Impact Story: LEAD Alum Dylan Prime

LEAD Alum Dylan Prime and his mom reflect on the person LEAD shaped him to be and the dreams it helped him chase.
Read time: 5 minutes

When Erica Prime, ’89, looks at her son Dylan, ’22, she’ll always see a little bit of her baby in his first maize and blue outfit or her eager boy clutching his backpack, heading off to his first day of school.

Now, these memories collide with the 23-year-old man in front of her. Dylan, a University of Michigan grad and LEAD alum, is in steady pursuit of a career in investment banking. She marvels at the reminder that children don’t keep, but their dreams do.

For Dylan, the dream was always the University of Michigan.

“I’m a Michigan alum and a former cheerleader, so from the moment my boys could walk and talk, they were saying, ‘Go Blue!’” Erica laughs.

Erica and Dylan in his first maize and blue in 2000.
Erica and Dylan in his first maize and blue in 2000.

Dylan and her oldest son, Griff, ’20, both followed in her footsteps and became Wolverines. Today, they’re two young professionals living and working in Chicago.

Dylan was an All-American lacrosse player in high school, garnering attention from smaller universities. He even toyed with the idea of attending Notre Dame before deciding to enroll at U-M.

Once again, Erica prepared to send her son off for another first day of school. But having made the transition to U-M as a young student herself, she knew how exciting and jarring the change could be.

She says that Dylan went to a smaller high school where he was used to knowing everyone, his teachers, and his coaches.

“I was really aware of the need to shrink the size of the University in some way for him,” Erica says.

A home in LEAD

Erica and her husband Fred learned of the LEAD Scholars program from a friend when Griff was applying to U-M, but it was too late in the process for him to gain a LEAD scholarship. So when it came time for Dylan to become a Wolverine, they didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity.

The family immediately recognized the unique program as a community that could provide Dylan with a support system on campus. They urged him to apply, knowing it could shape his entire experience at the University.

“When he got the scholarship, we were thrilled. I was also relieved because U-M is a huge place, and you can get lost if you don’t feel like you have a landing spot, a family, support,” Erica says.

Dylan admits that he initially viewed the LEAD Scholars program precisely as what he thought it was: a financial scholarship program. He quickly learned it was much more than that.

“I didn’t know how the community would serve such a role on campus, and I didn’t realize how much fun it would be,” Dylan says. “LEAD was definitely the foundation for my entire college experience.”

Dylan calls LEAD his first home on campus as a newly-admitted student. He also credits LEAD as the foundation for many of his other paths at U-M.

“Once I got to campus as a freshman, there were a lot of welcome events that made me feel really at home. And that was before I even applied to a lot of student organizations,” he recalls. “I think it’s so important to have a community of people who are going through similar experiences as you, especially being in a new setting and being on a new campus. Having LEAD as that go-to community hosting really fun events where I could meet others was really important for me.”

Erica says having the support system allowed Dylan to spread his wings a little bit more.

As Dylan branched out, his extracurricular list grew to include the Phi Chi Theta Professional Business and Economics Fraternity, LSA Student Government, and the Maize Club Soccer team.

LEAD also provided Dylan with what he calls “a holistic framework for many different major and minor opportunities,” helping him determine which academic route he wanted to take. He says LEAD was one of the reasons he learned of his international studies major, leading him to pursue a sub-major in political and economic development.

Building confidence through diversity

Erica and Fred Prime take pride in the fact that their sons’ entire educational experiences preceding U-M had been spent in a diverse school system. They recognized LEAD as a way for Dylan to continue that experience and thrive amongst diverse and talented students.

“It’s important to us as a family that they be exposed to all different types of people from all over,” Erica says. “Having the opportunity to continue that in a structured, sort of guaranteed way at the University was really important to us as well. We were grateful for that.”

Dylan says it was important for him to be around a diverse group, not only in race but in interests and backgrounds.

“It was really special for me just to be able to interact with a lot of people who maybe I normally wouldn’t have going into my college experience,” he says.

Dylan says many of the workshops and events he participated in focused on self-empowerment.

“The biggest thing LEAD did for me was make me a more confident person, even when I’m in a setting where there may not be a lot of people who look like me,” he says. “The profession I’m in is probably 80 percent white males, so it’s not the same diverse environment I came from. LEAD is such an empowering organization for all students. It helped me believe in myself, my knowledge, and my capability to go out and disregard all of that extra noise and do my job at a high level.”

This is the man Erica sees when she looks at her son today.

“I don’t think Dylan’s aware of this, but the three other family members have commented several times in the past six to eight months on how mature he is now,” she says. “[Fred] is in the same industry [as Dylan], and it takes a lot of confidence to do what they do. I think LEAD gave [Dylan] that confidence. It’s really given him what he needs to do his job.”

After seeing what the program did for their son, Erica and Fred are now donors to LEAD. The program, Erica says, helps U-M become a better university.

“These students come together and exchange ideas and support each other, and then they’re in the community at large, doing great things, being on administrative committees of business fraternities, and on soccer teams, and in theater programs; they’re contributing in really meaningful ways to the University,” she says.

Griff, Fred, Dylan, Erica (1)
From left to right: Griff, Fred, Erica, and Dylan Prime.

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