Clubbin’

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At CMU there are nearly 400 registered student organizations (RSO’s).

“Build confidence, your résumé, leadership skills and a new worldview by joining a CMU student group.” –CMU Student Organizations.

People typically stick to what they know, who they are comfortable with, and don’t push themselves too hard. Here at school, I say there are many reasons to throw those values to the wind and join any club that sounds interesting to you.

Effects of joining an RSO may include but are not limited to:

  • meeting new people
  • increased positivity in your everyday life
  • mental and physical activity
  • professional and personal development
  • time management skills

I first joined the Infusion Dance Team. We are completely student run without any choreography help from faculty or staff here. We are very proud of how well we organize ourselves and perform. For events like the Homecoming Parade, Siblings Weekend, some basketball half-time shows, and Relay for Life, we come up with songs and choreography that fits our skills and is fitting to the event. Our organization doesn’t compete against dance clubs from other schools and we stay on campus for all of our practices and performances.

Coming out of high school, I was a mediocre dancer at best. I learned and executed what skills I considered the minimum for qualifying me to be a dancer. But, bless my soul, I really love to dance. So I decided that I didn’t want it to end with my high school graduation. I searched for the right dance club to join which was surprisingly difficult. There are several here on campus so I had to really look into which team would be a great fit for me. Infusion Dance Team focuses on self and team improvement, a positive place to escape from school/work/other responsibilities, and a group to find friends among dancers. Try outs were nerve racking and challenging so I feel blessed to have made the cut. However, the experience of being on the team is much different. We offer each other so much as far as new skills and tips to improve old ones, that I feel like I could easily learn new things whenever I think I’m ready. It’s a great club for improving myself without feeling the pressure of a competitive team.

Secondly, I joined the Classic Games Club here at central. Another completely student run group, this club’s main purposes include recreation, relaxation, and fun. Every Friday night we meet in the lobby of my building to play all sorts of games. It can range anywhere from Taboo to Settlers of Catan and from Family Feud to Mortal Kombat. We plan special event nights that include a barbecue, volleyball at the Student Activity Center, going to the casino, a euchre tournament, and many others.  There are no try outs or skills required to join. It’s suggested that you really like board games and games of other sorts but you could even learn to love them if you’re looking for new things to do. We go for hours on end switching from game to game. Everyone has been more than welcoming.

The easygoing atmosphere and friendliness was immediately offered to me and I started telling everyone to check this club out. I have had a couple friends here and there already come play games with us which is why I decided to run for the publicity chair. Several people ran and now my pal Cameron and I are co-chairs. I created a Classic Game Club Instagram that we run and I bought tons of chalk to mark up the sidewalks around campus–unfortunately spring semester weather isn’t exactly conducive to writing with chalk on the sidewalk most of the time so that will take place more in the upcoming fall semester.

Over the summer, I have plenty of people to play games with and time to stretch and be ready to dance again in the fall. I chose these organizations not only for the benefits that come along with being in an RSO but because these activities are already part of who I am and will likely remain to be for as longs as possible.

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To Be a Mentor?

I recall those that I have looked up to throughout my life. Many of whom were adults. However, the ones who helped me grow into particularly positive directions and realizations were those who could grow along with me.

If you’re a reader that is familiar with any of my previous posts, you are most likely aware of how dearly I hold both my past and current sensei. They held tittles of authority, yet surpassed their duties as teachers and became mentors and nearly family figures in my life. Their influences have spanned across areas of my involvements such academia, sports, hobbies, relationships, and jobs.

“Train your brain. Build your Body. Strengthen your spirit.”

Although I haven’t said those words together out loud since I was in elementary school, I never forgot this wisdom bestowed on me by my first sensei. For me to remember this, after all these years, has meant that I am not so easily lost in times of adversity. The weight of these words is immeasurable and I had someone in my life determined enough to make sure I remembered them.

As much as I can thank them for everything that they have done for me, I am also indebted to many people from my own generation and friend groups that I look to for guidance and positive examples.

