Tag Archives: Challenge Yourself

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.

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Travel is the Ultimate Inspiration

Sunday July 3

The next big adventure came right the next day bright and early. This time it was specifically with the class we are taking. As a class we are headed to Pienza and Montepulciano. The focus of the trip was wine and cheese, awesome right?! Our first stop was Pienza. It is an adorable little town somewhat on top of IMG_2777a hill there were a few steep climbs but nothing extravagant. The architecture was mainly a gothic style with “a lot of symmetry” according to Giovanni our professor. One thing I thought was particularly interesting regarding the architecture wIMG_3277as that everything was measured from an individual’s body. Whether it was their wing span or the length of their foot, it wasn’t “set in stone” like it is now a day. So the arches and pillars had no exact measurements! The church was beautiful, but this tiny quaint little town was the start of another day of amazing views!! My group was responsible for doing a presentation of the landscaping of Pienza and Montepulciano. We had to observe and focus our trip on the landscaping, which was not a hard task what so ever. The buildings and towns are wonderful, but what truly takes my breath away are views, the hills with olive groves, vineyards, and golden wheat everywhere.IMG_3318 This area of Pienza and Montepulciano is known for its views, it is known to have been an inspiration to artists from the renaissance and still today in modern pIMG_3293hotography. With the temperatures and soil conditions perfect for growing olive trees and grapes for vino it makes for their label of having some of the best in Italy.

 

The main reason we were in Pienza was for pecorino cheese (sheep cheese). After walking around the very small town and looking in a bunch of cute little shops, looking the view, and getting the architectural and historical low down from Gioni. We had to meet him in the cheese store where we tried three types of pecorino cheese (more like different flavors and ageing locations). One that was aged in straw, one aged in a cave, and one aged in sun dried tomatoes. They were all surprisingly different. The location of the aging played into how dry it was how, salty, and how fast the cheese matured. My favorite was the cave cheese. It was soft of the outside rim and a dryer on the inside with some “pockets” they called it. Very yummy. We then headed to Montepulciano were we got to see the beautiful views the city on a “hill” (actually a mountain…), which felt like a mountain with a capital “M” MOUNTAIN to walk allllllllll the way to the very top in the crazy heat with plans to get to lunch at a wine cellar. Where after a wait we got to have a wine tasting!(my first wine tasting!).

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straw closed to you then cave them sun dried tomoato

We then headed to Montepulciano were we get to see the beautiful views the city on a “hill” , which felt like a mountain and walk allllllllll the way to the very top in the crazy heat to get to lunch at a wine cellar where we got to have a wine tasting!(my first wine tasting!).IMG_3284

 

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On the hike, other than the views and the fact that my thighs were burning from the climb, and my shoulders from the sun the views were stunning! On the way up the mountain  we found out that this city was were Eclipse from the Twilight saga was filmed!Even though the hike, literally, had just began. We continued to walked up and up and up and up and up some more. Then up again it was NUTS!!!! We visited a beautiful church and at the top (which we FINALLY made it to ) a castle with an adorable park on the outside.IMG_3348

 

 

 

After what felt like forever waiting in the park it was time to go to the wine cellar where we walk into this tiny little win shop. I’m thinking there is no way this wine tasting is going to work in here with 30 students! We walking in further and there is this tin spiral stair case that goes down and down and down. And as we go down further and further it gets chillier and chillier. Then all of a sudden BAM! It’s a wide open HUGE wine cellar with GIANT! barrels of Chianti wine (the DOCG wine they are famous for). The pictures truly explain how the lunch and wine tasting went. The room was amazing, the lunch was amazing (we got awesome lasagna), the barrels were amazing, there was also a tomb (random I know, but the owners of the tomb hid refugees and apparently a mother and a father from a high ranking family were buried there.)The whole experience in Pienza and Montepulciano was truly an unforgettable one.

