The Class of 2017


Experience the Washington, DC Internship Program Through the Eyes of Our Newest Class

Michelle Henry

Baker University

Major/Minor: Business/Sports Administration


Blood Region: Central Plains

Blog - Day 1 by Michelle Henry

Hello everyone!

My name is Michelle Henry and I am from Louisburg, Kansas and I just finished my sophomore year at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. I am a business major with concentrations in management and marketing. I am a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and am currently serving as the Vice President of Recruitment. I also volunteer with Baker Serves, the community service organization on campus, and am a member of the Women’s Soccer team. Soccer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I am thankful for the opportunities it has provided me. It has helped me find my love for all things athletic, allowed me to grow, not only a teammate but as a leader, and has given me opportunities to overcome difficulties resulting in a stronger and more confident version of myself. Without it, I would not be who I am today and I would not be at Baker or in Washington, D.C. representing my school and about to go on the adventure of a lifetime. I am beyond honored to be one of 12 amazing people here to represent the 2017 American Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program.

Prior to this trip I had only flown a couple times, and never by myself. Leaving from Kansas City was the easy part. My dad walked me in and I made it through security and onto my flight without any problems. The real experience began when I arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport. Compared to KCI, this airport is huge and I had no idea where to go to get to my next flight. With some help I was pointed in the right direction and started making my way over to wait for the shuttle. I got in line and waited as everyone moved forward, only to be held back to wait for the next shuttle. I only had around 30 minutes to make it to my gate and now had to walk across the entire airport. After getting slightly lost, I purchased a sandwich and headed to my seat to fly to D.C. After I landed, I took an Uber to Thurston Hall where I was greeted eagerly by our awesome student mentors. I quickly met my roommates, as well as the other students, and then we all headed to dinner together. We ended up at a restaurant called &Pizza, which definitely sounded promising! Most of us created our own pizza and eagerly devoured every piece. From there we walked to The White House, took some pictures, and then made our way to Captain Cookie. As someone with a sweet tooth, this sounded even more promising than &Pizza! I caved and had an ice cream cookie sandwich, and it was definitely worth it. We then headed back to Thurston Hall where we had a quick meeting about expectations and a brief overview of what our two weeks here would look like. After day one, I have already experienced a variety of new things and learned a few life lessons along the way. I am so excited to see and learn everything throughout our time here, to be a part of this program, and to have the opportunity to get to know the other great members of this class. My advice so far is to ask for directions when you are lost, download the airline app so you do not get lost in the first place, have fun, get to know the people with you, take the chance to go on runs around the city with your roommates, and eat the ice cream because who knows when you’ll be in Washington D.C. again to try it. Thanks for reading about our first day, I can’t wait for tomorrow… the real beginning to this exciting adventure!

Jenna Roux

Lewis Clark State College

Major/Minor:Business and Communications


Blood Region:Lewis & Clark

Blog - Day 2 by Jenna Roux

Hey there! My name is Jenna Roux, but I go by Jen. I am going into my junior year at Lewis- Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho and am fortunate enough to play for their women’s tennis team. I am a business communications major and plan to minor in global studies and economics. I was recruited through my previous coach in South Africa where I am from and just finished my second season as a college athlete. Go Warriors! Playing on the team has been an amazing experience so far, from the support and lessons from my teammates and coaches, to the travelling and competing against schools all around the country. Being a college athlete has taught me not only how to manage myself, but also those around me and how it is a constant adjustment and learning process.

Today was our second day in D.C and our first day going to the office at the American Red Cross National Headquarters. Some of us woke up early to get a run in and others slept in to recover from the previous days travels. It was an overcast walk to the National Headquarters with the streets full of people getting to work on a Monday morning. There was a definite excitement and nervousness within the group, all of us still orientating ourselves with the city and eager to find out what the two weeks have in store. Upon getting to the National Headquarters, a beautiful marble building, we went into the conference room where we had assigned seating and a goodie bag waiting for us! Here, we finally met Brian Hamil, the National Chair for Biomedical Services for the Red Cross and the founder of the ARC/ NAIA Leadership Program. He and our three mentors gave a short introduction and went straight into breaking the ice, getting us all to interact and comfortable with one another.

After getting familiar and meeting Brian we had our first speaker join us, Peter Macias who is the Director of Communications for the Service to the Armed Forces for the American Red Cross. Mr. Macias gave an incredible energy to the room; right as he walked in, he came to each one of us to introduce himself. He brought a great sense of engagement from the start. He spoke about a few of his core passions for the Red Cross: which are people, and alleviating pain as best as he can for the people he serves. Mr. Macias shared one of his keys to leadership with us. It was a formula that read: information/awareness + develop understanding + inspire and motivate = communication and aspiration. This is important as leaders because when we return to our campuses we will have to use this tool to execute successful blood drives.

