I was nominated for this event through my University by my success coach at CMU and I barely even read the email when I first got it in March. I didn’t understand the gist of what it was talking about, but I knew that I probably wouldn’t apply in time for the “priority” processing. But, my co-president told me that he was accepted and there were still open spaces. So, I applied to the Leadershape Institute through CMU.
I arrived in Albion on Sunday, scared af because I am the worst person at meeting new people because I am a quiet introvert. And then Jason’s roommate for the week asks me how I watch the Star Wars series and then we got into a weird debate about it. And then I was thrust into the Gold Institute and got to what they called the Learning Community where we met Raja, Claudia, and the rest of the faculty. I was asked to find a high five buddy and arrange myself with the rest of the group by birthday and by shoe size and even by where I came from in the world. Then we did some discussions and were released to dinner, but had to come back and we were put into family clusters. They were these groups of random students with one faculty member and mine got to meet on the fourth floor of this building; stairs were hella prevalent on this campus and after a few days of it, I didn’t feel like I was going to die anymore. The first night, I went into my history of my life at CMU and weirdly enough, like, all these people were extremely supportive of everything I had to say, even Cluster Dad Zak with the resting bitch face.
Challenge courses were… interesting. I didn’t do much except for play with a giant beach ball and a parachute. The Gold Institute launched tf out of a rubber chicken. But aside from the fun stuff, we were taught about the value of people and teams. I went to this Institute to learn how to be more confident and not actually care about whether or not I could speak in front of people and fear judgement. I’m very soft-spoken and full of self-doubt and definitely capitalize on the self-deprecating humor. I came into this looking for information on how I can get past this stuff and actually lead better in my group on campus. So, through the week, I performed in front of like sixty-ish people, I spoke into a microphone multiple times, offered input on how my campus could change, and even hugged someone I only knew for a week. I shared my vision with all these people and wasn’t even judged for it.
The best part of this week, though, was the family cluster. We have gushed to each other all week and came to be such a supportive group of people. And it’s weird for me to trust people with all the shit I’ve gone through, but I came to trust my Cluster Dad, Zak, because he basically put everything on the table and I felt like it was okay for me to do the same; honestly, I have thanked him so many times this week, I think he’s getting tired of hearing it from me, but this was so huge for me and I just feel so thankful for everything he did for the Jam Fam. Michael and Moriah did the same. Johnnie, Connor, Karissa, Maria, and Brianna all did the same and were so welcoming to everything I said even if my life didn’t line up with theirs. I was told so many things about myself that I don’t ever want to see because I keep hiding within myself. Last night, everyone was so fucking candid and I couldn’t even make eye contact with anyone because I would get so emotional; I am just thankful that Zak did it for us.
I am so ready for my final semester to come so I can enact everything that I have learned this week. I want to use this knowledge toward my group. I want to use this knowledge in my life. I cannot wait to meet back up with my family and see how the rest of this year treated them. I want to know how classes go, I want to know how Safari goes for the new guides, or even how the Leadership office works. I’m gonna thank all of you again and again.