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After what felt like forever waiting in the park it was time to go to the wine cellar where we walk into this tiny little win shop. I’m thinking there is no way this wine tasting is going to work in here with 30 students. We walking in further and there is this tin spiral stair case that goes down and down and down in the earth and it get chillier and chillier. Then all of a sudden BAM! It’s a wide open HUGE wine cellar with GIANT barrels of Chianti wine (the DOCG wine they are famous for). The pictures truly explain how the lunch and wine tasting went. The room was amazing, the lunch was amazing (we got awesome lasagna), the barrels were amazing, there was also a tomb (random I know but the owners of the tomb hide refugees and apparently a mother and a father from a high ranking family were buried there.

I feel like that is where I hit my wine knowledge mile stone, where I actually know how to “properly” taste wine and finally having red wine that is good! To top it off when we returned to Florence we adventured to a new part of town finding a restaurant with enormous margaritas and great quesadillas ( i know weird fod choice when in Italy but it was a nice change). Then to end the night sitting at the Duomo at night still awe struck by IMG_3353its beauty. (PS, Florence at night is like Florence  at 8 am, people are all out walking around with friends and strollers, at like 12:30pm kids are still out walking with their parents no big deal because they could be walking home from dinner it’s super bizarre.) All the streets and squares are completely lit, it’s very safe which is AMAZING so going to the Duomo at 12:30pm from dinner is completely safe and wonderful, because it’s not packed with tourists and blazing hot. (Yes, I’m cool enough to be annoyed by the tourist, because I now know my way aroundish and totally live there haha)

 

 

 

 

“And then I realized ADVENTURES are the best way to learn”

6/29/16

Well the tired is sinking in we’ve been so go go go. I haven’t really realized how much we’ve done till today. We woke up and went to class where we learned all about Tuscany food wine and culture (shocker right) it was fascinating! We start the class with some Italian. We worked on introduction conversation today: How are you?–> Come stai?, goodà bene, and you?–> E tu?, not bad/so soà casi casi, what is your nameà come ti chiami?, my name is_____–> Mi chiamo Kate. Then we talked about the Tuscan Estrusans history and their impact on Italy they were the start of the mediteranian diet of mainly wine, fish, oil, and grain. In the frescas on the walls they were able to figure out what they ate (old paintings on walls). We also talked about the main cooking traditions of both north and south Italy and what they are known for! He paired each with a fascinating story which made things so clear. Then we talked about the best and most appreciated wine in Italy called Montalcino. Then we went into the history and impact of the Medici “mea-di-chi” family on Italian culture and society. We shaped up to days lecture with conversation on how Italian cuisine has effected French cuisine, the renaissance (rinascimento) of Italy, and the resurrection (Risorgimento) of Italy. It was the period were cooks and artist worked to inspire Italians to come together and fight against invaders and become one. Where in 1861 they became a country!!

Then we moved into the next part of class going over seasonality and taking our new knowledge to the market

to take pictures as well as visit a bakery were we tasted three kinds of breads. 1. Tuscan bread, which is bread with no salt (made to make crispy and put bruschetta on, or a salty meat. Oil and spices like you get at Italian oven isn’t a thing here it’s like something Americans decided was Italian) 2. Schiacciata, which is a very salty bread, 3. Coccoli fritti (its fried salty bread that you cut in half and put prochutto (a thinly sliced meat) and cheese it was awesome!!. After Jenna and I went to the market and went to get fruit and I ate the best peach I have ever eaten!!!IMG_3247 After we went to get lunch and sat and had a great time. The pictures say enough…

Later we ventured to the Ponte Vecchio, which means Old Bridge” in Italian – it is the most famous bridge in Florence and undoubtedly one of the city’s most illustrious landmarks. It was beautiful and nothing of what I expected. The bridge is know for its high high end jewelry. To actually stand there and realize that there were stores lining both sides of the bridge that were selling jewelry so expensive i could pay for almost a full semester of my college education with. Let that fact sink in for a second…IMG_3221IMG_7943

We than stumbled upon the Uffizi Gallery (we decided not to go in yet so when we go we can spend more time) The plaza center of the Uffitzi had tons of crazy talented artist everywhere. You continue to walk and this is what we found.

