One of my favorite things about CMU is the plethora of opportunities that have been available to me because of attending school here. One of those opportunities has been to sign a second major at CMU during my third year here. In addition to my original degree in Recreation and Event Management, I am also pursuing a degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration. My specific passion within this degree is the nonprofit aspect, as I wish to work for a nonprofit someday. Along with that major, there is also the opportunity to be involved with the Nonprofit Leadership Student Alliance, or NLSA. NLSA is an RSO on campus affiliated with the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.
The perk of being involved with this academic organization is receiving the certified Nonprofit Professional credential, or CNP. For one to receive their CNP, there is a list of criteria that must be competed. Criteria involve items that are pertinent to working in the nonprofit sector, like fundraising experience, leadership experience, and service experience. The CNP also required that individuals attend the Alliance Management Institute, or AMI, each January.
Another perk of being involved in the organization is that we get to learn from actual nonprofit professionals that come to present on subjects such as board governance, grant writing, and fundraising. We have had presentations from local nonprofits such as WCMU, Girls on the Run, Art Reach of Mid Michigan, and United Way of Gratiot and Isabella counties. The amount of lessons and information I have learned form these speakers has been very helpful in my decision for eating to be involved in the nonprofit sector. Once I graduate in December of 2018, I will have eared my CNP, and officially will be, “Allison Kistler, CNP.” This is all thanks to NLSA and the faculty Advisor, Emma Powell.
Tuesday/Thursday 8am philosophy with the one and only, Gary Fuller. I don’t know if there could have been a better way to start my Tuesdays and Thursdays. While this class was hectic and was often times hard to keep focus in, it really did allow me to think about important issues. We discussed euthanasia, capitol punishment, “hooking up,” homosexuality, and many others. While I had though about most of these things form time to time, there were some issues that I was personally undecided on whether or not I thought they were morally acceptable or not. This class really got me thinking and now I can confidently state my stance on these issues. I believe that it is very important for each individual to have educated beliefs on important issues, and this class allowed us to do just that.
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.
The team I was on this year was the Social Lead team. We organize social events for all of LAS. This year, we planned LAS on ICE, which was an ice skating trip to the local arena, and LAS in the D, which is a trip to a Tiger’s game that will take place in June. The team was wonderful, and the meetings were never too long or boring. For every event that we planned, each person had a specific job to do, and without him or her, the event wouldn’t get planned. For LAS on ICE, I was placed with the social media position for my cohort, so I had to create and event and advertise on our Facebook page. Other jobs were making posters, emailing our advisor or calling the Ice arena.
Having these responsibilities really taught me something about leadership that I already knew, but it kind of solidified it. A leader isn’t necessarily the person in charge, but it can also be the person who works behind the scenes to make the magic happen. Each person in my Lead Team held some kind of leadership throughout the year because we all had some type of responsibility to make sure each event happened.
Next year, depending on what lead team I’m on, I will try my best to convey that message to my team that you don’t have to be the person in charge to be a leader. I also hope to have as good of a lead team as I did this year. If I’m on the Social Lead Team again, I hope to do a few more smaller events, like a Christmas dinner or a Halloween gathering within cohorts. This way, that would bring in even more leadership roles to the members of the team within cohorts.
As a leadership cohort, we have to take required classes with an L at the end of the title, signifying that they have something to do with leadership. This semester, we all took HST 110 L, a writing intensive history class, taught by Catherine Tobin. Tobin is a tiny, Irish woman who is so very enthusiastic about the subject, and loves talking about great historical leaders.During this class, we looked at presidents, and other significant people from Columbus, all the way to Nixon.
During the class, we really didn’t focus to much on the events of history, but rather the historical figures who led the country throughout the years. Tobin put a lot of emphasis on what these people did, and how that related to what happened throughout history. I think this class related to leadership the most out of our other “L” courses just because she focused on teaching us about these great leaders. We wrote around 5-6 papers that were solely about different leaders and what traits or background experience they had that made them such great leaders. Right now, at the end of the semester, we were assigned a research paper on a great leader who we could pick from, and I chose to write on Eleanor Roosevelt (EL). Writing this paper has taught me so much about EL and how much of an impact she had made through her life, and well beyond.