Our next speaker was Shaun Gilmore the President of Biomedical Services for the Red Cross. He elaborated more on the biomedical services structure of the Red Cross. He outlined what processes it takes in order to continue their success, and the blood donation service. Mr. Gilmore highlighted that preparation is key to successfully providing people and distributors with a reliable blood supply. It was amazing to learn about how many steps it takes in order to get to the final step of delivering and using a donator’s blood. Not only that, but the divisions within the organization responsible for various roles to ensure maximum preparation. Mr. Gilmore ended his talk with us to share some of his “Do’s” and “Dont’s” as a leader. What stood out to me the most was to surround yourself with successful people and don’t be afraid to ask for help. This reminded me that engaging with others, who ever they may be and in a given circumstance, is key to growing as a person.

We concluded our first day in the office with discussing our assigned reading and book, How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillion. What this did mostly was give us all a chance to reflect what spoke to us personally in the readings and also understand more about each other’s thoughts into leadership.

After a day filled with overwhelming rich discussion and information we then headed out for some dinner at a recommended burger place and then got the chance to see some of the historical monuments around D.C. Its so surreal being in this city and learning about the sites and people behind them. I needed a bit of a history lesson here and there.

Having the opportunity to be part of this program with these people is phenomenal and it is only day 2. I am excited for what the next two weeks have in store, the leadership skills that I’ll adapt and grow!

Kelly Workman

Indiana Institute of Technology


Sport:Cross Country/Track

Blood Region:Indiana-Ohio

Blog - Day 3 by Kelly Workman

Hi Everyone!

My name is Kelly Workman. I am a senior at Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Math for Educators. My passion is helping students grow educationally, but especially helping them grow personally. I try to take this passion for growth outside of the children I teach, and bring it to my cross country and track team at Indiana Tech. This is my first time in Washington D.C. so I cannot wait to tell you about Tuesday!

First, I want to tell you that my peers here are amazing!!! We are all so well connected and it is as if we already have trust, honesty, and reliability in our relationships. My two roommates Sophia, Michelle and I; along with José, decided to wake up bright and early to get our daily run in. This involved us running across the Arlington Memorial Bridge. What a sight to see! Many of us were feeling like we needed a little boost before heading to the office, so of course, we picked up Starbucks. As we headed to the American Red Cross Headquarters, we were ready for a day filled with influential leaders and speakers.

The first speaker of the day was Chris Hrouda, the Executive Vice President of Biomedical Services. I could feel his passion for the Red Cross as soon as he started talking. A few pieces of advice he shared with us were: “Have desire/work ethic, be flexible, and be willing to take on challenges you are not comfortable doing.” These words are perfect as we approach the challenges and duties we will face as Red Cross/NAIA Ambassadors.

We then had one of our awesome mentors, Hanna Malak, teach us how change is inevitable no matter what aspect of life you may be dealing with. His advice was “Be the change you want to see.” This advice helps us lead our blood drives on our campus, and see that we can make a difference at our school and the Red Cross. We had lunch and then moved onto an activity called “True Colors” lead by Tori Velazquez and Carolyn Boyer. This activity involved all of us examining adjectives and ranking them 1-4, adding the numbers, and seeing if we were a blue, orange, green, or gold. I was blue which has adjectives such as: sympathetic, personal, warm, compassionate, sincere, and idealistic. We worked with our color to describe our needs, joys, values, strengths, and stressors. This activity helped me see how different my peers were, and how to better understand them to ensure we have a positive relationship. I learned that although they may be different, there are aspects we all bring to the table in order to have a strong team.

The next speaker was another amazing mentor of ours, Megan Mosiniak. She spoke to us about how to use our resources such as personal time, talent, energy, and wealth toward aspects of our lives we value. We learned that saying no to things is not always bad, and sometimes it helps you get to where you want to be and what you aspire to be. She helped me realize how much work and time I need to put toward my blood drives at Tech to have a more successful drive and save so many more lives.

Megan’s speech was followed by advice from Randon McNeil, our last fantastic mentor. He helped us understand the data behind previous drives at our schools, the reasons behind our number of donors dropping or rising, and how goals are set for our blood drives. This gave us a better perspective of the amount of donors we need to recruit to reach our goal and save more lives.

Our last speaker of the day was the most genuine and caring human being I have ever came across, and her name was Anna Maria Larsen. She mentioned three aspects you need in life: to know thyself, follow your heart, and be bold. She taught me how to get past the hard days and always have a smile on my face. She mentioned there is no such thing as failure, because you learn from everything. Her knowledge and authenticity she expressed was an aspect I admire and hope to display throughout my life.

So our day at the office concluded, but our adventures in the city were just beginning. We took a long stroll to Georgetown, a historic neighborhood in northwest D.C. Half the group pursued a sushi restaurant, as the “no-shis” pursued a barbecue restaurant. We all enjoyed our dinner so we continued our pursuits down the main road which included shopping boutiques and stores. We then continued to the Potomac River, where we enjoyed a sunset view. As we walked back to Thurston hall we briefly stopped by the JFK Memorial Center for Performing Arts, and got a rooftop night view of this beautiful city, what a way to end the night with some good friends.

Thanks so much for reading my entry, and make sure to keep visiting to learn about our adventures and learning experiences.

