The Snowstorm that Ruined Everything

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

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

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

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


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.


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.

Trust the Journey

2016/2017 Started with force… especially in the world of CMU Cheer. As a program, we all had high aspirations to do big things for ourselves and our program. At the start, we weren’t quite sure how that was going to happen, but knew we wanted it. In CMU Cheer we aren’t given the title of “captain”, it isn’t voted on and labeled, but it is a responsibility that is put onto in a natural occurrence of overlapping poise, experience, drive and genuine care. You all-of-a sudden know that everyone is looking and coming to you and everyone falls in suit.

At the end of the 2015/2016 season I was awarded female MVP of the program and was utterly surprised and didn’t believe I deserved it… I didn’t lead games as game captain, I didn’t go out of my way to be the one up front, I just came into practice being me working my butt off and following through with my responsibilities. After self-reflection, I realized that is what our program is about. Our title of “captain” or a valued teammate, leader whatever you call it is given to someone that is now know I need to be confident in, and that is myself. I came in ready to work not for me but for my team, I care about the well-being of my cheer family. That internal commitment was oozing out of me and with that I earned the respect to lead and inspire my teammates to do the same.

2016/2017 season came around with force, because I learned from my obliviousness/passive leadership. I reflected on the impact I could have when I put my love for the program, experience, drive, and natural leadership qualities into more active and aware leadership style. That impact was quickly grasped by the program/ rest of my teammates and came with a lot of recalculating. I had to recalculated as I was put on a different team, small coed team.

cheer 3

Small Co-ed is still in the CMU Cheer program just means the team is compiled of two all-girl groups (flyer, two bases, and a back-spot), and four co-ed couples (male base, female flyer). This small co-ed team was made up of individuals who have the most skills on the team, we each individually brought a lot to the table. Yet, the hardest thing we faced was being a team. I have been apart of many teams in my day all with different struggles, but this team was by far the most challenging. Challenging, to me doesn’t seem like the right word, because we were very good  just lacked the energy when times get tough. That last bit of energy that is needed when you are pushing your body to its limits. That would separate us from being really good to being unbelievable! Also, the challenge in dealing with different mindsets… Majority of the male team members tended to gravitate and respond to harsher more pass or fail type of coaching/leadership. Where majority of the female team members (myself included) gravitated and responded more to discussion based coaching/leadership and positive reinforcement.cheer 1

So, for myself as a leader on the team I had to deeply identify my audience, which I have never had to do before to that degree. I had to know how each person was motivated and be able to bounce back in forth helping, guiding and motivating my teacheer 2m members on 10-14 hours practice days. Once I understood my team members and was open about how I am best motivated, as well as how I’ve notice they were motivated it opened a channel of understanding throughout our whole team.

I was able to bring strong individuals together by looking deeper into their actions and tendencies and asking them how they prefer to be motivated.  We went from being a good team to an amazing team taking 5th in the Nation, and making CMU history. We brought our individual strengths to the table and the cohesive energy needed to break into the top 10. 


2016/2017 CMU Small Co-Ed season will be one I never will forget as it challenged me as a cheerleader and a leader. 

To The Start of New Adventures

As I have not yet tied the bow up on my studying abroad experience, it was an adventure of a life time. Taking in every little moment, walking till you can no longer feel your feet, waking up early and going to bed at dawn. The girls I shared my experience with hold a part of my heart forever. We shared some of the first moments thIMG_8216at took our breathe away, laughs until we cried, and stories of our dreams and passions. For that, I will forever be indebted to them for their friendships.

Once getting home you have hundreds of thousands things swimming in your brain. All the people you want to see, the things you may have missed. You even start planning your next adventure over seas before you even get home! You reflect on how the adventure made you feel and how you, as an individual want to change. You learn so much about yourself, and at least for me, vowed to make positive personal change/improvements. I wanted to start to enjoy every moment, not wish the days away, do things because I want to not because I have to and so much more. One large thing that I took away was my career/future job/work, whatever, it doesn’t have to be my whole life. I want to love what I do and feel fulfilled with my work, but my work doesn’t have to be my soul piece of fulfillment and happiness. Yes, my family and friends with be a large source of my happiness, but I will have my career to support my love of adventures and making memories that you will never forget.

This past semester I struggled implementing my goals that I vowed myself too when I arrived home. I found myself saying yes to things I really didn’t want to say yes to, and wishing my days away. Yet, it was a semester filled with exciting beginnings: putting on the CMU 2016 Career Fair and walking away with multiple offers and accepting an internship with Domino’s headquarters. I  inducted a little into my business fraternity, and embarking on a Nationals Cheer journey on Small coed, where we walked away with a  5th place finish and making CMU history. Yet, when there are highs there can also be lows and we can’t let those lows over shine you highs. Lows like stress, family sicknesses, overworking, no sleep, not taking time for yourself etc.

This spring semester I am going to work to improve upon my goals and work to better myself. I have the amazing opportunity to be a teacher assist in a leadership theory class. Where I will be working with the 2016 Leader Advancement Scholar Cohort to help them expand their leadership knowledge. An opportunity that rolls together my passion of leadership  and mentoring/teaching.

To the next adventure!

Everybody needs a beach day

Monday July 4 and Tuesday July 5

The concept Fourth of July in Italy stumped us for a moment. I believe this is when the four of us really had our first bout of homesickness. As we got plenty of pictures of friends and family together at lakes and cottages, barbequing and enjoy each other’s company…all while we were here, in Florence, in our apartment with no air-conditioning, in the 100 degree weather, with no water but a river that is not at all a swimming river. SO with that we took it as a challenge. We’re going to the beach!

