Category Archives: Leadership Education

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.

COM 461L Reflection

Com 461L has been a class that has been a very pleasant surprise. Before the class started a lot of us “cohort classmates” were dreading a course that would reiterate a lot of what we have already learned, or that it would be information that we wouldn’t really take with us after the class. We were very much wrong. This course has given us answers to problems we face every day as on campus leaders. Problems such as how to most effectively work in a group, how to be a follower, how best to work with electronic communication, as well as how to build credibility and so much more. Each topic we discuss what it is, how we use it now, best ways to use it and ways it could not work or be negative.

With the lecture of the ins and outs of each topic we solidify these concepts with a lot of open discussion and group activities. Group activities like this past week we are working on the topic of public leadership, and their communication techniques. We went over the, what it is, where we use it or see it in our lives, positives about it and if there are any negatives. We then broke the class into six groups and we simulated a recognition ceremony awarding someone the “Best COM 461L Student”. With that we had one “public leader” in each group and a script writer (public leaders always have help with their communication) and we each wrote and presented a different part of the ceremony. The introduction, giving of the award, acceptance of the award, building being named after participant, an inspirational piece, and closing words. We each got to utilize pieces of public leader’s communication techniques hands on learning a lot as well as having fun.

This group activity explains so much about the class and the professor, Professor Carlson. She knows how to get us to learn, and to explain these extremely useful subjects in a way that they will stay with us and we will feel comfortable implementing is our everyday leadership on and off campus. Not even going into the book she is maneuvering us through called the leadership moment, which tells stories of leaders in a part of their lives. Each story has a part of leadership that we are analyzing and we develop questions such as: “So and so in this moment wasn’t able to get through to his team. Why? What do you think he/she could have done to be more effective?” With these questions we, as a class have a fishbowl. fishbowl

A fishbowl is a way of constructively facilitating discussion. We deal out cards and if you get a fish on your card you are the original group that starts the discussion with your questions, and if you get an empty fishbowl you with get to save your questions till the fish break out of their discussion and come to facilitate a group of fishbowl card people through the discussion of the story that day. We all dreaded the idea of the Fishbowls, but to be able to read and learn from someone else’s mistakes and achievements has stimulated a lot of great learning conversation with lead to growth as leaders.

With all set and done this class has been one of my favorite CMU course that I have taken so far. Not one class period have I left not thinking that I wouldn’t be able to use the subject we talked about today, and I believe that is special! Go COM 461L!

Leadership Theory: POWER

Leadership and power is a theory of leadership that I have observed and experienced. Not only have I seen it through LAS protocol but through my everyday life at CMU. In the classroom, dorms, RSO’s, organizations etc. Leadership and power came from the French and Ravens ideas of the 5 bases of power. The bases of power are divided into two groups, personal and positional. Within personal is the bases expert power and referent power whereas in positional power it contains legitimate power, coercive power, and reward power. French and Raven conceptualized power form the framework of a dyadic relationship that includes person influencing and the person being influenced. The layout of their framework is set up, dividing the 5 bases of power into two different categories-personal and positional. Some followers respond better to different types of power. As a leader, power is usually given though the followers, so if the power is misused or abused it can usually be taken away by the followers.

“The world is based off a hierarchy of power and allows leaders to lead using their own version of power. Knowledge of this is essential to reach your full potential as a leader. Students should learn about the leadership and power approach because it is essential in developing how you will act when in power and it will help your ability to recognize the different variations of power.”

Through LAS our protocol asks us to do multiple things: take classes (all together as a cohort), do homework (all as a cohort), attend conferences (all as a cohort), go on a retreat (all as a cohort), Live together as a cohort, which is amazing! It can also be very hard. Many “leader minded” people in the same place we get to collaborate, experience, and work through everything life at CMU entails and LAS protocol. Two of the biggest road bumps we run into are communication and power. My first and biggest time I have experienced the use of the leadership and power theory was when the 2014 and 2013 cohort (mentors and mentees) attended eagle village for our Mentor Mentee retreat. IMG_0984Once being separated into groups we went through and got to take part in leadership activities. There were two activities that tested my group the most. Giant’s fingers and the obstacle course we had carry a sled full of balls through an obstacle course.