I learned that EL had a passion for social justice and helping people, and even if she wasn’t married to a president, she still would have made quite a difference. I feel that it is important for the leaders of today to learn about the leaders of yesterday. This way, they can see what to do the same and differently to make just as big, or even bigger, of an impact. After taking this course, I think that I am going to appreciate history and the leaders from it a lot more. History, for a lot of people, is just a boring subject that is required for us to take, but I now think that it is important to know. We can learn a lot from history and avoid a lot of misfortune by knowing what to do and what not to do.
Even though this class was quite challenging at times, I’m very glad I got to take it because it opened my mind to a whole new part of a subject that I had dreaded before.
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.
This week, all we got for our big mystery blog prompt was: “Does leadership come from a ‘yes’ or ‘no’?” As you can see, there’s not much here to go off of, it’s all up to the imagination. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this question at first… my initial thought was actually, “what the hell?” After some thought, (but not much more confidence) I think I have a decent answer.
Leadership comes from neither a ‘yes’ nor a ‘no’. Or, perhaps leadership comes from both a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’. (I really just hate picking sides, Team Switzerland all the way.) Since leadership really is so situational and there are so many variables involved, I really don’t think it would be fair to conclude that leadership simply comes from yes or no. There really is no straight, correct answer when it comes to leading, especially when everyone does it differently. When we lead ethically and morally, we could tie that in with my second idea which is that leadership comes from both yes and no. If I am in a tough situation where I have to preform ethical leadership by making decisions based on my own beliefs and morals, this would be a case where there is more of a straight up answer, thus coming from a yes and/or no.
I think/hope my answer encompasses what exactly the question was asking, since it was so open-ended, but at the same time, I really don’t think there was a right or wrong answer for this. Leadership is so broad and really quite hard to define and explain when considering every different aspect and point of view. There are few instances when leadership is strictly a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ situation. With that, the openness and plentiful opportunity that come with leadership is something really exciting that, (in my opinion) keeps people all the more interested and invested with learning more about it. It is definitely why I love leadership!
If you have never visited www.ted.com, I strongly urge you to check it out and become inspired. This “Ted Talk” reflection is based off of a video by Simon Sinek. In this video, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” Sinek explains the reason behind why extraordinary people can achieve the unthinkable and the differences between how they versus normal people think, act and communicate. He came up with what he called “the worlds simplest idea,” the Golden Circle.The Golden Circle Using the circle,he explains that every one on earth knows what they do, most people know how they do it, but very few people know why they do what they do. He explains that the average people or companies start with the clear answers on the outside of the circle to the unclear inside. Great leaders who inspire people, on the other hand, communicate from the inside out. He explains that this is how Apple excels in business compared to another computer company; they don’t just explain what products they have, but rather why they made these products, and this makes the buyer more interested in the product and more willing to buy. He also uses the Wright Brothers as an example. They succeeded in flying the first airplane because they were driven by the belief that they could change the world, not by a desire to become wealthy.
Next, he talks about the Law of Diffusion of Innovation (pictured left.) In our population there are innovators, early adaptors, early majority, late majority, and lagers. The first two groups are the ones who are more comfortable going off of their gut feeling. They are the people who do things for themselves, not for others. These are the people who attended MLK’s speech in the middle of August not for MLK, but for themselves.
This presentation really got me thinking. Throughout the video, Sinek kept repeating the phrase, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” He uses a lot of business and commercial examples, but this applies to our daily lives, too. This made me realize that if I don’t know why I’m doing something, I might as well not be doing it. I think everyone should all know their reasons why just so that we know why exactly we need to get through each day. Within my leadership cohort, we all made our own “why” statements regarding how we want to inspire others. Our statements are kind of like a motivation for why we do what we do: lead.
My why statement is Inspire others to always feel extraordinary and important in whatever they choose to do in life.
My “why” statement keeps me on my toes about how I interact with other people and how I might make them feel. I strongly believe that every one should feel important and special for at least one thing in their, and I have made it my goal to make everyone feel that way. Whether it be just saying hi to someone in the hallway, or engaging in deep conversation with a peer, I want to make sure everyone feels a since of belonging. My “why” definitely isn’t the same as Apple’s, or MLK’s, but it has the same concept. I know what I am doing, I know how I am doing it, and now, I have a reason why.
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.
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.