As the semester of Catalyst draws to a close, each and every student has made great strides in their self-development. Every week, students are asked to reflect on what stood out to them the most from that lesson. As the final weeks of the class approach, we asked three students what about catalyst has been most impactful for them. Read the responses of Drew Ewing, Sophia Tolentino, and Tim Kellams below!
Hey, I’m Drew Ewing and I am a freshman in Industrial Engineering up at K-State. This last fall semester, I saw some signs across campus about a leadership development program called Catalyst. I figured it might be something cool to check out, and maybe it might help me become a better leader. Boy am I glad I did! Catalyst has helped me see Leadership through a different lens. An example of this is how Catalyst has allowed me to see that Leadership isn’t just about the skillset you have, but it relies on much more. In one of the books we use, Dr. Tim Elmore focuses on how Leadership is like an Iceberg. The Leadership skills you have are like the 10% of the iceberg that is above the surface, but you’re character makes up the 90% below the surface. And as Dr. Elmore says, “It’s what’s below the surface that sinks the ship.”
-Drew Ewing, freshman in Carolyn and Liam's catalyst class
My most memorable experiences and favorite parts of Catalyst can be summed up in terms of the ‘P’ themes of people and purpose. Small groups are conducive and essential for learning and growth, which is why the size of our Catalyst groups is so important. If we don’t feel comfortable with each other, we can’t be vulnerable, and therefore it is nearly impossible to make strides toward creating actual lasting relationships and furthering growth in our leadership. The people that I have met through Catalyst have similar interests as me and care about the same things I do, which makes getting to know them and learning with them comfortable and fun. We also share the same purpose, because we all decided to take a class that we knew would open doors and further our opportunities by expanding our knowledge of leadership. This is a class of future leaders, and I can be sure to see the students in my Catalyst class as the next generation of leaders on campus. Our purpose is to better K-State and better ourselves. Also, shout out to Megan and Theo for being the most easy-going, classy fading, encouraging, and helpful Catalyst leaders ever!
-Sophia Tolentino, freshman in Megan and Theo's catalyst class
During my first semester of college I didn’t believe that I was reaching my fully potential in college or even as an individual, which frightened me. A group leader in my LEAD 212 class introduced me to Catalyst. As soon as I heard about what Catalyst does I was extremely excited. I thought “ a program that can help me dig deeper and find my passions and ultimately my self”. Can this be true? Catalyst has helped me learn how to be a more affective leader by understanding my strengths and passions. These lessons that I have learned through out my time as a Catalyst member aren’t just going to help this semester, but all though out my career and life. How many other programs make you dig so deep that you shock yourself? Catalyst has done me wonders as a student and I can honestly see them carrying over into my professional and personal life. I love the atmosphere of Catalyst. My class leaders truly care about all of members and want to see each and every one of them succeed.
-Timothy R. Kellams, freshman in Hannah and Joe's catalyst class
It was finally Friday, March 8, 2013: the day I had been planning for since May 2012. I had spent the last 10 months working with Sophia on fundraising, securing event space, placing orders with catering, recruiting students and advisors, and inviting a keynote speaker and K-State staff to lead facilitations. The morning of the conference came and although I was excited, I was also stressing about details and attempting to anticipate any hiccups that would come about that day.
I got out of bed that morning and checked my phone to see a text from my mom waiting for me. She told me, “Good luck today! The students are going to learn so much!!” It was then that it hit me that in the midst of being concerned about the logistics of the conference, I had forgotten about the true purpose of the event: for students and advisors to experience development in their skills and strengths as a leader. This is why the participants were attending and this is why us as Blue Key members were choosing to sacrifice time in class (like we really needed persuaded).
With this purpose in mind, it was time to start the day. We had 150 students and advisors from 15 different schools from around the state arriving to the K-State Student Union all before 9 a.m. The conference began with a keynote speech from Tyrone Flowers, who began his own non-profit organization in Kansas City to help develop teen leaders in underprivileged, urban communities. Tyrone spoke two more times throughout the day, with all of his speeches focusing on the theme of the conference: “Equip. Enhance. Empower.” To learn more about Tyrone Flowers and his organization, Higher M-Pact, follow this link: http://www.highermpact.org/.