Through these activities we mainly working with personal power-the influence capacity a leader derives from being seen as a likeable and knowledgeable. Expert- more knowledge, referent- people who are more likable. Through the sled obstacle course it was a rocky start. Everyone had an idea of how they thought we should go about this activity to be successful. It was a mess the balls were falling out and the louder leaders were the only ones being heard. The referent power leaders were all butting heads. Until as a group we decided we needed to give an expert power leader the role of helping guide and lead our group. With their knowledge of how the course and the objective of the activity as a group we responded better to this style of power and were able to achieve our goal.

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For Giants Fingers the objective was a lot harder! The dynamic of the group was a little better after the last activity. Once given the objective and rules (a lot more complicated that the sled obstacle course) we had to move a set of tires of different sizes from one of three posts to the other side, while setting them up largest to smallest on the other side. The biggest challenge was that every person in the group had to have two fingers on the tire at all times and the tire wasn’t allowed to touch the posts as we wove it up and down to its destinations. Some just wanted to jump in and others wanted to compile a plan. As a group we then agreed upon deciding a plan to go about our activity. An expert power leader started to take the reins on the activity and everyone immediately got very frustrated. The tire was touching the post, or someone couldn’t reach the tire to have their fingers on it and we would have to start again. Over and over we had the opportunity to start again. As a group we were not responding to the expert power leader. Myself starting to observe the tensions and seeing the solution and need for a referent power leader. Recognizing my own personal strengths I started to use words of affirmation and calming started directing the group getting everyone on the same page. The group responded to the referent leader power and we were (after some time) able to achieve our goal.

 

All around through leadership there will be times when one leader has to take the reins and everyone else has to follow. With that every group is different and needs a different person (personalities/characteristics) to take over. Every group responds to types of power differently. As a leader it is important to recognize your personal power strengths and weaknesses so you know when your power style will work and when it needs to take a back seat.

HST 110: The American Experience

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HST 110 has been an experience in itself. I can honestly say I am by no means a history junky. I appreciate history but it can be hard for me to grasp and every time it has been taught to me it is super dry and boring. HST 110 with Catherine Tobin was partially the same but it also pushed me to learn important times in history by myself. We also did many response papers on specific times we talked about it class and she also supplemented with a movie. We had to watch the movie, take a part of it and form a question. Naturally, usually my questions were leadership based. “Where they and effective leader, why or why not.” Looking deeper into some huge leaders in our past and forming my own opinion on if I thought they were effective leaders was very eye opening.HST 110 1 I started to put it in context of myself and if I was being effective. I asked myself what attribute was I bringing to the table and how can I harness those to be effective. Abraham Lincoln and I both share the value of relationship, I would recognize that and think about how he used it. Knowing those things helped me grow as a leader.HST 110 5

So taking the lesson which were taught and analyzing a historical leader and their strengths and weaknesses I was able to analyze myself. I would find similarities and differences between myself and these historical figures and decide if we shared characteristics, if there were characteristics I wanted to strive to have. A huge characteristic that many of the leaders we did response papers on either struggled with or did successfully was their ability to recognize their strengths.HST 110 3 They would recognize or not recognize their strengths and use them to get the preferred outcome. Some were aware if they didn’t obtain a strength needed that they would reach out to someone with that strengths. That is a lesson that really resonated with me. I am now as a leader working to recognize my own strengths and weaknesses. So I will be able to more effectively reach out for help when needed and not take it all onto myself which will help me to be a better leader on CMU’s campus and in life.

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Book Review “The Element” By. Ken Robinson

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The Element

Introduction

The Element by Ken Robinson published in 2009 is a book that goes in depth on his view that creativity at an early ages is killed. Children are brainwashed into the “square” that the school systems have created. Leaving no room for children to stretch their creative, independent legs. School systems are not staying up to pace with society, as society– specifically the professional world are harnessing and thirsty for people who have embraced their unique, creativity and ability to think independently. Robinson talks about his beliefs on how kids aren’t finding their passions in school. How they completely miss the mark and make it actually less likely that students will fulfill their “element”/passion. The argument that Ken Robinson puts forth is more than the woulda shoulda coulda’s of the school systems, it’s about having lives that have purpose and meaning, in and beyond whatever work we do.

