{Unite To Connect}

This past weekend, my Leadership Advancement Scholarship and I got the overwhelming opportunity to participate in the Leadership Connections Conference 2016 held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan. This conference is made up of a variety of different leaders throughout Central Michigan University’s campus who come together to unite as one. Of the many different groups representing CMU this weekend, each and every one of us were given the chance to meet each other, and work together in a variety of different concepts.

On Friday the travel bus took us to The Lodge around noon where we then socialize, watched movies, and ate snacks with some friends. When the bus arrived we were assigned room keys and name tags for our stay. After unpacking and settling in, we were off to start our activities. First, we were introduced to staff members, where we then broke off into our individual institutes chosen at random. We participated in a few ice breakers to get to know each other, and then we were off to our first couple of sessions.

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Roommates for the weekend!

Our sessions were presentations of all sorts inquiring leadership skills and ways to deal with difficult situations in times of need. These sessions were held by CMU staff members who traveled to Traverse City for our conference in order to present to us. I thought that this concept was pretty cool and showed much more commitment in professors and advisors than I would have ever expected. Some of the presentations that stood out to me throughout the conference included Friendship Skills are Leadership Skills, and Leadership Through the Eyes of Disney.

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Sarah and I in one of the Leadership Sessions!

In Friendship Skills are Leadership Skills, we were asked to choose a card from a deck when we walked in to “choose your house.” I of course was overwhelmingly excited when I was asked to do so considering my open obsession with the Harry Potter series. It appeared that each club was a house, and each number was a different person. After relating how much friendship is signified in the Harry Potter series, we realized that the way Harry chooses his friends and his loved ones over all power and selfishness he could ever have, we participated in an activity. This activity included revealing our houses and our characters. Turns out I was a member of the Slytherin house and was Hermione Granger. Our activity included discussing our emotions about Cedric Diggory’s death in Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire. Overall, I got a kick out of this activity because it related two of my favorite things: Harry Potter, and leadership.

Leadership Through the Eyes of Disney was another one of my favorites because I am a Disney fanatic! In this session, we were given blue packets that essentially helped us to discover our passions and our values. First, this packet asked us to list our top 5 favorite Disney characters. It then asked us to identify how each of these characters exemplify leadership. Next, it asked us to identify and explain which character you connect with the most and why. All of this was being answered as we were jamming to classic Disney songs might I add. The next page got a bit more in depth. The questions included listing important values and narrowing them down to your number one value, similarly to the favorite Disney character. On the final page, we were essentially asked to list any barriers we may have with exemplifying our number one value and how we are able to overcome them. At the end of the packet we were finally asked to chose a Disney song or quote that most relates to our lives as college students. Mine was “Almost There” by Tianna in Princess of the Frog because it is essentially a motivating song to live by for the next four years as I am on my road to my dreams coming true.

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Laughing, smiling, and having a great time making new friends!

Throughout our conference we were also given the opportunity to spend up to three hours in The Great Wolf Lodge’s water park, and bond with those participating in the conference. What better way to bond with someone than screaming on the top of your lungs shooting down water slides, taking a trip or two down the lazy river, or chill out in the hot tub together practically celebrating the fact that we are all eighteen and are old enough to finally sit in the adult only zone? It was a blast!

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Fun in the hot tub!

Overall I would absolutely recommend the Leadership Connections Conference to anyone who has not ever participated, but also to those who have already went to return in future conferences. The Leadership Connections Conference was a merely adequate way to meet new people, and connect in a way that will benefit ourselves, as well as our university.

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Making speed connections with pizza and friends!
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