On February 10, 2017, there were about 70 members of the Leadership Institute who all went to the city of Detroit. This trip was a requirement for my scholarship, but I know and saw the excitement on everyone’s faces attending this trip. Lives were impacted in ways that are indescribable and it was a trip that I will never forget.
We started off our weekend at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy where myself along with other LAS members led the students in Leadership initiative activities. I feel as if I took so much away from these students. They were so willing to participate and open up to stepping out of their comfort zones. With the few Leadership initiatives we got through 100%, I couldn’t help but recognize the excitement that was within each individual student. These students after talking with some, mentioned that they volunteered to stay after school to learn more about leadership. This was not required for any Jalen Rose student. As we went through the activities, they took time. The students gave full effort with only positivity filling the room. Even when the challenges were difficult, they never gave up and knew that working together and bringing each other up would be the best motivation to accomplish the tasks.
I had the opportunity to talk with some of the students in my group after our time was up at the high school. One student asked, “How do you define leadership?”. This made me so happy that the students, actually care about leadership and know that it is important. I responded to her and said that there is not just one leadership style. Everyone interprets leadership from different points of view. Some people like to talk while others like to sit back, watch, and evaluate. For myself personally, I told her to discover her “why”. Even though I recently just discovered mine, it makes it so much easier for me to explain what I think leadership is all about and what my purpose related to leadership is and why I do what I do. My “why” statement, “Inspire others to work together and strive for greatness, to maximize full potential” really went into play within the short few hours we were at Jalen Rose. I watched myself inspire students to work as a team and being positive the whole time, having them reach for their goals. The students accomplished that and reached the full potential. I felt as if I made an impact and I can’t wait for the many more opportunities for myself to help others reach their full potential.
Next, after working with the students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, we made our way towards downtown Detroit to have dinner at Quicken Loans. Driving downtown Detroit was nothing new to me. Growing up in the metro-Detroit area makes Detroit a city that isn’t too “new” for me, but what was new, was my reaction to downtown. The buildings are newer and taken care of for the most part. The new companies, businesses, and restaurants are trying to change the stigma that Detroit has. It is a city in progress but I believe places like Quicken Loans are building up the city. When we arrived at Quicken Loans we were taken to a new, modern styled conference room where they served us dinner and left us with tons of gifts. It was really nice having a CMU alumni, who was a recruiter at Quicken Loans, gave us a presentation on the many internships they offer as well as how great the opportunities they have are. Then, the Vice President of Quicken was took over the presentation, demonstrating why he decided to work for Quicken Loans by not just explaining what the daily job is. This was honestly touching. I got the “chills” after he spoke. Listening to how passionate about what he and his company were doing for Detroit was very moving and powerful. They are not just a mortgage company that I originally thought they were, they are helping Detroit move forward for the better.
After learning about the company, they took us on tours around their outstanding facilities. All of the buildings and offices so out of the ordinary and makes their company so unique. The values of Quicken Loans is focused around their “ISMS” or ideals of a genuine workplace. Just walking around their workplace, you can inquire that this company cares for its employees, customers, interns, or whoever even steps foot in their building.
After our time spent at Quicken Loans, my cohort and I attended the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts). It was so amazing, especially from living close, I still have never been. For my first time ever, I felt connected to certain pieces of art. My favorite part there was looking at all the paintings. I never had an appreciation for art until after I left the DIA. The meanings and emotions behind every piece of art was incredible.
After the DIA, our cohort stopped for the night at the DNR’s Outdoor Adventure Center on Detroit’s Riverfront. The purpose of the center is to bring the outdoors to Detroit in a fun, learning manner along with new development for people who sow interests in a career with environmental sciences or other related fields. We also had the opportunity to huddle up with our small groups, debrief the day in general and talk about our passions and goals for our lives. I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned new things about myself that I plan on bringing to the table everyday of my life. I learned how others view me as a person and some of my fellow cohort members touched my heart, describing what an incredible person/leader that they believe I am. I became connected with people I haven’t gotten the opportunity to bond with much and I feel like I understand others better now, especially learning more about each others personal lives.
On the last day of our service trip, we attended the Cass Community Center. Cass does so much to help out the Detroit community; whether it be donating food or clothes, or hiring people who would be out on the streets without a job, they are truly making a difference. At the Cass Community Center, there were four groups of volunteers. There were the paper shredders, the kitchen staff, the floor mat makers, and the food/clothing organizers. It was really cool because my senior year in high school, I had the opportunity to be a matt maker. They used recycled tires throughout Detroit to create neat mats of all different colors, along with flip-flop sandals and key chains out of tire as well. This time was different. I helped organize the clothing donated to Cass. It was eye-opening because I always have donated clothes from home to Purple Heart, or other places that take donations, but I realized now why I did that and how I am helping. So many people are homeless or can’t afford food or clothing and just by getting rid of stuff I can’t use anymore to help someone in need is inspiring and up-lifting.
Overall this trip was one I will never forget. I learned more about myself and others, and I learned how I am actually incorporating my “why” statement into my everyday life . I know that after my cohort left this trip, we all felt as if one person can change Detroit, but it will take much time and effort, but so far, Detroit is coming a long way. I believe in this city and I am proud of what myself and my cohort did over this weekend. I know now for my future leadership stance, I am going to work hard, dedicate myself to my goals, understand and work with difficulties to maximize my full potential in the rest of my college years.