Ken Robinson an educationalist has a broad background. Being and English author, speaker (many Ted Talks), international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He was a director of the arts in Schools Project, a Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick. Aside his experiences his occupation entails being an author, speaker, expert on education, creativity and innovation, as well as holding a Ph.D.

Before starting this book I thought I knew what it was going to talk about: telling me how to find my passion. I was very curious on what it would tell me and how the little stories of other people’s experiences were going to help me find my own passion.  Of course I hoped it would answer my question of “what is my passion”, “is the passion I have right now really my passion?” Obviously it didn’t blatantly tell me what my passion was. Yet, it did walk me through on how not to close any doors, to open up my mind. That I am unique and I don’t have to fit into a box. I can be many different things and no matter what, there is something to help harness my passion as long as I open and accept that door.  As I first started reading with the perspective of leadership I didn’t quite understand how this could help me as leader. Once I got into the book more I realized why I was very wrong. The moment I came to the realization is when Robinson says, “The only way to prepare for the future is to make the most out of ourselves on the assumption that doing so will make us as flexible and productive as possible.” Which he explains is the finding of our element “the place where our natural aptitude meets our personal passion.  Furthermore, it depends on our attitudes and opportunities”, he sums it up as, “I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity).” As a leader the more you know about yourself the better you can lead. To be able to know how to find your passion and harness it only makes you stronger. To not only find it in yourself but to help others find there’s, is a leadership skills I consider not typical but very beneficial. It is a leadership I strive to have. Reading this book will get you one step closer to finding and understanding your own element, which gets you closer to helping others do the same.

Key concepts

This book is very elaborate. It talks very much in depth about “The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.” How when you find your element you’ll feel the most yourself, most inspired and achieve at your highest levels. The take away from this book can be broken done into four sections. I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity).

  1. Intelligence and creativity are not limited. Instead of asking how intelligent we should be asking how is that person intelligent. Also how everyone is creative in different ways, finding creativity sometimes is finding our medium to help us find our element. Robinson also gives examples of people who have harnessed and pursued their intelligence and creativity. (I get it (Aptitude))
  2. Then to find support groups who share the same element as you. How obstacles may come in our way, we have to hurdle them to pursue our element. We also have to keep an open mind to allow us to see the opportunities available to us every day and it’s ok to ask for help. (I love it (Passions)), (I want it (Attitude))
  3. Coming to the end, he showed how it is never too late “while our bodies definitely will age, our minds do not have to.” He gives examples of people that took years to find their element ad pursue them. Then even goes to talk and give examples how some may find passion in things that they don’t get paid to do. (I want it (Attitude)), (Where is it(Opportnity))
  4. Bringing it full circle he talks about how standardized testing isn’t the way. We shouldn’t be having standardized education, we should have individualized education. His lasting print he wants to make is his idea of Elemental Education.  “In fact, the real challenges for education will only be met by empowering passionate and creative teachers and by firing up the imaginations and motivations of the students.” So future generations can find their element earlier. They can pursue and grow their passions to their full potential. (I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity)).

These four components are walking you through the whole journey of finding your passion/ “element” how to pursue it and grow it, how no matter how long it takes you if you don’t get paid you should pursue it and then it ends wanting you to be aware and take action for future generations and their journey to find and grow their element.

Application to student leaders (three paragraphs)

This book has broadened my leadership frame. Not only is their specific leadership philosophies and “ways” but the pursuit of finding how your true element can change everything. Whether your find a hub with people who share the same passion. Where you together can make a huge difference, or you help others find and grow their own element. It has prepared me as a CMU leader to know everyone has their own element whether they have found it or they haven’t and to be aware of that. Understanding that can only make you a stronger leader.

This book wasn’t easy to read it takes a bit too fully grasp the content of the story. The mini stories do get redundant, which made it hard for me to get in the rhythm of the book. As I worked my way through it was easier for me to put the full puzzle together. If you’re looking for a book to help guide you to help others and yourself find their element the book is a great tool. So with that for me it depends on the person if I would recommend it to them or not. It heavily talks about the wrongs of the education system which I feel strongly towards but could be very dry and boring to others.

