LEAD Team Reflection 2018-2019

This past year I had the opportunity to serve on the LAS service trip LEAD team where I was able to spend the weekend facilitating meaningful conversation with the freshman LAS students. We discussed the history and injustices that Detroit has faced over the years and learned how gentrification is impacting the city as a result of new corporate entities that have settled there.

Saturday morning was spent volunteering with Class Community Social Services; I worked in their kitchen where I helped with food preparation. This was not my first experience with Cass Community Social Services as I’ve volunteered with them in the past. My past experience was making rubber mats to be sold for money that goes towards funding the organization, but working in the kitchen was a very different and new experience that allowed me to see the other side of things. I learned that they have a  staff of only 4 members, but they serve thousands of people each year. I also learned that all of the meals prepared are provided strictly through donations. Operating the kitchen seems like a very difficult task, especially since it was hard when there were over a dozen volunteers assisting during the service trip, but the staff stays dedicated and uses innovative techniques to serve the population. This entire service trip allowed me to reflect on why I chose to go into social work in the first place; to help make the world a better place. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be apart of the service trip this year as it has come a long way. I look forward to seeing the impact it has not only on the city but the freshman LAS class on next year.

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Hermanos Para Unidad (Brothers For Unity) 2018-2019

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This year I continued my involvement with the Hermanos Para Unidad (HPU) student organization as the executive treasurer. HPU accomplished many great things this year from putting on educational programs to trying out new restaurants in the Mount Pleasant area. Some of our greatest accomplishments from this year are participating in Siblings Weekend, the International Culture Expo, and collaborating with different organizations like Men about Change, Empowered Latino Union, and the Student Union for Racial Solidarity. The members of HPU worked hard to educate themselves and others and to bring quality programs that have important messages for the student body. The members of HPU also volunteered together throughout the year to give back to the Mount Pleasant community and to raise awareness for diversity and inclusion. Being a founding member of HPU, I am very happy to see how far we have come as an organization and to know that it is an organization that develops leaders. This is an organization I want to be involved with until I graduate, as I believe that it is a catalyst for greatness. Being involved with HPU is one of my greatest accomplishments at CMU and has enabled me to grow in ways I didn’t think I could.

Serving As A Mentor

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Serving as a mentor has taught me many valueable life lessons. The first lesson is that if you agree to take on the role of a mentor, you should always be prepared to listen. This is a crucial part of the mentoring process, as you cannot assist anyone in personal growth if you are not receptive to them.

The second lesson I learned is that you must also be willing to talk. As someone who is supposed to have experience and wisdom, you should be sharing those things with your mentee so that they are better equipped to handle the obstacles that you yourself found challenging. It can be difficult to communicate, as you will not always have the same attitude or values as someone you mentor, however, being able to communicate and still enable your mentee to grow is what makes a true mentor.

The final lesson I learned is that it is crucial to establish expectations. Without expectations, a mentor cannot hold their mentee accountable, and vise versa. It is impossible to meet unspoken expectations as well, so making them known through a detailed discussion is essential if you wish to be an effective positive figure.

 

Lead Team Reflection

If you refer back to my previous post: Diversity, Inclusion & Service Lead Team Reflection you can learn all about how I was I was a part of the DIS Lead Team my freshman year, and how I applied to become a co-chair person in hopes of providing other LAS Scholars with a better experience than I had with his team.

After reflecting on my year of co-chairing this lead team, I can say that we both met this goal, and fell short of others.

The biggest obstacle us co-chairs faced was time, as we underestimated the amount of effort and meeting time needed to execute the goals we had in mind. We were able to have great discussions about cultural differences, educate each other on current events around the world and in our own country, and attend multiple cultural events going on around campus; all of which was far more than what was accomplished last year. Still, we were not able to plan anything with the MASS office or organize any service trips or events for our lead team. We ran out of time to launch any fundraising projects or expand the DIS team throughout the Leadership Institute.

Something that I took away from this experience is that you must be passionate about what it is that you are doing, and understand why you are doing it. If these factors are not present, those goals can sometimes be impossible to reach. I found that this was an issue within this Lead Team, and not everyone had the same drive or desire to learn about/create change around them.

Going forward, I will not be co-charing DIS Lead Team again due to other time commitments. Hoverer, I value this experience immensely, and learned that Passion and drive can be the most powerful tools of all.

Youth Advocacy AWB

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This past winter break I was give the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina with a group of 11 other CMU students on my third Alternative Break (more blogs to come). The social justice issue my group focused on was youth advocacy, and we spent a week volunteering with the Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC).

Starting off, I was not prepared for the impact that this break would have on me mentally, nor did I expect it to strengthen what I already thought to be a strong desire to work with children in the foster care system. I thought I was fairly knowledgable about youth advocacy and the issues surrounding the topic, however, this break gave me the opportunity to truly immerse myself in the lives of foster children and allow me to see just how severe the scale of the issue is.

We spent everyday at the CYDC, a campus that consists of: houses for the foster children, recreational and educational facilities, and a main office building. This center serves as a model community for other foster homes, as they provide numerous and essential services to their children that most foster facilities do not. They teach the children there how to work on cars, computer programming, musical instruments, and healthy lifestyle habits so that they can develop necessary skills to assist in getting them ahead in life. However, this does not make the CYDC perfect, as funds are limited and the impossible feat of giving each child the love and attention they deserve.

The first three days at the CYDC were spent sorting presents for the children that were donated from sponsor families. These presents were things that the children were in need of, and would be given at their annual christmas party. In addition to this, we also performed demolition on one of the campus houses that was being remodeled into a transition home for children that would age out of the system. This would serve as a foothold into the real world, and allow the new young adults to find their place in society before just being thrown into the streets to fend for themselves.