I mostly feel young and inexperienced when it comes to simply living life. I’m a novice at this living-independently-thing at best. With that being said, I was extremely anxious about taking on what we at the CMU Leadership Institute call a “mentee” (or as I prefer to call them- padawan,  young cricket, apprentice, or protégé). This meant that, come summer 2016, I would be some poor soul’s mentor through the scholarship program that I am a part of here at school. Based on my nervous behavior, some may have thought I was about to bring another human into this world. I won’t go into detail on how I found who I wanted to mentor, but I will describe how impossibly perfect the match is becoming.

logan
photo credit to Dan Gaken

 

Logan James Palm is currently a freshman in the CMU Leader Advancement Scholar program. He is known for sharing funny videos, geeking-out over some definite geek-worthy things, spreading the joy of dank memes, being a fantastic performer, and loving/praising all things Disney. He will be known for making people laugh, ensuring other’s comfort (even at the cost of his own), and being a big name in the entertainment industry through working for Disney. I am blessed enough to be challenged as Logan’s mentor.

The weekend of September 10th , the Leadership Institute took the freshman and sophomore classes, or, more notably, the mentee and mentor pairs on a overnight retreat to Eagle Village.  We spent merely a day and a half on this little trip and those few hours are already proving to have had an endless impact on our relationships. We filled our time there with constant communication and exciting activity. Sometimes we were physically challenged to points requiring intense trust. Other activities pushed us to come up with creative alternatives to help each other complete puzzling tasks. I could go on and on about the specifics, but I would much rather recommend that you watch a video that was created from moments captured over the weekend.
A talented young lady in my cohort, and an amazing roommate of mine, Riley Bussell, created a heart warming compilation of us students being cute. You can check it out here!

Logan and I already had so many things in common. It wasn’t until the retreat that we birthdaylogandiscussed our differences and found out more ways to be there for each other. School has been going for almost three weeks and Logan and I have already proclaimed our sibling-like bond to the entire world. Or at least on various social media accounts. I cannot stress enough how important this young man is to me.

I have been putting an immense amount of pressure on myself to be someone perfect for Logan to look up to. I want to be able to answer all of his question. I want to help him through all his problems. I want to always make sure he’s having a better experience in this program than even myself. Despite all this, I have to remind myself that we are in the same boat. I only have one year more of college experience than he does. I have to remind myself that I can only do my best and hope for the best as a result. This is when I think back to all of the peers that I have looked up to over the years. They weren’t perfect either. They were just what I needed at a point in time to help me grow. I have to remind myself that what Logan needs from me is that same help to grow in positive directions and realizations. I want to be the perfect mentor for Logan, but that doesn’t mean I have to be the one to give him all the advice and all the help he needs. I have to remind myself, that just like me, Logan will have an endless supply of inspiration and support from everyone in the leadership program.

So on that note, I’d like to thank a few people. Angie (my mentor), thanks for always being  someone I can fall back on. I know I don’t usually admit when I need help but I think you can always tell and easily step in to help before I reach another level of crazy. Roommates, thanks for always making me laugh and reminding me of who and what is most important in my life. My cohort, thanks for all your unsuspecting wisdom that you casually drop on me at any given time of day. Keep up the good work, please. Thank you to my parents for raising me in a way that enables me to be so resilient. And finally, I’d like to thank Logan for being so open and honest with me. I see that you trust me, I see that you are willing to lean on me, and that shows me that I am doing at least enough right to allow you to feel comfortable with me. I feel like I’ve magically acquired a younger brother that I didn’t know I needed in my life until you arrived.  We have so far to go but with a start so strong, I can’t wait to see what the future may bring. I am determined to make you remember how great you are every day.

 

An Ascent: Leaders Brought up in Detroit

You wake to the pang in your stomach. You try hard not to remember when it was, exactly, that you last ate a full meal. Who can you tell? Who cares enough to help? Besides, you should be able to help yourself, right? All you can do is go to school each day as you should. You know you’re not the only one which makes it even more difficult to ask for help. Someone else has it worse. But how long can you endure things the way they are now? Sometimes you just wish you had someone to show they care–just enough to show you an opportunity to make things happen.

This is a reality for far too many young people around the world. Places like Detroit, so close to my home, know the feeling of hunger, restriction, and fear all too well. Change is wanted and needed. With nearly 40% of Detroit area residents living under the poverty line, where does the community start?

