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From shy to spunky

By Tanya Giraldo
On March 11, 2013

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 couldve 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 didnt 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 doesnt phase me. I just dont think anything of it. Thats something that I look at now and I think, wow, Blann said. The crazy thing is that I never wouldve thought, if you told me five years ago, that I would be SAB president or any of the leadership positions that Ive had, I wouldnt 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 wasnt going to play sports in college, so my first semester I said, Ive 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 masters 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 wasnt 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 didnt 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. Im a freshman and Ive got to do something in order to stand out or people wont remember me, Blann said. I could be shy, but if I dont just suck up my pride and go out there and meet people, Im not going to get votes. That was my starting point. If I cant get votes then I cant 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 couldve 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 couldve 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. Blanns 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, Im walking full pace, trying to get to the next place. Its busy but I enjoy it, Blann said. Its funny. Whenever I go to a social event or people see me out at dinner theyre like, Oh my gosh, youre out! I dont live under a rock; Im 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. Im 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 Ill do SAB again and Ive said no, Blann said. The reason is because Ive had two amazing years here and now its time to allow someone else to experience what Ive 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.

I really encourage students to get involved. Not just because of getting to plan events, but there are a lot of things that you learn as a person, Blann said. For me, I found my passion and I found that my passion is serving people. People come to college to find their major, well I think its more important to come to college to find your passion. Your passion will take you further, than just finding your major.

Blanns experiences on SAB helped shape her into the person she is today.

From a shy girl who wouldnt be caught in a crowd full of strangers, to a young woman who speaks crowds of thousands, Blann has felt herself change and grow in ways she never expected. Yet, her ultimate goal was to play a role in the memories students will have about their ASU experience.

At the end of the day if nothing Ive done matters, if people dont remember my name or my position, at least they had fun on campus, she said.

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