Category Archives: Leadership Education

Year In Review Reflection

As an assignment for LDR200, we were asked to revisit your resolution post from 
January, specifically the four questions.

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1. Have you made progress towards these resolutions? Why or why not?
2. How have you grown as a leader since you arrived on campus in August 2014?
3. What have you learned about yourself as a leader?
4. What have you learned about working with others?
Now, I will answer these questions and tell you about my 2015 Spring semester at CMU. Let me tell you, it was one for the books! As I am writing this, it is my last week as a freshmen, my last week in Barnes hall, and my last week living with the best roommates ever. I am really sad, so I apologize if I am extra sappy in this blog post! lol.

1. Have you made progress towards these resolutions? Why or why not?

Although I wouldn’t say I was 100% successful in accomplishing my goals, I would say that I did a pretty job with making progress towards the resolutions. In my post back in January, I said that I wanted to get good grades second semester, stick to a more set schedule, get back to my normal weight, and meet more people. I think that I have done a really job with all of those, except for the weight one. This semester, as I got busier and busier, fitness was put on the back burner. Eating dorm food again, every day, did not help. I am very disappointed I let myself become like this, because I used to be very very active. This summer, I will have lot more time to just work my job, and work out. I am running a half marathon in october, so I will be training for that and having to stick to a workout and diet plan. Besides that resolution, I think that I did a really good job of studying and doing my homework. First semester was my adjustment period, where I learned what places I studied well in, and what places I would loose focus, and how to balance my time to do all my homework. I also had a lot of classes with people I knew, and was able to get help from them. I learned what kind of studying techniques also worked best for me, and I will be finishing the semester off with a lot better g.p.a. than first semester. So whoooo! for that!! I also think I did a really good job of writing in my calendar, which helped me balance my time and stick to a set schedule. With meeting people, I continued to form new connections with people through different activities and clubs. I met some really good friends when I was volunteering on Spring Break, with the alternative breaks program.

2. How have you grown as a leader since you arrived on campus in August 2014?

I think that I have learned a lot about how to facilitate and teach others. I was never trained in leadership like that back in high school. I would also say that I learned how to deal with difficult people, and not that I haven’t dealt with that before, but I have had some interesting situations this year with people in my program, and learned how to adjust to that. Sometimes people in life are just very selfish, judgmental, people, and they aren’t phased by treating people badly. They don’t feel guilty when they make fun of others, and they hate certain people for no specific reason. I learned how to deal with people like that this year.

3. What have you learned about yourself as a leader?

I learned from the Alpha Leadership Experience that I am a Considerate Leader. I want everyone to be happy and I often times think about everyone in a group setting. I am not the strongest at dictating people or having to be harsh with them. Considerate leaders tend to be very big on compassion and serving others. I also learned that I am good at adjusting to new things, but sometimes it just takes me a little while to figure it out. For example, I blindly excepted the nomination of fundraising chair for my sorority, and this semester has been a nightmare when it comes to that! I had no idea how to run a fundraiser at all, and was just given the simple directions of “Run the candle fundraiser, okay?” and I went into it not knowing how any of the operations worked. Well, I can tell you, I learned a lot having to deal with 97 girls and some of their families. It was a lot of stress having to cater to so many people, and with so many different opinions. Also, I am NOT a math person, and counting so many checks and cash, forms and candles really cave me a migraine. Now that it’s over though, I can say I grew as a person, learned a lot about organization, communication, and time management, learned that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes, and how to run a large fundraiser. And I made about $3,000 in profit for my chapter operations, can I get a booyaah!? Probably won’t be fundraising chair again, but nonetheless, I learned a lot about leadership.

4. What have you learned about working with others?

Like I said up above, I have learned a lot about dealing with difficult people. I also learned that compromise is very important when living with roommates and being so close to people every second of the day. Sometimes little things can irritate people, and you have to respect them enough to give them space, or just figure out a solution. Also, sometimes for things like group projects, when there are really strong, vocal personalities in the bunch, it’s best to just sit back and play peace maker, instead of trying to debate them. Things will go by a lot faster if you try and get everyone to voice their opinion, so that the one person who is very strong willed does’t control everything and get too bossy. Promote teamwork and respect!

