Making Meaningful Connections

Two months into college and I am here thinking about all the people that I have met and all the friendships that I have made. Im sitting here realizing that there are so many people out there that I have yet to meet and make a connection with. Not only as a Leader Advancement Scholar was I about to partake on this experience of the Connections Conference, but I went in as a college student that wanted to meet other people on my campus that I have yet to interact with.

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Kristin Slifco and I

Connections is a leadership conference in which students and faculty on CMU’s campus can attend to not only develop relationships with different people, but gain a better knowledge of how to better yourself as a leader and bring what you’ve learned back to your everyday lifestyle. Coming into the conference, I honestly was already in the mindset that it was going to be just another leadership conference where we do little activities. Once I got there, I realized that although it had a lot of the aspects of many conferences that I have been to before, it had a whole different feeling about it. It combined making connections with people and learning about leadership which made it very impactful.

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Hot Tub with Friends(Great Wolf Lodge)

One session that I really enjoyed was one that didn’t really have to do a whole lot with leadership, but it was a session that was all about self-reflection and realizing what you need to focus more on in life. We were given a piece of paper with a tree on it and it had different branches that stood for different parts of our life. There was emotional branch, psychological, spiritual, etc. Within each branch, there were several leaves and each leave represented a different component in our life and we had to color in each individual leaf depending on how much that statement was part four lives. For example, for the emotional branch, one of the leaves was that you like to have your alone time. Then you would color in that leaf in how much you agree with that statement. This activity really gave an outlook on what I value in life as well as my strengths and weaknesses and what my goals were on which part of my “tree” that I wanted to improve on.

Getting to connect with a lot of people that I didn’t know before was another really cool part about this conference. Not only did we get to go to the water park within Great Wolf Lodge, but we got to experience a lot of other different activities in which we were able to connect with others. One activity that we did that really stood out to me was where after dinner one of the nights, we were given a sheet of paper that had various questions on it and every 2 minutes we had to go around the room and talk to someone new. With each different conversation, we had to ask the question and write it down and then we were able to talk about anything else that we wanted. This was such great way to go out of your comfort zone and talk to other people that you probably wouldn’t have talked to before.

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(Left to right) Cassie, Megan, Vanessa, Kyle(me)

Connections was, for me, a great way to experience different sessions that allowed me to get a better understanding of not only different styles of leadership, but it gave me more knowledge of how to communicate with others, create better friendships, and it gave me a little self reflection. This was a great way for me to not just meet new people, but I also got to bond with people within my LAS cohort that I hadn’t really talked to that much before. Taking what I learned about myself from this experience, I will begin to focus on the beaches of my tree in which are needed improving and grow from the roots that I have established thus far in my life.

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