We all started to hit the wall tired and were regretting not taking a siesta we tried to get to Gonzo (the school restaurant were we have tokens for) for dinner but they were closed. So instead we found this sweet restaurant called.

Not feeling great after today. It was a long hot one we are realizing we need to drink A LOT MORE WATER!!!!

Because when you stop and look around this life is pretty amazing. -Dr. Suess

6/28/16

Well…. My feet are so swollen!!! We have walked and average of 8 miles a day while we have been here and 20 flights of stairs… Just let those numbers sink in 18,450 steps… but i burned off this beautiful breakfast.IMG_2939Today was our first day of class and it was awesome. It’s going to be a lot of work but we are going to learn a crazy amount of information about food wine a the culture of Italy thats for sure. Yes, pinch me it is exactly like it sounds we have lecture and a lab every day.

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First day of school picture!!

For example today we had lecture and he took us to the market and taught us all about different foods and how we are going to be learning about seasonality (what foods are in season is very important knowledge in Italy as it is healthier and cheaper). He showed us the famous lampredotto “lamp-ray-doe-toe” stand (a sandwich filled with the fourth stomach of a cow!!) Lampredotto is the most tender stomach of the cow as it is the last stomach that digest their food.  They cook it in a broth and put it in a sandwich like a pulled pork sandwich and they put a spicy oil sauce and a sweet oil sauce on it with lots of salt on the best ciabatta bread I’ve ever tasted. I ate it! And it was pretty good!!IMG_7840

We then walked to the second floor of the market where they had a bunch of little “kiosks” as they called it, but really they are just a bunch of little store fronts (like a mall food court with some of the best freshest food in Florence. We walked around and got to taste fresh mozzarella (nothing can compare). We then went to the school facilities and set up everything we needed for class and booked our first mini trip (educational field trip not with our class) to Modena and Parma for this Saturday we are very excited!! Afterward we went back to the market to actually shop for our first meal to make at home! We walked around and tried to piece together a good meal.

We deciding to get a chicken breast and these beans which we ended up not really knowing how to cook and we wanted the get a zucchini ( I messed up and grabbed a cucumber/ cetriolo in Italian, I totally had no idea) but we found out that cucumbers where in season and they were bomb!! We also bought a bottle of sparkling red wine (sparkling wine is very popular we even met a man eating the lampredotto stand who showed us/recommended sparkling water with a regular red wine to stay hydrated in the crazy heat we decided he was genius!! The other popular white sparkling wine is called prosecco). We walked home and made dinner which turned out very good. We still don’t know what kind of bean we ate but we tried baking them, then sautéing them and even boiling them and they like wouldn’t cook! We figured out we think we have to take the very tough waxy outside off and just cook the inside bean. We just ate them like edamame and it worked out great. The chicken also turned out great with the fresh olive oil and herb salt mixture we also bought.

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First dinner made at home was successful!

After a successful dinner we got the news that Olivia’s luggage had made it and we went to pick it up!! After bringing her luggage home we though I was necessary to celebrate so we got gelato and then walked to one of the bridges to watch the sunset which was beautiful. IMG_7886At this point were exhausted but went home and tried a famous drink called lemoncello, which is like a lemonade liquor that is very very sweet and strong. Along with that I learned how to play eurcher!!! It was another huge and long day!

Ciao!!!

