Campus Grow is Mount Pleasant and CMU’s own community garden open to the public. I am a newer member to the organization, but have loved the time I’ve been involved. Campus Grow is a heavy summer RSO, since our Michigan winters don’t allow us to garden outside in the cold months. Since I work for the CMU Greenhouses and Fabiano Botanical Garden, I became involved with the RSO this school year. I have discovered recently that I really enjoy gardening and being with plants in general. Being in this RSO not only allows me to garden, but it also allows me to showcase some of my leadership and coordinating skills. This summer, I will be the Summer Garden Coordinator. With this position, I will plan different gardening events, organize the plots and plot rentals, and handle the business and financial aspects that go along with the organization. I have never managed anything to this large of a scale before–Campus Grow has over 60 plots available to plot renters.
I am excited to be able to showcase the leadership skills that I have learned throughout the years, as well as educate people on the benefits of having a plot and eating food that your grew yourself. While I haven’t had much experience in this position with this RSO before, I am excited to see what the summer will bring. I am eager to create a bigger community of local gardeners and farmers.
This year, I am on the Grad Ball Lead team. Up to this point, our team has had many meetings in preparation for this event, which is actually coming up in just two short weeks. Organizing events is something that I love to do, so this was a great LEAD Team for me to be on. I am very excited to see how it will all turn out and celebrate the graduates of LAS 2012 Class!
My involvement with the Student Environmental Alliance started last spring semester when I started to go to meetings with my friend Brennah. This year, when I don’t have any work conflicts, I attend the SEA meetings, and try to attend all of their events. Protecting the environment and educating myself on important environmental issues is something that is very central to me, and being apart of SEA allows me to do both of those things. SEA offers a variety of different experiences at their meetings. They show documentaries, have guest speakers come in, and discuss/plan upcoming events at their meetings. My favorite part about this group is that they don’t stop at advocating for environmental rights to the students, but they have held meetings several times with President Ross and other administrators to talk about issues, like CMU’s controversial investments, and the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. I am excited to continue to be a part of this organization, and am especially excited to see what is planned for Earth Week coming up in April!
Members of SEA participating in the Million Student March on Campus.
As one of my RSO involvements for this year, I have taken the liberty of using my on campus job to count towards one of these. ( I have chosen to do this because between both my on campus and off campus job, my 19-credit hour work load, and volunteering at St. John’s, there isn’t much time for anything else!) Working at the CMU Music Building as a member of the event staff has been one of the most positive experiences in my career at CMU thus far. This job has taught me so much about putting together events, keeping composure at the face of chaos and learning to put others before myself. Not only do I get all of this professional development experience at the Event Staff, but the sense of community among not only the staff, but the entire music building is incredible. I can’t walk through the music building without stopping to talk to someone for a few minutes, or greeting one of the faculty, and I’m not even a music major! Being a member of the event staff here on campus is one of the places that I feel I truly belong. This semester, I am also training to be an Event Staff Coordinator (Student Manager) for the next school year. I am extremely excited to continue to learn about the work that I do, and to further build on this very welcoming and unique community that the music building offers.
Members of the staff at our annual “Event Staff Olympics”
The team after a failed attempt at a human pyramid.
For our LAS protocol, we have to volunteer in one community service activity. We went on a trip to Detroit, LAS in the D, and volunteered at different places throughout Detroit. This part of the protocol of relates to the leadership theory of Servant Leadership. When we were at LAS in the D, I really learned the importance of volunteering, no matter the amount, to help create something able be apart of something bigger than myself. I think servant leadership is often overlook, because before the Detroit trip, I knew that volunteering was important, but I really didn’t know how much of an impact a little bit of volunteering could have. After the trip, I realized how much a actually love to volunteer. It really leaves a good feeling in your heart after you get done helping out with a project or with anything, and not getting something in return. Servant leadership is a vital part of life, because when thinking about it, animal shelters or homeless shelters would not function without active volunteer. I’m glad the LAS protocol requires some sort of volunteer work and that I got to experience the amazing opportunity at LAS in the D. It taught me an important part of life that I would have otherwise not learned so early on in my life.
