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.
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.
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.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
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.
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.
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.
Cheers to a new year. With my 2012 LAS cohort and the brand new 2013 cohort.Cheers 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.
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.
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.
(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)
Dr. Joyce Baugh is a professor at Central Michigan University in the Political Science department.
Joyce Baugh was pro-Detroit. She loves the city. She spoke to our class before we left for our service project weekend. She really educated me on the city. I never thought about what really harms Detroit: racism. She interacted with our class by asking questions on the history of Detroit. She was beneficial to the class. She gave us back story on where we were going. She also helped to clear the air about the negative side of Detroit. She taught us a lot about the once thriving motor city. I wouldn’t mind taking one of her classes in the future. She was extremely interesting and easy to listen to. Since her speech and our trip, I have rekindled my love for service work and the city.
I was very pleased with my LPI results. I tend to grade myself pretty high and am hard on myself but people who see me in leadership positions didn’t agree when I ranked myself low. I was also extremely happy to see all 5’s with “Treat others with respect and dignity.” I strive to treat others with respect. A surprising part of my report was the feedback from observer #4. They’ve either only seen me in bad situations or were extremely angry with me when they graded me. In several places I had several 5’s and they gave me 1 or 3 points. I wish I knew who they were so they could elaborate a little more.
Where I Excelled
Model the way
Enable others to act
I see myself as a leader that really does model what we should do. I don’t always speak up or over people. I allow them to bicker because I don’t see it going anywhere. I hold myself at a high standard for how I act and speak. I’m glad that others see it that way.
Where I need work
Inspire a shared vision
Challenge the process
I expected to be lower in these categories. I’m terrible at speaking my mind unless it’s really provoked. I also tend to be so neutral and flexible that I go with the process more than challenge it. I need to always remind myself that my voice should be heard also.
Oh debate class. Debate taught me one major thing: when I have to argue in front of a group I shut down. Entering this class I was terrified. I have had no prior debate experience and so this learning environment was very hard for me. It was taught at more of an application class. He’d teach us the theories to debate. Since I had no prior experience, I didn’t even know where to apply these techniques. It was a hard class that I struggled in. I just memorized terms to get through it.
PSY 100 L
If feels funny reflecting on a course that I have not had in four years but it seems fit that in my final semester I would have to dig into my freshman year binders. Much to my surprise the dusty, stuffed binders that comforted me for the first year of my college career were hiding under my childhood home’s bed. “PSY 100 L” still read across the front. This binder was a mix of notes from my AP Psychology class in high school and the ones from college. My high school teacher prepared me well for one of my first college classes.
PSY 100L is a cohort class completed the second semester of the cohort’s freshman year. That class was another great opportunity to connect with my other cohort members while in an academic setting. This course taught us the basics of “why people do what they do” this is extremely helpful in leadership situations.
LDR 100 L
Leadership at its basics. LDR100, which thinking about it now, I don’t know its real name. This class’s best feature was it brought the cohort together. This class was our first meeting point. We learned each others names, learned who works well with who and met some of our forever friends. We had guest speakers come in to teach us about multiple opportunities on campus. Another added benefit to LDR100 was we got to bond with the LI’s staff. Going into 2nd semester I feel that I have better connections with Dan, Jesi and Katy now.
LDR 200 L
This course was by far one of my favorite classes. Maybe it is because Jesi knew how to make us want to be in a Wednesday night class or maybe it was that my T.A. was also my best friend. There were a lot of factors that went into making LDR 200 an enjoyable time. Each week a group would begin the class with an ice breaker. They ranged from moving life savers with tooth picks in a line to a “step into the circle” activity. Another group would present an interactive lesson on different leadership theories. This course taught me valuable future skills such as teamwork, collaboration and presentation skills.
HST 110 L
The first question I asked going into HST 110 L was “I have to buy how many books?” HST 110 L focused on the American experience. One of the most powerful assignments that came out of this class was our final presentation on an American leader. Students picked leaders from Walt Disney to Steve Jobs. I chose Jackie Kennedy Onassis. She can be credited with the development of not only woman’s fashion during the 60’s but also how woman leaders are perceived. That project required me to read several biographies and articles about Jacqueline.
COM 461 L
Pairing a 400 level course with working Academic Orientation was not my brightest idea but it challenged me to stay organized and on top of my assignments. I also thought I would know almost everything about this course… But I did not. Each week a group would use a style of leadership and put it into a dialogue. This course challenged me to not always default to “transformational leadership” as my answer. This expanded my knowledge and application of leadership in real life scenarios. It was also a fun experience of seeing how my fellow Orientation mentors displayed the different leadership theories.
Drew Dudley presented on Everyday Leadership. His speech was about why we revere leadership as such a high and mighty quality to have. He talked about how leadership isn’t something we’re going to eventually get it. He also addressed that we don’t appreciate each other enough. We don’t tell those who are important to us how much they truly mean to us enough. We’re all born with it, it just depends on how and/or if we ever end up expressing it. He shared a story about when he was working at a university. He gave a lollipop to a new freshman boy and told him “Give this to the most beautiful girl in the room.” He ended up handing the lollipop to a girl who was extremely close to dropping out. That event kept her at the university.
The reason he created this speech was because he was touched by the fact that this woman found out he was leaving the university soon and she wanted him to know how much he had touched her life. He’s actually unable to recall that event. I think it’s relevant to student leadership. He didn’t do something unbelievably impressive. All he did was use an icebreaker to make the boy branch out a little bit more. I agree that we need to let the people that have made changes in our lives how much they’ve touched us.
I already try to do this. I’m not a touchy or expressive person. I don’t tell people I love them or hug them very often. Sometimes saying things like that are like pulling teeth for me. Since I don’t tell people how important they are to me very often I like to send cards to my friends every once and a while. Everyone loves mail and it’s usually a great little surprise.