The Perfect Storm

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Four years of pushing my mind and body to its limit, being one piece of a pyramid that would crumble figuratively and literally if I didn’t do my job, trying to motivate and support teammates to do what may seem like the impossible. The sport of cheerleading is not one for the light-hearted. It’s for the tough, strong-minded, internally & externally motivated, ok with failure, smile through the pain individuals who see the end goal and do everything they can to get there as a team.

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I fell in love with this sport eight years ago and it has a large hand into why I am who I am and why I am the leader I am. Yet, this year was the year my leadership was pushed to new levels and my personal motivation was tested and retested.

This year I walked into the gym as a four-year program cheerleader (not a small feat) and was elected as the captain of the All-Girl team. As the captain, I was not only the one everyone looked to when they didn’t know what was going on but as the one to make the final call of to stand up for their wellbeing. I was also as the person my coach leaned onto be the liaison between him and the team. It was a position that I knew I was ready for but never thought would challenge me so much.

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cheer 4The team of girls this year were comprised of me, the fourth year, a few third years, and a TON of rookies. The rookies dominated in numbers and were (and still are) unbelievably talented.  I knew that the rookies would be fragile as they learn the ropes. I knew if we did it right, we could hone in on their talent and push them to reach skills our CMU Cheer Program has never seen before.

Knowing that all I could think about is “How am I going to do tha?t!” My initial mindset was a micromanaging strategy talking to them about what motivates them, making sure the older teammates knew not to be mean and run them off the team and to encourage them even when they fail and so on and so on. Obviously, that isn’t the best way. There is no way for me to control what happens and I obviously can’t make someone stay if they don’t want and even more so I don’t want the older girls to be anyone but themselves. We had to build a family filled with trust, motivation and a goal. That doesn’t happen overnight and there isn’t a handbook telling us what to do for a reason.cheer1

I decided if I clearly communicated my goals for myself personally and highly encourage them to set personal goals, then to set goals as a team would be a good first step. From there I was clear about the role I wanted and planned to play and communicated the leader I wanted to be for them. I told them I will be the arms to catch them when they fall, someone, they can trust no matter what and someone who will always have their best interest in mind, but I will also push them and communicate to them with as much transparency and clarity as possible.cheer 2

I came into practice every time and did my 110% best to be the leader that I told them I would be and some days it was really hard and I failed a few times when I started to let the weight of outside sources come inside the gym. For that, I was called out that, which was a good thing. My team knew when I was off my game gave me the support when I needed it.  That understanding helped build a trust that was unbelievable. These girls trusted me to convince them to do stunts that they didn’t think they could do. They followed suit and each individual was transparent with the rest of the team about what they could offer and over time built a bond of 30 women that was like none I have ever experienced. Of course, there were bad days and of course, I didn’t do it alone, but it was a perfect storm.

We may not have all been best friends but the bond we made will never be broken. Through injuries and routine changes to adding in the most difficult skills, we have EVER done the night before National Finals. Through tears, blood, and college life we hit the mat and made CMU History in so many ways.

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I learned that as a leader you don’t always have to have it all together and everything happens for a reason. When building a team if you come in and say, “this is who I am and this is what I will be doing to make our goals happen, what do you plan to do to help? We can do this together!” is a great place to start, but to actually do what you say builds a loyalty and trust that can launch girls high into the air (no pun intended).

Central Michigan University 2017/2018 Competitive Cheer Team Takes 10th in the toughest division in the Nation.

 

I can leave the program knowing that I had a journey of a lifetime, but I’m leaving it with a standard that I helped set with talented athletes who will make me proud.

FIRE UP FOREVER!

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The Snowstorm that Ruined Everything

The Detroit Service trip use to be known as LAS in the D is, to me, a very impactful and important Lead Team. It is just as personally impactful as it is for the freshman students experiencing it for the first time. It is a weekend where you check your privilege, ignite a passion to give and support, a chance to bond with likeminded and/or not like-minded people in your cohort and cohorts above you and have needed conversations about today’s society. For the Lead Team, it’s an opportunity to meet and build relationships with the underclassmen who you can relate so closely with as you went through what they went through.

