LEAD TEAM: SOMI

This year I had the honors of serving as the CO-Chair with Hannah Rickers for the Special Olympics Michigan LEAD team. It has been my favorite and most rewarding leadership position at CMU so far. Hannah and I took a group to the 2015 SOMI Fall games, and facilitated an unified group together at the first ever Leadership Launch. The SOMI Lead Team was organized a little different this year due to the new event of Leadership Launch, and having such a time crunch from the start of the school year to the weekend of the fall games, but it ended up all working out perfectly.

The 2015 SOMI Fall Games: 

The fall games took place from September 25th – 27th located in Ypsilanti, MI. Hannah and I had trouble planning who was coming with us to the event, since only the Leadership Launch was required for our LEAD Team. The weekend also landed on a busy weekend with sorority recruitment weekend and the Michigan State VS. CMU football game at state. We tried to make sure our LEAD Team members understood the importance of this weekend, and many did end up coming with but we found more LAS members to take the place of students that could not attend. Even with last minute planning and cramming I really saw the weekend as a success. Every volunteer there was full of enthusiasm, passion, and professionalism; I was very proud of the group that came along. They showed me they truly cared about Special Olympics, and made such a difference at the games. I had a smile on my face the entire weekend because of the athletes I interacted with, as well as the outstanding personalities of our volunteers.

I was lucky enough to be one of the individuals that arrived before the games started to be a part of the Young Athlete program, which is my absolute favorite part of the fall games. The year before at Young Athletes I met a beautiful young girl named Abi who I feel in love with, and now I am still lucky enough to be in contact with her and her mother. Her mom could not attend the fall games with her this year, so we communicated to make sure I could spend the day with her at the program, since she was a very shy little girl. I was honored and excited to take care of her. We arrived a little late, but once I saw Abi we both ran to hug each other. All the teachers of her school knew I was coming, and welcomed me to hang out with Abi and her classmates. It was amazing to see the difference in Abi from a year before, she grew into a brave little girl who put a lot of trust in me. We got to play a ton of fun activities together, and her favorite was still soccer. Between each game they played music to move to the next station, and Abi and I loved to dance. Her laugh and smile was so beautiful to see, and I could not believe how much she has grown. Abi is truly an inspiration that I will never go a day without thinking about. She has inspired me to work with children, and continue to help young one’s growth and develop. I am so thankful Special Olympics has brought me to her. 

Then later that day it was Opening Ceremonies for the games, and my group of CMU students jobs were to welcome the athletes with happy and smiling facing. Many of us cheered and danced, and gave the athletes high fives as they walked into the room. It let me know that this weekend was going to be a great one. I was proud that everyone was showing so much energy and happiness, and most importantly acceptance.

Then the next day our LEAD Team was advised to volunteer with golf! Most of us were put into pairs then assigned golfers to drive around on golf carts and cheer them on as they played their round of golf. The golf course was HUGE, and beautiful, but very easy to get lost. I was placed with a female golfer named Ruth, and my volunteer pair was my mentee, Maddie. We had such a fun day getting to know Ruth. The day was full of laughter when I drove the golf cart to the wrong hole, or when we had to squeeze our three butts into a cart made for two people. We were lucky enough to let Dan Gaken capture a photo of us when we get stuck on a curb, Ruth laughed at me so hard. Ruth was also an amazing golfer, she ended up taking first place that day! Maddie and I were both so proud of her, and it was an amazing experience being a part of her day.

Then after our day volunteering with golf we got to be a part of the closing ceremonies, that was followed by a dance after that. Let me tell you, these athletes LOVE to dance. Being at the dance is way too much fun to describe. It’s a room full of so many smiles. It’s a room full of boys hitting on girls and asking them to dance, it’s just a hoot. I was lucky enough to even receive a few surprise kisses on the cheek from some athletes. I also never had an opportunity to be dancing alone, because everyone always has a part and everyone is always welcomed on the dance floor.                                   

