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. 

 

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.

Connections Conference 2015

Connections Conference is a 2 day leadership seminar hosted at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City by the Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University. Though it is an LAS protocol requirement, it is also open to all members of the university. This year we bussed 200 Central Michigan students and staff to participate in leadership development.Because this conference was meant as professional development, we were required to dress up. This was particularly fun for me because I love dressing up and you don’t have many excuses to in college! I would also like to thank the catering staff for the amazing food. My friends told me it was going to warm ham sandwiches all weekend and I was delightfully pleased with the 3 course meals.

Right off the bat, we were all randomly assigned into Institutes that would act as home base for the conference. This group and leaders focused on the asset/goals plan for us as leaders in our organizations on campus. They showed us how to set goals for our RSO at CMU, how to determine the assets we have to take advantage of, and the factors that have hindered our progress. This process is meant to create goals that we could take back to campus and implement and teach others.

The first educational session I attended was “It’s Not Me, It’s You” in which the topic was how to deal with difficult individuals in leadership, jobs, and life. I personally found this beneficial because there is never a time where you get to choose who you work with. Often times you have to bite your tongue and just survive. One of the things I took from this session was the process of addressing a conflict. My presenter stated, If something bothers you for more that 24 hours, you have 24 hours to then address it. If this time elapses, you must let it go. I never thought of frustration or annoyance as having an expiration date, but it completely makes sense. As leaders, we have to be able to continue to have meaningful and beneficial relationships with the people we work with so I believe this is a great philosophy for everyone to adopt.

One of the other sessions I enjoyed was presented by the one and only, Erin Gaken. First of all, her baby bump was absolutely adorable! Her presentation was “Men can Cry, Women Don’t Have To”, which was focused on gender stereotypes in the workplace. Typically, women are stereotyped as being emotionally driven, where as men are expected to be manly and less emotional. While Erin spoke, I realized how often I’ve accepted these stereotypes. But even so, I am an emotional woman and I enjoy men who can express emotion. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like it would relate to leadership, but on a deeper level, leaders must be accepting, understanding, and thoughtful. If we as leaders refuse to accept each individual for their character and personality, whether it be emotional or unemotional, weak or strong, feminine or manly, we cannot be effective. I found this to be most benefitial to me because I realized a stereotype I’ve been accepting and hope to adjust my mindset to accommodate all individuals as I am a leader of today.

To be honest, I didn’t anticipate making many strong bonds with anyone other than my cohort at Connections. But to my surprise, I met a man named Jack. To this day we talk on a daily basis and get lunch together or go to SAC together often. I really value Jack as a person, and I think he makes me a better person. Out of the whole weekend he is definitely my favorite part (yes, even over the water park), because I believe we will be long time friends. I think we were meant to meet each other to challenge each other, which is what the LI and the Connections Conference intended for us to experience.

Connections Conference 2015

Connections Conference 2015