CMU Cheer: Trust the Journey

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As a CMU Cheerleader it is a great privilege. It takes a lot of hard work dedication and the ability to push yourself to a level you thought you could never reach. I already tried to write this blog once before and it was LONG way too long. I talked about my whole entire journey from the start to finish. I talked about the highs and the lows and the in between. It turned out to be more of a vent journal entry and I didn’t believe it embodied all I wanted to say about my experience. So I decided to sit on it for a while and have some time to even wrap my head around what I actually did to myself with my team for the past year or so. This past weekend I sat through the most beautiful 5 hour banquet that embodied the exact experience I wanted to share to all of you. Our cheer banquet highlighted MVP’s, Rookies of the Year, Spirit Awards, seniors, and our journey through nationals. We reflected all together why we do this crazy sport and put of minds and bodies though this. It’s because we love challenge, we love cheering for a school that we love more than anything, we build trust with one another that is unbreakable and we work for a single moment of 3 minutes on the national’s mat that gives you the feeling if you bottled up could power a whole city for a week or more! We become a family that will stand by your side through anything and will always be there. This crazy sport of cheer teaches you self-worth, confidence, how usually the only person standing in your own way is yourself, to reach for the stars even if you land on the moon, set goals and run after them with all you have, find passion, determination, love. Embrace pain, frustrating, let down, anger, nerves, emotions. Take it alllllll in and use it not just in cheer but your everyday life. Cheer makes you strong physically and mentally but getting there is a journey that you have to trust.

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Coming in as a rookies (first year cheering/freshman) I had no idea what to expect in a college cheer experience. High school cheer was all I knew, training to all be robots and we strived for perfection not necessarily to be the best individual we could be. To me that was fine I enjoyed the challenge that came from that, I personally found ways to push myself farther. High school cheer wasn’t for everyone. Three rounds of 1minute 30 second routines of robotic, yelling, movements. Round one motions and jumps, round 2 skills, round three tumbling and stunts (my favorite). High school cheer gave me a great foundation for college cheer. I knew body positions and where in myself to find mental toughness and determination. College cheer is a whole new story. We cheer for multiple sports teams but we also train for our national’s competition. We work months and months on a 3 minute routine. We stay at CMU over Christmas break training usually seeing our family only for a week. We do skills that look insane, we launch girls in the air, and tumble like crazy. At the end it’ll be the most amazing thing you’ll ever see but it isn’t always like that…

We start by seeing if we even make the nationals team. Myself I didn’t, I was an alternate so I would go to all the practices learn anything I could and get thrown in if anyone got hurt. It was stressful, there was no way to really prepare you for the text you get form coach saying today you’re going in. That first practice was a nightmare. I ran around the mat like a chicken with my head cut off. Trying to listen to directions of where I was supposed to go, I was excited but was terrified. Especially being thrown into a group with a vet 4th year (2 year cheering or more) flyer. With me coming in she had all rookies underneath her. She wasn’t happy and I was scared, intimidated and wanted to cry. IMG_1475Trying to find a group of 4 girls who mesh with each other to make a stunt group (a stressful period for any rookie) is a big process but being thrown into a group that doesn’t seem to want you, there is no words to describe. That is where my journey started officially.IMG_1590

My group trained and trained and pushed through pain and struggle. Turning out to be one of the most elite and consistent groups on the team–front and center. I was pushed to levels I never thought could be at physically and mentally. I pushed through my flyer and back spot getting hurt 2 weeks before nationals. My base and I forming a bond that will never sever.IMG_1521 Together physically and emotionally had to go through a week and a half I wish I could forget. To them coming back and putting on a show of a life time. Taking 5th in nation in semi’s to 9th in the nation over all out of 20+ teams. IMG_1506 IMG_1520A place the CMU All Girl Cheer hasn’t been at in years. It made every hour in the gym worth it. Every hit to the face, bump, bruise, tear, frustration and feeling like it wasn’t possible worth it. We made CMU Cheer history by taking both and All-Girl team (Me) and a Large Coed team to nationals and both making it to finals. IMG_1486We are now one of the top 40 schools to cheer at in the nation. I am a part of the family that all together wants to make this program and themselves better. I get to be a part of the start of huge pivotal changes in this program and wouldn’t change it for the world. I am and always will be a better person from this experience and I thank my coaches and this team for that. I bleed maroon and gold, CMU Cheer and everything this program stands for. FIRE UP CHIPS!!!IMG_1512

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LAS in the D Post Trip: We RISE by Lifting OTHERS

I had the opportunity to go on a service learning trip with my Leader Advancement Scholarship cohort members, a trip we call LAS to the D 2015. The Leadership Institute (LI) supports all 40 some of us on a weekend that changes our life. We leave that Friday afternoon all packed up on the charter bus in our Khakis and colored t-shirts, excited and ready to rock and roll. Our first stop was to Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

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A Charter school that is supported by our University Central Michigan University. We were going to them to meet with their freshman and sophomore advisories to lead them in leadership activities. Activities such as a game called gutter ball, which each students gets a wooded gutter, they only can hold it with their thumb and pinky. The goal is to work as a team and get a marble all the way across the room to the facilitator’s hands. With the hope that these students grasp some concepts of leadership, like: communication, teamwork, adaptation, open mindedness. Then later that afternoon we worked with two clubs/groups within the school PIOLT and BUTTA students, which were essentially mentors to younger students and trained to lead by example. We worked with them in hopes to train them to facilitate leadership activities as we did.

