Warm fuzzies.

I just spent a few days straight with our McNair group and here’s what I learned:

Tom likes to wear t-shirts that say “noodle boy” on them. He’s got one sweet pair of boots. And he’s one of the most gentle and caring souls around.

Camila is brave and says, “me first,” when it comes to the high ropes. Impressive! You can count on Camila for a smile, but when she’s out, she’s down for the count!

Mara learned the words to a new song and she knows how to breath when it really matters. She’s a quiet giant, I think.

Brady, he’s got the moves, both in the air + on the ground. And he’s not shy about learning how to swing dance, that’s for sure. Swift on the water and a nice guy all around.

Rachel is the gel, she’s the warm + gooey insides of the group. She keeps things rolling with her generous and uplifting personality. If you are going on an adventure, take Rachel along for sure!

Donovan: all I can picture is Donovan floating along the water wrapped up tight in his bright blue life jacket surrounded by the girls. He’s such a great sport and I think bringing him along for the ride this time around is a great choice! He’s open + optimistic and is gonna help you out when you need it.

Holly is a leader and ain’t letting anything get her down. She’s a bit of a crazy girl who knows how to have fun. Plus, she’s got great hair!

You can tell this yooper loves her outdoors. Ashton is a whiz with the canoe and is one of the sweetest gals around.

Taylor R is quietly in-tune with the group and happy to be part of it. He’s ready to stretch his wings. Taylor is up for pretty much anything and enjoys a card game or two!

Kurt’s got an aux cord, he’s “pretty strong” and he’s got some moves. Just ask and he’ll teach you! And if you’re feeling a little “buggy,” Kurt’s your guy to hit up for support + guidance.

Taylor M‘s got it going when it comes to horses and Mortimer became her bud. She’s low key with an unassuming presence, but know that she’s got a lot of spunk and passion that lies right beneath.

Aaron knows the words to *most* songs, is my card-playing partner and a real trooper. His funnies pepper the group and we’re all the better for it.

Jazmin is a quiet observer but isn’t afraid to jump in on the fun. She loves being in a canoe (true or false?) and is a strong foundation for the group.

Jim is a great guy to hang out with and has a willingness + knack for teaching others that I think is really special. He’s got a lot of depth and is always willing to be the “tipper” when it comes to star-tipping, that is!

Kim, what can you really say about Kim? Except that she’s one dynamite partner in crime! She’s my rock and she’s the rock for our group. She takes such great care of us and we love her so much.

Arshia’s gonna hook in just fine! She’s a hoot to be around and will lend much to the group by way of her life experience and expertise. So happy that she could join us for our special retreat!

Jay’s like the “old wise one” that is sure to engage you in some brilliant, often wacky, conversation that you wouldn’t have imagined yourself having. He is a quiet observer with great skill for supporting and encouraging others. He likes to laugh, he’s apt to tell you how it is and he’s got a steady + caring presence.

I learned that I get the “warm fuzzies” when I think about our adventures these past few days. I learned that the 2015 CMU McNair scholars are ready to get things going on the grad school front and they are ready to grab hold of whatever the summer might bring. I’m excited to spend this special time together.

It’s a period of seed planting in my mind. Some seeds will surely be sprouting (and taking off!) this summer; others might be chillin’ in the soil for a while, only to peek out their pretty little heads when the timing is right on. In short, this is one terrific start to the summer. A summer during which our scholars will be hell-bent on figuring out their lives and then some.

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Lynn. (like a boss)

One step (or shot!) at a time.

Soul Food

I’m listening to Donny Osmond (yes, really) and Susan Boyle sing, All I Ask of You. Tunes from Phantom of the Opera have been with me since Friday night. It sometimes seems as though I live under a rock. I’ve never seen Phantom, not the movie, the musical, haven’t listened to the soundtrack, nothing. Not sure why, but I haven’t. So, when we took nearly twenty of our McNair scholars to see the performance at the Wharton Center, I was right there along with most who had not seen it either.

Turn my head with talk of summertime.

–from All I Ask of You.

As the “familiar” songs came up throughout the performance (like the one I lead with above), I was *doubly* taken with the music. Seeing a live performance is a gift. Which is why we share it with our scholars. Experiencing artistry and creation like that fills one soul in a way that many of our day-to-day activities just don’t. This is especially the case with this performance of Phantom of the Opera and its dramatic/astonishing theater set, stage props, costumes, 52-piece orchestra and amazing singing.

I didn’t know the chandelier would POP(!) and nearly fall on the crowd (oops: spoiler alert, after the fact). Steps seemed to appear out of nowhere as Christine and the Phantom descend to the boat. Then the boat literally FLOATS across the mist. The lighting effects were spectacular throughout. My personal favorites include acts with the entire cast filling the stage and belting out songs like, Masquerade, in bejeweled costumes and lots of dancing. In short, the evening stayed with me long after the performance ended. And I hope it did my scholars too.

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Lots of scholars attending the Phantom performance in Lansing!

One of the things I enjoy most about McNair is that we “tackle the whole person” when working with our students. Attending a live musical performance, like Phantom of the Opera, exposes our students to the arts and culture. It fills them with the beauty of creative expression, and hopefully, “feeds their souls” in ways that will further inspire their own creative efforts in life. It’s not like our students are going to become leads in the next broadway musical (although they could!), but becoming more culturally aware and appreciative is only building a stronger foundation in life for each and every one of them (myself included!).

One of my favorite scenes from the story!