The SOMI Fall Games is an opportunity that is hard to explain, and something you need to experience for yourself to understand. It’s a place where I found myself, and it’s a place where you are 100% accepted for who you are, and what you can do; not what you cant’t do. It’s a place where everyone loves everyone, and no one is left behind. It’s a weekend full of laughter and happiness, and I never want it to end. I volunteered with SOMI my first time freshmen year at the first ever fall games and I fell in love. I now continue to volunteer with the Special Olympics, because it’s the happiest thing to be a part of. Make volunteering with SOMI on your bucket list, you won’t regret the experience.

The 2015 Leadership Launch: 

The Leadership Launch was a new program that was created by a wonderful women named Kim Sampson. She created this event with the lovely Jesi Parker, that was accepted for approval at the SoGenUIn Summit at the World Special Olympics Games located in LA! Thanks to Kim and Jesi, Hannah and I got a be a big part of this new and improved created event. Kim envisioned an event where youth are activating youth to make a change. The Leadership Launch taught a group of unified (group with and without intellectual disabilities) students about leadership. Everyone was broken up into four different groups who went through four different group activities involving the topics of respect, inclusion, inspiration, and empowerment. 

Hannah and I facilitated the inclusion activity throughout the day, we did the (y)-knot activity. The group got into a circle, and was given a ball of yarn. The person with the yarn would have to say something about themselves, for example “I like to swim”, and then someone that likes that that too would say, “Me too!” Then you would pass the yarn to someone who had the same thing in common with you, while still holding onto a piece of yarn. In the end a huge web was created to show community and inclusion. The point was for everyone to understand we are all connected in someway. This was very cool for some students, especially for the students that tend to always feel left out. 

The thing I got out most of that day was seeing how empowered all the students were to make a change in their high school. So many of those students are left without a voice in their school and community, but still want to make a difference. When a group of students with and without intellectual disabilities comes together really creates significant change and it was just very amazing and inspiring to see. It was outstanding to see students help other students convey their thoughts and opinions, and to accept everyone’s ideas. All the students came from Michigan high schools who wanted to make a change, they want everyone to feel accepted and that’s truly life changing. A main thing we discussed throughout the day is that our generation is most accepting to people with disabilities, and that is HUGE! That is so important and so amazing, because this is the generation making the change for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. It’s truly amazing to be a part of that accepting movement.

I am so thankful and grateful for being a part of this LEAD Team and being involved with SOMI, I can’t thank the Leadership Institute and CMU for these amazing opportunities. 

Saying Hello Again

Before I start blogging again I wanted to apologize for being absent for so long. My second year at CMU has been amazing with so many ups and downs in my life, and starting today I am going to catch up all on the things I should have blog posted about earlier in the year.

The biggest change that has happened during my second year at CMU so far is actually figuring out the path I want to take for my life and future career. At beginning of the year I signed my major in Psychology and minors in Child Development and Leadership. My biggest dream has always been to work with children that have experienced neglect, abuse, and maltreatment, and at the time I thought majoring in Psychology would accomplish that dream the best. First semester (2015-15 school year) I took HDF 307: Parenting, and I fell in love with my minor. A lot of my friends always talked about how they struggle with HDF courses, but to me they were so easy – common sense almost. Also first semester I took PSY 285 – Psychological Research Methods, which was more of a struggle for me. I enjoy my psychology classes, but the research side of psychology did not really interest me at all. I felt like I was just going through to motions of a earning a Psychology degree instead of really striving in it. Than currently I am in another HDF titled HDF 211: Marriage and Relationships, and that’s when I finally realized how comfortable I am in HDF classes, and how well I fit in with the subject; they make me so excited to learn! I finally found where I need to be focusing my time on – Child Development. I decided to change my major from Psychology to Child Development and have my minors be Leadership and Psychology. It just makes so much more sense for me personally. The classes just fit my personality so much better, and the program is more of  hands on program, which is better for my learning style. I will get to have classes directly working with kids and I am also guaranteed an internship senior year. I finally feel like I am heading in the right direction and I could not be more excited to see where this path takes me.

