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!
One Monday morning at 7:30 am I clicked the link to attend the Deaf Awareness Alternative Winter Break. Deaf Awareness is such a broad topic so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there are Deaf and deaf people in the world. I knew some American Sign Language but I didn’t know what I was in for. Our break left December 13th for Washington D.C. We were told that for the first half of our day we would work with Deaf REACH. Service: UNKNOWN. The second half of our day would be spent at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School on Galludet University’s campus. Service: Working with children. General enough.
So what did we end up doing?
During the first service we worked together to 1. Pack over 600 Safe Sex Kits, 2. File paperwork, 3. Shred years of papers 4. Design information business cards, 4×6 cards, T-shirts and, 5. Decorate office door displays. This service was one of the most rewarding jobs because we could see our work getting done. We were able to see progress through out the week. What does this have to do with Deaf Awareness? Well, half of the staff is Deaf and uses American Sign Language as their primary language. The week was spent pushing ourselves to learn new signs, sentence structure and practice communicating with people within the Deaf community. Instead of the staff giving us “volunteer work” which usually breaks down to just filing and cleaning, they took us on as ‘staff.’ They gave us real projects. They made our time feel meaningful because we were giving them real work.
At Kendall Demonstration School we worked in two separate groups. Half of the group spent time with the Kindergarten and younger kids while my group worked with 1st-4th grade. This was another amazing time for us to learn signs we’ve never used before.
I can’t wait to take these signs back to my classes as I finish my American Sign Language minor. I find myself causally throwing signs into my daily life. I hope that in my future I will be able to find friends who are also interested in American Sign Language. It is so helpful when you’re far away from someone or in a loud area. In the last few years I have noticed a slow decline in my hearing and I hope that in my future I will be able it to communicate more clearly.
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.”
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.
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.
*Warning, some of these links may contain sexually explicit material
Tuesday, February 19th, Central Michigan University’s program board presented The Great Porn Debate. This free event to students featured Craig Gross, a pastor from Souther California and Nina Hartley, a still employed sex positive feminist porn start. This debate argued the place that porn has in society, relationships and as a career.
Hartley has been in the sex industry since the 1970’s. Since the beginning of her career she has starred in over 650 adult films. She is recognized as one of the most known actresses in her field. She identifies as an outspoken sex positive feminist. She advicates fully consenting sex and out against the choice to “just get it over with.” She believes that sex is something for both people to enjoy.
“[porn] creates unrealistic fantasies that, one, if you’re a woman you can’t live up to; and two, as a guy it’s going to taint your view on sex.”
Gross was a pastor in Southern California for several years. While ministering there he noticed a reoccurring issue: porn addiction. He decided to take the issue on head first and create XXXchurch.com. The site address the problems behind porn. During his side of the discussion he never put porn down entirely. His problem with porn is that it creates the inability to be intimate. Women start to believe they need to live up to these crazy expectations and men expect sex to be something entirely different. He’d rather see couples turn to each other for that kind of stimulation instead of the TV.
This experience was very enriching to me. Since I can remember, I’ve viewed sex as a negative thing. I thought it was gross, weird, dirty, bad, all kinds of negative things. After listening to both presenters talk I realized it might not be as terrible as I thought. It also reiterated my idea of loving yourself before you can love someone else.