Dublin Ireland

So today technically is my 4th day abroad and damn has it been crazy I am currently on a plane on my way to Munich with an hour layover then on a plane to Florence Italy! This journal is kind of my recap of Ireland, but I may work backwards and as I comes to my brains so I’m going to apologize before I get going (we all know my brain goes fast and in many directions sometimes. hehe oops )

I’m going to start off with yesterday. We went to the Cliffs of Moher (5/25/16) and it was truly breath taking you couldn’t take a photo that captured how beautiful it actually was…IMG_7602

The bus ride from Dublin left early in the morning and took 4 hours! The one positive thing about the four hour drive was that I got to see a ton of the country side. Once we got out of the city it was green like bright beautiful green (like when you put polarized sunglasses on an every color gets richer, but this time you didn’t need the sunglasses it just was).IMG_3035 Farms with walls made of tons of stones that were stacked and magically fitting together. They would be around homes and gating in cows and horses and sheep and a lama (I only saw one though). The hills were rolling and beautiful you would look around and see tons of squares all up and down the hills everywhere of different color rich green marking off different farm properties. Then all of a sudden you would see a random castle ruin standing in the middle of a field with cows IMG_3037around it like it was no big deal (id geek out and take a picture  J ). Another thing you really notice not just on this bus ride but all through Ireland they roads are super narrow with no shoulder at all it was either the edge of a cliff our bushes or trees. The busses and cars sometimes have to take turns going through some spaces because they would hit if they went side by side. These huge charter bus drivers and city bus driver were all masters at the Ireland bus driving craft it blew my mind. Turning and backing up and all around, maneuvering massive buses in small crowded fast pace cities, country roads, and little ocean towns where I literally could touch the little stores if I would of stuck my hand out the window. It was NUTS!!!

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Not even close to showing how tight things were
I had to close my eyes a few times. I watched the country side for a long time to the cliffs before I completely crashed. The night before Day 2 Friday (24th) Night (Thursday being the first day) we went on a pub crawl after a long rainy day of a hop on hop off tour. The hop on hop off tour was essentially a perfect gig. We bought a ticket that would allow us to go to any stops on a loop that covered both the old and the new parts of the city. From trinity college, Guinness factory, an operating whiskey distillery, non-active Jameson whiskey distillery, all the churches, and parks, statues, the zoo, museums, the famous jail (Gaul they call it, which tripped me up), and so much more.

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Gravity Bar on the 7th floor of the Guinness Factory. Happy to find out i do enjoy Guinness beer! the tour had a 360 view overlooking Dublin and the  Mountains

 

 

 

The tickets were good for a 48 hour period. It rained really hard and since we walked such a huge chunk of the city the first day (we were there getting lost and turned around a lot but we learned where we were going) so we rode the bus for a while were all the drivers had an active talking role to tell us all about the history of the homes buildings, parks and everything in between while we were dry and sitting, it was super cool! IMG_7304IMG_2979Some fun facts that stuck with me were like the famous man who said the best one liner “women just need to be loved not understood” was born there. Trinity College is known for its famous writers. They have had 2 people win the noble peace prizes and one other person in something sciency I can’t remember. All I can say is that it is very impressive. Beside their famous writers Trinity holds the book of kells (one of the oldest religious books, written on presses dried pig skin). Unfortunately when we wanted to go see it the library and the book of kells exhibit were closed 😦 so I didn’t get to learn as much as I wanted to about the books of kells and the library (which they add a half mile of shelving every year!) That was one things that I really wanted to see that I wasn’t able to. Funny enough though was the reason it was closed was because Joe Biden our vice president was in Dublin speaking they were have some reception for him in there… the city was crazy (Joe Biden and they were prepping for a gay pride parade). But that and the Wickilow Mountains will bring me back there for sure! That night we met up with our new friend Daniel who has been essentially traveling the world by himself and is doing his first pub crawl!! Dublin (Temple Bar Area) is like Nashville full of music and a great time!

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The Famous Temple Bar
Now that I’ve already decided to just write how my brain is absorbing all that happened the past few days. Now I’ll give you the scoop on the Cliffs of Moher. So after crashing for two hours I woke up to be welcomed by a gas station in Moneygall called the Barack Obama! Like What?! Jenna Olivia and I were so confused.IMG_3033 Goes to show though that Obamas ancestors lived there in Moneygall with the name O’bama and he himself went there to visit a couple years back so obviously that means they get to have a Obama themed gas station hahaha so weird.