We packed up for the weekend after weeks of preparation, got on a big bus and went on
our way to Detroit for the weekend. The weekend would be packed full of service, learning, and FUN. My Leader Advancement Scholar Cohort and I were so excited to go to Detroit and serve the community. When we got to Detroit, our first stop was at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA). There, we facilitated different leadership activities and taught the students how to facilitate in the future. Next, we toured the Lowe Campbell Ewald building and the Ford Field Stadium. After that, we went to a local pizza joint and ate some delicious food. Then, we went to the Detroit Institute of Arts to browse artwork for a while, and our final stop for the night was the CMU office located in downtown Detroit. So, yes, that means all 50 of us had to sleep there, on the floor of the office. But hey, at least it was carpeted! We got up early the next morning and drove a few minutes to the Motor City Bight Busters headquarters. After we got a brief history of the group, we helped them out by spreading large piles of mulch around a field, in preparation of what would later be a farming field. After that, we were on our way home.
The most eye opening part of the trip for me was the huge dynamic change in the different parts of Detroit we were in. When we were in JRLA, the power went out twice. This is an actual school we were in, and in my experience, unless there was a big storm or catastrophe, the power never went out in my school. This was surprising to me and the rest of my cohort, not only because it happened while we were there, but that the students said the power goes out at least once a week at their school. That blew my mind! A school so tight on money that supplying the whole school with electricity was so hard. Later on during the day, though, we visited Lowe Campbell Ewald, and boy was that a dynamic change from JRLA. The building was just elaborately and magnificently designed. I don’t remember the exact digits, but the amount of money that went into building and supplying that building with electricity everyday was absolutely astounding. Thousands a day. Also, the amount of money that went into building Ford Field and the amount that people are willing to spend to get a good seat for a game was also mind blowing.
Honestly, this really irked and upset me. The people in Lowe Campbell Ewald are just rolling in money, spending nearly as much as my college tuition a day on running their building, and the students of JLRA (not even 20 miles apart) can’t go a week of school
without a power outage. There is absolutely no doubt that there is something wrong in this picture. I guess this part just really changed my perspective on a lot of things. As a society, we are so materialistic and put so much focus on monetary value that we are just oblivious to the fact that some people in the same county as us are struggling for something guaranteed for us: electricity.
The founder of the Motor City Blight Busters really stood out to me as a leader during this trip. He told us the story of how he was trying to raise his family in a bad part of Detroit. One day, he got sick of it and did something. He started making the neighborhood a better, friendlier place. He didn’t stop there though, because now, the Blight Busters reach out to many areas of Detroit with the help of a wide variety of volunteers. The organization strives to turn Detroit around, and make living environments available more suitable. I think this is a perfect example of Servant Leadership. The Blight Busters founder really works hard for his organization and puts in the work necessary to get jobs done, all while organizing volunteers to come and help out.
After this trip, my outlook on Detroit has changed a little. I guess now, I am just more aware of how things actually are in Detroit, but I do know that there is hope, and things are definitely getting better in that City. With the Motor City Blight Busters creating farmland and cleaning up houses, and the promising students of JRLA learning about leadership and thinking about college, I know that Detroit is already improving. Soon, I hope that Detroit wont be associated with the word “ghetto” and that people will think highly of the city.
The most important thing this trip has taught me is really how important service work is. Like I said, I have done volunteer work before, but my experience was limited to making blankets, or packing lunches for students. I have never really gone out of my own city to do any type of service work, and I am so glad that I got this experience. Even though what we did (shoveling piles of mulch) may have seemed like a small effort, I don’t think many of my cohort members realized what a big difference that made for the Blight Busters. A little really can go a long way with volunteer work. After this trip, I plan to increase the amount of service work I do, and to take up any opportunity to serve my community. I am also so much more aware of the situation in Detroit. After seeing the completely different environments between JLRA and the Lowe Campbell Ewald building, it just made me realize how much monetary things aren’t necessary, contrary to what we are programmed to think. I really don’t want to live my life measuring my life’s success on the amount of money I make, when there are so many people who would love to have half of what I have already. This trip just really opened my eyes to the things that really matter, and I really think that I will have a different outlook on life afterward. I am so grateful that I got to go on this trip because it opened my eyes so much, and I got to spend a great time and build so many memories with the people I love.
Connections Conference in Traverse City was nothing like I thought it would be. Even though I was required to go with LAS, I’m so glad that I got to go. It is a conference organized by fellow upperclassmen in LAS, as well as Jesi Parker, the co-coordinator of LAS. The conference attendees were all CMU students from different programs of the school. It consisted of different breakout learning sessions related to not only leadership, but also things related to everyday college life. For example, I went to a learning session about job interviews and another one about time management.