Sophia Weisbruch

St. Gregory’s University

Major/Minor: Nursing


Blood Region: Southwest

Blog - Day 4 by Sophia Weisbruch

Hi y’all, my name is Sophia Weisbruch. I am a junior, currently attending St. Gregory’s University (SGU) in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I compete as a student athlete on both the cross-country and track teams. My major is nursing; with the hopes of positively impacting people I encounter and serve.

I am grateful for the chance to represent my school and family through the American Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership program. The last few days have been busy with passionate speakers, helpful information, insightful discussion, and excellent guidance in all aspects pertaining to each of us as individual leaders who will run Red Cross blood drives. This program has provided me with valuable information that I cannot wait to take back to the student athletes at SGU. One of the best things about learning is sharing the knowledge you have gained with others and inspiring them to join your cause. I have been so blessed to be given such a unique opportunity and cannot wait share the experience with the people I know.

We started our third day in the office with two intelligent speakers, Mr. John Taylor and Ms. Celia Clifford. Mr. Taylor spoke to us about the importance of efficiency in collecting blood during a drive. The stats that he shared with us were vital to know so we can understand our part in the Red Cross blood supply chain network. He stressed the importance of college aged donors and shared a stat that one unit of blood could save up to three lives. Our next speaker was Ms. Celia Clifford. She gave us a tutorial on the science of blood, the collection process, and quality of different types of blood. It was really neat to understand the biology part of the blood; which was right in Ms. Clifford’s wheelhouse as she studied it in college.

After lunch, we had the chance to meet Mr. Tim O’Malley. He facilitated a workshop centered on the topics of diversity and cultural competency. Mr. O’Malley put us through engaging exercises to teach us about the importance of credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation. These characteristics are important to know so that you can develop healthy relationships with the people you will try to motivate to donate blood. He expanded on that thought, stating that these characteristics did not just pertain to our involvement with the Red Cross, but our holistic development as leaders. Another main point he brought to our attention was to be aware of the variety of cultural backgrounds that people are from. His workshop really helped expand my view and gave me a chance to think of a game plan for the blood drives on my campus.

Once the workshop was over our group went back to the dorms and changed for the scavenger hunt that our mentors Hanna Malak, Megan Mosiniak, and Randon McNeil had put together for us. We all had a quick bit to eat and were then given the list of things that needed to be achieved to win the hunt. Every action needed to be photographed which was the job of the student mentors. Personally, I believe I had the best team, but other groups may disagree! My team was made up of: Jensyn Meyer, Ryan Heinser, Gaby Pedroza, myself, and Hanna (as our photographer). Our team name was Hanna Montana! Our first step in the scavenger hunt was to take a photo in the shape of a cross on the ground outside the American Red Cross building. After quickly achieving the first assignment, my group moved on to the second task which was take a video of one of the members on your team hitting a baseball or softball in the middle of an intramural softball game being played on the National Mall. We had to wait a little bit to get in on a game but it was once we got in, Jensyn hit the ball hard and fast. Next was to make a pyramid using people not in our group in front of the Washington Monument. We quickly spotted a group of kids and included them all in the photo. Following the pyramid photo, we went to the World War II Memorial where we each took a photo in front of the pillar that our state was located in. It was a task accomplished in less than a few minutes. The last two things on the list were to take a picture doing the “Thinker Pose” and pretend to lead a tour group at the Lincoln Memorial. I had a lot of fun pretending to lead the tour group. The kids went along with the things I was telling them and even sounded excited at a few points. We ended the scavenger hunt my meeting up with the rest of the teams at Captain Cookie.

The scavenger hunt was a really fun activity because we got to invest in our teammates in smaller groups and have fun with our mentors. I am thankful for my new, hard working, colleagues and our time together at the American Red Cross and our unique experiences throughout Washington, D.C. Thank you for allowing me to share the highlights of my day.

Jensyn Meyer

Midland University

Major/Minor: Biology/Psychology & Chemistry


Blood Region: Midwest

Blog - Day 5 by Jensyn Meyer

It is a beautiful day here in Washington D.C.! My name is Jensyn Meyer, and I am going into my junior year at Midland University, in Fremont, Nebraska. I am a Biology (Pre-Physician Assistant) major with minors in chemistry and psychology. I play volleyball and am involved in numerous activities on campus including: Phi Omega Sorority, Residential Assistant, Love Your Melon, and Cardinal Key. I did not know this when I first stepped foot onto Midland’s campus, but two years later, I have found that it is my second family and home away from home.

I am honored to be here in D.C. with eleven other wonderful student athletes, and I cannot wait to share everything we experienced on our fifth day here. After throwing on our business attire, we started our trek over to the American Red Cross Headquarters. Coming from a small town, I am amazed every single morning by the multitude of cars, well-dressed people, and commotion this city has to offer. Our first speaker was one of our very own mentors, Hanna Malak. Hanna shared the importance of teamwork and provided three quick ways to become successful: educate, motivate, and delegate.

