Wow! LAS-in-the-D was such a successful trip jam-packed with so many new memories and learning outcomes. Detroit felt and looked so different than I expected (haven’t been to the city in almost 2 years) and we, LAS, truly had a blast. Planned for the trip was a visit with the students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, tour at Quicken Loans, free time at the Detroit Institute of Arts, overnight stay at the Outdoor Adventure Center, and a day of service with Cass Community Social Services. Although we were in Detroit for less than 48 hours we accomplished, experienced, and learned so many things!
My first thought arriving at JRLA was that we would break off into groups and facilitate team building activities with the students. I quickly learned that these students were not your typical high school students. They were leaders. The goal wasn’t necessarily for them to learn from us, but rather we had a lot to learn from them. These students were extraordinary as they were actively engaged in the activities, debrief, and group discussion. I got to meet so many outstanding individuals in the short amount of time we had with them and I know they will accomplish great things in and outside of Detroit.
I have a really good friend who interned at Quicken Loans last summer and who has recently been sparking my interest about potentially interning there in the future. After touring the different buildings and listening to John Fikany, Vice President of Strategy, speak about what Quicken Loans is all about and what they’ve done for the city of Detroit I was instantly sold on pursuing a future with the company. When talking to my family and friends about QL they would always ask me “Isn’t that just a mortgage company?” and I would explain that they are an umbrella of several different businesses, industries, and professions but didn’t exactly know how to explain why QL is so successful and why it would be an excellent place to gain experience. John Fikany described the history of his company, how his company transformed (and still is transforming) Detroit, and how there’s an opportunity for anyone at Quicken Loans.
DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS
This was my very first time gazing through the beautiful DIA. We only had an hour to make it through the entire museum but the exhibits that I was able to see were complete with marvelous, historical pieces of art. The history of the DIA is what fascinated me the most. Up until the 1970’s, the DIA was a booming operation and was even the first U.S. museum to acquire a piece by van Gogh, but as the city started to decline Detroit was unable to support the museum. An increased tax legislation was passed in the Macomb, Wayne, and Oakland counties in order to prevent the museum and its collections from being sold. Today, the DIA is now regarded as among the top six museums in the U.S. and citizens from the three counties are admitted in for free. I am already planning my trip back to the DIA so I can truly spend time appreciating the spectacular art and history that has been preserved.
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE CENTER
We stayed overnight in what used to be an old manufacturing building for marine steam engines but has now been renovated into Michigan’s Outdoor Adventure Center. The interesting aspect of this organization is that it gives people the feel of Michigan’s great outdoors in the heart of the city. Being a part of CMU’s Recreation, Parks, & Leisure Department, I am excited for the relationship that OAC and RPL students will form in the next few years as they begin to offer internships and other opportunities to become involved.
CASS COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES
Beginning as a small, Methodist church, CCSS has flourished into a Detroit-based agency that is dedicated to providing food, housing, health services, and employment programs. They have contributed to Detroit in tremendous ways by offering services to veterans, women & children, and others a part of the homeless population. I had the opportunity to serve in the kitchen where one million meals are prepared and served each year. I got to meet and talk with the staff and even regular volunteers who dedicate hours of service each week. Working in the kitchen was a great experience especially when I visited the occupants in the dining area. CCSS is doing great things for the city of Detroit and I would not hesitate to serve with them again.
After the trip, when I was taking some time to process and reflect in my dorm room, I came to the conclusion that LAS-in-the-D wasn’t about us. The goal of the trip was to use our skills and knowledge of servant leadership for the better of the city. We were there not only to have fun and create memories, but to understand how we are socially responsible as leaders to serve our communities. I learned more about Detroit in one weekend than I ever have in my entire life. More importantly, I learned how and why it is important to establish a serving mindset and observed different types of service through the corporate world (Quicken Loans) and the community world (CCSS). Detroit has provided me insight and opportunity to get involved even further in the service of the city and I am eager to return.
Last semester, I was assigned a philosophy paper aimed to determine who I am and what I want out of life. It was something that I had never thought about and wasn’t really sure how to tackle but after spending hours writing and pondering ‘who am i?‘ I concluded that my passion was for people. I wasn’t really sure if one’s passion could be people but I had decided that my purpose in life was to serve others in every way possible and contribute to improving their quality of life. While this discovery of my purpose is still new and not quite fully developed yet, I knew that I should begin researching organizations and companies that have the same philosophy as I. I hadn’t had much luck until I found Quicken Loans.
For a while, I assumed Quicken Loans was a big fancy, cut throat business strictly working in the finance industry and never pictured myself a part of the company. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I still have a lot to learn about QL, but after our trip to Detroit I was absolutely inspired and fired up. One thing that John Fikany said that stuck out to me was that Quicken Loans was powered by purpose. What they do changes all the time but why they do it and who they are will always stay the same. I have found that to be true in my life as well. I grow in and out of different seasons of my life and may change where I am or what I’m doing but I’ve always had the same purpose and I’ve always been the same Olivia – even if it took me a while to figure that out. It is my mission and goal to use my time here on earth for the better of others. I plan to pursue a future with QL as an intern during my college experience. Quicken Loans would be the perfect place for me to connect, learn, and grow into a stronger leader who is better equipped to serve others.