LEAD TEAM: Grad Ball

Lead teams are interesting for me, because I am not used to taking a back seat in regards to event planning. Though I really don’t think I could designate time to coordinate a LEAD team, I really hate not having a very explicit and important role. I feel like I am following the motions for a lot of the tasks. However, they are fun because they allow for all the cohorts to get together; we don’t get much of this as we move up in the program.

So my LEAD team was in charge of Grad Ball, which hasn’t happened yet and is still in progress. I volunteered to be responsible for the graduate gift so I felt important, but we had to scrap that task. In our recent meeting, we designated committees to break up the work, which I think was a good tactical move. Hopefully, this will allow for each of us to get more involved. We have people for clean up, decorations, invitation, and others. I know the LAS grads really look forward to this event so I hope we can plan a great event for them. It is really the only  Really they just look forward to the gourmet cupcakes we provide 🙂

From NARP, to Athlete: Drop It Like It’s Hot

NARP: Commonly used by collegiate athletes, meaning Non-Athlete Regular Person, used to describe students who are not on an athlete team.

I use to be a NARP, and then I made the CMU Dance Team. I quit dancing in high school, so it was really a shot in the dark as to whether I would be able to perform enough to make the team. I tried out and successfully completed by audition; I joined 24 other girls for the 2016-2017 season. The fun part, my mentee, Julia, who is also a dancer, joined the team!

It was a very hard transition at first. I was trained in classical ballet, which is very different from collegiate dance. I also didn’t know anyone well on the team, and there was really only one person who went out of their way to talk to me. With time, I gained many relationships and dance team became my primary friend group. My relationships from last year started to fade as we all got involved in new things, and I became connected deeply to my team. We performed at football games and got incredibly busy once basketball started, with games 2 to 3 times a week. Practices were at 6:30AM, which was the hardest transition for me; I slept at ridiculous times in the day to make it through, to the point where I never saw my roommates.

This season was very interesting. There was a lot of cliques on the teams, which is to be expected in a group of 25 girls. Four girls were removed or quit our team and the stress of games,  practice, and social issues, were a lot for all of us. It was really great to get to dance again in spite of everything. We even got the opportunity to go to Las Vegas for Dance Team Nationals. It was a first year competition, which means we were setting a new standard for dance competitions. All in all, the season ended in a positive fashion and I have gained a lot of friends who I look forward to maintaining into the following years, even if I am not not the team again. 

 

Pre-Service Reflection

I have only been to Detroit twice and I wasn’t allowed to leave the GM Building. I haven’t experienced a huge urban city, let alone the impoverished communities of Detroit. I’ve heard stories about the downfall of Detroit and the crime that came with it. There are the white flight cities of Detroit and then the enormous homeless and impoverished populations. Many say that Detroit is one of the most racially segregated cities in state. I heard the most about Detroit in my society course in high school. Shockingly, living in Michigan my whole life, I really didn’t know as much as I should have.

The Leadership Institutes mission is to develop the next generation of ethical leaders. This trip is so special because it is molding leaders other than CMU students. We, as a community, are expanding our reach state wide. As the children we serve ascend to leadership, they will expose others, who will teach others, and in the end we have a world full of ethical leaders. Being a servant leader entails building a community and being a visionary. The LI is recognizing Detroit’s need for help and putting worth actions to serve those who need us most.

I am really looking forward to this trip. I think this cohort has a unique dynamic and fun personality that I believe will give Jalen Rose an excited weekend. I also am excited to serve the Detroit area because I personally believe all of their struggles are things we as their neighbors have the potential to change.

Detroit

Multicultural Advancement Scholarship/Lead Team Experience

 

Pictured is a group of Indian students I met. This was the first time they had ever been to the U.S and their first selfie EVER

Pictured is a group of Indian students I met. This was the first time they had ever been to the U.S and their first selfie EVER

While I am a member of the Leadership Advancement Scholarship, I am also a member of the Multicultural Advancement Scholarship. As part of this scholarship, it is my job to be inclusive, aware, and an accepting contributor on Centrals campus. As part of my protocol for the scholarship, I am required to attend two cultural events for each of the cultural history months, including, African American, East Asian, Native American, etc.

It ended up being very convenient that I was placed on the Diversity Lead Team, whose requirements were to attend one cultural event each month. In regards to the Lead Team, I didn’t really have much of an experience, because I was already attending. I would like to suggest that the Diversity Team add a requirement to bring someone else to the events. As a group who is supposed to be culturally aware, it should be our responsibly to share our experiences and promote further understanding.

I actually learned a lot from attending the cultural events. One of the most memorable events I attended was Herman Boone’s, the coach portrayed in Remember the Titans, speech on race and sports. Besides Remember the Titans being one of my all time favorite movies, Coach Boone’s story is amazing. He seems so much bigger than life seeing him from a screen, but being present for his speech made him seem so real. He experienced nothing special for the times, but his ability to bridge the racial tension in an entire community makes him extraordinary. Another event that I enjoyed was the Keynote speaker about the Divine Nine, which if you didn’t know, is the nine black fraternities and sororities on Central’s campus. Before attending this speaker, I wasn’t a huge fan of the idea of “black frats” just because it seemed like it was furthering the racial gap on campus. But after hearing from the speaker, who shared the history and is actually a member of one of the Divine Nine, I was exposed to a new perspective. The purpose of this organization is upholding a tradition that back in the day was nearly impossible to possess. It is amazing how committed and loyal these members are to the organization. The only thing I left questioning was the University’s lack of appreciation. None of the organizations have houses on campus; they simply have a rock, a rock which was recently vandalized. For a community of people on this campus who contribute so much  to the culture and diversity, it seems like someone should take more notice in appreciating and recognizing their importance.