We had two hours left of the drive with more beautiful scenery. The houses were very interesting to me some were brick some were painted concrete but most had little round sun rooms off the the sides, and a front stoop the projected form the home and some of the wealthier homes had decorative white trick forming the front of the house and these wall/arch type things like a façade that would connect the house to a garage separate from the house. The newer styles had lots and lots of windows which I though was also very neat and beautiful. We finally arrive in a town called Claire next to Doolin where the Cliffs were at. It was a very busy place people from all across the world! We started our climb and when you first see the cliff it takes your breath away, it looks like a photo/postcard or painting. We stood there and stared over the stone wall for a few minutes to take it in then started our adventure!IMG_3060 We trekked up a paved walk way to a point with a castle then we came to the point where there would no longer be a wall protecting us from the edge of the cliff. We looked at the warning sign and trekked on!IMG_3097
We said a little prayer that none of us would slip to our death in this majestic place (Jenna and Olivia did slip but caught themselves). We took in everything it was unbelievable. Then we moved back to the bus and went to the small beach town of Doolin where we boarded a Ferry Cruiser that took us on an hour long cruise to see the cliffs!!!!

if you look close a few of my pictures feature the rocks from the movie in the pivitl scene of the fonding of the first holcroucx!!

Waking up early the next day we headed to the airport for our next adventure Florence Italy!! Ireland I Love You more than I thought I would! I will see you again soon, but Italy here I come!!!

PS I am in Florence  now as i send this post sitting in my apartment on the the fifth floor looking at the peak of the Duomo!!!! Ill post tomorrow about how cool this place is!!! Look at my first meal in Florence!!IMG_3163 (1)

Ciao!!

Crunch Time! T-Minus 60 hours and 10 minutes

Well…. The adventure is about to begin. In 60 hours and 10 minutes my plane to Dublin Ireland will take off! Dublin is my first stop on a 45 day adventure of a life time! 4 days will be spent in Dublin then, me and two of my friends Jenna and Olivia (I’m sure you will hear about and see them in pictures)  we will be headed to Florence Italy to begin our 6 week Food Wine and Culture class! (pretty crazy hu!)florence

Long story short right now, and for the past couple of days I am trying to figure out what kind emotions I’m feeling. Nervous/sad for leaving the US and my family, boyfriend and friends, excited out of my brains for the trip that I know will change my life. The trip that is still so serial the it is even happening!

For the most part I feel ready. Ready to be there! I’m somewhat packed… (I’ll finish tonight), but I have everything I need (I’m a major pre-planner). All I really have to do is the hardest thing, and that saying goodbye. So many  mixed feelings!!dublin-ireland

From here out this is the blog that will be one of many many more!! If you’re reading this you’re probably family or friends that want to share this life changing experience with me and I can’t thank you enough for supporting me and joining me on this life changing experience. I will take you through Dublin and all across Italy sharing as much as I can (I’m a talker so brace yourself!) If you want to be notified when I post on the home page on the left hand side if you scroll down there will be a button that says follow press that and you will be able to receive emails when I post!!

Ciao!

 

Shaping People Shaping Business

The beginning of my sophomore year was the beginning of a new chapter I had decided. I changed my major and enter in to the business school and was ready to get involved in an organization that would enhance my professionalism to be better prepared for the business world. Human resources being my chosen major I looked into SHRM the Human resources group on campus and every time I tried to make it to a meeting it would never work. The pieces weren’t falling in to place. Then one day as I walked through Grawn the Business College building there was a student booth setting up handing out lanyards, sunglasses, and handing out candy (honestly the original reason I stopped was for a jolly rancher). The poster board they were presenting said on the top in big bold letters ALPHA KAPPA PSI- Professional Business Fraternity – Next Generation of Principled Business Leaders. It really caught my eye, I wanted to be a part of the next generation of principled business leaders, and that started it all.cest akp

Next thing I knew I was in full swing of the AKP pledging process. Learning their traditions, resume critiques, presentation skills, interviewing skills ect. AAKP girlsll preparing me to be more prepared for the business world. The process was long and a lot of work but right in front of my very own eyes I saw change in myself. I was learning more and figuring out more what I want to do for the rest of my life, my values, how the organizations alumni base and collection membership experiences will benefit me, and how I wanted to make a difference in the organization. Not even mentioning the friends I have met through this process and akp made itbeing able to have the best Big ever, I am never short of people to ask for help and advice.