After reading this book I will approach many things differently. The way I looked at it is I want to encourage others to color outside the lines. Find your element “color” and scribble that sh** everywhere and to love every second, because finding your passion changes everything.

President Ross Reflection

I had no idea what to expect when going into class when President Ross came to speak. I’ve heard so many good, amazing things about him. I was very intrigued to see what kind of approach he was going to take with his presentation and how he was going to impact my leadership. He came into our class and was so relaxed and truly cared about what we stand for as an Leadership Advancement Scholar (LAS) and the Leadership Institute (LI). He spoke about his past and how he got to where he is today. How he went from poverty to president. He spoke about what he stood for and believed in. He talked about himself, but not for long he truly wanted to hear from us. He wanted to honestly answer our questions. Everything from what would the best Christmas present be, which he said world peace, to what do you believe is the best leadership quality to have is and he said to be passionate. President Ross’s presentation inspired me that no matter how low you’re at to always strive for your dreams. Take full advantage of everything that comes you’re way.

Debate Reflection

Within the course, along with many interesting, helpful components some points in the semester the classes didn’t seem to flow and got very choppy. I had a hard time seeing where you were going with the lessons. By that I mean they didn’t seem relevant to what I thought we were supposed to be talking about. I didn’t start feeling that way until the middle of the semester. The beginning was fine just learning the history and the background information, but in the middle I lost the direction, until getting to the debates which I was able to see the relevance and the flow came more apparent. Along with the debates, I would have really appreciated if we took a day to quick like practice runs, like mock debates. Having volunteers come up and do a mock of what will be happening. With the debates and getting prepared I felt like I was running in the dark. We had the information to prepare us sufficiently but didn’t feel fully prepared which I believe a practice run just quickly acting through it would have helped greatly!
There is a lot more to debates than I knew. A lot of preparation and research as well as getting in tune with your public speaking confidence. This class prepared me fully to gather the information and find a direction to persuade my audience. Learning about ethos logos and pathos to start our knowledge working through to creditability. Learning about how to debate will be very beneficial in the rest of our lives. Many people it is very hard to get up in front of a group of people and give a presentation not only putting yourself on the line with a debate. I have never taken part in any sort of debate before this class. So going into the debates I was very nervous, I learned that I had to be very prepared and learned to talk on my toes and to trust my preparation. Which are all skills that will help me in my future career in public relations, but weren’t quite all there at the beginning of the semester. The most surprising thing to me about learning and doing debates was the fact there were different types and styles of debating. Different ways to have essentially a conversation and persuade them to believe what you believe, get on your side. Whether it be cross examining, or going through the stock issues they were all components that I had no idea where apart of debates. I thought all you had to do was go up and talk, or even yell at each other. All in all the benefits I gained for debating in class was being able to learn to be more confident in myself. Being able to debate gives people the opportunity to learn to step out of their box, and to be confident with their words which is essential to be successful in this day and age.
Throughout this course there were many lessons that I could see would be very relevant to my future career and life in general. Learning how to look for creditability and how to be a critical thinker is an extremely valuable skill. On top of that being able to look into a debate, even if it isn’t a formal debate, for example debated societal conversation and be able to understand to look at both sides, which is an attribute that is very helpful to have in life when having to make decisions potentially voting for our next president, not just deciding on which tie you like better. All of those lesson were topics that are not only helpful, but were interesting. For instance when we watched the movie on steroids in society is when I really learned to open my mind to both sides of the story and started to form my own opinion which is important when being a contributor to society.