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After Facilitating with Jalen Rose Leadership Academy we drove to Ford Field were connected was and advertising company called Lowe Campbell Ewald. They’re a Michigan based company that came back to Detroit after leaving to come and support the local economy. They only purchase Michigan products, and only hire Michigan employees as well. We went to Lowe Campbell Ewald to experience the other spectrum of Detroit (the higher end). It represented hope and a future for the Detroit economy. las in the d 7 las in the d 3We then had the amazing opportunity to get a behind the scene tour of Ford Field. One of the large icons in Detroit. After the Ford Field tour and having dinner we went to The Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA). An opportunity for myself and my classmates to experience one of the best art museums in the country. Looking in all kinds of exhibits everything from Edgar Degas’s sketch exhibit to a photography exhibit lAS IN THE D 10of Detroit citizens and they’re stories. We then went in stayed on the center of downtown Detroit at the CMU Global Campus outreach center. Where all 40+ of us crawled into our sleeping bags on the floor getting ready for another big day. We woke up bright and early and got ready to volunteer with a Detroit founded non-profit organization called the Motor City Blight Busters. A non-profit organization that was started by a local man of the town who took charge. With some help of a few who saw the same goal and some passion. Together they made an organization that works for the betterment of the community. Whether it be tearing a house down, boarding a house up, planting flowers, starting gardens, helping local citizens reach their dreams, helping local las in the d 2kids either give back or have a place to go. Blight Busters are definitely not short of giving back. We went and worked with them on the next step of a big project. They tore down some drug houses and wanted to make a farm. We worked on the step of putting the mulch down. You have to do that before you can put the manure down then another layer of mulch and then one layer of manure then vwa-la a farm! Blight Busters promo video with LAS 2014. Here is also the University Communications Press Release of our trip LAS in the D 2015.

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The most eye opening part of the trip for me was working with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy Students. I personally had no idea what to expect. Many thoughts were going through my mind. Once we got there the first thing I noticed were small flags on the walls with Ivy League schools names and crest on them. These flags lined the hallways. I was kind of taken back, not really sure why they would put such prestigious schools flags in their hallways. I was quick to find out that these students didn’t expect anything but their best in what they did. Students were actually attending these universities. We then got with our groups and headed to the advisory class we were assigned. The advisories were divided male and female and then by grade. Those advisory classes would be with the exact same people for the rest of their high school career. My group and I were assigned a freshman male advisory. I was sort of nervous not knowing what to expect walking into that classroom. We introduced ourselves and began with community standards. Essentially rules for our group today. I usually encourage students to think of things along the lines of “RESPECT” they want everyone to be respectful while we go through our activities. They caught on very quick and took it very seriously, which I wasn’t expecting. A lot of times you get group who want to say silly things. They were spitting out standards like open mindedness, challenge yourself, courage, teamwork and more. They taking in what us as facilitators had to say as well as their peers.

The first activity we did was, an ice breaker. We had a beach ball with questions on it everything from what is your leadership style, to Pepsi or Coke. This is when I started to become truly blown away. These students who seemed apprehensive at the start were choosing to open up to their peers and answer deeper questions. We weren’t expecting the students to know their leadership style. One saying “I don’t want to bet e leader in the front but I want to be standing next to everyone as a role model.” Even to the question to what is on your bucket list. las in the d 17One student didn’t understand what that was, once we explained he told us her wanted to see his dad before he graduates high school. Students wanting to be like their older sister, get good grades, graduate high school. Things they were truly sincere about. They worked HARD to be where they’re at and are ready to work hard for where they want to go. Breaking into two smaller groups we started the next activity of gutter ball. Giving them the rules and objective they got started. They were all in, talking together as I gave subtle suggestions which they would dissect and try to figure out how to implement. They were growing right in front of my eyes. But then to debrief and guide the conversation of “WHAT”, what just happened, “SO WHAT” so what about this activity was important to leadership growth, “NOW WHAT” how can you implement what this activity taught you to your everyday life. That stumped them and they talked about team work and communication, the in your face answers. The lights even going out in the middle of our debrief. They didn’t even hesitate “oh that happens once a week” they kept on with our debrief. But I got to ask them about how they had to be open minded and how when faced with a challenge you had to adapt. I have never been able to facilitate such a group where they were so intrigued and absorbing my every word. They changed and grew right in front of my eyes and if we could have had just a couple more hours it would have been amazing.

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My whole LAS cohort and all involved with our LAS in the D Service learning trip displayed leadership throughout our service. Each and every one of us displayed servant leadership through our work with Jalen Rose and the Blight Busters. Focusing in specifically on one leader within our group our advisor Jesi Parker is a specific example of displaying leadership. She was guiding the rest of the group and being a role model for us to model our actions on. She is the ideal servant leader. She worked side by side with us when we were mulching for the Blight Busters leading by example and encouraging us to work hard.

