me laugh, Noah is so light-hearted and sincere about everything that he does. Noah has taught me that it is okay to say whatever you want to say but to think about what you say first. Noah has never said something that he doesn’t mean and he has never said anything without true knowledge and reason behind it which I respect so highly. Even when Noah and I do not see eye-to-eye, I respect what he has to say because he has thought it through and has valid reasoning to say what he is. Noah is thoughtful and kind. Noah is truly the kind of person that I hope that my future children grow up to be. Thank you Noah for teaching me how to work for what you want and how to constantly push yourself to be a better person even when you are already one of the most kind and generous people that I have ever met.

Thomas is just one of those people that you want to be around. Thomas has this innocence about him that draws you to him. People want to be around him because Thomas is fun, and reminds us that growing old is inevitable but growing up is a choice. I want to clarify that this is such an admirable thing. Thomas is in no way childish, he just knows when it’s okay to stop ‘adulting’. Thomas also sees the good in everything. I have always considered myself to be an optimistic person but since meeting Thomas, he has upped that bar. Thomas is the kind of person that will sit with you for hours just to try to make a bad situation seem good. He is the person that will tell you whatever you need to hear to make you smile. Thomas doesn’t do it on purpose and I’m not even sure he really knows that he does it, but Thomas constantly pushes those around him to do and be better.

Jake Eaton. Jake is one of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. When I first met Jake I could have never imagined the impact that he would have on me and my life. Jake is, for a lack of better words, real as hell. We all go through life meeting people and letting them see whatever it is that we choose to let them (which usually isn’t much at all). We then meet people that we open up and talk to about our lives and how the things that we are going through and dealing with are affecting us. And then sometimes, you meet people that pull the things out of you that you didn’t even know lived inside. This is what Jake Eaton is to me. Jake Eaton is unbelievably loyal and full of love. Jake Eaton cares more about other people than most. Jake has taught me that it is okay to let things out because that is the only way to get rid of them. Jake is the kind of person that you can sit up until sunrise with, talking about nothing and everything all at the same time. The friendship that I have made with Jake has taught me to see people as they are. Do not judge a book by its cover but do not assume that what is on the outside is necessarily different than what is on the inside either. Jake has an amazing ability to make people feel special. Whether it is a stranger he met on the street, or a long lost best friend, Jake can make you feel like the most important person in the world. I can honestly say that Jake Eaton is single-handedly one of the most down-to-earth and kind people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Our last honorary roomie that does not live in 108 or 109 is Lucas Gustafson. For anyone who knows Lucas, you can probably assume what I am about to say. Lucas Gustafson is the greatest person to walk this earth. I am absolutely certain that there is nothing in this world that could prevent Lucas from being able to make me smile. Lucas knows how to make people feel like they are worth his time. Lucas will do anything for anyone no matter what the consequences. I would trust Lucas with my life and people who do not know Lucas would think I’m crazy but anyone who has ever spent 10 minutes with him knows that there is no better person in this world to trust with your entire existence. Lucas has taught me that at the end of the day what matters is what you did to make someone else’s day/life better. Whether you simply made someone crack a smile or you changed their life, wake everyday with the intention to make a difference in someone else.

Next are the people that have been forced into my life by family trees and an everlasting love for cows. While I didn’t chose these people to walk into my life, I’ve never been more grateful for something than the fact that they did. Morgan, Susie, and Derek are three people that I could not imagine my crazy life without anymore.

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Morgan is my mentor. I talk about her in probably every blog post ever because she has had the biggest impact on me in the last nine months than anyone. Morgan truly is the person I wish I was. Morgan is beautiful inside and out. Morgan is amazingly talented and smart. Morgan has more wisdom than anyone I’ve ever met and she is one year older than I am. Morgan has taught me so much more than I could ever fit into a paragraph. The impact that Morgan has had in my life is something that will absolutely never go away and I will never forget. I don’t think that Morgan realizes that who she is is the kind of person that leaves a mark on every single persons life that she ever comes in contact with. I truly believe that if everyone had a Morgan in their life, this world would be such a different place.

Now, Derek Sturvist. Derek just speaks the truth. Derek will not hold back in his beliefs and I admire him more than he will ever know for this. Derek is the most passionate person I have, and believe that I will ever, meet in this life time. His passion shines through in everything he does. Derek also is one of those people that knows how to make someone feel wanted and special. Derek makes people feel like they have a purpose and like their existence generally matters to the destiny of this earth. While I’m not sure that he actually believes that sometimes, he has this ability to make others feel like they can do and accomplish whatever they want.