And well, that is all folks! This year has been crazy fast! I learned an awful lot! I became a good student and very dedicated to my academics (yay!)! I had a lot of fun! I made amazing friendships that I’m incredibly sad to leave behind (my dorm family third floor tribe)! 2015 was great! Excited for summer and fall to roll around! Peace and blessings

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HISTORY110 Writing Intensive Leadership – Reflection

Well, well, well. Class reflections are not my favorite things to do, but today I am reflecting on our History110 (The American Experience) class with Professor Catherine Tobin. This course was definitely interesting, that’s for sure. Personally, I love history, and I like to write as well, so the fact that it was writing intensive didn’t bother me. I enjoyed learning about the great American leaders and how to relate their styles and tactics to modern leadership, and life. I think that Proff. Tobin could have presented the material in a more engaging, exciting way, but nonetheless, I still liked this class. Part of our final was another 10 page paper, joy right? I just turned it in this past week, and had a blast writing it. haha. Not really. But after a few all nighters, lots of coffee, and long hours of writing and editing my paper, it was done. I choose Martin Luther King as my leader to write about. I choose him because I thought I already knew a lot about him and it would be easy. What I would take away was not something that I expected though, and that would have to be my “So what? Now what?” (S/o to Jesi Parker) portion of this class.

Not only did I learn more random things about Martin Luther King Junior, some inspiring and motivating new things, but I learned a lot more about his weaknesses and insecurities. When I met with Tobin for her office hours, she really focused in on that I needed to dig deeper into those areas for my paper. No leader is perfect, and understanding a leaders struggles and insecurities is one of the best things to examine when looking at their leadership style. Martin Luther King Junior was not perfect, that’s for sure. He had many flaws. One thing that I really didn’t like looking into was the fact that he cheated on his wife. He was a big cheater. He had many affairs with other women. I didn’t like that, men that cheat have always been a red flag, marked off as disgusting pigs kind of stigma for me. But, I this made me think about it more, and just because MLK cheated, didn’t mean he wasn’t a good person. PEOPLE ARE NOT PERFECT. I had to remind myself that. It actually gave me a whole new light on looking at people that make mistakes like cheating. Recently I found out that one of my childhood role models, and youth pastor (of all people, of course!) had been extremely unfaithful to his wife, and treated her very badly. She had finally left him for good. I looked upon my old youth pastor with huge disappointment and disgust. But who am I to judge him? When I thought about it, every single sin is the same in God’s eyes. From murder, to a little white lie, to cheating on a test, to simply thinking a mean thought about someone. I couldn’t hate my youth pastor for doing that. No, it wasn’t a good thing, but I can’t hate him for it.

I started to think more and more about this, and realized that was why I was so often disappointed in the “leaders” I have looked up to. I discover a flaw, and then become very disappointed in them, and categorize them as no longer someone to look up to. I need to stop doing this. It is an unrealistic way of thinking, because every human being sins and make mistakes and some pretty freaking great leaders out there still mess up sometimes! MLK is a prime example. Thanks HIST110WI L and Prof. Tobin for an eye opening semester!

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Mentor Workshop / Draft Day – Reflection

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.com

Mentor: Someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person, acts as a trusted guide, and is an influential supporter.

Mentor Reflection / Mentor Workshop:

Brace yourself, because this blog post is about to be very jumbled around, with a lot of random thoughts! I haven’t posted in awhile, and I am very happy to start writing again. But I would like to start with, HOLY CRAP! I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by, it’s absolutely crazy. Last year at this time, I was just told who would be my mentor in the Leader Advancement Scholar program, and was introduced to my “family tree”. I received a big box in the mail, with a long hand written letter (that was super super sweet! by the way), some CMU spirit wear, some dorm decorations, treats and other miscellaneous things from my mentor. I had just finalized my rooming situation and picked my classes for my freshman year. Now, it’s a year later! WOW. It’s really weird to think about how crazy fast life has gone by lately. I just went through “mentee draft” and picked someone that I will be able to mentor next year. The word mentee is a little strange, I will admit, but it is something that is among my favorite things that the LAS program offers. I really don’t know if I would have survived this school year if it weren’t for my mentor, Megan Mcgillis, and I am really thankful LAS brought us together. It freaks me out sometimes, but I think we are the same person. Megan is always there for me, even on my worst days, to take me to dinner in the dining hall and cheer me up with her encouraging words, or give me good advise about scheduling classes and choosing majors, when I am having a freak out. She spoils me and takes me out to eat off campus,  and pays for my meal every time, refusing to let me pay because “you are my mentee and you are meant to be spoiled okay!?”. She is constantly inspires me, I really look up to her. Like what college sophomore could say they’ve gone to Africa two summers in a row, to help malnourished children and mothers affected by HIV? Not many, thats for sure! She works two jobs, still manages to get good grades, and is involved on campus. She encouraged me to go greek, and I am very thankful for her pushing me to join. She is not only my mentor, but my good friend. I look up to her, and respect her. We always have such a great time together, and I just love her so much! As talk about the mentee draft started to be brought up through our LAS cohort, I could not help but hope I would get a mentee that was similar to Megan. Someone that I could spoil, give advice to, cheer them up on their bad days, make them presents, and love unconditionally. Someone that shared similar values to me, and someone that wanted to be good friends, not only mentor/menthes. In my LDR200 Class, we did a mentor workshop one day. We talked about all the things we were looking for in a mentee, all the things we would commit to do as a mentor, and important things to remember as we went into the competitive mentee draft day. My views did not change during this workshop, but it was just reaffirmed that no matter what student I received as a mentee, I would love them all the same. I would try my very hardest to give them the best resources and advice. We received a booklet of 45+ possible mentees, with their social media information (to stalk them and talk to them of course), random facts about them (favorite color, favorite quote, etc.), where they were from, their desired majors, and few more things. I went home from that class and looked at all the potential mentees. I found a few that looked like they shared similarities with me, and started talking to them through twitter. One of the girls really stood out to me, and I just knew I really wanted her as a mentee. So, on to the dreaded draft day…

