For the last 18 years of my life, I have been looking forward to this moment, dreaming of how it would feel to move into my dorm for my first year of college, but to be completely honest? It wasn’t as dramatic as I had imagined. Deciding to go to Central Michigan University was a decision that was made by one factor only, the Leader Advancement Scholarship, had I not gotten that scholarship, things may have gone a different direction.
Because of LAS, move in day was not as scary as I had imagined either, I was coming into my freshman year already knowing 49 people, AND almost all of us live together in the same residence hall, and I have a mentor in the sophomore class. Long-story short, getting everything moved in was pretty easy, organizing was a different story. I’m not a very organized person when it comes to my room so that process was going to be saved for a later date. BUT my family helped me get everything inside and somewhat “organized” we went to dinner and then it was time for our first set of “see you laters” for my college experience.
Saying goodbye to your family as they leave you at your college campus can be a very emotional moment, but with our luck, we got caught by the rain so our goodbyes were made short and sweet with no tears! That was another thing that wasn’t as dramatic as I had imagined. Sure, it was sad and I hated to watch them leave but I knew that I would be fine without them and it wasn’t a final “goodbye.”
As my parents left, my roommates and I settled in, and the rain continued, Leadership Safari began. Celebrating its 20th year, Leadership Safari is a 5-day orientation that approximately 2300 incoming freshmen and transfer students were given the opportunity to attend, Safari is unlike any other program in the nation, it really prepares students for the next four years on this campus by helping us network with other students and faculty, but also by giving us a chance to familiarize ourselves with campus and how to navigate efficiently.
During my week of Leadership Safari, I had the pleasure to work with 9 other incoming students and our Safari guide, Breeanne Kenyon, on Team Rhino! We charged our way through the week by bonding and building friendships with one another. We were all placed on this team randomly and I absolutely loved it! Every single one of us had stories of our own, we were diverse in our own fashions and I have been inspired in some way by everyone in our little Rhino family. Throughout the week, we spent so much time together that when it was time to be separated, we were forced to break out of our comfort zone and meet other people.
Our mama Rhino was Breeanne Kenyon, she made it her mission to make sure that all of us were prepared to be living on campus and she made connections with all of us. Because of her and how inspiring and uplifting she was, I have decided to apply to be a guide next fall for the next incoming class! Bree was the best Safari Guide not only because of how attentative she was to all of us, but because she participated in every activity we had to accomplish, she was a member of our team completely and she showed us that titles don’t make leaders but leaders make titles and she was the epitome of that. Bree was always making sure that we were pushing the boundaries of our comfort zones in a manner of “challenge by choice,” we have a choice to challenge ourselves and she encouraged us to do only what we were comfortable doing. I consider her a friend and a role model and I am so grateful to have met her.
Throughout the week, we had to attend “Leadership Choice Sessions,” listen to multiple speakers, and do many other activities that helped shape us as leaders in this world. Everything we attended had a similar goal but a different way of introducing that goal, the overall goal was to prepare CMU students to be successful in all of their future endeavors on and off of campus. I truly believe that this program did a magnificent job in doing just that. Everything that we attended provided insight in the challenges we will soon face and I feel like I will be successful during my years here on campus.
On the last day of Leadership Safari, we had a little celebration in the Finch Fieldhouse. One of the activities available was an open mic, so I went to go listen to those who decided to perform. While I was sitting listening to all of these talented individuals, a friend of mine told me I should sing a song from “Grease” so I did. It was so amazing seeing how responsive the crowd was, and later when I was scrolling through Twitter I found something even more amazing. Someone had tweeted about me without knowing who I was saying, “if the girl singing ‘hopelessly devoted to you’ isn’t on Broadway someday, then we’re missing out some real talent #LSafari16.” When I read the tweet I was absolutely floored, I am very humble about the things I do and for someone to think that I have enough talent to pursue my dream? I was so flattered by the compliment, it made my entire week 10x more exciting, but Safari was already so amazing that it is hard to imagine it getting any better, but it most definitely did.
In summary, moving into CMU and going through Safari was the start to my extraordinary adventure that has begun. With the love and support of my perfect family, I know that no matter what I do and where I go, I will have their love and open arms to welcome me home. If anyone were to ask, I would recommend CMU’s Leadership Safari highly, it is like no other program in the world and I personally benefited from every single activity I attended. It was worth the extra week on campus and worth fighting through the very long crammed days. To all individuals looking to go to Central Michigan University in the future, ATTEND LEADERSHIP SAFARI! You will NOT regret it! You never know when something will happen that could shape the rest of your future.