Throughout the day students and advisors attended breakout sessions, which were led by some of K-State’s top faculty and staff members. These sessions included topics about mentoring, an advisor roundtable, servant leadership, and diversity in leadership. Students enjoyed the interactive element of the sessions, which allowed them to gain new perspectives on various topics of leadership.
Blue Key members also had the opportunity to lead some breakout sessions that focused on conflict management, learning how to structure effective meetings, and professionalism. Additionally, we had Student Governing Association interns serve as volunteers for the conference and on a panel for a couple of the breakout sessions. The participants highly enjoyed the opportunity to hear from college students and see their passion for leadership.
At the end of it all, the feedback we received on the evaluations was quite encouraging:
“Tyrone Flowers was really inspiring. I really liked his speeches! His story proves that as long as you’re determined you can accomplish anything.”
“Wonderful day! I hope to bring more students from my school back with me next year!”
And this is what the day was about: students inspired to endure in the face of adversity, organizations empowered to be agents of change at their schools, and advisors eager to return next year. Our purpose is not to perfect logistics, but to foster a culture of leadership development amongst high schools in Kansas. May this conference be a link in the chain and a drop in the bucket.
I was recently in an interview where I was asked what my favorite part about K-State is. My answer? Quest. This may seem odd to you, that out of everything that this amazing school has to offer, I would choose a clubs that I’m involved in. Well Quest Freshman Honorary is much, much more than just a club.
When I first heard about Quest, I understood that it was essentially a back stage pass to K-State. We would get to meet with President Schultz, see the new renovations on the Rec before anyone else, tour the basketball training facility, and participate in other cool inside opportunities. Over the past semester I have learned so much about the ins and outs of K-State and gotten to talk to people who are passionate about impacting and empowering students. It has been incredible to see how community oriented our campus is and how hard everyone works to keep K-State at its best. Because of these experiences, I so look forward to the rest of the year and the other events that Blue Key has in store for us, but these don’t come close to describing all the ways that Quest has impacted me.
At our first event, we got to meet at Dean Bosco’s house and have dinner, play games, and see what the semester would look like. Meeting everyone who had also made it into Quest was amazing. That first day, I got to know so many other students who shared my interests and were looking to get involved in the same types of clubs and organizations as me. And let me tell you, as an incoming freshman who was confused, lost, and new to campus, this was definitely needed. As the semester progressed, we really began to bond as a group. I noticed we were getting together more often outside of the scheduled events and starting to open up to each other. Since that first day, the other thirty freshman have become some of my best friends and I don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t met them.
So Quest has some great events and it’s a great way to meet friends, but what really sets it apart? What is the icing on the cake for why it’s my favorite part about K-State? Why am I writing this blog? Blue Key. These fifteen seniors have each inspired and challenged me in so many different ways. Although I specifically got paired up with a mentor, I have been able to get to know all of the Blue Keyers through the different events, catalyst classes, and their willingness and eagerness to spend time with us. It is such a unique experience to have a group of upperclassmen who can show you the ropes, watch out for you, and invest in you. Throughout this year I have formed lasting friendships and mentorships and I know I speak for all the Questies when I say how excited I am that nine of them will be sticking around one more year!
Blue Key does so much for the K-State family and the impact they have on and off campus is huge. I see such dedication, passion and leadership from these fifteen seniors and I honestly think they have no limit to what they can do! If you’re reading this, I hope you’ve had the chance to get involved in Blue Key in some way, and I hope you can understand why I didn’t hesitate to tell my interviewer that Quest is my favorite part about K-State.
Fellow Friends of Blue Key,
Friday of Febraury 8, 2013 marked Dr. Tim Elmore’s highly anticipated campus lecture at K-State and subsequent workshop with Blue Key’s current Catalyst students! On behalf of all of Blue Key and the K-State Student Governing Association, we were so excited and proud to host Dr. Elmore, who is the author of Habitudes and well-known expert on self-development. Dr. Elmore’s organization Growing Leaders offers programs, events, and training resources across the nation that promote healthy character and leadership development in the next generation. Needless to say, Blue Key was thrilled that our current Spring 2013 Catalyst students (who are in the process of reading Habitudes) would receive the unique and honored privilege of working with Dr. Elmore personally, honing their leadership skills and bringing to life the curriculum that they have been exploring for several weeks now.