I had a great time at my sessions and getting to know a lot of people. We even got to watch a magic show performedby one of LAS’s own. Even after the organized events were over, out LAS class stayed up late playing hide and seek in the lobby (until we got kicked out.) The conference was one of the first times I actually felt like I was really apart of LAS and friends with all of them. That’s really why I had such a great time, because it helped me get to know my peers and not feel so uncomfortable around them.
About the second weekend of school, the freshman (mentees) and sophomore (mentors) LAS classes took a trip up to Eagle Village for the annual Mentor/Mentee Retreat. I’m a freshman, so obviously i was there as a mentee. The trip was supposed to be like a get-to-know-you thing so that each mentor/mentee could build a bigger and better relationship. All of us were separated into about four big groups with our mentors. We each had a team facilitator from Eagle Village (my group’s facilitator’s name was Tim Horton) and throughout the weekend we did different group and team building activities, and we even got to go rock climbing. I was excited to spend time with my mentor, Mackenzie, and my “sister,” Mckenzie, but at the same time, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect since I really had made no new friends in LAS at that point.
The group team building was really great and I enjoyed all of it. My group was really great and we all got to know each other and had a great time. What I was worried would happen, though, did happen. Since I really hadn’t made too many friends yet, I felt really excluded at some points. The last night we were there, we all sat around a big bonfire and everyone was sharing their stores about how they had such a great time and made such great connections with everyone, and I just didn’t feel the same way. After the bonfire, people were playing board games with each other and stayed up all night out in the common room. I tried to talk to people, but they were busy with their own inside jokes and only concerned with each other, and I totally understand that. I just kept wishing that I could be out there with everyone too, but it really is difficult to make connections and bonds with a group of people who are already comfortable with one another.
Frankly, the Mentor/Mentee Retreat really was not a welcoming first impression of my LAS class. Although I did have a great time with my mentor and sister, I really just couldn’t connect with anyone else in my class and it was very difficult for me. I was never used to feeling like an outsider, and suddenly I did in my group of peers. Since then, I have tried and made a few more friends but it’s still hard when everyone else has built their relationships to such a strong level and you try to join the group. But I try not to let this influence my leadership in any way and I’m still friendly toward everyone, still trying to build more relationships.
To complete the LAS protocol, the members must take the required ‘leadership’ classes. This year, the required classes were PSYL 100, Intro to Psychology, and COM 267L, Intro to Debate. I was unable to take PSY 100L, so my only cohort class was debate. It was an interesting class to say the least. There were many mixed feelings on the professor, and the las in general. A lot of people really didn’t like him or the class, but I didn’t not enjoy it. I was a pretty good speaker in high school and spoke in front of the school a lot and even debated my high school speech teacher, so i wasn’t too worried about the course.
The course was pretty much all I expected it to be, with the exception that I thought I was in a philosophy class some of the time because all we really talked about rhetoric and morals and ethics and persuasion. But we still debated and it was a pretty straight forward class. In regards to leadership, I really feel that my leadership skills didn’t grow at all like I thought they were going to. I feel I am a better debtor, but other than that, I am the same leader i was yesterday.
I did enjoy the class though and am glad I “had” to take it.
“Be a Fred.” We were introduced to this idea pretty early on in the semester. We were given these books by Mark Sanborn and watched this video. Now it was our job to become a Fred. We were assigned groups and each group had to come up with some sort of idea that would make us become “Fred’s.” We were only given a few instructions, but for the most part, we were on our own. My group struggled to get the ball rolling with a few failed attempts, (but we didn’t have to present until exam week so it was fine) but eventually we had a perfect idea.
So basically the whole idea behind this Fred factor idea is this: this Fred guy is a mail man. But he wasn’t just any ordinary mailman. He would hold people’s mail for them when they were out of town and he would just talk with people whenever he got the chance. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but really, he just made people feel like they mattered. And that’s really the whole idea behind the book and this whole project.
My group’s awesome idea was titled: Notes N Quotes. We wrote little quotes (some were funny, some were inspirational and some were even movie quotes) on little pieces of paper and attached them to candy canes (yay holiday spirit!) We went around our dorms,the library and the University Center and handed the notes n quotes to random people studying or just hanging out. And since our group procrastinated for so long, we wished everyone good luck on their exam which were the following week.
Seeing people’s reactions were the best part. The Notes N Quotes made people’s day and their smiles were definitely worth all the work we put into making them. The whole project made me realize how simple a little note with a candy cane would make people so happy and that I can do something like that on my own time. My group was amazing and helpful and we have even talked about continuing Notes N Quotes for future occurrences.