We get so caught up in the pressure to be successful that we forget the things that don’t affect us immediately. We fill most of our days. We spend our time on things that we have to do and then feel drained and incomplete if we don’t do some of the things that we really want to do.

I don’t have all the answers but I do have time to offer a helping hand.

It only takes a little time and hardly any extra effort. Instead of going through the usual routine, consider doing something to help others. Providing service for others is not only extremely helpful to a community, but offers personal gain in character.

My Leader Advancement Scholar cohort made a trip down to Detroit from Mount Pleasant   to help out the second poorest place in Michigan (around third poorest in the nation) that just happens to be a place full of potential for more amazing things. Detroit could return to the state of greatness it was once in. It may just need help along the way. We visited the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy on day one of our trip.

We placed our things and ourselves within a tiny gymnasium that doubled as a cafeteria and then waited patiently for the students to arrive. On their last day of spring break, I was worried the students would be far from excited to be undesirably adorned by their uniforms and come back on a Friday that was meant to be school-free. Throughout the day, I was with a small group of LAS members and Jalen Rose students. We made a somewhat quiet team. I did appreciate, however, that the students went along with our efforts to keep conversations rolling and our attempts to play games to make things more interesting or engaging. There were two moments in the day that really stuck out to me: First, we were simply “de-fuzzing” some circles cut off of socks for an educational non-profit’s craft kits. As the eight of us sat quietly in the classroom, we decided to play hangman on the white board. We each took turns going to write on the board. Every one else continued to “de-fuzz” as we guessed letters and phrases. Second, at the end of the day, we discussed what everyone thought of the whole event. It was then that I realized that none of them were really disappointed to be brought back to school. In fact, they were glad that they had something fun to do on their break. Nearly all the students agreed that they were extremely bored during their break. Many even felt like they were trapped to do nothing until we came to visit.

Their attitudes were obviously appreciative. In a place that doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of facilities and opportunities, it’s amazing to see that they show their appreciation so clearly. Or maybe that is something that I should be used to seeing? Should I even be surprised when people are appreciative? With such a great difference between the areas we live, no wonder I am accustom to being under appreciated and under appreciative. Attitudes and life styles are geographically based when there is such a difference in an area’s average income. This new point of view that can be gained from simply getting to know the inner-workings of a new area, is something that everyone should have to experience at least once in their lives. And even though it isn’t understood by all, I’m positive that our LAS members were humbled by the type of leadership that we saw coming from the Jalen Rose students. Attitude is a huge part of leadership attributes and they had it right. They were so appreciative and they saw so many good things coming from their situations. It assured me that they don’t want to become victims of circumstance, and specifically, victims of their city’s current reputation.

 

Spark?

Formerly known as the Alpha Lead program, the Spark Series is held in both the fall and spring semesters here at CMU. I attended the fall program this year. Leading up to attending this four week program, I was very unsure of what to expect. I didn’t hear much about it before hand. But then again, I knew that it was supposed to be changing quite dramatically this year.

As far as getting back into the swing of leadership expansion, I would say that Spark did a swell job. My friends and I were able to play familiar games and participate in activities we hadn’t seen in a good while. I definitely had a good time. However, I didn’t feel challenged enough. There were games that are designed to make us uncomfortable, but I’ve played them all before. There were mind challenges that I had solved before. There were team challenges that many of my past teams had already conquered.

sparkAs far as my personal growth went, I have the people to thank. My teammates that I saw once a week each had their own type of personality. They were from all parts of Michigan and further. With different cultures and pasts, we had different and important rolls to play in making each other more understanding. Outside of all that, it is great to see even more people on campus that I can talk to.

I would also like to tell everyone about how amazing the facilitators of this program are. I was pleasantly shocked at how well they got along with every personality type. Each facilitator showed respect, maturity, individuality, and compassion. They lead conversations with fluidity and listened well to remember so much about everyone.

The deja vu threw me off a bit, but the program as a whole was definitely not a waste of time. I can honestly say that I did get to enjoy myself.

