I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A DIEHARD MICHIGAN FAN. I can vividly remember telling my parents that I would one day be a Wolverine. But as time went on, I wasn’t very confident in my abilities to achieve that goal. From seventh through 12th grade, I strived to be at the top of my class academically so I would have a fighting chance to get into my dream school. After years of hard work and dedication — along with taking extra classes and participating in extracurricular activities — I was ready to apply to U-M.
On Nov.1, 2013, the day I sent in my application, I rewrote my essays twice, despite both my college adviser and my English teacher telling me they were great. Christmas came early when I received U-M’s early action decision: I got in! I was ecstatic beyond belief, but the feeling was short-lived. How could I afford to attend this prestigious school?
While talking through options with my adviser, I received an email from the Alumni Association that told me I was selected to be a part of the LEAD Scholars program. Relief came over me, as the scholarship would provide me with some financial assistance to pay for school.
After arriving on the beautiful campus, I took advantage of all of the opportunities LEAD had to offer. From study lounges to professional development events, to meet and greets with influential alumni, these opportunities helped me focus on obtaining my degree while also making lifelong connections. LEAD was a safe place for educational experiences and personal growth.
While I was still an undergraduate, the elder of my two daughters was born. Even during the semester that I was not enrolled at U-M, I felt the support of my LEAD family all the way through to my graduation in 2018.
Since graduating, my life has come full circle and I have been able to take advantage of the opportunities LEAD provided. I am currently working as a foster care service specialist. I work with families who have had their children removed from their care and help to reunite them by addressing the barriers that led to the children being placed in care. I am also a graduate student in U-M’s School of Social Work. Originally, I wanted to be a psychologist so I could help those with mental health needs in minority communities. But as a social worker, I feel I will more closely be able to help individuals.
Now, back on campus, I reminisce even more fondly on my time with LEAD. I wish that I could experience the program again. LEAD was an influential part of my success and continued journey at the University to attain my master’s degree.
The LEAD Scholars Program provides scholarships to Black, Latino, and Native American students who have been accepted into U-M. Visit umalumni.com/LEAD to learn how you can support the program and, thus, help create a more diverse campus.