Being exposed to the MAC scholarship has opened my eyes to all the ways Central could improve in regards to cultural and inclusion. First, I am very concerned with the segregation that has been implemented into our campus.  Majority of the foreign exchange students are placed in Herrig. I would assume that they have decided to attend college in the U.S in an effort to experience that culture. We are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to experience interactions with American students. Just walking around campus, I always see international students together. The same thing can be said for LAS and MAC. As the “leaders” and “cultural champions” of campus, I believe it would be more beneficial to disperse us throughout campus so we can share our wisdom and inspire others to be better. Though I understand the reasoning behind housing these programs together, I think Central is missing an opportunity. I say these things despite my personal experience as well. I have personally loved living with LAS as they have become my best friends. However, I feel like I was given a job to perform on this campus, which I think could be expanded by distributing me and other LAS members through our campus.

It think the cultural opportunities we offer at CMU is extremely under appreciated. They are great learning experiences and I wish more people would take the time to try it out. I know I have personally grown as an individual from going and exposing myself to the unknown, as well as expanding the knowledge I already have. I highly suggest that ALL organizations encourage a dialogue about these free event the University offers.

MAC Scholarship @ CMU

Herman Boone: Leadership and Diversity

To be honest, I really wanted to hear him speak because Remember The Titians is one of my all time favorite movies, but I am so glad I went. Herman Boone is a man that ,even in his old age, marches to the beat of his own drum, but still inspires and leads so many as he goes. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he was the coach of a one of the first integrated high schools in the south around the time of civil rights. He is also the person the blockbuster movie Remember The Titians was based off of, being portrayed by Denzel Washington.

There was one thing that he said that really stood out to me. He said:

“There is no person who committed a crime based on the color of their skin.”

I had never heard it phrased like this, but I don’t think you could say it any better. So much racial tension arises from stereotyping races/ethnicities, especially when it comes to crimes, and what he said is, no one commits a crime because they are black, white, purple, or blue. This statement really amazed me because I’ve never thought of it like that before.

He also stressed during his presentation the importance of accepting others regardless of races but also in regards to sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. He also said progress won’t happen unless we all make an effort to step out of our comfort zone. He mentioned how common race, social standing, religious affiliations, etc. often group together in social situations, and challenged his audience to step outside of the status quo to improve the quality of interactions and improve the acceptance and understanding of those not necessarily similar to you.

My favorite part of the whole presentation was towards the end when he started answering questions. One of the facilitators approached the microphone and told the audience he would take one more question. He immediately said “No, no not when there are 10 more people in line!” The look on her face was priceless. He demanded that he answer the remaining questions. It’s people like Herman Boone that make my heart smile. His dedication to inclusion, cultural acceptance and understanding, and his position as a role model inspire me. I secretly stated I wish he was my grandfathers just so I could spend a little more time in his presence. He made my day.

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

As an LAS tradition, each year the Sophomore mentors and Freshman mentees travel to Eagle Village in Hersey, Michigan. This trip was meant to unite the 2014 and 2015 cohorts as well as allow the mentor/mentee couples to get to know each other and enjoy a fun weekend. The first activity we were almost immediately thrown into an indoor ropes course. I normally don’t shy away from challenges or heights, but once I ascended the ladder and stepped onto the first platform, I lost all my confidence. Luckily I had my mentor, Emma, right behind me to cheer me on. One of the first elements we encountered was wobbly, wood beam ladder. Emma went first and I followed. One of the facilitators challenged us to do it again but while only holding onto each others hands. Though we were hesitant, we decided to try it. It was honestly one of the scariest things I’ve ever attempted, but also extremely satisfying when we successfully completed it. It is these moments that make the mentor/mentee retreat to valuable. We made a connection on that course by only having each other to rely on.

Me and my mentor bonding at Eagle Village!

Me and my mentor bonding at Eagle Village!

Besides encouraging each other, we also encouraged other mentor/mentee pairs to complete obstacles as well. My roommates mentor, Natalie, was extremely terrified during the whole experience so at one point Emma and I stopped to coach/cheer her on past her obstacle. The amazing thing, watching Riley and Natalie complete the course, was Riley’s strength through the obstacles challenged Natalie to complete them as well. I think Natalie gained a lot by relying on her mentee, even though we assume it should be the other way around. This moment truly shows the power of friendship, leadership, and the impact the LAS program has.

Looking forward to the time when I return to Eagle Village with my own mentee, I hope we share the bonding experience Emma and I did. I hope she feels she can lean on me as much I as can lean on her. I not only want my mentee to feel connected to me, but connected to their cohort as well as mine. College is a wild experience and having 80+ people you know will always have your back is an amazing feelings, a feeling I hope they realize while on this retreat.