Challenge By Choice: Speak Up, Speak Out

“Embracing Intellectual Growth, the Academic and Creative Life of the University”

Challenge by Choice: an environment where participants are asked to search for opportunities to stretch and grow during the experience

I attended the Speak Up, Speak Out event which took place on Thursday, September 21st from 7-9 at Central Michigan University. I typically find political forums to be uncomfortable due to the polarization of ideology; it seems like a recipe for disaster to me because any people have a hard time understanding ideas that are not their own. However, I thought it would be a good experience for my professional development, as I will be working in politics and with the narrow-minded individuals that are inevitably in the field I previously mentioned. The forum was called Student Political Engagement, a town-hall like meeting targeted towards my generation and our voting practices.

When I planned to attend the event, I thought it would give me the opportunity to voice my thoughts and ideas on the forum subject to industry professionals and professors, some of which were previous professors of mine. I chose this event as a professional development opportunity; I hadn’t thought much about the topic, but a realized after researching the event that I actually had ideas. I intended to use the event to fulfill “Embracing Intellectual Growth, the Academic and Creative Life of the University” for my Honors protocol.

While I was at the event, I realized how passionate I can be about everything. Going into it not knowing much, I was pulled in by a lot of what the speakers and professors were saying. I took a lot of notes too so I had some way to processing my thoughts.

Some of the things I referenced in my notes included:

  • Student Involvement and Civic Engagement is HIGH, while Political Engagement in LOW
  • Panel Question: Are individuals of college age the most passionate but the least involved?
  • Trust in government LOW, trust in individuals HIGH
  • Does FEAR contribute the extreme political agendas?

While I did not think I would feel comfortable enough to answer some of these questions publicly, I did. My personal answer to the previously listed question was I personally focus on civic engagement because I can guarantee I will have an effect and create immediate change. I cannot guarantee that the candidate I vote for will take office or even implement the change I want. Others spoke on this issue too and on how the polarization of politics has turned them away. It was impressive and sad that Millennials all felt so similar in regards to politics, but sad that these feelings are preventing people from participating in government.

I think attending this event allowed me to put my ideas into context. I never verbalized why I felt detached from politics until this forum, which was a beneficial eye-opener. I also challenged myself at the event by presenting my political ideas in front of the forum. I realized that I want to be one of the few students of my generation to enjoy politics and feel like I am making a difference through something other than civic engagement (though that is still very important). One of the speakers on the panel said democracy cannot survive if the people choose not to participate; I do not want to see America move away from a Democracy.

Aside from the actual content of the forum, I was given ideas on what other job opportunities exist for political science majors like me that are not standard. A female on the panel ran for mayor of Detroit, but also was creating economic initiatives for the city. I have restricted myself to think I can either be a politician or a lawyer when there are so many more opportunities. She was a Central Michigan graduate, too; I was seeing the experiences I have to look forward to after graduation or even the RSOs and clubs currently on campus related to this topic. This is how the event ties into intellectual and academic growth. Because I attended this event, I already plan to attend the next forum on immigration in the hopes of learning more.

 

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Leadership in Communication

In a full circle back to last years LDR 200, my LAS class took a communications class focused solely on how it interacts with leadership. I have to say, I have lost the meaning of “leadership”. It’s like if you eat the same food for a week long, you end up hating the food; thats how I feel about leadership. I came into college thinking leader was the best thing to aspire to. Realistically, it is an undefinable word that no one can really give you or anyone else. I will say, this class has many important lessons regardless on a leadership position; communication is key of course.

I believe communication in the work place is one of the most important lessons from this class. We really broke down the dynamics of work place involvement and mutual respect. We discussed dealing with conflict, be an appropriate follower, and addressing when to take advantage of your personal leadership in a hierarchy. I have never been in a super professional work place, but I know I have some traits that could get me in trouble in a follower position. I do like evaluating my personality in classes like this.

The problem with “leadership in communication” is we can never stop communicating; but through all my leadership courses, it seems as if you can never stop being a leader either, which is exhausting to think about. In addition to that, those who aren’t leaders still communicate, so yes you have communication in leadership, but you don’t have to have leadership to communicate. These connections are what make it so difficult to define both terms across a broad board and for different groups of people.

Facing Moral Problems

While Millennials are the most progressive and socially active, Americans specifically still face age old moral problems. My Philosophy class in the fall was about these moral problems and how we rationalize these problems and their facts to come to a conclusion and an opinion. We covered a broad spectrum of topics including, abortion, capital punishment, gay marriage, and torture among others. At face value, all of these topics are ones most individuals try to avoid at all costs; opinions are emotional and strong, which often leads to conflicts. I was especially nervous, because my class was comprised completely of passionate leaders, with strong will, and a personal friendship with me.