Mind Games and Motivation

Psychology was difficult. Maybe not for everyone, but it was certainly hard for me. I felt like I was learning another language, quickly having to apply it, and work with it based off of slightly educated guessing. Our professor told lame jokes quite often and gave us lots of online homework every week. I enjoy getting A’s on my assignments and doing well in a class. In PSY100L, I didn’t do too hot. I got about a B- average because of my incapable brain.

change situation
Useful advice

Psychology was fun and interesting. Maybe not for everyone, but it was certainly intriguing for me. I felt like I was learning useful leadership information and quickly being able to apply it based off of examples from class. Our professor stopped talking just to answer questions quite often and helped us to understand online homework every week. I enjoy feeling like I can understand people better and doing well with my classmates. In PSY100L, I struggled to get better grades. I got about a B- average despite the lack of experience I have with psychology.

Psychology was hard for me and I am proud of my final exam score!

Screenshot 2015-12-11 11.46.44
105 out of 120 = 87.5%

 

Perfectly Prepared Students Probe President for Positive Answers

In LDR100 we had the opportunity to speak with the president of the University. Being able to speak with President Ross instead of being talked at is pretty neat. Engaging speakers are certainly easier to listen to and learn from. The President had printed out handouts to outline his main points for us. The points clearly outlined some of the President’s important life values and words to live by. He clearly put his best foot forward because he sees how serious we are as students. It was different however, to see a person in power who willingly gets into the position to be asked questions from such serious students. He was comfortable being uncomfortable and I respect that.

After we learned what we could from some of his more intense life stories, we got down to business. The questions that were asked surprised even me. I constantly see my classmates in a rather silly state outside of class. I was thoroughly impressed by the questions that they came up with for President Ross. Previously meditated or spontaneously conjured, the ideas for these questions were good. After hearing some of them It prompted me to get into the conversation. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what question I ended up asking–but I do remember one thing. One of my classmates asked what our school was doing to compete with Big Ten schools. The president talked about some of the recent academic programs that have grown or emerged. He talked about the Leader Advancement Scholars, of course. He even added on some of the amazing things that alumni have done and told him about. Then I raised my hand. Instead of asking another prying question, I asked to add on to his answer. I told my classmate that CMU competes with Big Ten schools with the campus itself and how nice it is. I told him that one of the biggest reasons for me deciding to come here was because students at CMU are more involved and dedicated to their passions than I have ever heard of or seen. CMU encourages students to be so much more than students by the amount of extracurricular opportunities on campus and the high involvement in every form of it. My friends who went to Michigan State and Michigan University are never doing anything. Sure, they do homework and study but what else? They are basically wasting their free time by not joining anything or volunteering. Getting a job won’t just be like going to class and studying. I just see more practicality and usefulness in how students here are living. CMU truly graduates leaders.

Fred Factor Reflection

Fred is a real person but also a concept that has changed thousands of people for the better. Mark Sanborn was inspired by a mailman to write a book about becoming your best self. The idea is that this mailman, named Fred, went above and beyond his duties as an employee and as a decent human being. He had  a way with making people feel better and valuable. You can watch this video that really captures what the book and the following movement are all about. As a part of our leadership class, we were to find creative ways to become a “Fred” and show the effects that we had. My team decided to spread positive vibes on campus and over social media. We handed out flowers to strangers with a note attached that read,

Step One: take a picture with or of your flower and post it on social media with #sharetheloveCMU

Step Two: pass the flower on to someone else who would appreciate it so that they can do the same”

After we recorded several brave flower exchanges and dissected the reasons why it helped us attain our goal, we put together this presentation that summed it all up quite nicely. If you would also like to see the wonderful people receiving the flowers, you can click here and admire the awkward building of connections that we made.

The project and the presentation may be over, but learning such valuable lessons and getting myself to go out there and do something definitely leaves a lasting impression. I will continue to hold myself and my group-mates accountable for being the best version of ourselves we can be.

LDR 100

LDR100This is the first step I take as a student minoring in Leadership. It also happens to be a very important step toward bettering my leadership
lifestyle. LDR 100 is a pretty simple class. It’s straight forward, it’s fun, and it offers guidance. And although the class also offers many challenges, it is not a  point of stress. The class not only teaches valuable leadership lessons but many management strategies for being a successful college student. Other students who don’t have the opportunity to take a class such as this won’t learn the ins and outs quickly (or some–not at all). By whichever path lead me to this point, I consider myself lucky.