Draft Day…

mentee draft

No, it was not NFL draft day, but it was something more important, Mentee Draft day, Duh! This must sound like the absolute strangest thing, to someone who isn’t in the LAS program. But for short, basically you go into class that day with an idea of the students you want as a mentee, and write down your first pick on a piece of paper. After that, we go in a circle around the room, and people read off their first choice. If someone has the same first pick as you, they “object” when you read it off. That potential mentee is put on “hold” and the circle keeps going. If no one objects, you receive your first choice! The second round is for the people with objections, and you play a card game to see who wins that first choice. Whoever has the higher card, gets to choose first. The third round of the draft is for people who want two mentees, and they get to pick their second one. This might sound confusing, but what I can tell you is that people are extremely competitive on this day. Picture war paint on the face and game time attitudes. LASers don’t mess around! haha. I came in knowing I wanted on specific girl. I was going to fight for her! But like I said before, if I did end up with someone else, I would love them all the same. I was very nervous, because I didn’t know if someone else in my class wanted the same person as me or not. My mentor told me, don’t worry, because obviously if something is meant to be, it will happen. It all works out in the end, so don’t worry about something you can’t control. That was really good advice I thought, because God would put me with whoever I could help the most, and the good man upstairs knows what he’s doing!

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Continued Draft Day…

SO, guess what?!?! No one wanted the person I wanted, and I received the perfect little mentee Allegra Berry! Ah I am so excited and happy! I have yet to meet her, but I can just tell that we are going to be great friends, like Megan and I are. I can’t wait to help her next year, and spoil her rotten! We both love the color teal, got cornrows on our senior spring breaks in Mexico, like to play sports, love to volunteer, like sarcastic humor, color coordinated our dorm rooms with our roommates, and were on student council in high school. I say it was meant to be! She is the perfect fit to my LAS family tree and I love love love her! I am finally a mentor! Whoooo

IMG_0533        IMG_0511  IMG_0512IMG_0546 mentee allegra

Almost forgot, oops!

#LEADCHAT #LEADCHAT #LEADCHAT

During the 200LDR class we did our mentor workshop in, we also participated in a 
#Leadchat. For those unfamiliar with twitter, it is a way to use social media
to get the advertise something. People typically take a topic, and hashtag it (#) and let others respond to their question, response, or opinion about the topic.
Whatever is hash tagged shows up on people's twitter timeline. For our LDR200 
class, we did it through the leadership institute's twitter. That twitter page
asked a series of questions, and we were asked to respond to them. Most of the 
questions were already answered above about mentors and mentees, but here is my 
quick responses to each question:

Q1: What qualities do you look for in a mentor? #LeadChat
I want a mentor that genuinely cares about me, someone who has similar values and 
beliefs as me. This doesn't mean we have to be the same with everything we do in
life, but I want someone who understands or at least respects my beliefs. My 
mentor in LAS now, has very similar values to me, and even though we have different hobbies and do different kinds of things sometimes, we both are very similar 
because our foundations are similar. She understands me. I also want a mentor 
that wants to help me grow as a person. A mentor that can help me 
through tough times and give me advice about things socially, academically, and
really about anything is very desired. I want a mentor that I can really look up
to/

Q2: What are your expectations of your mentee? #LeadChat
I want a mentee that is excited about coming to CMU, excited to meet new people 
and make new friends, and excited to try new things. I want a mentee that is 
openminded and won't judge me. I want a mentee that loves me just as much as 
I love them, and someone who wants to be my friend. I want to help grow my mentee,
but I also want a mentee that challenges me. Someone who knows that I would do
anything for them, and aren't afraid to ask for help from me.