After learning about Hanna’s great tips and his experiences through blood drives, our next mentor, Randon McNeil lead a discussion on culture. Personally, I learned that culture must be proactively designed, it is continued through repetition, and has the potential to leave a legacy. Next, Megan humbly shared her success of doubling her units collected on her campus after becoming an ambassador. From her, I learned that to be a great leader, it is extremely important to respect and appreciate your team. Each mentor shares their wisdom daily with us, inquisitive college students, and our pens never seem to be able to write quickly enough.

After a wonderful catered lunch, we were lucky enough to have the inspiring Brian Boyle come speak to us. He was in a car accident at the age 18 which caused him to be in critical condition. He had 14 operations, 36 blood transfusions, over a three-year recovery process. After recovering from the accident, he ran his first Ironman race followed by numerous triathlons and marathons. He has been a volunteer for the Red Cross for the past 10 years and recently has been hired to work for the organization. He strives to make an impact on others and to promote that donating matters and to save lives like his. I will always remember his passion and servant heart for helping others through the Red Cross.

It is Chinatown time!! We headed down to eat at a delicious Chinese restaurant in the evening. This was followed by looking at a South African menu from Nando’s Peri-Peri for Jen and grabbing a crepe at a local stand for Gaby, yum! After devouring our scrumptious meals, they asked us if we wanted to do a Monumental Run. This run happens to be close to 6 miles, but we are in D.C. so why not? For someone who is the furthest thing away from a history buff, the monuments are nothing short of magnificent at night. The way the light glistens off them is something truly special that I hope everyone gets a chance to see. What made this moment truly wonderful, was being able to share it with people whom were strangers merely a week ago, and I can now call my great friends. I am clocking out for the night so I can get some beauty sleep for our big day meeting the President and CEO of the American Red Cross tomorrow! I cannot wait for the adventures the next eight days will bring us! naia blog day 5

Gabriella Pedroza

Lindsey Wilson College

Major/Minor: Nursing


Blood Region: River Valley

Blog - Day 6 by Gabriella Pedroza

Hola a todos!

My name is Gabriella Pedroza, and I am from Venezuela, but currently I am a Sophomore at Lindsey Wilson College, located in Columbia, Kentucky. I am a member of the women’s tennis team at Lindsey Wilson, go Blue Raiders! My major is Pre-Nursing and am wanting to become a Nurse Practitioner someday. I am involved in many activities at my college, especially International Student’s organization where I get to meet other international students on campus.

It is Friday and this girl’s body knows it… I would say everyone’s face reflects how tired we were from the Monumental Run that we did around D.C. last night (nearly 6 miles only briefly interrupted by walking through several of the impressive national monuments). We started Friday at 9:00 am with Nathan Groce, a fashionably-dressed young Red Cross employee who discussed information related to our career development. He specifically talked about what to keep in mind when researching jobs, how to grow our professional skills, and provided tips on proper interview etiquette. I found his presentation engaging and incredibly helpful for our preparation for our future job interviews and careers.

After Mr. Groce’s presentation, we were prepped for our calls with our local Account Managers with questions that helped us gather important information for our upcoming campus blood drives. After reviewing our questions, we all got the chance to speak with our Account Managers, however, I was unable to get a hold of my Account Manager and had to reschedule our phone call. I was nervous at first to speak with my Account Manager, but after hearing about everyone else’s positive conversations with their Account Manager, my nerves went away.

Lunch arrived to the office at noon and with it our next speaker, Dr. Patricia Brunker. Dr. Brunker is a Medical Director of the American Red Cross for the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac region and is currently an Assistant Professor of Pathology at Johns Hopkins University. We took our lunches back to the conference room, and while we were eating, Dr. Brunker interacted with us. Her conversation focused on basic information about blood, the impact of the donation experience on young donors, and how the blood donation experience can impact athletes on our campuses.

After Dr. Brunker finished her presentation we headed to the most exciting part of the day -- meeting the President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern. We arrived to the conference room and we all sat around the same table used by Gail for meetings with her direct reports. I was able to sit at one end of the table facing directly at Mrs. McGovern who was seated at the other end of the table. She started the meeting talking about her background and experiences she has had with other business units she has led. After listening to Mrs. McGovern’s past experiences, she was excited to answer the questions we had for her. If I were to describe how it was to have met the President and CEO of the American Red Cross, I would simply say it was an honor to hear the experiences that led her to the Red Cross, and how these shaped her into the respected leader she is today. There were so many great moments with our meeting with Mrs. McGovern! She was refreshingly transparent and humble during her time with us; she talked positively about her team and how she continues to learn from them every day. It was inspiring to meet a woman in an executive leadership position and to learn about her role in today’s business world. We finished by taking a group picture with Gail!

We had a busy day today as you could tell! I personally feel blessed to have had the opportunity to meet people like Mr. Groce, Dr. Brunker and Mrs. McGovern. Every day we’ve learned from incredible people who passionately share their career and life experiences with us. The lessons we are learning from our presenters will allow us to apply their messages to our lives after the program.