Signing my new major was not only the most confident I have ever been in anything, it was also a moment that signified growth for me. College has been a roller-coaster for me, I have been continuing to try to find my place and this step is helping me with that. I am still struggling to find the right RSO to be involved with and all that good stuff, but I thought this was an important choice in my life that needed to be shared especially to understand my other blog posts to come.

I am so grateful to be here at Central Michigan University and a part of the Leader Advancement Scholarship. Without these two things I don’t know where I would be today. I believe everything is happening for a reason to get me where I need to be. So thank you CMU and LAS for continuing to give me endless resources and opportunities to be successful.

Much love,

MEG

 

2014-2015 SCHOOL YEAR IN REVIEW

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What I stated I wanted in the year of 2015 . . .


As a leader what do you really want in
2015?
In 2015 I want to find who I really am. I am currently going in all different direction and hope to find the path I want to follow for the rest of my life. I want to find what I am truly passionate about and spend my time wisely. In 2015 I want to be me. Also I want to live by my mission statement: Live by helping others.

What will you succeed at in 2015?
I’ll succeed in being myself in 2015. I spent my life always too worried about what others think. But this year I want to improve on myself, and do things for me. I will succeed in being myself and embracing who I am. 2015 is going to be a good year for me, and I promise myself that.

I think so far in this school year and even in the year of 2015 I have really grown as a person and am starting to find where I belong. I finally decided to minor in Child Development with my major of Psychology to work with children for my career. I also learned I want to learn sign language and decided I also want to major in that as well. I am just really finding out a lot of different things about myself that I never knew before. I am also really focusing on me. I realized that college is an important time to do you and not let others hold you back. I am not letting anyone holding me back from my dreams and passions. I believe I am developing into the person I always dreamed to be. I am stepping out of my comfort zone into the unknown and I am loving it. I have started speaking my mind more frequently in places where it is important to me and my followers. For example, when people use the word retarded as a derogatory term I speak and state that is not okay. I am passionate accepting difference, and it is not okay to be using that word because it is offensive to so many. I also learned to stand up about all my other passions, and I think that is a big step for me. I was never not passionate about the things I am passionate about today, I was just always to afraid of confrontation to stand up for anything. My opinions might not be the most popular thing, but they are important. I am starting to strongly believe in myself and I am proud of that. I love the person I am learning to become. CMU has really taught me to take pride in my passions and not be as fearful.

This year in general has just been amazing. I was always excited to come to college because I was never popular in high school, but I would never think it would have helped me grow this much. I love that I am learning to open up and be myself. I also love that I am finding friends and people that accept me for me, and support myBLOG passion and dreams. I was always scared to be myself and I am so grateful for college showing me how to be myself. I am truly learning so much about myself and it’s an amazing feeling. I have grown over the years a lot, but this year I really found out who I am and who I want to be.

As a leader, I think it is really important to be true to yourself. I strongly believe in leading by example. If you don’t believe in a behavior or belief don’t promote or express that you do. This year I found my passion working with children, I figured out my major and minors, and I am finding where I want to spend my time. As a leader I am finding what I want to promote as my beliefs, and that is important to my followers. I am growing and learning where I want to make a difference and who I want to make a difference with. I will succeed with my mission statement of live by helping others, and my why statement of Inspire others to break their unwanted definitions of the past to find their full potential of the future.

I am growing as a leader, follower, friend, and person.

Detroit. A place where dreams are created.

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When I think of Detroit I will think of the place where my dreams were created. Detroit inspired me so much that words can’t fully describe. Some people think of a city of lost hope, but those people just don’t know where to look for the hope. When I went to Detroit, Michigan this weekend I found hope in the people I met, I found hope in the places I went, and Detroit just gave myself so much more hope and dreams for myself.