Q3: What is the difference between a mentor and a role model? #LeadChat
I think that Angie, (in my LAS cohort), said it best, as she tweeted "Role model= "Just do what I do." Mentor= "Bad day? I've been there too, don't worry, I've got
you." (I most definitely retweeted this, haha). But anyways, I think that a mentor is someone who wants to walk along side you, help you, grow you, and genuinely 
loves and cares about you.

Q4: What communication tools work best with a mentor/mentee relationship? 
#LeadChat
I think that it's very important to form a bond and spend face to face time with
your mentee. Life gets busy, especially for LAS scholars, but hanging out in 
person is key. Studying together at the library, going to eat in the dinning 
halls, or just hanging out on the weekends is something thats important to make
time for. The more time you spend together, the greater trust you will form. 
Sending your mentee little encourage texts through the week are also a nice thing
to do! Make sure you make yourself available to them, and if they are panicking 
about what class to take and need to call you, make sure to be there for them.

Q5: Who do you look to as a mentor? How have they had an impact on you? #LeadChat
I look to my LAS mentor, Megan as a really big mentor in my life. She is someone 
who has her priorities straight, is focused on school, but also still knows how to
have a good time, and she is really fun to be with. She is a women of God and has a really strong faith, and she give me great advice. SHe has helped me with so many things this year, its hard to name just a few.

Pre-Service Trip Blog Post

#LASintheD #LASintheD #LASintheD

I AM SO EXCITED! 

My Leader Advancement Cohort is taking a trip to Detroit this weekend, and I am so stoked! For a pre-service assignment, we are asked to respond to the questions below. But AHHH SO EXCITED I CANNOT WAIT!!!!! Here are my responses, and just letting you know one more time, I am so so so pumped!!!

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The Alpha Leadership Experience

Alpha…LEAD!

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Alpha Leadership was a blast! Not only was it a blast, I got to develop my leadership skills through really cool activities. We did self assessments to figure out what our leadership styles were and learned how to effectively communicate and use those styles to our advantages. We had to step outside of our comfort zones (yaayy!). We got to meet really awesome new people! All together, I loved my six weeks of ALPHA! I learned that I am a considerate and spirited leader, and I need to work on further developing my direct and systematic skills.

Simon Sinek Ted Talk

How Great Leaders Inspire Action –

Simon Sinek is a man that believes in empowerment. Born in England, he has lived 
in Hong Kong, South Africa and the United States. He is active in the not-for-profit world, and works for an organization called Count Me In. He currently resides 
in New York and teaches at Columbia University.
For an LDR200 assignment, we were asked to watch Simon's famous Ted Talk, 
'How Great Leaders Inspire Action'. I found it very fascinating, and I thought
that Simon brought up very valid points. In this blog post, I will tell you all 
about Simon's method of inspiration and how we can use it in our own lives. 
Here ya go,a

There are leaders and there are those who lead.

Those who lead, inspire us.

We follow them because we want to, not because we have to.

Have you ever questioned what sets those people apart? They all think, act and communicate the same exact way. There is a pattern. Now if you can identify that pattern and apply it to your life, wouldn’t that be nice? Well Simon Sinek can help us with that. In his 20 minute Ted Talk, he explains the secret to this. He calls this way the Golden Circle (Why? How? What?). ldr According to Simon Sinek, this ‘Golden Circle’ determines why certain organizations succeed or not. He urges us to think of the WHY. What’s the purpose, belief, cause? Why should anyone care? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Regardless of their size or industry, businesses that are more successful function with this way of thinking. He tells that “Employers hire people that believe in what they do, because they won’t be working for money, they will be working for the cause, even if that requires blood, sweat and tears.” He goes on use the Wright Brothers as an example. The Wright Brothers has passion which lead to success. They sold people on the “Why”. Not a single person on their team had a college degree and they competed with Harvard graduate, who was in it solely for the money and paycheck. I bet you haven’t heard of Samel Lingually? The best minds money can find won’t do justice to what someone who truly values a cause will do. The day the Wright brothers took flight, Langually quit all together.

“People don’t’ buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it”

This is due to..

.ldr1

The Law of Diffusion of Innovation tells us that if you want market success, or acceptance of an idea, you cannot have it unless you achieve the tipping point of 15-18% market penetration (The people who stand in land for six hours to buy the first iPhone, when the can just get it the next day). The early majority will not try something unless someone has tried it first.

I really enjoyed listening to Simen's Ted Talk. I have noticed myself looking at 
commercials and company's slogans differently after watching, and noticing how 
some advertise their "Why" and some just advertise the product. I think this is
a good reason a lot of Not-for-Profit's are successful, because they sell the 
"Why" and have a good cause to support.