We finished the work at the office around 4:15 pm, and went back to the dorms. We met up again at 5:15 pm at local campus restaurant called Tonic. Some of the entrees were rather interesting to me because I am still getting used to American food. Although I have been in the U.S for two years, at times I am slow to get accustomed to American culture! Muchas gracias for letting me share my thoughts about this amazing experience we are having here in D.C. We are consistently surrounded by great leaders impacting the Red Cross/NAIA Class of 2017. I am excited to see what the upcoming week holds for us. blog day 6

Ryan Heinser

Benedictine College

Major/Minor: Finance


Blood Region: Missouri-Illinois

Blog - Day 7 by Ryan Heinser

My name is Ryan Heinser and I am from Groton, Massachusetts, which is about 35 minutes northwest of Boston. I am entering my junior year at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where I am pursuing a double-major in finance and economics. I also compete on the Benedictine College men's lacrosse team. Outside of academic and athletic pursuits, I am involved in tutoring at a local elementary school. I am excited to be attending the American Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program in Washington, D.C., as it is an amazing opportunity to develop as a leader, and increase my participation in the mission of the Red Cross.

Our Saturday morning started at 8:30 a.m. when our group met outside the dorm before starting a marathon-style tour of Washington D.C. led by Randon, Hanna, and Megan, the student mentors, we started off on the metro to Union Station. Each member of the group participated in the learning process by reading a short background and description for each site we visited. We disembarked at Union Station, where we discussed the origins of the historic granite building, as well as the reasoning behind the layout of the D.C. area. Leaving Union Station, we walked south toward the Capitol Building, stopping briefly to admire the statue of Christopher Columbus located outside the station. As we walked towards the Library of Congress, we paused to learn about the Supreme Court Building. The Library of Congress was the next stop on our walk, where we had the opportunity to tour the interior of the magnificent Beaux art building. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, and contains an enormous variety of books and historical displays.

After leaving the Library of Congress, the group headed to the Smithsonian Botanical Gardens, where we had about an hour to move between the various sections of the garden which were segmented by type of climate. I enjoyed the jungle area because it contained a vast array of beautiful and exotic plants. Lunch in the cafeteria area beneath the National Gallery of Art was the next item on the agenda. After lunch, the group split, with some going to the American History Museum, while the rest of the group visited the Air and Space Museum. The final stop of the day was at the Holocaust Museum. The organizers of the program managed to procure tickets to the main exhibition months in advance of our trip. The main exhibit chronologically tracks the atrocities of the Holocaust, starting in the early 1930s, and culminating with the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945.

The exhibit consisted of vintage photographs and videos, personal artifacts, and personal testimony from Holocaust survivors. I found the experience to be deeply moving and thought provoking. The final displays of museum focused on the ongoing threat that genocide still poses to at-risk populations in tension filled areas. After leaving the Holocaust Museum, the group split up to find dinner at various local restaurants, before finding their way back to the dorms for the night. Saturday was a fantastic culmination to an eventful first week. In just one short week, our group has grown in camaraderie and confidence, as we embrace the opportunity to learn and challenge ourselves within this program. I am extremely grateful and excited to have the chance to participate in this program. I know that I will look back on it as a formative period in my college career. blog day 7

Larissa Tate

Mid America Christian University

Major/Minor: Business Administration


Blood Region:Southwest

Blog - Day 8 by

Hello readers!

My name is Larissa Tate and I am a softball player from Mid-America Christian University, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I am majoring in Business Administration and hope to own my own coffee shop one day with my dad. I began playing softball in the seventh grade, while that is considered late for my sport, I quickly fell in love. Softball has been a part of my life ever since and I hope to never stop playing! Today is Sunday, and we were free to do whatever we wanted on our day off. If you have ever been to D.C., then you understand how overwhelming this can be! There are so many amazing things to do in D.C. and you simply cannot do them all in one day.

Oddly enough, a few of us had friends or family that live near or are visiting the area and had the opportunity to spend a couple hours with them. Others in the class visited Arlington Cemetery and went shopping, while others visited Smithsonian museums we did not get to see yesterday! Overall, we all enjoyed our relaxing day off! The majority of us met at 3 o’clock to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Learning more about the history of African Americans was eye-opening, and it gave me a deeper appreciation for their culture. After spending time in the museum, we all went our separate ways, mainly to find our beds for a nap before a group dinner at Bertucci’s. At dinner, we met Kristin Gillette who is the Assistant Athletic Director at Mid-America Nazarene University, located in Olathe, Kansas. We had salads and pizza, and I was surprised with a decadent chocolate cake for my birthday today!

The difference in the groups chemistry from last Sunday to today, has been incredible. When I first arrived to D.C., I was sad I would not get to spend my birthday with my family. In hindsight, I would now be able to spend my birthday with my new ARC family! Brian and our three mentors have made every effort for us to become close, and my peers have been nothing short of incredible. Come this time next week, I am going to be so sad that I do not get to spend every day with my new friends! The American Red Cross is not only passionate about giving blood to those in need, but in making those people that it surrounds feel welcomed and loved, and I could not be more excited to be a part of this organization! Let’s see what the rest of the week has in store for us! blog day 8 group

Samantha Davenport

Martin Methodist College

Major/Minor: Biology and Business


Blood Region:Tennessee Valley

Blog - Day 9 by Samantha Davenport

Hi everyone!

