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. 

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Service Learning Reflection

Service leadership and service learning is the most important thing we can do as leaders. It is important to learn by serving others, and I think the most important leadership is when you can give back to others. You can learn personally so much by volunteering for others, making a difference that way is so important.

I have fulfilled my volunteer hours by volunteering at the Leadership Launch, SOMI Fall Games, and the Polar Plunge. I am currently on the wait list as well for Young Athletes to start volunteering with them as well. You can read about this experiences on my previous blog posts.

Also look forward to reading my volunteer experience in Flint, MI next weekend.

Future Volunteer Bucket list: 
Volunteer at local Rainbow House this summer in my hometown community
Young Athletes with SOMI
Women’s Shelter in Mount Pleasant, MI
Alternative Break

 

Polar Plunge 2016

The Polar Plunge: the jump into freezing cold to spread awareness of the Michigan Special Olympics. This year on February 20th, was my first time every doing the Polar Plunge in Mount Pleasant, MI. I did the Polar Plunge in my hometown about six years ago to raise money for our local community pool and swim team, but I swore I would never do it again — but …  Michigan Special Olympics is something worth breaking that oath for.

As a CMU student, I was hand chosen to be on the Student Polar Plunge Committee, which was created to help promote and advertise the plunge. Thanks to all of our committee’s work, Mount Pleasant had the biggest plunge statewide.  Mount Pleasant raised over $70,000 for SOMI (Special Olympics Michigan).

I was on the Leadership Institute team, who raised the most money as a CMU group with $7,220 raised. As an individual I raised $1,205, which I tied with Hannah Rickers for the most money individually raised by a CMU student! I was honored to share this title with Hannah because she is a role model of mine that I always look up too, especially when it comes to being passion about and involved with SOMI.

The day of the plunge we expected over 490 plungers, and that is over 490 people that are advocating for people with and without intellectual disabilities; that’s truly impact. It’s not just about raising money to take a brave jump into freezing cold water, it’s about raising money for the happiest people on this earth. People with physical and intellectual disabilities are outstanding individuals that are worth getting to know, and that’s why I participated in the plunge.

The plunge donations were collected through firstgiving.com, or you could also receive cash/check donations. My site is called http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/megan-nemetz/MtPleasant16. Where people donated and read my story about how I am involved with SOMI.

Special Olympics Michigan is close to my heart, and I am so proud of this community for standing up for this cause. Also I want to thank my friends, family, and my community members for supporting me and helping make it possible for me to raise over 1,000 dollars. My first goal was set at $300, and I was lucky enough to set that goal to $1,000 thanks to all the tremendous amount of support. It was incredible to see family members, old teachers, and old friends donate to my page. I even had strangers donate to my page thanks to spreading awareness by the word oft mouth. I can not thank everyone enough for supporting me with my passion, but more importantly supporting the Special Olympics Michigan.

COM 461L: Communication in Leadership

COM 461L: Communication in leadership is the last class I will take with my LAS cohort, so it tends to be a little bittersweet. Being a group of leaders in a class discussing communication in leadership might sound pretty easy and self-explanatory, but not necessarily. A lot of the topics discussed in this class comes very easily to many of my peers, but for me I need to take a little more time to find the clear understanding, and I think that is one down fall of this class; it’s assumed we already have a lot of background knowledge to this subject.

Communication is a very important aspect in leadership though, and that’s why I believe this class is so important. To be an effective leader you need to communicate to your followers and peers at all times. One of the biggest parts of this class is reading stories and analyzing them out of the book titled The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem. Each chapter of the book tells a different unqiue story that exemplifies leadership in someway, and as leaders reading the book we have to discuss the negative and positives of the leadership throughout each story. We do this by have participating in a fishbowl activity, which was designed by our professor. She hands out a cards that get passed around the room, and if you get a card with a fish on it you are running the discussion in the center of the room, and if you get a bowl then you are listening to the discussion which will later break off into smaller discussion groups ran by different fish. It a unqiue way to learn and evaluate each story; it’s very beneficial for my individual learning style.

In the beginning of the class we start the semester off by storytelling. Each student in the class had to discuss a time when we were ineffective leaders and what we took from that moment in our life. This exercise help us develop our storytelling skills as a leader; this is an important skill to have to inspire followers, and to get your passions and point of emphasis across effectively. Now at the end of the class this semester we are scheduled to story tell again a time we changed our leadership communicate due to something we learned in this class, and I am looking forward to using my communicate knowledge to practice my storytelling skills once again.

COM 461L is a very useful class, and I have highly enjoyed. Communication is a such a huge part of our lives, especially since my classmates are all Leader Advancement Scholars, we all understand the importance of this class for us to develop as strong leaders in today’s world.