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My opinion about Detroit has completely changed. In all honesty Detroit made me nervous. All the hype about how I should be on guard, which you should be in any city. After going on this trip all the stereotypes and truths about Detroit were brought up and addressed.  I was inspired to make a difference. Being there and being around meeting the students and seeing the art and the potential, you feel the love and the hope for not only a new beginning but a rebirth. They want to restore what Detroit once was and there are so many passionate people who and working to do so. Being there just ignited my passion for Detroit and all that it has to offer. I went from being apprehensive of Detroit, to wanting to embrace the beauty of all that it had to offer. I want to make positive change.las in the d 11

After this experience I feel passionate about making positive change. Being in Detroit inspires me to make positive change not just for Detroit, but also to make positive change for my own community. By volunteering for local organizations, schools, and making my home better place, by being a role model and servant leader. Blight Busters motto “think globally act locally” really hit home with me. Not only did the service trip give me an itch to volunteer and make a difference it revealed a passion of mine. After working with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy students I was reflecting to myself about how much that changed my life. How teaching/facilitating makes me so happy. I got to watch them learn about themselves as leaders through my guidance.las inthe d 14 Through just their facial expressions and body language I could see the change. Those activities and debriefing changed those students’ lives. I taught them how to bring out their inner leader, showed them confidence some didn’t know they had. I helped them grow and invaluable attribute that will only mean positive things for them. Coming to that realization I knew that I want to do this for forever!

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Pre-Service Trip: LAS in the D

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The sad truth is that Detroit has many social issues. All the social issues are all connected and when one slips it seems that they all do. The social issue I am most aware of is the population issue. I looked up the specific numbers on how much the population has gone down from 1.86 million in 1950 to 700,000 today. Which has caused social issues such as the large amount of abandoned buildings (80,000). All these components put a serious strain on the economy and the current community. The community and family life is where the strain is truly felt. The poor economy and not enough jobs makes it hard for them to make ends meat. When there is financial strain children feel the strain as well which can lead to academic hardship.

The purpose of the Leadership Institute is to prepare Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles on an increasingly complex and challenging society. Their vision  I to prepare the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work. This service learning trip experience to Detroit relates to the purpose and vision of the leadership in all aspects. On this trip we will be having the opportunity to work with Jalen Rose Leadership Academy students facilitating and training them to facilitate leadership activities and grow as leaders. We will also be partnering with the Blight Busters and doing community service through helping clean up abandon homes, landscaping ect. Those experiences relate to the purpose and vision of the leadership institute by embodying them we will be improving those in the Detroit’s community’s quality of life, their economy and their communities through the facilitation at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and working with the Blight busters. These experiences are also preparing us as citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex society.

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I think the Detroit trip will help me grow as an individual in many ways. Every time I do facilitation activities with students I learn something new. Whether it be from working on my toes or the students themselves. They always challenge my perspectives and to give them new perspectives for them to grow themselves. The service we will be doing with the blight busters will be incredibly rewarding. Any time you volunteer your time and know you are doing something so small that is contributing to something way bigger than you makes you put things in perspective of how fortunate you are and inspires you to always give back and help others in need.

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!).

Connection Conference

    • As a Leadership advancement Scholar Cohort program we attended the 2014 Leadership Conference. Within the conference we attended multiple sessions on different areas of leadership. I expected to learn about how to be a better leader, which we did but not in as point blanc way as I thought. We were given tools for us to take in as much depth as we chose to enhance our leadership as much as we chose. One of the most memorable sessions I attended was one which I was to make my mission statement, which started with identifying our objective then, making goals, long term and short term. Throughout the conference I learned that the better you know yourself the better you can lead. Than as a leader you can never stop moving forward. You always need to be reinventing yourself, always learning new things, and impacting lives. Right after the Leadership Connections Conference I put what I had learned to test I put the goals I set in place into action and holding myself to the mission statement. All which included to always reinvent myself and always learn more as a leader.

Fred Factor Project

    • The Fred Factor Project was an in class project that taught us that the little things can make the biggest difference. A smile at someone could completely turn their day right side up. We were assigned to come up with an activity, event, or a way to positively impact someone/ many people’s lives. My group decided to do a CMU Give Thanks. The idea of our project was for students or others passing by to fill out a tag explain o it what they were thankful for. Then we would tie it to the frame we had provided. This activity was to remind everyone of what they are thankful for in the holiday spirit of Thanksgiving. The goal was for everyone participating to then take the reminder of what they are thankful back home with them spreading the happiness all we have to be thankful for. Doing this activity in which I also participated in made me realize how much I was actually thankful for, and how something so small had changed not only my day, but my outlook on life. I learned that as a leader you don’t have to solve world hunger or be the head Leader of a huge company to make a difference. Leadership is so much more its being that one person to take you own time to do something as small as remind them of what they are thankful for. This will influence my future as a leader by proving to myself that I can lead every day without leading huge project all I have to do it smile to everyone. To start a ripple effect of happiness.