This weekend I went to a Detroit service trip in Detroit, Michigan with my LAS (Leader Advancement Scholar) cohort. Going into the weekend I did not really know what to exactly expect. (Look at my Pre-Detroit trip blog to find out more) I knew the usual stereotype of Detroit, but I really went into the trip open-minded to fully take in ever ounce of Detroit I could. Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful place. People may say it’s broken, but just because something is broken does that make it not beautiful anymore? Or does that make it not fixable anymore? Detroit is a city full of beauty and hope, and people need to realize that.

My favorite and first thing the LAS group did on this Detroit service trip was volunteer with students at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. We went there to serve and help others, but those people in that school really helped me. They truly inspired me. The students in that school and in those classes are just too amazing to describe. They are so optimistic, so happy go lucky, and just so great I could not tell anything about them past their beautiful smiles. We were told that the students of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy located in Detroit mostly come from a broken down neighborhood with not the best home lives. But the thing is, I would of not of been able to tell that from those students if I wasn’t told otherwise. They were so passionate about everything and so happy to be there it was just so wonderful to see. Those kids have a rough life, but that doesn’t stop them. They don’t care if they are put into the stereotypical statuses of Detroit, it is their home. The students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy really were big leaders to their peers and community in my eyes. I really loved being in the atmosphere of that school. That school has so much hope and so much love. Their love may be a in a different form then “regular” people are use to, but love is love; and love is a powerful thing. What really inspired me at Jalen Rose was how big of the impact the teachers and staff make a difference in their students lives. Writing that last sentence just gave me chills thinking about it. The teachers and staff of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy have HUGE hearts and are just such empowering role models, especially After a couple hours in their school and classrooms we later had dinner where we had the chance to talk to the teachers of the school. I asked them if they could receive outside help from volunteers what would they wish to get help with? One talked about how any help in the classroom from other outside resources is a huge help just by being an extra set of hands in the classroom to give attention to the students, or to even help the teacher with grading papers when they are swamped with stuff to do. The teacher’s at this school have to be really and fully committed to those students 100% of the time, not just there to help them with papers. They are there to help them with anything, and that is just so amazing to me. Another teacher answered my questions too, and his answer really impacted me a lot. He talked about just being another person there to be their role model would make a huge difference to them. He said that these students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy have a range of role models from 0-2, where when we are asked who our role models are we can state a long list of people in our life that make a difference. These students in this school can not, what children need are just more role models in their lives. It just caught me off guard a little bit when the teacher stated that they don’t have role models to look up to. Those teachers of that school are their role models, and they put so much into those kids it is just inspirational. This trip made my decision to work with children for the rest of my life. My major is psychology and I have been undecided what field I want to go into, but after this experience I know there is a demand for role models in children’s lives. Jalen Rose Leadership Academy has transformed my dream into working with children for the rest of my life.

The second day of the Detroit service trip we worked with Detroit Blight Blusters, where we helped them spread mulch in a large area of land that they plan to fix up and turn into an apple orchard, or something to help the city of Detroit. Blight Blusters’ goal is just to better Detroit in different areas one step at a time. We were originally going to fix up a vacant house, but they could not get trash bins to be rented that day. The goal, dream, and hope of Blight Blusters is amazing and inspiring. My favorite part of the day working for them is when I met a little girl named Samiya (Spelling may be wrong). She was an eight year old girl, and was absolutely gorgeous. She talked to me and told me her dad works for Blight Blusters and she volunteers with him when she can. She also told me she is the king of Blight Blusters. She was the cutest thing and I just loved hearing her story. She knew what she was doing more than I did! I just really find so much inspiration, hope, and beauty in the children/teenagers I met in Detroit this weekend. The impact they are making is truly amazing.

This whole weekend was just really about servant leadership. It was a time for the Leader Advancement Scholar Cohort class of 2018 to come together as a whole and be servant leaders in the city of Detroit. We provided and cared for the others around us and stop focusing on ourselves for once. Our attention was to help students of the Jalen Rose Academy become better leaders in their city, state, community, and school; and also to help Blight Blusters continue their movement of helping Detroit becoming a better city one step at a time. It was an experience of servant leadership we should never forget.