Today is day one of week two and I am just as excited, if not more, to be here with this amazing group of people as I was the first week. My name is Sam Davenport and I am from Charlotte, Tennessee. I am an upcoming junior at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee where I am majoring in Biology with a minor in Business and a member of the volleyball team! Three of us in the class (Jensyn, Emily, and myself) play defensive specialist on our teams. Aside from sports and academics, I participate in The Flock and serve as Secretary in the Biology club on campus. The American Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program has been such an amazing opportunity to learn about the organization and meet some incredible people.

They have taught me so much already and I am eager to learn more! I am incredibly honored to be a part of the twelve student-athletes selected to be in the program. We have had a long but exciting first week, so beginning week two called for many us needing our morning coffee to give us some go-go juice for another interesting day. We were surprised with an NAIA goody bag, which included a water bottle, couple pins, an NAIA bag, a pen, and lanyard. Kristin Gillette, Assistant Athletic Director for MidAmerica Nazarene University, began her presentation with an activity where we wrote our name, nickname, and something we love about the NAIA on a piece of paper and made a paper airplane. Some of us had a little trouble remembering how to make the airplane, but it quickly came back to us. We then threw the airplane across the room for another person to read aloud. After reading each other’s paper planes, she began providing us with the history on the NAIA and what the NAIA wants to provide for all the colleges a part of the association. The actions made by those through the NAIA need to be intentional, to represent good character, and provide a base for what we stand for. Kristin made an excellent point when she said, “Words are just words, but actions show what you truly believe.” This introduced how a true Champion of Character will exemplify the five Core Values in every aspect of life. After a quick break, we discussed the five Core Values: Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Sportsmanship, and Servant Leadership. All five core values create a Champion of Character, which is what the NAIA strives to achieve in each player. Learning the importance of each value was the main focus for our next activity. We each chose one value that related most to ourselves and wrote it on our paper and balled it up to throw across the room for someone else to read aloud again.

Kristen then passed out Live 5 posters stating the five core values of the NAIA and had us write what we wanted to improve for the next season under each value. We were then put into groups of three and distinguished what values we wanted to work on for our own blood drives. Following our delicious catered lunch from Greenberry Coffee Company, we were introduced to Leigh Scheneck. Mrs. Scheneck is the Vice President of Business & Product Development for the NAIA. After our introductions, we began another paper ball activity. We wrote down one of our most proud achievements from this past year, balled it up, and threw it to someone else to read. The next activity we did was creating a Live 5 message recording about which value we wanted to implement on our teams. Some of us had the same value we wanted to recognize; however, we all had different reasoning and examples on why we chose the value. Our last paper ball activity ended with explaining what our athletic departments do for student-athletes and why we enjoyed it. This led us a discussion regarding what student-athletes like about our schools and what we would like to have improved. Through our discussion, we narrowed down four main topics that we would like to improve and split into groups to create a solution to these issues. The solutions included: NAIA information becoming easier to locate through an app, creating virtual tours, improving team culture, and developing more physical/mental/emotional resources. Kristin concluded her presentation by discussing the different roles of the NAIA and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Once we all got back to the dorms, my roommates and I decided to have dinner at a Thai food restaurant on 14th Street. This was the first-time Gaby and I had experienced Thai food, but it is one of Carolina’s favorite types of food. Not only was having Thai food a first for me, but it was also the first time I experienced Uber. The music was good, the dinner was fantastic and the dessert was even better. We went to a local bake shop called The Cakeroom to cure our sweet tooth. After we finished our cupcakes, walked back so we could burn off a few of the calories we had just consumed. It was a smart choice and made for a great ending to another awesome day. I am super excited to see what the rest of this week has in store for us, but there are three things I know I will for sure be taking back to Tennessee with me: unforgettable Memories, incredible Mentors, and a ton of MILES! blog day 9 group

Jose Ventura

Ottawa University

Major/Minor: Biology


Blood Region:Central Plains

Blog - Day 10 by Jose Ventura


My name is Jose Ventura; I am from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, a small town located in the southeast portion of the state. I currently attend Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. As I prepare to enter my junior year in college, I have played soccer at the university for the last two years and even had the high privilege of being named into the Honorable Mention in the KCAC my freshman year. I am pursuing a degree in Biology with hopes to someday make it into the medical field. Aside from my academic and athletic responsibilities, I have also been part of the Biology and BeBrave clubs on campus. In addition, I hold two highly respectable jobs at OU as a Student Ambassador and Resident Assistant. As a first-generation student emerging from both sides of my family, the American Red Cross/NAIA Leadership Program is an indescribable opportunity. Not only am I benefitting from listening to terrific speakers and presentations, but getting to explore Washington D.C. has been spectacular. It has been an absolute privilege getting to know, learn, and work with the other eleven participants in this program for the past week. Our mentors Hanna, Megan, and Randon, are also amongst the most extraordinary individuals with an excellent sense of humor.