The Detroit Service trip for the past two years has fallen on my birthday and it is 100% worth it to spend that day on this trip. Yet, this year was different. The Leaders for the service trip Lead Team took extra care and time in making this the best service trip yet. They tapped into the Lead Teams knowledge and experience and molded the learning objectives so the freshman would have and unforgettably impactful experience.

A few days before this impactful trip, Mother Nature, at her finest hit the mitten with a snowstorm canceling the trip. With all the negatives that come with a monumental experience being canceled and all the frustration and emotions of a letdown, I asked myself why. Why was I so upset that it was canceled? I hadn’t invested near the amount of time in the logistic and preparation of the trip. I merely gave my knowledge and opinions at a meeting and came to the logistic briefing meeting and was ready to go.

I was upset because I knew how the trip impacted me and how I knew I could do an even better job and help make the freshman cohorts experience even better. I was ready to be apart of their lightbulb leadership moments.  The moment when they are at Cass Community Services and it hits them the number of people the organization feeds and the dire needs to support the hunger epidemic. When they walk into the Detroit Institute of the Arts for the first time and have your breath taken away as you stare at a painting so big you can’t imagine how long it took, or how long ago it was painted. The bonding moments as you sleep on the floor next to an acquaintance that you get the chance to really talk to and could become your best friend. The Detroit Service Trip is an extremely important service trip, but it is even more than that. It’s a weekend to remember as relationships passions and eyes are open.

Push Yourself

I took on a unique role within my professional business fraternity this year. I set a goal for myself to step outside my comfort zone and do something for the organization that has done so much for me all while blending a beneficial experience for myself with an even more beneficial experience for my organization. Though my three years as a member of Alpha Kappa Psi we can struggle bringing in new ideas of ways to professionally develop and new things to learn. I can be tricky when taking into consideration time and costs for larger events and bringing in new connections.

I have become very passionate about personal professional development focusing on leadership skill development, leadership in diverse environments, how to motivate and more. With my passion and my fraternity’s professional development needs I applied and was given the opportunity to take of The Professional Development Committee as the chair. Working with my co-chair, we developed a 5 class Professional Leadership Development Curriculum.  akp4

We wanted this course to be something that was special and sought after. We wanted to encourage our members to take the step to apply in the act of investing their time and committing to the course. In the hopes, they would be more involved in discussions and the application of what they learn. The next step was deciding what topics we wanted to cover and who/how we planned to teach that topic.

The five-course break down went as follows:

What is Leadership
Core Values, WHY
Teamwork and Motivation
Global Leadership
Campus & Community Leadership Panel

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I then reached out and gained assistance from a graduate student in the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute. She helped build my confidence in the program I was developing as well as developed presentations for two classes. I was also able to work with a Ph.D. student in the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute who work with me to hone in on how to deliver an effective conversation and learning outcomes for the global leadership class.

With applications in and our cohort of AKP members together my co-chair an I made binders and reserved rooms and took it class by class. In hindsight, I would have preferred to not go week by week in the planning but to have more solid lesson plans from the get-go. The conversation and perspectives of the cohort were one of a kind. Some activities that I have done numerous times had a slightly different debrief discussion and to what was gotten out of it and the level of intensity was high. In the future, I would work to lighten the mood in the environment potentially by doing more interactive lectures and have reflection time with light music with a sharing opportunity.

The grand finale was the campus and community panel that my co-chair and I got together with four wonderful professionals from very different backgrounds. The professionals were paired with a baked potato bar and questions regarding the topics we had talked about in the weeks before. akp1

All-in-all developing the course and executing was an amazing learning experience. Having Alpha Kappa Psi push me to go beyond what the committee would normally do gave me a learning experience that will push me in my professional career and reassured me in my passion for Leadership Learning and the impacts it can have on one’s confidence and success in the business world and life.

Professional Relationships

Through my Business Fraternity I had the opportunity to work with university professional on a whole different level. Myself and a co-chair worked tirelessly
in partnership with the Central Michigan University Career Services office to
bring roughly 140 business to our campus to recruit CMU students for internships and jobs across the country.