Dr. Elmore first began in the K-State Student Union ballroom with a 90-minute lecture centering on different types of leadership, the importance of character and integrity, and effective time management. This presentation was free and open to the entire student body, something made possible by additional funding from the Student Governing Association. Here he engaged students with his kinesthetic presentation style and think-pair-share activities, calling on our Generation Y to equip and mobilize themselves as authentic, impactful leaders.
After concluding his campus lecture, Dr. Elmore along with Blue Key Senior Honorary and the Catalyst classes migrated to the Leadership Studies Building for pizza, snacks, and more in-depth leadership training. Here Dr. Elmore expounded further upon his own personal life journey towards leadership development, his non-profit organization and what it aims to offer, and most importantly the Habitudes book and its application to students’ lives. Via large-group lecture as well as small-group discussion and activities, Dr. Elmore further explored individual Habitudes such as “Checkers/Chess” and “Life Sentence,” advancing Catalyst students in their relational skill sets, mentorship abilities, and purposeful goal-setting. His workshop’s ability to “bring to life” the material that our Catalyst students have been reading about proved to be invaluable.
After this additional 90-minute workshop more specifically curtailed to our Catalyst course, Dr. Elmore concluded his portion of the night’s program and Blue Key proceeded to facilitate a series of team-building activities aimed at strengthening classmates’ relationship-building and rapport. Five different rooms housed five different exercises that illustrated one of the Catalyst program’s “P” tenets of Purpose, People, Positive play, Planning, and Passion. These kinesthetic activities brought students out of their seats, out of their comfort zones, and into every area of the Leadership Studies building as they ran around completing tasks and truly working as teams.
All in all, this Habitudes-centered retreat was exactly the kind of additional programming to enhance and inspire both our Catalyst students and their coursework, as well as our own Blue Key organization. The event would not have been made possible without all of the hard work and planning on behalf of our Catalyst Co-Coordinators, Emilee Taylor and Grant Hill, as well as the support and aid of our advisors. Events such as this one illustrate the vast impact student leaders can make on the development of other fellow student leaders, and remind me of why we all joined Blue Key in the first place: to use our time, talents, and resources to serve others and to cultivate ethical leadership and empowerment among our generation’s youth. I am proud to say that Dr. Tim Elmore’s workshops did just that, further promoting Blue Key’s mission of “Serving I Live.”
Blue Key Love,
I could go on and on about the wonderful opportunities I have had as a member of Blue Key. However, one of the best parts of being a K-State Blue Key member is the opportunity to build genuine relationships with the rest of your Blue Key family. We spend so much time together working toward goals for the program and ourselves. This winter break, however, we focused on another goal: relationship building. And what is the best way to get to know someone? You got it- ROAD TRIP! Three weekends and three road trips later, Blue Key is ready to take on spring semester.
We began our three weekend-road trip with a hometown tour. Over five days, K-State Blue Key traveled from Manhattan to Lincoln by way of every member’s childhood home. Highlights included feeding cows at Hannah’s house in Enterprise Kansas, visiting the base at Ft. Leavenworth where Emilee grew up, and meeting with the Overland Park mayor with Liam. The best part of the trip, however, was getting to meet each member’s parents and seeking out their most awkward childhood photo. All of these photos, by the way, can be found on various members’ Facebook profiles if you know where to look ;)
Our next weekend adventure was traveling to Toledo, Ohio for the Blue Key national conference. It was great to spend time learning about what other Blue Key chapters do to serve their campuses and communities. We were treated to great key-note speakers and fun social events by Toledo’s chapter. The highlight, however, was the 15-hour car ride with nine of the K-State Blue Key members. Our two cars did a pretty good job of staying together on the interstate, despite one instance when Emilee’s driving put her car 50 miles in front of Eli’s more conservative approach. Several detours later and after 30 plus hours of driving, we finally made it back to Manhattan!
Our last weekend trip for a while was spent at Living Water Ranch for our spring retreat. We kept busy developing potential StrengthsQuest facilitations and preparing to spend the semester teaching Catalyst! No retreat would be complete without more relationship building, however, and fun was had around the campfire and hiking the nearby hill.
Despite spending three weekends with the same group, I am only more excited to spend my last semester at K-State with this incredible group. I am always energized after time with these Blue Key-ers and still find I am learning from each member every day!
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