Though we were all strangers at the beginning, I am certain this group has become some life long friends. From meeting with Gail McGovern, the President and CEO of the American Red Cross, to sharing slices of pizza, and watching the sunset from the JFK Space Center, this group has been nothing but exceptional. Our day started at 8:45AM in the National Red Cross Headquarters, we kicked off the day with a brief article discussion over the “14 Tips For Developing Leadership Presence” with Brian Hamil, who has proven to be one of the most charismatic individuals I’ve come to know. Proceeding the article discussion, we met with Leigh Schenck, the VP of Business & Product Development for the NAIA. She began by asking us to share out walk-up songs, though it took a couple of minutes to choose between the many options, I eventually shared mine with the whole group. We then engaged in a question and answer session using sticky notes, which made it entertaining. Lastly, we ended the session by providing feedback in regards to the NAIA and things they, as an organization, can do to help student-athletes. We quickly switched over to Brian and Hanna who focused on the importance of finding a successor who will replace us when we graduate from our universities. We had the opportunity later today to donate blood at the Red Cross National Headquarters. As a kid who was stung by just about every insect I came across and poked by every fence I climbed, being around needles should be an easy walk in the park; however, that is not the case. Though I was a little nervous, the procedure was simple and nearly painless; it made me realize that my fear of needles is one that can be conquered, especially if cookies are provided afterwards.

After donating blood today, and being told that my blood has the potential to save up to three lives, I couldn’t help but to feel proud of myself. Overcoming my fear of needles was nice, but knowing that I had contributed to a good cause was far more rewarding. With that being said, I highly encourage you to go out and donate blood, because the best ‘cookie’ will be the joy in knowing that you are saving lives. Far beyond the satisfaction of that delicious cookie at the end of the donation experience, each of us should consider becoming a Red Cross blood donor, because it brings an immense sense of contribution to a cause and there are people’s lives that are positively impacted by it.

Carolina Velez

Menlo College

Major/Minor: International Business Management & Marketing


Blood Region:Northern California

Blog - Day 11 by Carolina Velez

Hi there!

My name is Carolina Velez. I am originally from Valencia, California but will be entering my junior year at Menlo College in Atherton, California. Menlo College is the Silicon Valley’s business school; hence my majors are International Management and Marketing. I am a member of the women’s soccer team, as well as an intern at Wilbur Properties in Palo Alto, California. My passion is traveling and learning from different people and cultures which is why I chose to study international business. My first visit to Washington, D.C. was with my family and this second trip is with my new-found family that I have been so fortunate to get to know. All I can say is that D.C. is even more breathtaking than I remember. On June 4th we were 12 strangers from across the country with a different story to tell, today we are 12 friends with memories to last a lifetime. The American Red Cross/NAIA Leadership Program has been a once in a lifetime experience that I know each of us will always hold close to our hearts as we head back home.

Today’s agenda was quite different than the usual 9am-5pm days we have been used to. We started the day off at 9am sharp with Cherae L. Bishop. Ms. Bishop is the Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the American Red Cross. Sadly, her visit coincided with today’s unfortunate shooting at the congressional baseball practice. She shared with us that she was responding to the shooting of Senator Steve Scalise on behave of the Red Cross. She proceeded to share her career experience and how she got to where she is today. Ms. Bishop’s captivating presence was immediately felt as she engaged with us. As a female, I admired her from the start of her discussion because she was affirmative and honest with every point she made. She spoke strongly about being authentic, honest with ourselves, and culturally educated. We have had amazing speakers all throughout the last two weeks, but I would say that Ms. Bishop was the one to make the strongest impression with me personally. At 10am we proceeded to do independent work of sending emails and preparing our presentations for Friday. Noon came around and we were free to grab lunch, continue working or return to the dorms. At 2:30pm we were off to Nationals Park to see the Washington Nationals vs. the Atlanta Braves. Let me just say if you have never taken the metro to or from a baseball game it is quite the adventure.

At the stadium, we enjoyed the game as well as the food and atmosphere that comes along with it. At the 7th inning stretch the score was 13-2 Atlanta Braves so we decided to leave and make our way back to George Washington University. Arriving at our metro destination some of us who had not eaten dinner yet decided to get some food and the rest returned to the dorms to get some rest and catch up on work. These next few days better slow down because I think I speak for all of us when I say we are not ready to let go of this experience or all the new friendships and memories that have come with it. impacted by it.

Emily Morgan

La Sierra University

Major/Minor: Exercise Science


Blood Region:Southern California

Blog - Day 12 by Emily Morgan

Hey everybody!