Career Services and Alpha Kappa Psi has a strong relationship as their role is to help student find jobs, and my fraternity’s goal is to uphold our 100% full time job placement after college. The relationship and the experience collaboration with Career Services,which is a group of 8 full time professional was like none else.

Career Services treated my co-chair and I as if we were one of the team.  They expected my co-chair and I plan the agenda, set up times and full on run the bi weekly meetings. Those responsibility were not only extremely intimidating but such an amazing opportunity to put my business and leadership knowledge to the test. 

I had to make big decisions and delegate responsibility while motivating everyone to a common goal.  Their “real life” feedback on how I handled those responsibility helped me grow tremendously as a leader and business professional. The tedious planning and organization of the event takes months, but at the end it is truly something. This special relationship between Alpha Kappa Psi and Career services gets to both reach their goals and bring jobs and opportunities to our students.

 

 

Cass Community Social Services 2017

Cass Community Social Services (Cass) is a nonprofit, 501 (c) (3) community based organization that is located in Detroit Michigan. Their organization serves Southern Michigan, Wayne County. Their mission statement is: CCSS is dedicated to making a profound difference in the lives of the divers populations it serves by providing for basic needs, including affordable housing, promoting self-reliance and encouraging community involvement and community improvement.

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To learn more about Cass and their history and all they do follow this LINK

My experience I  had with CCSS was brought to me when with my LAS LEAD team on the trip we went on called LAS in the D. A weekend where we take the LAS freshman class to Detroit to practice servant leadership, broaden their awareness, promote a growing city while looking around at leaders in the community. On the second day of our trip our group partner with CCSS to volunteer and support their amazing organization that helps and supports so many in the community.  They provide many services to the community such as food, housing, and support. They also have other areas where Cass works to generate money and items to give back. Items  such as making mats out of recycled tires, shredding paper, cleaning and organizing closets of donations. The areas we all served were working in the kitchen, helping make mats, shredding paper, and organizing the closets.   The areas our group served were working in the kitchen, helping make mats, shredding paper, and organizing the closets.

The area I  volunteered was the kitchen. I can say I wholeheartedly underestimated this area of service. I was very excited to be able to more directly support the community and possibly see the people that we were helping. Yet, kitchen work for so many people is cass 2hard work. The amount of pre-planning that goes into making breakfast lunch and dinner and even prepping for meals the next day is astounding. The volunteers that work there on a more regular basis have such a multi dimensional task list having to create menus that will feed so many with the food that is donated to them. They don’t go out grocery shopping for what they need. The food that is put together and prepared into meals is all from donations. That fact alone blew my mind.

Coming into the kitchen the chef made it  clear there was no time to waste, every second was precious. There were simple rules for washing your hands and for having hair nets, but after that roles were assigned and we got to work. I started working on opening boxes of french fries and once we were finished we open and placed bacon on trays for the next morning, we then cracked dozens upon dozens of eggs and whisked them for the next morning’s breakfast. Then we moved to scooping mixture into pans for chicken pot pie for later that day’s dinner, then moved to mashing and making mashed potatoes. Those roles were for two of the 10 volunteers we brought. Every smaller team within was just as busy with multiple back to back task to fulfill.

The experience as a whole was unbelievably rewarding. Being able to stay so busy i felt as if I was to able to give so much help to people who deserve all the support they can get. My eyes were open to the amazing heart of those in their community who dedicate their lives to other. The people receiving the support are unwaveringly grateful. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience and look forward to going back.

LAS in the D 2017

 

LAS in the D is my favorite time of the year! It is when the Freshman Leader Advancement scholar get the opportunity to attend a service learning trip to Detroit and take part in volunteer work practicing servant leadership, and education/awareness regarding Detroit as growing and rebuilding city and where they see leadership . This trip is also special as it also serves as a bonding experience for the cohort and a place where many passions are ignited. I got the AMAZING opportunity to be apart of the LAS in the D lead team and lead my own group of student s through this impactfl weekend.

