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.

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Leadership Development, Leadership Training

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

As a freshman in college, there are many things to look forward to in the first weeks of school. As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, there are even more things to look forward to in your first few weeks of school and there is one thing that us Freshman talk about for weeks… Mentor/Mentee Retreat.

One of the really special things about LAS is the Mentor/Mentee pairings that you receive throughout your college career. When you get accepted into LAS as a senior in high school, there is a process set up so that every incoming freshman receives a mentor throughout your college career. As a sophomore, you will receive your own mentee to help guide through their years here at CMU. This is one of the most fun parts of LAS.

Within the first few weeks of being at CMU, the freshman and sophomore mentor/mentee pairs go on a retreat weekend to Eagle Village to get to know their mentor/mentee and learn how to work with and support each other. This experience is something that I know I will never forget and I’m so excited to take my mentee to next year.

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My mentor is Morgan Clark. Morgan and I are a special duo because we are pretty much a hot mess all of the time. I actually had the opportunity to hangout and get to know Morgan before the retreat which made my experience so much more fun because I was already comfortable with and loved Morgan. We discovered before retreat that we have awful luck and are both physically incapable of doing anything remotely athletic so we knew that retreat would be a struggle. The best part is that we were excited to do it anyways.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from Morgan at retreat and simply from having her in my life it is to push yourself. Like I said before, Morgan and I knew that we would struggle on most activities at retreat. I mean if it puts it in perspective for you, Morgan and I each counted 30+ bruises and scratches on our bodies after that weekend. But our motto was that if we were going to do bad, we might as well try our hardest. So yes, if there was a way to make any activity more difficult for us, we shrugged our sholders and and said “why not” even though there are a thousand reasons that two unathletic girls should not try to be athletic.

One way that Morgan and I pushed ourselves was rock climbing. I have not been rock climbing since age 6 and at gymnastics class.. I knew that this would not be easy. But we decided to do it anyways. And to make things better, we chose to tie ourselves together while climbing. If we’re going to go down hard, why not go down trying our hardest, am I right? The best part about this was that we actually didn’t fail. Morgan and I made it all the way to the top of the wall tied together. While it wasn’t easy and there were multiple times that the words “Morgan I literally can’t do it” came out of my mouth, Morgan continued to encourage me and help me figure out a way I could do it.

img_0030The next thing that we did that I’m still not quite sure how was “the wall”. The wall was an activity that we did with other mentor/mentee pairs where we have to get everyone over a giant wall using just our teammates. This may sound easy but let me tell ya…. no. While at this point Morgan and I had already said we don’t care what it is that we’re faced with this weekend, we’re trying everything, I really really did not think this one was going to happen. And to my surprise with these doubtful thoughts rolling through my head, Morgan volunteers to go first. This is a shining of example of where Morgan has taught me to step out of my comfort zone. Morgan knew how difficult this activity was in general but then she stepped out of her comfort zone and pushed herself to go first.

So if you ask me about my absolute most memorable moment from mentor mentee retreat, it would be the high ropes course. Morgan and I were both to say, at the least, scared as Hell. We tried to make jokes about it and laugh it out but lets be honest, nobody enjoys dangling in the air on cords trying to walk across thin ropes. So what did Morgan and I do? Well… we said we are already freaking out so why not just go all out and blindfold ourselves in the air too. Everyone told us how ridiculous we looked and how loud our screams were when we would fall because we could not see anything. We were also told good job for pushing ourselves to do things that we aren’t comfortable doing. I am extremely confident in saying that I would never have done that without Morgan and I’m so happy that we did. While there were times when being able to see would have helped us a lot, completing an obstacle successfully without seeing, I felt so accomplished doing something I never would have thought I could.

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One thing that Morgan and I tried that we didn’t necessarily excel in but I give us points for trying was the ladder in the high ropes course. The ladder was just a bunch of 4 by 4 pieces of wood hanging from cables in a ladder that dangled and swung from the ceiling. perfect-picWe saw it and, again, shrugged our shoulders and thought “why not”. There were 8 bars on this ladder from floor to ceiling. We made it to the fourth and while it was physically draining, our goal when starting was just to make it to the third bar. We really did almost give up. I mean really we sat on the third bar for twenty minutes contemplating attempting the next level. We then spent 30 minutes trying to get to the fourth. Then, when we decided that we had already exceeded our goals and wanted to go down, Morgan fell on the wrong side of the ladder and there was no way for us to get down except do it all over again so that her cord was on the right side of the ladder to be able to get down. Literally writing this blog right now I am laughing because we were so amused by the fact that we had to do it all over again that we just laughed for 10 minutes. We barely made it to the 4th level the first time.. how were we going to do it again.. Honestly this was a disaster and took way longer than it should have, but we did it. This taught me that when things go wrong, you laugh about it, and you pick yourself up and keep going. Although I think this ladder was where all 30+ bruises of ours came from and we were sore for the week following, this was the most fun part of mentor/mentee retreat.

I can honestly say that this was a weekend that I will never forget and I think that without this to start off my freshman year, I would not have had the same experience this first semester. I would not have pushed myself socially, academically, and physically in the ways that I have had I not learned from Morgan during the mentor/mentee retreat that I can literally do anything if I try.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” -Wayne Gretzky

 

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.

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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.