A requirement of the Leadership Advancement Scholarship is to attend the Connections Leadership Conference during our Freshman year. This conference was opened to all leaders on CMU’s campus who wished to further their leadership skills and wanted to meet more leaders like themselves. All 49 members of my cohort attended Connections along with several members of the Health Professions Residential College, the Business Residential College, and more smaller organizations. We were fortunate enough to have this conference hosted by Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City; just because we are adults doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy water slides anymore. During the two days we spent in Traverse City, I gained a new understanding of how to be an effective leader.
The conference was divided up into four sessions we were able to chose from based on what we thought would be most beneficial to us and two educational sessions to debrief on what we learned. Being a massive Harry Potter fan, the first session I chose was framed around the relationships of the characters in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter.” The presenter taught us how to appropriately deal with our emotions and who we should talk to them about. She had a method called Ring Theory where you “comfort in” and “dump out”. This explained which people you should talk to about certain things in a crisis. The people closest to the center of the ring are the ones you should comfort, whereas, the people on the outer edge of the ring are people who you can express your worries and concerns to. This is especially beneficial to us as college students, because we face social and educational stress on a daily basis we need to know who we can talk to. Those things may not be crisis’, however, when you forget to turn in a four page paper you spent all night writing or you have a fight with your roommate about not doing their chores, it’s convenient to know who the best people to talk to are.
Not only did I have the chance to learn about new leadership styles and techniques, I had the opportunity to meet other leaders on Central’s campus. During the time between sessions, I chose to meet new people instead of hanging with my current friends. This may have been the most beneficial thing I did for myself at Connections. I’ve never been the most out going person, but I love to talk to people and learn more about who they are. After getting to know some people from my church, I will now be attending a service oriented spring beak trip. I also had the chance to get to know a MAC scholar and started a friendship. This is what Connections Conference was all about “Branching Out” and becoming a stronger leader through who you know and how you act in your leadership roles.