This Spring being my first active semester as a member I was given one of the most important positions in the fraternity. I was corporate relations co-chair, I worked with my chair and CMU Career Services to put on the Alpha Kappa Psi Career Fair.jump start your career Where this year we hosed 145 companies and over 1500 students. This opportunity to plan an event of such magnitude, and to work with employers was an experience of a life time. Now as I was a co-chair this coming Fall of 2016, it will be my turn to head up the event, which I am very excited about.

Alpha Kappa Psi Career Day
Alpha Kappa Psi Career Day in Finch Fieldhouse

Another area within the fraternity that I am very excited to be heading is implementing actual leadership development practices into the fraternity. Leadership education is an area as a leader advancement scholar and in my everyday life that I am very passionate about. We, AKP say we develop principled business leaders, which we do with business etiquette and experience, but with no formal leadership training and education. As I make head way with this implementation and partnering with the Leadership Institute it has sparked my passion in Human Resources as I want to pursue employee training and development.

Alpha Kappa Psi is another very exciting family that I have joined and am very excited for the opportunities and doors that it will provide me in the years to come.

Mentor /Mentee Reflection

The day I chose my mentee on mentor mentee selection day I had vowed to be the best mentor, role model, friend and support system I could be, whether she wanted me sometimes or all the time. Luckily she became, and is now one of my very good friends. Our relationship is a little different than others. We not only are bonded together through a family of Leader Advancement Scholars, but we are bonded together through another family, the CMU cheer team. So, I got a different opportunity to spend a large chunk of thekatekelly summer getting to know Kelly (my mentee 🙂 ). As we worked tirelessly through two-a-days, running through the heat, stunting in the elements and laughing as we attempted to walk up the stairs and ended up crawling to bed at night. We bonded as friends and teammates first. I never tried to force my “wisdom” upon her, I continuously reminded her I am always here for you and if I don’t know the answer I will find it for you. This happened all before many of my fellow cohort even have met their mentees. When my cohort and all of our mentees got to spend that quality time getting to know each other Kelly and I had been solidifying our relationship as we went on a mentor/mentee bonding trip to eagle village. We got very lucky in the process in which we got to know each other. retreat k an kkate and kelly

To be a mentor can be hard though, it isn’t like a Greek Life Big, Little relationship. We are mentors, someone for them to come to for advice and to share their experience and knowledge of how to be a campus leader, even to learn to get through college. I could go on and on about Kelly and I’s relationship and on how I’ve been blessed with a great friend and team mate, how proud I am of her and how she has done in her school work, and pursued getting involved on campus, but that’s not the purpose of this blog.

As a mentor I really scollage k an ktrived to make sure we first had mutual respect, we don’t have a large age gap and we are going through very similar things even though I’m a year older. By having mutual respect, we both are “allowed” to confide in each other. This is a two-way relationship in which my role is to help her get acclimated, understand the ways of the LI, the introductory way to get involved on campus. With mutual respect, I can look at her as a role model, as I hope she looks at me as a role model. We learn from each of our actions as leaders as we strive to figure out who we are as leaders. I am lucky enough that we can do this together and that in the quickly passing first year I have made a great friend that I know I’ll have for many year, but someone who I have taught to not be afraid to ask questions and find answers, to be confident in herself and her leadership learning process, and she has taught me that I am still in the learning process myself and that she has my back too. This is just the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship with a girl who I am blessed to have in my life that shares some of my passions, but is open to join me on our journey together to be the next generation of ethical leaders.

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.