Susie. Oh my goodness. Susie is the person I wish I was but simply never will be because the personality that she has is one that you are either born with or you are not. Susie does what she wants when she wants but simultaneously does everything she does for the betterment of other people. Susie rode in a car with me for 10 hours last night when we had a research paper due this morning solely because I wanted to meet my mentee (Hannah who is absolutely amazing, but I will boast about her another time) but did not want to ride alone. Susie is dedicated and loyal. Susie says what she is thinking and does not hold back what she is feeling. Susie has taught me the meaning behind the phrase “you only live once” and it is that you literally have to do whatever the hell you want to do now because you may never get another chance to. I was absolutely blessed to have Susie walk into my life and I could never imagine my life without her.

So these are my people. These are the people that bring the best (and sometimes worst) out of me every single day and I could not be more thankful for every single one of them. Thank you for challenging me and showing me what it looks like to be an amazing person. Thank you for always giving me a shoulder to cry on, no matter the time of day. And thank you for being the kind of people that make this world better by simply existing.

The relationships and people that I have met here at CMU remind of the the Social Change Theory of leadership. This theory says that individuals bring their own personal skills and abilities to a group or relationship in which they can combine their skills and create something bigger than themselves. That is exactly what these relationships and people do every single day. I could not be who I am without them and who I am is someone that wants to impact something larger than myself. We could not have the impact on each others lives and the rest of the world without the skills that we individually bring out in each other.

Leadership Training

What Even is a Mentor??????

Being a mentor is something that honestly seems so complicated to me. What do I do with a mentee? When do I feed it? Water it? Take it for walks??? Okay I’m not that crazy but really like what does a mentor do? My mentor was literally everything for me. She was my best friend, my mom, my academic advisor, my personal counselor, etc. etc. I don’t really know how to be that.

After going through the mentor workshop, I realized one thing: you just have to be what your mentee needs. I was a disaster; I needed Morgan to be my lifeline. My mentee may need me to be their lifeline or they may just need me to be a cheerleader. Whatever it is that your mentee needs, that’s what your role as a mentor is. It doesn’t matter if you want to be best friends and take them everywhere and do everything with them, it is up to your mentee whether that is the relationship that they want. The catch is, you have to be the one to figure out what they want. You have to reach out to them and give them all of the tools to have access to the mentor they need and want. Really and truly, what I took away from the Mentor Workshop in LDR200L is that it is not about you anymore; it is about them.

Another realization that I had is that you can still get the mentor experience that you want even if it is not the mentee experience that your mentee wants. You can be a mentor to everyone. Maybe your mentee does not need you in the way that you want them to need you, but another mentee may need you the way that you want to be needed. You can be a mentor to everyone, not just your mentee. I think this is important to remember because you can get the experience that you want while also being the mentor that your mentee needs.

Leadership Education

HST110: Leaders in American History

As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, it is apart of my protocol to take classes made specifically for leadership students which focus on the adding leadership content into a university class. As my freshman year is beginning to come to a close, I am finishing up a few of these leadership courses. One of the courses that we were required to take second semester as a freshman year is HST110WIL; American Experience.

This class focuses on history in America and specifically the different leaders that made a difference in America. This was a really cool experience because you really got to see the different ways that people were leaders. When you think of leaders in America, I think most peoples mind would jump to presidents; Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and many more. What this class really made so much more obvious to me is that there are so many more leaders in America than just presidents. I always knew this but this class made it so obvious; you do not have to be the president of something to be a leader within that group. This was my main take away from this class.

Don’t get me wrong, the president is important; they are the president for a reason. HST110 just helped me apply the idea that everyone is a leader, and that you can be a leader under the power of someone who is in higher position than you as well. I have always known this but being able to see real life examples of people who aren’t labeled ‘The President of The United States of America’ that make just as big, if not bigger, impacts on this country.

Sojourner TruthAs stated before, this was a writing intensive class (fun, I know). Our major papers were based on leaders in American History. We were asked to read a book about  a famous American Leader and write a paper that tells about what they did, why it was important, and what kinds of results there were from your leaders actions. The two people that I chose to write about were Sojourner Truth and Ruby Bridges. I found this to be beneficial because again you could see more specifically that leaders don’t all have the title, they don’t always look like the stereotypical leader, and they don’t always have it easy. Sojourner Truth and Ruby Bridges were both leaders in America at a time when many American’s didn’t even view them as humans. These reports emphasized a few things for me:

  1. It takes one drop of water to start a flood
  2. Not everyone will always agree with you
  3. Things may not go always go your way; that doesn’t mean you should stop
  4. Once you meet reach your goals, make bigger ones

Outside of all of the amazing knowledge of American History that I absolutely love learning about *sarcasm*, these four things are the major ideas that I have taken away. I hope that as a leader, when I am stuck in a situation that I don’t feel like a leader, where I don’t have anyone following me, things aren’t going more way, or I just feel like I’ve ‘done enough’ I hope that I think back to these four things that I have learned throughout this class. I also hope to share these ideas and leaders that I have studied with others so that they may take away their own perspective and inspiration from leaders in America.

The Ruby Bridges Story – Canon 7D from Andy Gallacher on Vimeo.