Ever since I was in National Honor Society in high school I always liked volunteering for local nonprofit organizations. As soon as I got to college nothing changed. From the first day of school till now I have volunteered for countless nonprofit organizations and continue to volunteer on a yearly basis. The places I volunteer for range from back home where I use to volunteer for with my high school basketball team to organizations right here in Mt. Pleasant. Every experience has taught me something that I will never regret. It has taught me to never take what I have in my life for granted and to always give back to those not as fortunate as I might be. A sense of well being always comes over me when I am volunteering to help better someone’s life.
Within the past year I have volunteered for multiple nonprofit organizations and one of those was the Port Sanilac Project Blessing. This organization I have been volunteering for ever since I was a freshman in high school. My high school basketball team and I would help deliver presents to families during Christmas time in the local community. Till this day, every year around Christmas time I go home and volunteer for the Port Sanilac Project Blessing. I love volunteering for them because it makes me feel happy to give back to the people in my community that I once grew up in.
Another nonprofit organization I have volunteered for within the past year was the Port Sanilac Parks and Recreation. This experience was for my summer internship, but it was still all volunteer work. My job was a head softball coach for 8U girls in Port Sanilac. Let me tell you it is an experience in itself trying to teach 8 year old girls how to play softball and dealing with the many mood swings of a young girl. With that said, I wouldn’t have changed my decision to coach those girls a million times over. That was probably the most exciting and life teaching moment in my entire life. I loved every second of teaching those girls how to play softball. Even though in the end we didn’t win a game, but like I told the girls it’s not about winning and losing, it’s about learning how to actually play the right way while also having fun doing it. By the time the end of the season came along, the girls showed so much improvement and were laughing and having fun together playing the game of softball.
I could go on and on about the places I have volunteered for, but I would rather not so the last nonprofit organization I volunteer for during this time of year every year since I was a freshman in college is the Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation. My job is a kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade basketball coach for both boys and girls combined. I love volunteering for Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation because I get to meet all the kids in the community and see what they like playing sports wise. This opportunity allows me to pass on the knowledge and skills that I was taught from all of my basketball coaches from when I was a kid about their age. Although I love volunteering for Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation it is sad to say that this year was my last year with them as next year I will be looking for graduate schools and doing interviews with them so I won’t have the time to volunteer with them in the spring semester for basketball.
A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors. An effective mentor understands that his or her role is to be dependable, engaged, and tuned into the needs of the mentee. I want to model all of this and more to welcome my mentee in to college. I want to be like their brother they never had if they didn’t have a brother already. I want to be their best friend so that they can come to me with anything because they trust me and believe that I will point them in the right direction.
I am most looking forward to meeting a new person that might become my best friend that I have never met before in my life. My mentee and I have a lot in common, so I have a feeling we will have no problem getting along. I can’t wait to become a Sophomore and pass down my experiences to my mentee while also learning from my mentee’s experiences.
I have been preparing my whole life to become a mentor. The Leadership Advancement Scholarship picked 40 high school seniors that they knew were leaders in their community. These leaders grew up wanting to help better society every day for as long as they could walk and talk. Now being one of those 40 leaders and having an entire year of college experience I am even more ready to become a mentor. Not only did I learn about being a mentor this year through college experiences, but I have also learned about being a mentor from my family tree. They were so helpful in helping me transition into college from high school and I plan on helping my mentee do the same thing. I have learned how to manage time in between classes and how to get around campus. I want to help my mentee do same thing and even more so they can have the least stressful experience possible in college.
It is hard to believe that it has almost been a year since I have been out of high school and one year in college. The first day of school felt like it was yesterday, but really it was nine months ago. During those nine months though I have changed a lot and have meet a lot of amazing new people. I have also involved myself in many different activities on campus. I have been a part of Global Medical/Dental Brigades, Intermural Sports, Relay for Life Lead Team, Basketball Coach for Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation as well as LAS. In our LDR 200 class we learned about different leadership theories and approaches throughout the year. There was one that stuck out to me though and that was Leadership and Culture. Coming from a small town I was never influenced by different cultures and ethnicities, but when I came to Central I was exposed to many different backgrounds. While being a leader it is important to be comfortable with different races.