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The last two days were spent in direct interactions with the children of the CYDC. These two days provided me with the most fulfilling, yet heartbreaking experience I have ever had. I connected with one child in particular, and learned about their journey leading up to the CYDC. As their story unfolded, it took everything in me not to fall apart. I realized that even with everything the CYDC does for these children, it is still not enough for them to grow into healthy, thriving individuals. It was after this moment that my goal of becoming an agent of social change in the world of foster care was transformed into a burning desire.

After our 52 hours of community service at the CYDC, we returned to our own community to share what we learned, and become active citizens in trying to bring about change for children in need. I have taken what I have learned from this experience and applied them to my social work classes. I will continue to apply this knowledge as well as educating myself so that one day I can shape the policies that will result in much needed change in the foster care world.

Communication In Leadership

Another requirement for the Leader Advancement Scholar and Leadership minor is to take the COM 461L Communication in Leadership class. This class focused on different theories and concepts that leaders follow and practice in order to become more effective at communicating with their followers. The instructor for this specific class was Professor Elizabeth Carlson, and her methods for articulating information allowed me to truly grasp the teachings of communication in leadership. Thanks to her, I am much more aware of my own leadership style and the several communication approaches that can be applied in leadership.

This teachings of this course are crucial for well-rounded leaders to acquire, as communication is our strongest tool in influencing and leading others. It makes us aware of what we are communicating, how exactly we are being perceived, and ultimately who it is being communicated to and how that effects our ability to be a leader. I am extremely grateful for being given the opportunity to take this class; I feel as though my leadership style was given the tools necessary to flourish even more, and enable me to become even more of a positive impact in the lives of my followers.

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Philosophy: Moral Problems

PHL 118 is a class that sophomore LAS students are required to take as part of the protocol. I had never taken a philosophy class at CMU before so I didn’t know what to expect. This class was taught by Gary Fuller at 8:00AM twice a week. The focus of the class was moral problems. We discussed different types of moral problems, such as abortion and gay marriage, and were basically given the tools needed to develop stances on the topics talked about. This class really helped me learn more about problems that face our country and allowed me to see just how many different opinions there were on these issues within my LAS cohort. Ultimately, this class taught me that as a leader, it is important to develop opinions on these issues so we are able to stand up and use our voices to make change. Moving forward, I will be applying what I learned in this class to the development of my own stances on various moral problems so I can effectively stand up for what I believe in.

Diversity, Inclusion & Service Lead Team Reflection

The DIS Lead Team was created to teach the meaning of diversity to the leadership advancement scholars, as well as to promote cultural events and educate others on the topic of diversity around the campus. The DIS Lead Team had a goal of fostering a change in the community that would leave a lasting impact. As a general member, I did whatever I could to help the team develop and grow. Despite not reaching any of our goals, we did pave the way for next year to be successful. With myself and two other LAS scholars chairing the LEAD Team next year, we have organized a plan that will bring structure and motivation to the new and improved DIS Lead Team. This plan consists of motivating our group members, hosting meetings that are worth while and educational, organizing events that people can take away valuable and mind-opening information, and participating in other cultural events around the campus. With the same goals as before, we plan to effectively teach and promote diversity to first our LAS peers, then to the campus as a whole. With a new and improved Lead Team, there is hope that we shall leave a lasting impact in the name of diversity at Central Michigan University.

 

HST 110L Reflection

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Having taken advanced history classes in high school, I was not too excited when I found out that I was required to take a history class for my leadership protocol. History 110 had a twist, however, and focused primarily on historical leaders instead of the events. This was beneficial because it focused on what made those historical figures influential and how the different types of leaders impacted history. This class really opened my eyes to the concept of leadership styles and how truly powerful a person can be when they have influence over another being. This class ultimately taught me that history is a powerful tool; looking back on past leaders and their methods can provide valuable lessons to learn from.

 

Year In Review

My first year at Central Michigan University has not turned out to be what I had expected. I knew that I was going to volunteer and take classes that would eventually lead me to a major, but I never thought I would grow as a person at the rate or length as I have. A large part of that is due to my LDR classes. In previous blogs, I mention LDR 100 and how it is a class I am required to take my first semester as part of my Leadership Advancement Scholarship protocol; this class helps to mold and foster my leadership abilities. Second semester, in LDR 200, we go more in depth with the different leadership theories and discover our own individual leadership philosophies. First semester, my LDR 100 class taught me to take advantages of the opportunities around campus to impact my environment. This led me to getting involved with different registered student organizations and volunteering with any and every group that came my way. LDR 200, on the other hand, taught me that in order to truly impact my environment and make a difference, I must know what is driving me and why I do the things that I do (Ted Talk). It taught me that in order to inspire others to follow there passions, I must follow my own. In LDR 200 we covered the Servant Leadership Theory which teaches that: a leader with strong moral and ethical values place others above their own self-interests and emphasize the growth and development of their followers. This really spoke to me, as it described what leadership meant to me. This theory has shaped me and continues to shape me as I strive to live day by day as a servant leader, putting others before myself and embracing growth.

As I look back on my year with only a few weeks left to go, I realize now that my expectations have been far exceeded. I grew so much as not just a leader, but a human being. I could not have asked for more out of my first year of college; the experiences I have acquired opened my mind and enabled me to educate others on what it means to lead, and provide them with skills needed to make a change that will impact their environment and world for the better.

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