As I continue on a path from LDR 100, I hope to take what I have learned to heart and apply it to my job, my classes, and my relationships. I may be a COM major, but I have yet to take a communication class that has taught me more about relationships–professional or personal. I look forward to the days that I really bring out the skills I have acquired so far. However, I am not perfectly well-rounded; I still have some rough edges. Up next is LDR 200. I usually wouldn’t be nervous about any leadership class but, then again, I usually know the majority of the people in the class. Next semester I will be taking the class with students I’ve never met before. This may sound normal for most college classes but it is certainly not common for students in the Leader Advancement Scholar program to take a leadership class without their cohort (especially this early into school). Wish me luck!

Each Puzzle Piece

I often find myself mindlessly scrolling through various forms of social media and stumbling upon articles and videos. These posts usually make us think that we have some sort of connection with the writer or person who shared the video because it is just oh-so-relatable. Today it seems too easy. We form relationships (real or virtual) based on a couple common interests. I saw that you tweeted lyrics to a song that I love; we must have so much in common. And so we form these connections that rarely even leave the space of social media to become more real and personal (not to mention that they sometimes rarely leave the comfort of our own thoughts). As a member of the human race, I know it’s easier to believe that these simple commonalities can be all that a relationship needs. But what actually matters in creating solid connections with others?

Fire up for CMU students relaxing in the hot tub after going down all of the slides at least three times.

Believe it or not, I think about this quite often. When the CMU Leadership Institute offered me the opportunity to go to the Connections Leadership Conference FOR FREE, you know I was on top of that. Leading up to the event itself, I was never entirely certain of what it was all about. Being unsure is far easier when, no matter what, I know that I get to participate in child-like-wonder at the Great Wolf Lodge’s water park. All twisty-slides aside, I was still looking forward to the conference.

We were seated in a ballroom area around fancy dining tables upon our arrival on Saturday. We were handed some booklets with the schedule and many worksheets pertaining to conference activities. After a nice lunch and some welcoming words, the conference finally began. Only two sessions that I went to were assigned two me and I was able to pick another five that I found interesting. Having that freedom was a conference-first for me and I was crazy about it.

Group work to show how the individual, culture, physical environment, organization, and government all work together.
Group work to show how the individual, culture, physical environment, organization, and government all work together.

Being around so many different CMU students and understanding the various leadership roles they held around campus seemed wonderfully enlightening. While working with countless new student-leaders, I began to see why they called it the Connections Conference. With each session and each activity I found that there are so many resources at my disposal. Between the organizations and the amazing individuals on campus, it seems impossible to feel alone with any goals I may have.

I had a common sense of usefulness throughout every one of my sessions during this conference. They were all useful because they brought up the connections that really matter. After all the wondering and worrying about what really makes a relationship, feelings of relief and satisfaction overcame me.

Finally, a conference that caught my attention and never let it go.

Connections are strong when you talk about what really matters to you in life. Who do you care most about in your life and why? What do you read or hear about in the news that really gets your blood boiling? What are you most happy doing with your free time? What are you most passionate about? More often then not, it is hard to answer these sort of questions without giving it some time and thought. I honestly believe that it shouldn’t have be that way.

It’s easy for us to have faith in petty similarities. It’s easy to avoid vulnerability by only talking about things that you have in common with others instead of saying what you really think and waiting for others to come forward with similar thoughts. We need to start asking the tough questions. We need to start showing others what is really important to us. And I don’t mean your Lulu Lemon $80 leggings, your smart phone, your Cyboard, or when your jeans still fit after the holiday season. In order to make sustainable and truly meaningful connections with others, we have to get real with each other. We have to talk about what we want to do with the rest of our lives and why. I have to admit, it’s a scary place to be–outside of the warm and cozy comfort zone we create for ourselves. But I’d like to know how many great things can happen without taking a step outside of this zone. Movements don’t start with a thought lingering within our heads for a few days and then passing with a sigh and an unfulfilled dream. Big things start to happen when those thoughts and beliefs are shared with others and you begin to see a bigger picture.

Inside and outside of my campus, I see that we all need each other. As students, workers, dreamers, artists, and many more, we each have a piece to offer to each other.  You can only begin to see a beautiful picture when you start bringing the pieces together.

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