The one element of our protocol that applies to the approach that stuck out to me was the service project we did for Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. It stuck out to me because I never worked with kids that came from a different background then me before. My town has about two hundred or so people in it and they are all the same race, so working with students from Detroit that have totally different backgrounds then where I come from really broadens my view of how Leadership and Culture are related. It doesn’t matter what a person’s race, color, or sex is they can be a leader no matter what if they put their mind and heart into what they believe.
I really enjoyed helping the Leadership Academy students learn more about leadership. I enjoyed watching the Jalen Rose students take charge in the activities and give their feed back in the debriefs we had for them. Also with coming up with their own definition of leadership and their own goals on what they wanted to learn from the initiative. It comes to show that everyone can be a leader if they are willing to listen and learn from different cultures and backgrounds.
After getting about two hours of sleep we were all up bright and early to go and volunteer for the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. When we showed up to the first sight we were told this was where the LAS cohort from last year volunteered and that we would be heading somewhere else to volunteer this time. So we headed deeper into the heart of Detroit and when we got to the place where we were going to be volunteering it was a sight I was not use to seeing. Some houses were being torn apart, some looked like they were lit on fire, and others looked like no one had lived their for awhile. The house that we were going to work on though was under construction and being ripped down to its original structure.
Tyson, the guy that was the head of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, handed out jobs to my cohort. Some were told to pick up trash around the block, some were told to help inside the house, some were told to haul trash bags full of plaster to the side to the streets for mass pick up day on Tuesday, and others were told to burn the pieces of wood that were in the trash bags. I was one of the people who were given the job of cleaning up inside the house. When we got into the house we were told to put on white cloth suits, breathing masks, and eye protection so that we wouldn’t get hurt or breathe any dust particles. We were then told to go upstairs and pick up and separate the plaster, insulation, and wood pieces. The plaster and insulation were to be put in garbage bags and the wood pieces were to be put in plastic containers. After we got done with upstairs we hauled the materials downstairs and into the street were the other LAS students were putting the bags on the side of the streets and the wood in the fire. When we got outside though a police officer had shown up and asked were the supervisor was. Tyson came out and talked to the officer and after a couple of fire trucks and hazardous waste trucks later the whole situation was cleared and we got back to work. Tyson then told us we had to separate the garbage bags that were on the side of the streets into bigger sections and smaller piles. By the time we got done separating the bags it was time for a quick picture and then time to hit the road back to Mt. Pleasant.
This experience taught me a lot about who I am and how other people might have a harder time then me in life. I realized that people in Detroit jump to conclusions before they actually know what is going on because so much hatred and crime has happened that not very often a glimpse of light shows through the cracks in the sidewalks. I also learned that when leading a group there is plenty of factors that can contribute to a good or bad experience and in an instant things can go from good to bad and bad to good. Something that I am going to definitely take away from this service trip is that you can change a lot in only a few hours. You can clean a yard with mounds of trash and a house full of plaster and pieces of wood to a clean yard and house in a matter of hours. Just imagine what a group of people can do to a block in a week. Changing communities by helping them clean up will always be a inspiration to me.
When John Bacon first walked into the room I didn’t know what he was going to talk about or even if it was going to be entertaining, but when he started to talk he talked with so much passion and so much enthusiasm that I gave him my utmost attention. His stories of Bo Schembechler from when he was a ten year old boy to working with him on his bestseller book were so descriptive it felt like I was there. His passion was so great when he talked about his four C’s of leadership and Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership.
Character: Mr. Bacon could have spent all day talking about character. His stories, his examples, and his intelligence were just amazing. He started off by saying “Be Yourself.” You cannot fool anyone in this world about who you truly are. You are only fooling yourself. He gave us an example of when he was a head coach for a college hockey team. He said, “People you may coach will know you better then you know yourself by the end of the season.” He went on the talk about when he was a ten year old boy and met Bo for the first time in his life. He was so excited at first, but when he saw him, he lost all of his nerve to ask for his autograph. Bo came up to him though and signed his pamphlet for John. What John noticed though throughout his life is that every single autograph Bo signed ,which was close to a 1,000,000, was the same. It wasn’t a scribble either. You could read it when you looked at. John went on to say, “Your character is what you do when you think no one is watching.”
