Organization for Black Unity (OBU)

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This past year I had the privilege of being a part of the Organization for Black Unity (OBU) student organization. OBU is a social organization on the Campus of Central Michigan University that was created to support fellow students in their collegiate journey. This Organization is not limited to African-American students and welcomes anyone, regardless of race, creed or color. The organization believes that we can all learn from each other and provides its members with the tools necessary to succeed at CMU while simultaneously creating a more accepting and inclusive environment.

Being a student leader on campus who also happens to be a minority, this organizations goals truly resonated with me. Their goals are to maintain a strong minority presence on the campus and in the community, promote high academic standards, community service, member support, and present culturally informative events to the public while creating a bridge between the minority and non-minority community. These are goals I have held close to my heart ever since I stepped foot on CMU’s campus, but I never really knew how to go about reaching them. This organization allowed me to grow as a student leader because they showed me how to do all of this, while provided me with new perspectives along the way.

I will continue my involvement with OBU next year as I believe this is an organization that is all for creating change the right way and I believe I can still grow a great deal from being a part of it.

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Hermanos Para Unidad (Brother For Unity) Executive Board

This past school year I had the privilege of holding the title of Executive Treasurer for HPU (see blog). This position gave me the opportunity to grow in my skills as a student leader as I took on more responsibility with this organization than I previously had as a general members. I was in charge of opening and maintaining the HPU bank account in which we kept our fundraising rewards, and coordinating our fundraising events. HPU’s goal shifted quite a bit from the beginning of the year to the end and fundraising was put on hold as we tried to figure out what our destination as an organization was.

The members of HPU were considering turning the organization into the multicultural greek organization known as Sigma Lambda Beta (SLB) Fraternity Co. so a lot of my responsibilities as an executive member consisted of working towards that goal while also assisting with creating change on campus through various student programs and activities. I took on the role of coordinating meetings with CMU alumni who were also a part of the SLB organization, as well as communicating and coordinating with other current SLB brothers at other universities to attend their events.

Although I did not have a typical treasurer experience, I certainly felt the wight of my executive title and learned a great deal from this experience. I was met with many challenges like sending last minute meeting requests and not effective communication with other universities, however, I learned that adaptability and proactiveness are key to creating the best possible outcome.

Being a part of HPU has given me a deeper sense of community at CMU as its members have grown incredibly close and created a safe inclusive environment in which all are welcome. Next year I will be not he executive board for HPU again and continuing to work towards the transition from HPU to SLB. I am honored to be a part of such a dedicated and passionate group of individuals and I know that I will continue to grow as a student leader and create change on CMU’s campus.

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.

Latino Family Services

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This year I had the opportunity to volunteer with Latino Family Services, a non-profit organization in southwest Detroit that offers a variety of services such as after school youth programs, food distribution, substance abuse intervention programs, and other social work related services. Most of my time was dedicated to the after school program where the organization needed the most volunteers; I spent a lot of time restructuring their website and online presence. I also spent some time tutoring and mentoring some of the youth enrolled int he after school program.

Volunteering with this organization allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of what nonprofit organizations do, as well as filled me with a sense of purpose. Volunteering in the community in which I was raised was so fulfilling and affirmed my desire to give back as much as I can to the communities that I belong too. Not only is volunteering fulfilling, but it is also extremely fun and serves as professional and personal development opportunities. I believe that for college students volunteering is crucial as it provides experiences that open the mind and encourage a deeper understanding of the world.

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.

 

Robinson & Barnes Hall Council

Every week I dedicate an 1-2 hours to the R&B (Robinson & Barnes) Hall Council. This is a time where the community comes together and discusses whats going on in, around, and away from the community. It also serves as an outlet for those seeking leadership opportunities, as there are many ways that students can get involved with hall council.

This year I assisted in grilled cheese fundraisers, the annual DREAM Conference, Relay for Life, Hall Olympics, Larzelere and R&B Trivia Night, and much, much more. These events are part of what makes Hall Council so fun and grounding for many of the community members. Hall Council allows for students to feel at home, as well as outside of there comfort zone if they so wish. That is part of the beauty of hall council, it is loving, accepting, and inclusive of all. It is the main factor behind the constant 5 star status of R&B.

Getting involved with Hall Council my freshman year gave me the tools I needed in order to pursue higher leadership roles, and I attribute much of my growth to the Hall Council Advisor, Hannah Bleech. I continue to participate in Hall Council in hopes of inspiring others to set goals of themselves and find the tools necessary for accomplishing them, much like Hannah Bleech has done for me.

 

 

 

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.