Year in Review

Leadership theory application and year in review

Wow, what a year.

In just a few short months, I have changed more than I could have ever imagined. I met people I would never normally talk to, did things I have never done before, and accomplished a multitude of different things. Here is a little bit of my year, in review:

When I first got to college, I was scared out of my mind. I was moving in with people I had never met before (an even on day one, me and my fellow suite-mates still hadn’t decided who was rooming with who yet. Talk about stressful) on a campus full of people that I didn’t know anything about. Me being me, my biggest fear was that no one was going to like me. I mean, out of roughly 20,000 people on campus, some one was bound to like me, right? Right?

My new roommate must not have been all bad, because during the first week I stayed up until 3am every morning getting to know them. Sure, it was horrible for my sleep schedule, but I was able to connect with some of the greatest girls and create a good relationship that would (for the most part) last for the rest of the semester.

Me and my roommate Maryn on one of our many photoshoots. Photo courtesy of Sara Bykes

The first semester went well, with only a few minor rough spots. Being in both LAS and Honors, it was difficult getting to know both cohorts and establish connections (only a couple of people had ever done both programs, so that didn’t leave me with really anyone to ask questions to). There were so many people that I still needed to know, and it was very overwhelming to an introverted person like myself. The first time I walked into LDR 100 (the class with my whole LAS cohort), I was shocked at how loud everyone was. They all seemed to know each other so well already, which I was not prepared for. It definitely freaked me out a little, and may have impacted the way I went about the rest of the semester. Also, there are a lot of stereotypes in both groups, and I would sometimes get dirty looks from one group for being in the other (especially from the Honors community). It impacted the way I communicated with people for a lot of the year.

Me and my fellow cohort (and our mentors) at the LAS retreat in the fall. Photo courtesy of the Leadership Institute

Second semester was a LOT different from the first. I felt like I was not super involved during my first semester on campus, and I felt like I could definitely take more credits (I took 16 the first semester). All of these were good ideas; however, they probably not the best things to tackle together. I ended up taking 17 credits (yet it felt like more, thanks to anatomy, a writing intensive class, Honors english, and chemistry), and became involved in a lot of different extracurriculars. I was so engrossed in homework that, at times, I forgot to go out and live my life. I was neglecting making those important connections with people, that are vital to both personal growth and mental health.

All of these experiences made me think a lot about, not just the person I had become, but about the leader I had become as well. To quote Dan Gaken on competition day, I was not to be “a leader of tomorrow, but a leader of today.” I made it my mission to discover how to make that fact a reality. Leadership had been an important part of my high school experience, and I wanted to make it a part of my college days as well.

As a part of my LAS protocol and my everyday life here at CMU, I have been able to see and apply to my life many different leadership styles. One of the biggest ones I have seen is Participative Leadership. For protocol, we are required to have a mentor (and, once we become sophomores, have a mentee). Upon meeting my mentor Nate, he immediately asked me, “what do you want me to do for you? What do you want to get out of this relationship?” At the time, I was really impressed with his leadership style, molding his actions to fit my needs. Upon taking LDR 200, I was able to qualify his actions as following the participative leadership style. A participative leader takes into account the needs of their followers, processes everything they have had to say, and then molds their leadership style into what the followers would like best. I clearly saw this in the actions of Nate, as well as other mentors, regardless of weather they knew it or not. There were other theories at work with the mentors, too, leading me believe that what we were learning in the classroom could easily be translated to the real world as well.

So, how have I become a “leader of today” as Dan would say, and not just some passive leader of tomorrow? One of the biggest things I have learned is to take advantage of every opportunity given to me; instead of thinking ‘why?’ think instead ‘why not?’. I applied (and got) for an internship with Quicken Loans because LAS took us down to Detroit for a service trip, and also gave us the opportunity to take a tour there. The Quicken people urged us to apply; I thought it was way out of my league, but I applied anyway for two reasons. One, because everyone there was full of passion and vigor (which I admired), and two, because why not? I was never going to know if I made it unless I tried.

I did not have any of this ‘why not’ confidence when I first arrived on campus. If anything, I my stance was totally the opposite. Most of my decisions were made out of fear; fear of failure, fear of people not liking me, etc. There is still a long way for me to go, and I cannot wait to grow even more in the next three years here.

I look forward for the journey to come.

Here are some photos from the journey so far:

Halloween fun while passing out candy to some kids
Late-night snowman making (in early spring) with some friends
My Leadership cohort down in Detroit. This is an accurate representation of our group. Photo credits to the Leadership Institute.
I’m in the middle! picture credits to Emily Crombez
Me and my Leadership Safari gang-Team Viper!

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