Concern: The first thing he did when he got into our classroom was he asked one of us our names. He repeated it a couple of times and went on with his presentation. Later in the presentation he when he was talking about concern he pointed out the person he asked what their name was and said their name. He remembered it the whole time he was speaking. “Listen before you lead,” is what John said after he repeated their name, “You cannot motivate people if you don’t know them.” A person has to know who he is leading before he can lead because if not then the group is unmotivated to follow or even listen. So be concerned with who you are leading and where they came from.
Communication: When Mr. Bacon started talking about communication he started with saying, “If you have a problem with something or someone either talk in private or shut up.” He doesn’t like when people want to complain about things and not talk to the person they are complaining about. He later went on to talk about taking credit for other people’s accomplishments. He said, “The second you take credit for the team is the second you lose their trust and respect.” “We don’t have to worry about people talking to us and coming to us with their problems, but the second people stop coming to you is the second you stop becoming a leader.” By this he meant that when people stop coming to us with their problems and ideas is when you stop becoming a leader. Don’t lose the people around you. Stay in contact because as soon as they stop talking to you is when they stop caring about you.
Caring: John said, “I know what you guys were thinking when I walked in. You were thinking oh dang here is another speaker going to talk to us about leadership, but will be more interested in what time it was or how long they had left then actually talking about leadership.” He said, “You can tell within five minutes if the presentation is about you or them.” When you speak to a group be enthused and be energetic. People don’t want to listen to someone who is boring and doesn’t know what they are talking about. “Bring more energy then the people you are speaking to.”
In today’s society everyone tries to take the easy way out and not go the extra effort to get more out of a challenge. According to Seth Godin, “Organizations, governments and individuals prefer to find the solution that’s guaranteed to work, takes little time and even less effort.” So the problems we are left with are the problems that will take ridiculous amounts of effort, untold resources and the bravery to attempt something that might not work. Less and less people are willing to go that extra mile. When a person accomplishes their goal or project they stop there, instead of furthering their knowledge about the situation and continuing to work harder at the task.
What this means is that if everyone knew the answers to their problems before the problems came about then we wouldn’t do anything. We would just sit around and do nothing because we wouldn’t have to face our problems and learn from them, we would already know the answers to it. It is important that we do not let this happen and face our problems. We become stronger when we make mistakes. We need to stop shying away from difficulties in our lives because they are going to keep showing up again and again and one of these time we are not going to be able to escape it. When it does show up and we are forced to face it, we will not be ready because we are going to be to weak to overcome the obstacle. If we were to face the challenge in the first place we could accomplish it a lot easier because we were stronger and we could utilize other resources that might not be available at a later date.
So knowing this before we start will help us choose the right resources or decide not to start at all on the problem. We could make a decision on the one that won’t be solved in a hurry and might not be worth the effort it’s going to take. If it is though, then pay up and go that extra mile to solve the problem. Knowing how to determine ahead of time which problems are going to take more time to solve will help because we will then be able to make time long enough for us to solve the more difficult problems.
Coming from a small school that only offers no more than your basic general education courses some times has its disadvantages. I was never offered courses such as Psychology or Communication. So when I came to college and got put into an Introduction to Debate course, I didn’t know what to expect because I never had a Debate class before. I would have to say though that it has definitely been an experience learning how to argue with people in a debate such as Parliamentary and Lincoln-Douglas formats.
Debate has taught me not only how to argue in a scheduled format, but also about the history of debate. Speaking in front of the class still isn’t my cup of tea, but I think I am getting better at it. I don’t think we had the best teacher for the class, but I think Professor Hillman did the best he could to teach the class with his style of teaching. I learned things about debate I never knew before, so I have to give him that. It was an experience that I won’t forget, because people debate every day of their lives.