 

The first stop of the Journey was at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA) where we got to interact with Jalen Rose students and their lead team member facilitated leadership activities with the JRLA students. OUr ultimate goal this year was to help the JRLA students learn and develop their facilitation skills, as well as learn how to facilitate a debrief. After we visited JRLA we went to Quicken Loans where we got a tour of their facilities and listen to employees speak about the company and what they are doing for Detroit.  We also encouraged the students to be aware and look for people who exhibited different leadership styles.  

From there we went to the Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA) where we allow the students to roam around the facility and take it all the amazing exhibits they have to offer. The night was wrapped up at the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) it’s located right on the river walk and about a mile from the Renaissance Center. Not only did we all get to explore,  play all throughout the facility and was our location to stay for the whole night, but we got to hear from Mrs. Walter and got an indepth look on the beautiful history of the building. We got to hear about the dream behind this exhibit that was able to come into fruition, and the importance and impact it has had on the city.

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My favorite part of the day was when we had the chance to have a Meaningful debrief with our group and listen to the impact this trip has made on the students and parts the inspired and motivated them to want to make a change. That was the largest highlight i had on the day.

Day two came quick and and was the day we set aside for direct service. The day was spent at Cass Community Social Services. Cass is a local nonprofit that provides many services to the community such as food, housing, and support. They also have other areas where Cass works to generate money and items to give back such as making mats out of recycled tires, shredding paper, cleaning and organizing closets of donations. The areas we all served were working in the kitchen, helping make mats, shredding paper, and organizing the closets.

The second day was very special, because I believe the students got a true taste of the impact and support the Detroit community still needs. They were encouraged to journal throughout the experience via self-guided questions to process what they have been experiencing and that process helped reach an amazing outcome of aware and excited students.

The trip as a whole could not have gone any smoother. I was surrounded by not only amazing students but amazing LEAD team leaders. The freshman LASers will never know what a large impact their perspectives and passion made on me that day. It was a refreshing re-energization that I need going into the last parts of the semester.las 

Alpha Kappa Psi ’16-’17

My student organization that I have been honored to be able to be a part of is Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity. They have brought many amazing opportunities friends and experience my way in the past two years. The organization has challenged me and inspired me to strive for excellence. It has provided myself with two large experience that have been some of my proudest accomplishments of my time here at central.

My first, and not as “physically large“ of an opportunity was to
develop a leadership development lesson for our incoming members. Our
organization prides itself on developing principled business leaders, and
leadership is something that I am passionate about. Leaders grow in many ways
and I saw that statement as somewhere I could impact our membership while doing
something I love.

The specifics of the lesson change every semester as I try to gear
it to the need of the group as a whole. The core topics that I work to make a
point at covering is answering the questions of “what kind of leader am I”,
“how can my leadership style impact others.” and “in the areas that my
leadership style is challenged is there others who can support me”. I
supplement these questions with activities where the group has the chance to
work together with the awareness of who they are as leaders as well as who
their peers are as leaders.

The second, and larger opportunity that the fraternity has brought
me was the opportunity to plan the Central Michigan University College of Business
Administration Career Fair.

Where myself and a co-chair work tirelessly
in partnership with the Central Michigan University Career Services office to
bring roughly 140 business to our campus to recruit CMU students. Career
Services and Alpha Kappa Psi has a strong relationship as their role is to help
student find jobs, and my fraternity’s goal is to uphold our 100% full time job
placement after college. My co-chair and I plan the agenda and set up times
with Career Services to coordinate responsibilities, expectations, and
materials. The tedious planning of the event takes months, but at the end it is
truly something.This special relationship between Alpha Kappa Psi and Career services gets to both reach their goals and bring jobs and opportunities to our students.akp 4

Being able to plan this event for two semesters in a row and to watch our impact as a team grow and number of students and companies in attendance increasing i have been encouraging and getting information together to relocate the event. Which may not seem like such a hard task, but there are many many moving parts to consider. This coming semester we were able to make it happen!

Alpha Kappa Psi has impacted my life personally and professional like none other could.