It was a lovely, eventful day in D.C. My name is Emily Morgan and I will soon be starting my Junior year at La Sierra University, located in Riverside, California. I am majoring in Exercise Science with hopes to become an occupational therapist. I currently play on the Women's Volleyball team, work part-time at my school library, and am also involved in the Outreach Community Service Club. I am so thankful for this opportunity provided by the American Red Cross and the NAIA. Getting to travel across the country has been beyond exciting and I am thrilled to share our experience with all of you! Today was an action-packed day, so bear with me. We woke up, then took the metro all the way to the Capitol Hill where we received a tour. It was exciting to see the place where Congress meets to contribute to the legislation of our nation and where our U.S. Presidents have been inaugurated. We walked through the Rotunda (the center of the Capitol), where there are gorgeous paintings at every glance and the walls are carved into the most beautiful masterpieces. One 360 degree turn and your jaw will drop to the floor!

We then visited the National Statuary Hall, where everyone took turns taking pictures next to their statue that represented their home state. Carolina, Hanna, and I took California pride with our representative statue, Junipero Serra. We walked through the Old Senate Chamber, used from 1810-1859, made for only the original 13 colonies! We also got to see the cornerstone laid by George Washington, and much more! Fun fact of the day: The Senate rooms have extremely detailed and beautiful floors, while the House of Representative rooms have stunning ceilings. It is an easy, quick way to differentiate the wings of the Capitol. After our tour, we got to eat in the Capitol’s cafeteria. Following our lunch, we went on to the Senate Chamber. Here, we got to sit in on part of an actual Senate session. We took the metro back to the dorms and spent some time working on our student projects. Next, we got to walk through the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We even saw an art display made completely of tin foil! We went to Nando’s Peri Peri for dinner, a South African restaurant, as requested by Jen. I must say, I was very impressed. After eating some tasty food, it was time for dessert. We ended our night on a marvelous note, with some delicious Nutella crepes.

Only one more day left with my amazing, new friends. This week has flown by in a blink of an eye. I am so beyond grateful for the friendships I have formed, memories made, opportunities given, and everything I have learned. The goodbye will be bitter-sweet, but I cannot wait to make the best of our last day together! The American Red Cross/NAIA Class of 2017 will always have a special place in my heart.

Blog - Day 13 by Larissa Tate

Hello again!

As you recall in a previous blog post, my name is Larissa. I am honored to talk about our last day together in Washington, D.C. It was a day full of mixed emotions and a lot of laundry soap. We started the day off with Greenberry Coffee Company, our favorite coffee shop. Every morning we all ended up at Greenberry's to prepare for the day ahead. After we got our coffee, we began the day in the conference room. Today was the day we were to present our strategic marketing plans for running blood drives at our respective universities. Everyone had fantastic presentations! I honestly wish I could attend everyone’s first blood drive. We soon had lunch, where we gave our fabulous mentors the gifts we had all contributed toward. We went our separate ways after leaving the American Red Cross National Headquarters for the last time and were able to do things we did not get to do throughout the two weeks. Some of us went paddle boarding, others went to the zoo, and a few went to the National Archives Smithsonian museum! It was exhausting but extremely fun to get to experience Washington, D.C. one more time. We then started our packing and laundry so that we would be ready in the morning for our departures.

This morning after the presentations, we had a debriefing session about the past fourteen days and everything we have learned. There were so many things that we learned and it would take me approximately fourteen business days to tell you all about them. I learned the most from watching our mentors and Brian; they have a passion to save others by recruiting blood donations and help people to grow into the person they aspire to be. I could have not made a single one of our meetings and learned how to be a great leader simply by watching Brian, Hanna, Randon, and Megan. If you would have told me that in two weeks fifteen people you have never met would become a big part of your journey to success and that you will come to know and love them as family, I would not have believed you. Experiencing D.C. was great, but experiencing who these people are was even better. I give all my thanks to the American Red Cross and the NAIA for this program and the impact they have had on me. You will all be truly missed!

Blog - Day 14 by Sophia Weisbruch

Hi everyone, it is Sophia.

Our amazing journey has come to an end! Saturday morning started with my roommate Kelly saying, "Guys we have seven minutes to get ready!" Michelle and I jumped out of bed and within three minutes, all three of us were out the door and heading to the elevator. This was the last morning we would spend together, so the group had decided the previous night to wake up earlier and watch the sunrise from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The small group gathered outside the dorms. We walked to the memorial, taking our time. The morning was grey and overcast, which prevented us from seeing the sun, so after waiting a while and a few pictures, everyone went back to the dorms. Upon arriving back at the dorms, some goodbyes were made because people were leaving to the airport at different times. Most of us had packed the night before, worrying if our bags were going to be too heavy and trying to weigh. My flight departed at 12:50pm, more “goodbyes” and “see you soon’s,” were exchanged, and then my group of four left. The group included my two roommates, Michelle and Kelly, and Emily. Michelle and Kelly were on the same flight while Emily and I, although not conscience of it at the time, were flying out together too. We rode the metro to the airport. At the terminal, Emily and I gave another last goodbye to our friends and headed in the opposite direction.

Once we were through security, we were both able to relax a little. The flight was easy and enjoyable. Emily and I were able to sit right next to each other on the plane and even though we were both too tired to hold a full on conversation, it was comforting to know that I had a friend next to me. From Washington to Dallas, TX we flew and after landing, Emily and I went our separate ways. I then flew from Dallas to Austin where I was welcomed home with open arms.