PSY 100L Reflection

Going into PSY 100L I thought I knew all what to expect. I took psychology in high school and I really enjoyed the material and the thought provoking concepts and theories. I went through it pretty easily. In college I was quick to find out that things were obviously very different, faster pace, topics in much more depth, and had to memorize way more than in high school. It was a rocky start with all that being asked and trying to get a hang of things. Dr. Prewitt also asked us to put all these concepts in terms of leadership, which brought the in depth thoughts to another level. At the start it was hard to find the connection on how these concepts could help impact my leadership. Even though the beginning was rocky it all slowly tied itself together. The pace became normal and the depth of the conversations were able to be grasped a lot easier. About half way through the semester I was able to apply some of the concepts of how to better myself as a leader. The class as a whole was eye opening and not only by the amazing ways of the human brain, but the ability to better understand yourself and the emotions and aneurisms we deal with everyday, leader or not. Knowing that information and how it works, gives us the ability to understand more about how people may react, and the knowledge to have more awareness as they are going through situations, giving us the ability to better lead them. At the end of the semester we were required to write a 15 page paper on certain concepts of psychology and how they connect to leadership. Yes, I knew that we were taking this class for a reason and started to apply the concepts to my everyday leadership, but not until writing that paper did everything for the first day of class tie together. It resonated with me that I learned so much about not only leadership, but what kind of leader I want to be and what kinds of things will help and hinder me to getting there. Through the ups and downs of the course it ended on a positive note really inspiring me to be the best leader I can be.

Mentor Mentee Retreat 2014

The mentor mentee retreat at Eagle village was an experience that was nothing what I was expecting, but turned out to be an experience that was life changing. Building a relationship with a mentor is something I have never done before. With everyone saying that you are going to be best friends and they will always be for you and so on and so forth made be nervous. Going to the retreat gave us the opportunity not only to become closer as friends, but learn about each other on a deeper level. Build the trust and understand that make our relationships special. I was blessed with an amazing mentor Seve Moralaz, we are two very different people and have different perspectives on life, but yet are very similar. Our relationship grew stronger through the retreat. Beside the relationship with my mentor, relationships between my fellow cohort and their mentors grew. We had the opportunity to be in groups with other mentors and their mentees while working through leadership activities. That being one of the first experiences working with so many very strong leaders and being able to work with them and take in their perspectives were eye opening and rewarding. As it was happening could feel myself taking mental notes on what kind of leader I want to be. I learned so much about myself as a leader. I learned my strengths, as well as my weaknesses and how to harness those to become the leader I want to be.

Leadership Safari

All the animals in the Safari!
All the animals in the Safari!

When I think back to Safari 2014, it was so much more than learning leadership. It was the start of college. It marked the start of a new chapter in my life. That week before everyone else in the university got there we moved in. I met my best friends. Got no sleep because we stayed up until dawn getting to know each other, laughing until we cried, talking till our voices were gone, and making connections I’ll have for the rest of my life. Than woke up at the crack of dawn to start the day of festivities. The main aspect of safari were almost just as memorable. It was a nerve wrecking experience at the start. You get put into a group of strangers and are told “oh you’ll be sharing your deepest thoughts, and become your most vulnerable with these people sitting around you”. All you can think is “uhh no you guys are crazy”, but that exactly what you do. I remember making the conscious decision that this experience will be what I make it. I could sulk and complain about being tired and that I’ve done all these activities before, or I could step up, be a leader and help my group leader make a family out of our group. To make this an experience that not only impacts our lives in a leadership aspect, but was fun for everyone. I realized the more I personally opened up that everyone else in my group would open up as well. Every day we would take part on activities that tested our ability to work as a team. We learned the importance of communication and trust. Beside learning and practicing leadership traits we spoke about ourselves. How we as now college students on our own will impact this university. How we can be successful in college and life. We listened to motivational speakers that inspired me to be a better me. To make goals and follow my dreams. Speakers who taught us how to not be afraid to be ourselves and to meet new people and to step out of our comfort zones. There we also just fun performers like the Asia Project, a performance that brought everyone in the stands to tears. Comedians, illusionists and more. We met hundreds of people and laughed, sang, mooooooooosed, wobbled, cried, and learned to trust and respect. At the end of activities or speakers we would debrief. Talk about how they made us feel. We shared personal stories that connected, or how it made light bulbs go off in our heads. Find that new perspective on an idea/concept. Safari was an experience I will never forget. I couldn’t imagine going into college without it. I felt so much more confident, and acclimated once classes started. I learned so much about myself, and as crazy as it sounds I learned about life. I got blessed with a group that opened up and we were able to get the full experience out of Safari 2014 (Tasmanian devil for life!).