Not only did the two service trips impact me this weekend, but just also the people I was surrounded with during them did too. We had a big sleep over with all the members of LAS in the CMU’s location in the heart of Detroit. The weekend was full of meaningful conversations during the sleepover, tour of the Lion’s stadium, during meals, and even on the bus. I bonded with so many on very deep levels. I will have memories from this weekend forever. During our last meal together at the Great Lake Crossing Mall’s food court, my leadership adviser’s (the one and only Dan Gaken) wife, Erin Smith Gaken, introduced me into the idea of having a minor of sign language. I was always fascinated by the idea of sign language but I guess I really never thought of myself actually majoring in it. The little conversation sparked a big interest in me. That’s why I think people are so important. Every around us is changing our lives in a small or big way. Conversations are important, and trips like this are also so so so important. This trip opened my eyes to a lot of things, and I appreciated all of it.

I didn’t go into this trip thinking it would change my dream or change my life that significantly but it did. I realized how important role models are. I finally set my goal of becoming a child psychologist, and decided to minor in sign language. I found a lot of myself in this service trip. We go into service trips thinking we are there to help and inspire the ones we are serving, but in the end the experience is actually life changing for us. A lot of people didn’t find this trip as amazing as I did because they have already did such a thing, or they live in or near Detroit; but all of this was new to me. All of this was new and eye opening for me. Going some place new or different can really change your mind set, and for me it did. Detroit opened my heart and mind to a new dream and to a new future. Detroit is a place full of hopes and dreams that should be accomplished. Detroit is something I’ll never forget.

The biggest question we are being asked when we came back from this service trip in Detroit is now what? Now what can we do with what we learned or experienced during our Detroit service trip?

Now I want to create a difference in the youth where ever I go.
Detroit really made me finally realize that the youth is where I want to put my focus on for the rest of my life. I want to continue my education in a career path of Psychology but have my focus be children. I want to find ways to impact the youth in Mount Pleasant, and in my hometown of Menominee Michigan. Blight Blusters said by making your own community a better place, you are making the world a better place. So many children and teenagers are without role models, and that is not okay. I will now find ways to be role models to the youth.

Now I want to find a way to fund raise for the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy for next year’s annual Detroit service trip. The staff of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy give so much to their students, and they deserve something in return. A lot of their student’s supplies comes out of their pocket, and I believe by having a school supplies fundraisers for them would be a great way to appreciate and say thank you to the staff of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. A little appreciation really goes a long way, and I know by supplying their classrooms would be a big help.

Now I see Detroit as a beautiful city. Detroit deserves more recognition then it receives. Detroit made me realize we get too caught up in the small things and forget to appreciate the little things. The big fuss on social media lately is the new update on snap chat, the celebrity roast on Justin Bieber, and the Duke vs. Wisconsin basketball game. Why are we worrying about that when people can’t even afford to own a phone, or even a house to live in? Some people can’t afford to put their children through education or even put food on the table. Detroit just made me realize stop complaining about the small stuff in life. We need to realize the big picture. Detroit just shows that people aren’t concerned about the big world problems unless they are directly effected by it. A good example of this is when we were waiting for our bus to arrive a bunch of people were waving money and shouting out the casino window. As they were doing that a homeless man was playing instruments on the street to raise his living, but people in the casino was not even affected by that or aware of it! There is so much we could be doing to help fix big world problems but instead we are too caught up in not having the iPhone 6. Detroit is a place full of hope and dreams, and real problems. Real problems they should be recognized, and now I really do recognize what we could be doing to make this world a better place.

Be open minded to change, different backgrounds, and different ways of life. No one’s life is the same and people seem to forget that. Detroit is a place of beauty and if people were more opened minded they would realize that.