Walk In Their Shoes – Jim Ziolkowski

Can One Person Change the World?

For LDR200, our latest assignment was to pick a person that is a leader in this world, that is at the state or national level. We were asked:

What behaviors or actions make this person a leader? Why are others motivated to follow him/her? What do you admire about their leadership? How has his/her leadership affected other? How has his/her leadership affected you?

As everyone was writing on the Obamas or Oprah, I couldn’t think of anyone I really really felt inspired my outlook on life, at that national level. I guess I was just trying to think of a politician or celebrity, but overlooked the regular people that are still leaders at that level. When I got thinking about that idea instead, I immediately thought of Jim Ziolkowski. I had read his book a year ago, and I honestly can say his book changed my life. His book was such an inspiration to me and although he isn’t famous, he is changing the world globally. I mean I guess you could call him semi famous because he wrote a national best-selling book. But anyways, his story is very cool and I would recommend going out and buying it RIGHT NOW! If you don’t, I’m sure you will after you read the rest of my blog post. So here ya go! I will be answering the the questions from my LDR200 class, along with telling you more random reasons I am obsessed with the book ‘Walk In Their Shoes.’

ebeb   https://twitter.com/buildon

I think that Jim Ziolkowski is the definition of a leader. If you ask me, leadership is serving and bettering others, and Jim does just that. Leaders want to change the world. Leaders aren’t afraid to take big risks. Leaders are willing to make sacrifices to get what they want. Leaders dedicate their lives to the causes they are passionate about. He graduated from Michigan State with a finance degree and got a job right away with very well known corporate finance com pay. He didn’t mind his job, but felt that God was calling him to more, so he took a huge risk and quit his nice paying job. He left his comfortable lifestyle and decided to travel the world, and through that he found his life purpose. He wanted to serve others, and improve the poverty stricken world through encouraging education and community service with inner city youths. He decided he wanted to start a non-profit, with the idea that would have the high school kids doing community service and raising money, to fund schools in third world countries that didn’t have education systems, which would eventually come to be called BuildOn

“Walk in Their Shoes is the story of buildOn’s inspirational work with at-risk teens, its indelible influence on communities around the world, and of the man whose vision, faith, and conviction made it all possible. Jim Ziolkowski “believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same” (Publishers Weekly). 

Starting this Non-profit organization did not come easy to Jim. It was not a walk in the park. In his book, he tells about his incredible struggles to start it up. Many times he just about got up and left the idea behind. But he didn’t. He pushed through. He inspired others with the idea and persistent dedication, and through that he gained much help and many followers. For example, the finance company he had quit earlier on, would become one of the main donations for funding the start up of BuildOn. 

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(Ariana Grande via @buildOn) Follow #buildOn student Lakei takes a #selfie with @arianagrande at tonight’s #BuildersBall 9:38 PM – 12 May 2014

I admire his leadership in many ways. As I said before, I really admire his dedication and compassion. Many times in the start up of his organization, he feared the worst. His fear would often times get the best of him. He gave advice about overcoming fear and wrote about how you will never impact the world if you are too afraid to try. That really hit home for me. I often times struggle with thinking I’m not good enough, smart enough, etc. to achieve certain life dreams. And for that, Jim says:

“Fear is useless; What is needed is trust” 

You have to trust in your abilities. You have to solely depend on God to work through you. Anything is achievable. You can change the world. This part of the book I have a sticky in to this day. Jim says:

“Each of us has the power to take action, to light a fire and be the ignition for others.”    

One of the most inspirational parts to me of Jim Ziolkowski’s story, is that he is from Michigan. He went to Michigan State. He was just a regular guy. But look at what he is doing in the world to make a difference! Wow! I mean, according to Simon&Shuster book review, “Under Jim’s leadership, high school students from the South Bronx to San Francisco have contributed more than 1.2 million hours of direct community service, and over the past twenty years, the organization has also constructed more than 550 schools in the world’s economically poorest countries, from Haiti to Nepal. That is crazy cool! And want to know the most inspirational things of all about Jim? Is that he is one of my best friend’s uncle! He is a regular guy. If he can start a movement like this, I can damn freaking right change the world as well!!

And with that, I will conclude that Jim Ziolkowski is an amazing leader. ‘Walk In Their Shoes’ is a fantastic book. And I want to change the world like that some day. I want to serve others and have that kind of inspiring compassion, faith, dedication and hard work.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

– Dalai Lama 

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
― Dalai Lama

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama

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https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimziolkowski