“So Who’s Your Mentee?”

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In 2012 I attended my very first Mentor/Mentee retreat. This retreat serves as a time to gather the freshmen mentees and their sophomore mentors together. During this time students work together to accomplish several group challenges and a high ropes course. They also participate in small and large group discussions to being learning more about their Leader Advancement Scholarship cohort. This is the time where everyone can forget about school for 24 hours and enjoy others like them.

In 2016 I returned to Eagle Village for my third Mentor/Mentee retreat. This time I was neither a mentor nor a mentee…except I did get asked “who’s your mentee?” This year I returned as the Leadership Institute’s third graduate assistant. My past two experiences were from the inside -> out. This year I watched from the outside -> in. Watching the groups instead of being a group was eye opening. It gave me the chance to see our students work together, connect, and grow. Instead of being limited to my group of mentor/mentee pairs, I was able to see every one take on some of the toughest challenges that their facilitators could throw at them. The opportunity to watch our students work together was beneficial in learning more about them and gave me the time to reflect on my experience. Being a part of the Leadership Institute gave me the foundation of what I needed to excel within my CMU community.

This weekend left me with a happy heart knowing that I get to watch the next group of Leader Advancement Scholars tackle what our campus has in store for them!

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Welcome To CMU

11350431_10153325498127866_5464017373766886692_nThis summer close to 4,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students meandered onto campus, followed closely by their family members to experience their first Central Michigan University (CMU) orientation. Over the summer 36 student and family mentors worked closely with professional campus staff members to coordinate 11 orientation sessions. Orientation consists of educational sessions for both students and family members. Family members learn about financial aid, campus life, the bookstore, safety and eat lunch at a residential restaurant. Students schedule classes, meet with advisors, receive their student ID and discover places where they can get involved on campus. The day ends with Reunion Central. This is the time family members take full advantage of this time to ask questions, explore, make phone calls to find the entire family and eat ice cream cones.

10407973_10153325498842866_2925108577260570278_nI spent my four weeks of orientation working with the family team. What does it mean to be a family academic orientation mentor? This means I had the opportunity to work closely with the family members that decided to take the trip to Mount Pleasant for the day. I met the fathers who feared that their daughters might meet a boy on campus. I met the mothers who asked where their sons would get their laundry done. I met the first time parents along with the second, third, fourth and fifth timers. I met the parents of twins, the parents of adopted children, the family members who weren’t their parents and the parents who had graduated “not that long ago” from CMU. For some family members this was their first time visiting Mount Pleasant and for others they had spent the day before exploring campus so they knew where every building on campus already was. I had family members that could give my tour and family members that had stories to tell about their off campus experiences. I had the good, the bad, the funny and the fast walkers. This truly was the experience of a lifetime. I would never trade the experience of being an Academic Orientation mentor, even for all the khaki pants in the world.

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A Day In the Life of an Academic Orientation Mentor

5:15 am: First alarm goes off; snooze is hit shortly after and repeatedly.

5:30 am: You mutter “let’s go” and roll out of your twin bed.

6:45 am: Everyone reports for breakfast downstairs. During the walk to residential restaurant, you pray they will be serving “tri-tators” this time.

7:00 am: Daily morning meeting with Michelle Howard, the director of academic orientation. This meeting included numbers for the day, weather, daily awards and of course the moon phase.

7:30 am: Clean-up and head to our various starting locations on campus.

8:00 am: Registration, welcoming eyes, smiling faces and groups begin to form.

9:05 am: Meet my group of family members for the day.

9:30 am: Programming begins.

12:00 pm: The best part of the family member’s day: LUNCH!

4:00 pm: Reunion Central begins. Family members and students reconnect, catch up on their days and indulge on the provided snacks.

4:30 pm: The best part of the mentor’s day: DINNER! This time is spent catching up, sharing stories from the day and stuffing our faces after another day on the sunny Mount Pleasant streets.

 

Ignite Leadership Cohort

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For four weeks in March and April I had the privilege to spend two hours each Thursday night with my 2015 Ignite Leadership Cohort. The Ignite Leadership cohort is designed for the most senior student leaders at Central Michigan University.  This program, based on the Leadership Challenge curriculum, utilizes the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (sLPI) to help student leaders assess their leadership abilities and develop a personal growth plan.

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Each week we looked at a different component of our Leadership Practices Inventory and how we can improve in those areas. I filled out this inventory my freshman year for my Leadership 100 class. It was exciting to see how I had changed and developed as a leader. I learned how to use these practices more in my life. We also used the two hours to talk about what we are passionate about and discuss our daily life development. I found these conversations to be extremely powerful and inspiring.

This experience inspired me so much that I applied and received the Ignite Leadership Coordinator position for 2016. I cannot wait to continue developing the program and meet other inspiring campus leaders.

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Vice President of New Member Education

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Sometimes people ask me if being in a sorority is worth it. Sometimes being in a sorority can be expensive, required dues and other things add up. I have found myself trying to put a price tag on my experiences and I realize there is no possible way to put one on it. The people I have met and memories are priceless. The opportunities I have been given and confidence I have gained from a unique support system cannot be measured. Nothing could ever be worth not being a member of my sorority. Since joining Sigma Sigma Sigma I have become a confident and brighter women who believes in herself.

In 2014 I was voted into the officer board position of Vice President of New Member Education. This position has given me the opportunity to use my “Why.” My Why is to inspire others to challenge themselves and the world. I work with the new member class to think about what they do. Their actions represent thousands of past, present and future Tri Sigma women; that is an honor. We talk about goals for ourselves and within the chapter; being a leader does not require having a title; our leadership styles and so much more. This position has challenged me to be innovative and develop new ideas while still including traditions.

Position Responsibilities

– Ensure that all new members programming follows all National policies and procedures.
– Oversee the Arc Sequence of the online program named Essential Sigma
– Foster space to build relationships between chapter members and new members
– Promote active participation of new members in all chapter events
– Delegate work to Arc Group Leaders and Ritual Chairman
– Maintain accurate membership records
– Complete Tri Sigma and campus sorority forms
– Correspond with my chapter’s Regional Consultant and communicate regularly with the
Essential Sigma Advisor

Personal Goals

– 100% initiation
– Submit all paperwork 5 days after receiving it
– 100% of new member dues paid two weeks before initiation

Leadershape 2014

What is Leadershape?

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A few months ago I signed up for a program called “Leadershape.” Everything I had ever heard about this program was “I can’t explain it, but it changes your life.” That isn’t very descriptive… Going into this ‘life changing program’ I didn’t know what to expect. I assumed it would be an awesome experience but I under estimated the impact the program would have on me. Being the skeptic that I am, I was hesitant to dive right into the program. I found myself sitting back and watching. That was my biggest regret of the week. This week I surrounded myself with some of the most kind hearted and impactful people I have ever experienced. Leadershape opened my eyes to myself. It showed me that I have the ability to stand up for what I believe in, stick to my core values and do something amazing in the world.

My sophomore year of college was extremely difficult. It put me in a bad place. This school year forced me to second guess myself. I felt lost. I felt dumb. It drained me of the enthusiasm for life I once had. This week rejuvenated me. I feel enabled, confident and that I have a million options again.

Leadershape is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. Everyone should experience this program. It is amazing how much of a change I felt and saw not just in myself but the entire group.

Now I plan on being an active citizen to conquering my dreams. In my perfect world children would never spend anytime waiting in the foster care/adoption system. Every person/couple seeking to create a family would choose to adopt instead of having a biological child. A family is a family, whether it’s biological or not.

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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Mari Ann Callais

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Of all of the speakers I saw this year, Dr. Mari Ann Callais was by far the most inspiration one. I was lucky enough to see her this April at the Dunham Women of Character Institute. Dr. Mari Ann Callais is funny, inspiring and extremely down to Earth. She started off her session by pulling out a guitar and getting the group to sing along with her. I believe by breaking down the awkwardness of a new group right from the beginning she was able to capture our attention better.

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My main take aways were:

  • I am woman
  • Hear me roar
  • Stop commercializing being in a sorority and actually be one
  • Anyone can put my letters on, only the elite can wear my badge
  • Take charge and do big things

She inspired me to think about what I’m doing in my sorority. Am I trying to portray what Pintrest has made of sororities or am I being me? She also inspired me to start reading my ritual and learning it fully through.

 

Homelessness LEAD team chair

I was the co-chair then chair of the Homelessness Awareness LEAD team. Our job was to help with homelessness in the community. We were a group of about 10 people. If we were dedicated to helping the community homelessness or not is still yet to be determined. We focused on adopting a child from the local church for Christmas and a few mobile food pantries. This group was extremely difficult for me to work with. I found there was not a lot of participation, drive or accessibility. Many of the people in my group didn’t want to put in a lot of work for this group. It was very discouraging. This group taught me that you can’t always control a group. I struggled and lost confidence in leading this group. From now I approach groups differently.

Alternative Break

The Alternative Break program is one of the most awarding programs I have been blessed to be a piece of. I was lucky enough to click on ‘Youth Advocacy’ at  7:30 am back in October of 2013. The break didn’t set sail until March of 2014. Not only did I pick a topic that interested me, I also met 11 other amazing CMU students. During the week we worked at the Charleston Youth Development Center. The CYDC is an emergency shelter that takes in children who need a place to stay. Children are then either returned to their families through social service intervention or are able to stay at the shelter. We spent a week organizing their storage center while the children were at school. When the children came home was when the real fun started. We tutored the students until dinner time. Tutoring usually consisted of racing to finish homework so we could hang out. We sat around laughing, learning about them and just enjoying the children’s company. If you have the opportunity to give back to the world, I suggest you do it.

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Eagle Village: Mentor Status

Eagle Village was successful yet again. Last year I went as a mentee, now I’m a mentor. I’ve been through all of my firsts so now it was time to watch my mentee’s leadership style. We climbed high ropes courses, challenged ourselves, built relationships and had an amazing weekend. We worked closely with members of the 2012 and 2013 cohort. Now I get to watch my mentee grow, build relationships, get involved and be a leader. I’m extremely excited to watch their cohort. I have good vibes about them.

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Cheers to a new year. With my 2012 LAS cohort and the brand new 2013 cohort.1237033_10151691796179075_1996948639_nCheers to my wonderful mentee. He challenged me, spoke up in the group and stepped up for challenges. I’m extremely excited to see where he goes with not only a broadcasting major, his time at Central but, most importantly running his own magic company: The Magic of Trino. I can’t wait to watch my baby mentee blossom.

Sophomore LAS

LAS… It’s more than just a program to me. It has become my support system, my rock, my best friends and so much more. We have cliques and sometimes we set that aside. We argue but then we laugh about it. Sometimes we’re crabby and take it out on our peppy friends but we love each other in the end. Through this program I’ve really begun to grown and prosper. This scholarship is more about the program and the blessing it brings to me. Entering as a freshman we’re paired with a “mentor” through a draft process. Then at the end of our freshmen year we use the same process to select a “mentee”. A mentor’s job is to hang out, answer questions and help them with the transition.  Some people go above and beyond that and get close. A mentee’s job is survive their freshman year, strive and get involved. Some pairs are lucky enough to become real friends.

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This program beats anything I’ve seen before. It gave me the upper hand coming into college. I was once reserved, scared and easily intimidated. I still struggle but through this wonderful program, the support of my cohort and family I’ve broken out of my shell. All the credit goes to the wonder staff of Central Michigan University’s Leadership Insitute. One man and two women are behind the scenes with several students from the program. Dan Gaken, the director of the institute, is our father figure. He keeps up with us, jokes around with us and reminds us why we’re a part of this program. Jesi Parker, the Assistant Director, is that aunt that we all wish we had. She’s quirky, personable and loves each of us as much as she loves her cat. Caity Sweet, the Leadership Institute’s Administrative Secretary, keeps us in line. She gets out there with us,   she carried the most rubble in wheel barrels during our service project and always has a smile on her face. CMU did a fantastic job selecting these amazing people. They represent what Central is really about: kind, caring, compassionate, personable people making a difference through leadership.

971285_10151692046854075_1309441257_n(Left to right: Dan Gaken, Director of the Leadership Institute; Jesi Parker, Assistant Director of the Leadership Institute; Erin Smith-Gaken, Dan’s wife; Caity Sweet, Administrative Secretary of the Leadership Institute)