Exit of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
Exit of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy

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New Years Resolution

swim3My new years resolution is to swim three times a week. I first joined a swim team when I was six years old. My mom placed me in swimming because it is a sport you focus on improving yourself, and it was to help me develop social skills. When I was younger I had horrible anxiety and I was really shy. Swimming started off as just a hobby but soon became my whole life. I absolutely fell in love with swimming and couldn’t picture my life without it. I was actually really good at it, and made state multiple times. I also made my best friends in swimming, and spent everyday after school in the pool and every weekend at swim meets. Then in high school conflicts began and caused it to be not as important. But swimming made me who I am today. I started to miss swimming this year. Way too much. So I made my new years resolution to swim three times a week. It’s a good way to stay in shape, and makes me not give up on one of my passions in life.


As a leader what do you really want in 2015?
In 2015 I want to find who I really am. I am currently going in all different direction and hope to find the path I want to follow for the rest of my life. I want to find what I am truly passionate about and spend my time wisely. In 2015 I want to be me. Also I want to live by my mission statement: Live by helping others.

What do you really need in 2015?
In 2015 I really need the support of my family. Family is the most important thing to me, and as I grow as a person and wonder away from home I am losing my family more and more. I miss my family and I really need to know if they support me along my life decisions.

What will you share in 2015?
I will share my positivism with others around me. It’s important to stay positive and stress free, or else you can lose sight in what is really important. I want to share the power of positive attitude.

What will you succeed at in 2015?
I’ll succeed in being myself in 2015. I spent my life always too worried about what others think. But this year I want to improve on myself, and do things for me. I will succeed in being myself and embracing who I am. 2015 is going to be a good year for me, and I promise myself that.

A visit from President Ross

My Leadership Cohort was lucky enough to have the president of Central Michigan University speak in our leadership class the first semester of our college career. President Ross was our guest speaker, and it was a great opportunity for us as leaders to have such a high powered figure come and talk with us. I truly emphasize the phrase “talk with US”. President Ross didn’t come to our class to lecture us, and give the same speech he gives repetitively. He came to create a conversation with us. First he told us an inspirational story to start, but then it was opened for open conversation to end it. Majority of the class asked him questions about the campus and even his personal life. Some of the questions weren’t easy either. President Ross stayed professional, but also made it very personal. One student in the class was home for family reasons, but she still got to Skype in and talk to him. President Ross truly cares about CMU and the students that attend there. It was an honor to listen to him speak. I will always remember one thing that President Ross said during his presentation; Make sure to always follow your own path. Since he stated that I have been living by that statement everyday. The way he said it just made it seem so important, and it is important! Your life is about making yourself happy, and accomplishing what you want to accomplish personally. It might not always be the norm, but you just have to keep following YOUR path for YOUR own reasons. I am always to worried about others, and forget to think of myself. I need to follow my own path to accomplish my own goals I have set for myself. That little statement President Ross said changed my perspective on life.

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Leadership Connections Conference

The Connection Conference is a conference designed for leaders across Central Michigan University Campus to come together to participate in different leadership workshops. This particular conference is to make connections by meeting different leaders from all around campus. The conference was held at the Great Wolf Lodge water park and hotel in Traverse City, Michigan. During the conference one workshop that stuck out to me personally was the leadership personality test workshop. Every person in the room had to take a test to determine their personality. After taking the test the instructors of the group separated the people with different personality traits into a large box sectioned off. The first separation was introverts on one side of the box and extroverts on the other side. Then we were separated into three more sections of personality. When it got to the end of it I found out that a member of my cohort of my Leadership Advancement Scholarship program had the exact same personality traits as me. That was a really important for me to see, especially since we are both introverts it’s nice to bond with the other introverts of the group you are working in. I don’t remember what our personality trait was exactly called, but we are more concerned for the people around us, and more on the quiet thinking side of things. When the day was over full of other workshops of speakers talking about being a leader, being creative, being proud, and much more; we got to spend the night at the water park with all the new people we met during the conference. My favorite part of the conference was to see all the connections we could make just at CMU. The girl that I sit next to in my biology class ended up being there ans that was great for us to connect outside of the classroom. Connections is a great way to meet new people, and make connections as corny as that sounds. You learn a lot about your self, learn a lot about your campus, and learn a lot about the people that make up your campus community. Which I believe that is truly important.

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