Brandon Thomas

2017 At One with Nature


What makes you a Difference Maker?

I am a Difference Maker because of my attitude and outlook on things. I often feel the need to speak up and constructively voice my opinion to create positive change. I go into everything with a level-headed perspective and always make sure to listen to the opposition so I can learn from them and better understand the situation.

I have a deep sense of empathy that allows me to analyze another person’s perspective; but I also have the analytical side that allows me to process and comprehend it. I am a definite believer in the power of community service, volunteering and general goodwill. I believe it does not take anything special to make a difference in someone else's life, but rather the will to do so. We can enhance so many other people’s lives on a daily basis simply by being helpful and showing genuine goodwill.

Campus Achievements:

I have been on the Dean’s List every semester. Despite whatever was occurring in my life in the past two years I have always paid attention to my studies because of how engaged I am by them. No matter the amount of time it took me or how many study groups or supplementary instruction sessions I had to attend, I did because I realized the value of understanding the material even if it didn't directly pertain to my future career. I wanted to get a well-rounded perspective.

I also have the pleasure of being part of Sigma Tau, an honor society for transfer students. In addition, I have also been working at University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Environmental Interpretative Center for more than a year, where I have the pleasure of educating children—and even adults—about various aspects of the environment as I lead educational programs.

Leadership Experiences:

On campus I lead programs at the Environmental Interpretative Center. I have also led/co-led several study groups. These have ranged from geography to pre-calculus for difficult classes that did not have any supplementary instruction sessions. I would help students come together to form the group, schedule times, keep everyone on track and recruit new members. This work taught me a lot about effective teamwork. I do my best during group projects to communicate with my partners to find their most effective strengths and help delegate responsibilities accordingly.

Outside of class I have co-led panels at media conventions. These panels are dedicated to bringing educational value to conventions. They cover a whole array of topics from how religion is addressed in animated series to the philosophy and moral choices that underlie interactive media like video games.

What is your Dream Career?

My dream career is to be a wildlife interpreter where I can educate people about the environment around them—and hopefully even create significant experiences for people with wildlife. It is my dream to go into work and change people’s lives a little bit every day by providing an experience that allows them to learn more about the world around them and, by extension, themselves. My experience with nature has taught me so much, and I want nothing more than to be able to share that with people. Perhaps, better yet, I can even help save the planet in the process. I’m surrounded by excellent mentors including Rick Simek and Orin Gelderloos, who both serve as inspirations for the kind of person I would like to be when I graduate.

What was a Defining Moment at UM-Dearborn?

I feel it would not do my experience at University of Michigan-Dearborn justice to only choose one moment. I will say my most defining experience was during my pre-calculus class. It was very difficult and everyone was struggling to even pass the tests. Frustrated, I banded together with a friend I met in the class and we decided to start a study group. There, we began working together to figure out the material and prepare for tests. Eventually we expanded and got even more people. We were all involved and helped one another learn. We even became friends, slowly learning more about one another and developing friendships. Before we knew it we had nearly the entire class coming on some days to learn with us. To this day I am unsure how we would've made it though that class without one another. This experience really taught me the value of reaching out, teamwork, effective leadership and community. Only by communicating with people and organizing was I really able to finally excel at math. At the end of the semester everyone had a B or higher—and I could not have been more proud at how far we came.