We asked around in our class and found out that Via Reggio was the best place for us to go. Train ticket was cheap, you get mountains in the background of the ocean, warm water, cute town, good gelato. Honestly all we needed to know was that there was a sand beach. We were very ready for the 4th knowing we would be on the beach but celebrating the birth of the United States of America on a beautiful beach in Italy. With that Olivia brought her American flag towel and we were off. The beach was beautiful a picture couldn’t capture it. And it was HOT! But with a perfect temperature ocean with some decent waves we needed nothing else. We walk up to the beach and it is just covered with tons and tons of umbrellas only making space for a little walk-way from the “club” to the water. The beach was divided into many clubs as you walk the shore each different color umbrella was a different beach club. So we went to the first one we saw and bought 4 chairs and an umbrella each item 5 euro. Then having to walk down to the life guard hand him the receipt and he showed us to our spot and made sure we “got what we ordered”. To all of us it was very weird… myself knowing New Jersey beaches, Jenna knowing California beaches and the other two knowing the lake routine this was very different. Finally getting settled we lay down to realize one we are melting and two we are starving. We jump into the water swam, which was like bath water the under tow was very strong but the water wasn’t deep at all maybe to my hips so we kneeled and jumped waves. We laughed the whole time. We left he water and went on our next hunt, time for food. We walked up to the club shack thing and all they had was a mini bar and some ice cream (no what we were looking for). Not knowing still to today if it was appropriate for us to do so we club hopped looking for some drinks and a sandwich. We found one after some walking and I had a delicious tuna sandwich (first time I’ve seen mayo since we’ve been here, I was pumped) with a mojito (it was like drinking the forest there was so much greenery in it). All in all it was pretty good. Heading back to the beach we were happy to find that nothing was stolen from our spot so we laid down now for a nap and for me my book :).

For the rest of the day we moved one more time to get in the water and cool down, and then for a walk where we saw a plethora of topless women and banana hammocks. We were having the Italian beach experience. Until the very end of the day we went to find some gelato to not only find gelato but to find that all of our skin was as red as red can be… IMG_3380All we could really do was laugh at this point. Jenna looked the worse later that night once we got home her red face and chest matched our red couch in the living room (it was hilarious). Until my slightly pink chest and stomach decided it wanted to blister (this was a day after I thought it was in the clear).IMG_3385

Also, the night we got home we were going to the back of the apartment to hanging our damp towels up on the line wen Angie screams and tells pretty much the whole neighborhood that there is a lizard on the screen (taking a solid three minutes to decide whether the weird flat looking lizard was inside or outside, it was on the inside). Olivia coming in for the lizard rescuer pulls out the Australian ascent and goes in with a bowl, nothing else. We’re all laughing and want the lizard out. Obviously the bowl didn’t work, then she tried to grab it with her fingers. This is when it went to extreme. She finally made contact with the fast lizard’s tail only for it to fall off! The lizard used it defense mechanism to allow Olivia to pull his tail off. She was devastated and we all squatted near the tail with no lizard attached squirm on the ground (for a solid 30 minutes it squirmed). The lizard after that was out of sight honestly we’re just hoping it went out the way it came in.

By then we were exhausted, sun drained, burned, and ready for bed. We woke up the morning of Tuesday July 5th to the burn of yesterday and the first cooking day in class!!! We got to whip out our aprons and print off our recipes and we made Pollo Con le Prugne (chicken with prunes), and Schiacciata Bianca Cappello (renaissance schiacciata with custard). Lorenzo our attractive Italian chef helping us cook this meal was extremely knowledgeable!!! Jenna and I were in charge of the custard for the Schiacciata Bianca Cappello. “This takes patience” Lorenzo said and is did he taught us the way to do it perfect and perfect it turned out!! It is a game with the heat Lorenzo states and that concept lead to him telling us all about how the temperature and timing of how we heat food makes all the difference. The chicken we cooked today was being cooked at a lower temperature to steadily bond the colognes making a moist but still fully cooked chicken breast. You don’t want to cook you meats on to high of a temperature ever or the colognes (proteins) will bond to fast and you will have dry chicken or over cooked meat. He taught us a trick to know when your meat is perfect, and gave us a tip and deep explanation on how never to preheat an oven when cooking cakes, and how to cook the perfect scrambled egg. I felt so filled with knowledge! The meal turned out unbelievable but not as filling as we had hoped.

We went home and all took a siesta, which ended up being way longer than planned, woke up starving and on the search for some lunch. We had a hard time finding a restauIMG_3387rant that was open, because they eat lunch and then close at like 3 and don’t open till like 7:30pm for dinner. We could only find a place in a piazza (tourist are always in the piazza=open on tourist times). We got our first spaghetti and sauce (meatballs aren’t really a thing here). The lunch was delicious. We walked around and shopped now in a way better mood after finally getting food!!

We met very nice restaurant owners one evening as we were walking around and decided tonight would be a great night to go and actually tryout their food. They are known for their La Bisteaka Florintine. Which is basically this huge cut of steak that gets taken our raw raw and weighed in front of us then to only be cook for 12 minutes coming out still pretty raw. We had no idea how to go about eating this thing us four looked at each other and decided it would be best to ask. They covered the meat with olive oil and told us to squeeze our lemon on it. Weirded out a little by the whole thing I was the first one to put the very raw chunk for meat bathed in olive oil and lemon in my mouth and it was AMAZING!!! Nothing else needs to be said about that dinner the steak was the highlight and I’m not sure if I can eat steak any other way.