First, my professor was the quirkiest person I think I have ever met. I think it stemmed from extreme intelligence, but he was all over the place. I enjoyed this comic relief, even though he didn’t mean to, because it allowed for a relaxed and civil environment. Second, I personally am very reactive and very opinionated, which many don’t find surprising; that being said, I spoke a lot. I wish more people spoke up during the semester; the class was about being able to communicate and validate why we hold our opinions, and their were very few people who actively participated.

I learned a lot from this class that I think is relevant not only to leadership, but also life in general. I found myself very offended by some comments and I reacted well to some, and not well to others. I learned how to build arguments and validate my own opinions in a less reactive way and into a more educational way. Considering we are facing the same moral problems in the 21st Century as we did in the 19th, I think this class is an important one for leader and personal growth. PHL 118

This is my argument paper I wrote for philosophy in regards to prostitution: Prostitution Paper!!

 

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. 

 

Theory Application: My Freshman Year of College

My leadership style has definitely changed since being in college, because I’ve been exposed to other styles and people. I have become more conscious of myself as a leader and think for the first time I’ve begun to identify how I can get better. In my leadership philosophy paper I tried to emphasize  the things I can already do and the also thing things I want to be able to do. It is really hard to look at yourself and be judgmental, but I think it is the only way I will get better as a leader, as well as a person.

The one experience I’ve had thus far in college with a leadership theory was my first group project in Business 100. We didn’t get to pick our groups, so it was my first experience truly working with people I didn’t know. I became the team leader, not even because I volunteered, but no one else wanted to. I have a very direct leadership style, similarly to the ideas discussed in Path-Goal theory. I know this often comes off as bossy and brass to people, so I consciously made an effort to ease into the group project and assess my group members before choosing which leadership path I was going to make. I also lack patience in many situations and expect perfection; perfection is different for everyone so I had to accept that someone else’s hard work may not be to my standard and I would have to roll with what I had.

Specifically how I applied this theory was in regards to my group members business ability. I felt like I was answering a lot of dumb questions regarding research, work ethic, and comprehension so I had to make sure my reaction to these questions was appropriate for the situation. When I was growing more and more frustrated I had to look internally and decide what type of leader I wanted to be. At that point, the needs of the group and the project required something different than what I wanted to give, therefore I had to choose to be a responsible, respectful leader instead of reacting in a way I personally wanted to. Leadership is definitely learning to put your emotions aside for the greater good of your followers. I think learning about leadership theories has made me see ways in which I can improve and grow and I look forward to seeing my growth over the next few years.

Year in Review 2015-2016

Well, my first year of college is nearly coming to an end, and for some reason I don’t quite feel like an adult. I thought high school flew by, but that was nothing compared to college. I think the difference was I truly enjoyed what I was doing and who I was doing it with. A lot of self reflection and growth has also happened for me, which I love; I like myself more than I did when I arrive at CMU.

You know how people say you meet your best friends in college, well they were right x10. If LAS gave me anything, it was a group of people better than myself that I could love and learn from. I really don’t want to leave this summer just because I don’t think I can handle that much time away from my people. I think I really learned what friendship and leadership is about through my cohort and feel like a better person because of them. At first, I only chose Central for the money I was offered; come to find out, it was truly meant to be.

Like every other freshman college student who doesn’t quite have their life put together yet, I changed my major. By changed I mean from one spectrum to complete opposite. I decided that I wanted to pursue Political Science instead of Biomedical. This was a crazy decision for me because I’ve never really liked talking about politics until I got to college. I think a huge part of me coming into my interest for politics was being surrounded by open-minded people who I could have a conversation with about our differences-adulthood vs teenager hood. I’m excited about my decision though. I’ve always been told I’d make a great lawyer, so maybe one day I’ll fulfill my destiny.

A year on a college campus has made me even more motivated to get involved. My sophomore year I’m looking to tryout for the Dance Team, join a sorority as well as an academic fraternity, hopefully find an on campus job, and participate in more IM leagues. I felt like I had too much free time this year that I want to utilize next year. I also started adding to my completed bucket list activities. I participated in the Special Olympics Polar Plunge which I can say was the best and worst thing ever. I became the 7v7 IM Dodgeball Champ and a IM Sand Volleyball 4v4 runner up. Academically, I got my butt handed to be for the first time by my Chemistry class.

IMG_0199Overall, I had a great year. I am incredibly blessed to be able to attend college let alone have such a positive first year. I’m getting my first taste of freedom which is equally exciting as it is terrifying. I went on my first spring break without my mama, paid my own lot of parking tickets, grocery shopped regularly, and tried to master the art of proofreading my own papers. I proud of the things I’ve done and the time I’ve spent in Mount Pleasant and look forward to what the next years bring. I know I have the potential to make change on this campus, and now that I don’t need a map to find my classes, I think I’ll have the time to commit to that.

Cards for Veterans

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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