 

 

 

 

FCA: Future Child Advocates

This past year at main stage, which is an event CMU puts on that allows students to explore different RSO’s on campus, greek organizations, and clubs, and I found one that is very close to my heart – Future Child Advocates. When I was walking around, I saw a flyer that asked, “Want to become an advocate for children who are victims of abuse and neglect?” I finally thought I found an RSO that I could be passionate about.

FCA is a very small group on campus, since it is a fairly new organization on campus. Due to it being new, we experiment with a lot of different ideas; kind of a trail and error process. This group has very many ideas with not a lot of money and few resources to do so, but that hasn’t stop this group from trying to help out where and when we can. Our whole goal is to help children in anyway that we can, and we had two large success this year.

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FCA put on our second annual Trunk-or-treat for the community of MoCRC49GwUcAQFRK8unt Pleasant on October 30th from 7-8:30 PM. This event consisted of many organizations from CMU including Best Buddies and SOMI Young athletes (and many more) that brought decorated trunks to lot 18 to pass out candy to children. This ended up
being a great turn out that gave children and families a face and happy environment to trick-or-treat.

A second huge success that FCA had this year was our first Toasty Tootsies sock drive. Socks are a very essential part of keeping warm and healthy during long winters, and many families lack this essential in our home of Michigan. FCA collected over 800 pairs of socks to donate to many families in need. Thanks to one of members, Caitlin Strobel, who collected over 600 pairs of socks herself. We would have not been as successful without her help and dedication to this cause. Since her community was a HUGE part in this sock collection over Christmas break we gave back to her community of Petoskey, MI by donating most of the socks to Pellston Elementary, Middle School, and High School. The remainder of the socks went to Clare, MI which is located about 20 minutes from Mount Pleasant.
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My first year a part of FCA I was elected the Public Relations chair of e-board, which involved running the twitter page (@FCA_CMU) and Facebook page while advertising our events and fundraisers. Our group started out in the beginning with over 25 members, now we are down to about seven. I was elected President of FCA next year, which will be a challenge but it will also be very rewarding. My goal is to keep this amazing group around here at CMU; I have visions for this group to start making the difference in a small way that will make a huge impact. One of our biggest goals for next year is to start a backpack drive to provide backpacks full of supplies for students that need them.

I believe that FCA is helping me grow professionally and individually. Next year my leadership skills will be tested, along with my organizational skills and time management skills. This group is also helping me grow and develop my strong passion for helping children that are abused and neglected. This isn’t just some group I joined for the recognixition, it’s something that means the world to me.

Future Child Advocates seek to provide a voice for those who are left without one. 

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.

Servant Leadership: Theory Application

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A theory I learned this year in my Leadership class was the Servant Leadership theory, and I strongly believe in this theory. Servant Leadership is a strong focus on your followers. By being a servant leader you need to have behaviors of conceptualizing, emotional healing, putting followers first, helping followers grow and succeed, behaving ethically, empowering, and creating value for the community. I believe strongly in these behaviors. I am the person that always put others before myself and that’s why I think I am so passionate about servant leadership. Servant leadership is all about the wants, needs, and desire of your followers, or people you are serving. It is a time to put away your personally needs and beliefs and focus on the goals of the ones you are serving.

This year my leadership class took a service drip to Detroit, Michigan. For details of this trip please see my recent blog post on this trip. This trip was a prime example of the servant leadership since our whole weekend in Detroit was about serving the people of Detroit and helping them with their dream of making Detroit a better place. During the Detroit trip we put all our problems and difference aside and served the people of Detroit. We listened to the students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academydetroit.3 and just helped them develop as leaders in Detroit. That was the biggest part of servant leadership during Detroit, we really put those students in our hands. We put our follower first and that is so important.

I don’t think servant leadership is just seen in service or volunteer trips, it can also be seen in leaders in just their every day lives. I believe Dan Gaken and Jesi Parker Ekonen are perfect examples of servant leaders. They work in the Leadership Institute here at Central Michigan University and all they do is serve students here on campus. They focus and listen to their followers and help guide them into chasing their dreams. All they do is focus on creating better leaders here at CMU. They never think of themselves, and that is huge in servant leadership. They believe it is important to serve others, and I know that my cohort can not thank them enough for all their service they put into us.

Servant Leadership is the biggest leadership theory that I follow. I want to make it clear that I did not choose this theory because it was the easiest, it’s because it means the most to me. I am a servant leader and hope to continue that into my career like Dan and Jesi. My definition of leadership is helping and inspiring others. I just strongly believe in making this world a better place one person at a time. I never want to miss an opportunity where I can help others. My passion is helping others at all times and that is what servant leadership is all about.