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From shy to spunky

Faces of ASU Special Edition: Colea Blann

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013

Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 17:03

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Caitlin LaFarlette, Photo Editor

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Caitlin LaFarlette, Photo Editor


Being SAB president is not just about choosing events and getting cool T-shirts. Nor is it something else to put on a resume. Being one of the head honchos of the Leadership Center is exactly what one might expect, being a leader.

For Colea Blann, a junior interdisciplinary studies major of Little Rock, it was something more; it was about letting go of her extreme shyness.

Those who know Blann would never imagine this bubbly girl who goes a mile a minute and speaks to the entire student body of ASU on a daily basis could’ve ever had a quiet side.

“I was really shy growing up, which you would have never been able to tell now,” she said with a smile.  “I was painfully shy, to the point where being with a group of people that I didn’t know made me anxious and sick to my stomach.”

As SAB president, Blann is expected to speak to over 6,000 people at the Order of the Pack as well as to over 1,000 people at basketball games, something that Blann would have never volunteered for in the past.

“It doesn’t phase me. I just don’t think anything of it. That’s something that I look at now and I think, ‘wow,’” Blann said. “The crazy thing is that I never would’ve thought, if you told me five years ago, that I would be SAB president or any of the leadership positions that I’ve had, I wouldn’t believe you. but there really has been a difference.”

In high school, Blann was used to being busy and staying involved. At Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Blann was part of the student council as well as juggling a variety of sports; basketball, cheer, track and cross-country.

“I knew I wasn’t going to play sports in college, so my first semester I said, ‘I’ve got to do something because I have too much time on my hands,’” Blann said. “Leadership became my ‘sport’. Whenever I do something, I do it 120 percent.”

While her friends decided to attend universities like the University of Arkansas and University of Central Arkansas, Blann decided to go to the same school her mother attended to get her master’s degree.

“When I came to orientation I saw all the leadership that was around me and they were just ordinary students that got involved,” she said. “At Camp ASTATE, the president of the time, Adrian Everett, comes to talk to you about how he got involved. I knew that I wasn’t playing sports and then I started thinking about what Everett said and how it had really impacted his life and I thought, that could be me one day.”

I didn’t think by any means that I would be where I am now, but I thought, ‘you know, I can do this. If he can do it, I can do it.’”

During her freshman year Blann applied to be a freshman student government senator, but with over 20 people applying for seven seats, she had to set herself apart from the rest.

“No body here knows who I am. I’m a freshman and I’ve got to do something in order to stand out or people won’t remember me,” Blann said. “I could be shy, but if I don’t just suck up my pride and go out there and meet people, I’m not going to get votes. That was my starting point. If I can’t get votes then I can’t get on SGA.”

Blann had to fight against her inhibitions and introduce herself to random people in order to get enough signatures to apply for the senate. Blann was part of the senate her freshman year and that pushed her to apply for SAB her sophomore year. She was appointed Traditions Director in which she was in charge of planning Homecoming and Springfest.

“It was way better than I could’ve expected. I got to work with so many students,” Blann said. “Homecoming week that year was just phenomenal. We had our largest student turnout that we have had in years. It was a lot more work than I expected, but it was better than I could’ve expected.”

Her experience as Traditions Director encouraged her to pursue a higher position in SAB.

“I had already served my year as being the director and kind of thought that I had what it took to be the president,” she said. “I had worked with all the directors and seen what they did. I worked closely with the president last year and saw her responsibilities and how much work she had. I thought, ‘you know I can do this.’”

Once she stepped up to the plate as president, her workaholic nature took over and helped her what was going to be a busy junior year. Blann’s schedule starts around 10 a.m. She goes to classes, and then spends time in the Leadership Office, conducting meetings and preparing events. Next,  she goes to her second job at Zenspin Studios, a fitness boutique. After work she works out, eats dinner and goes to bed.

“I work all the time. When people usually see me, I’m walking full pace, trying to get to the next place. It’s busy but I enjoy it,” Blann said. “It’s funny. Whenever I go to a social event or people see me out at dinner they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re out!’ I don’t live under a rock; I’m just really busy.”

For an ex-shy girl, Blann has jumped from not talking to anyone, to doing constant interviews, to speaking to organizations, the president of student affairs and even the chancellor. She has been an icon of leadership on campus to the point where organizations within the community ask her to volunteer.

“This is really having a domino effect,” Blann said. “I’m confident in what I do, and I have self-assurance.”

As the semester inches closer to the end, Blann has been considering her next goal.

“People keep asking me if I’ll do SAB again and I’ve said no,” Blann said. “The reason is because I’ve had two amazing years here and now it’s time to allow someone else to experience what I’ve experienced. The best gift is to share the gift.”

Blann wants to continue working in the Leadership Center, but wants to try a different branch or work with volunteering. She urges students to participate in the Leadership Center and for those who want to be in her position to step up to the plate.

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