Inspiration can strike anywhere.
Just ask Molly Manley, who discovered her passion for social justice while inside a local corrections facility.
At the time, Molly was participating in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which brings University of Michigan-Dearborn students and incarcerated men together to take a class.
The program requires a lot from students, but Molly thrived in the setting. Her sincere desire to know more about the lives of the incarcerated men stood out.
“Before I took part in this program I knew I had a passion for being involved in my community, but I had no idea where I wanted to focus that passion,” she said.
“Being part of the Inside-Out Program helped me to find my voice and helped me to realize that I want to be involved in the city of Detroit, whether that means being involved in improving the educational system or looking at the criminal justice system.”
To continue down that path, Molly enrolled in the Master of Public Policy program after earning her bachelor’s degree. She also began work as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA).
As a VISTA, she works in the university’s Office of Integrated Learning and Community Partnerships to promote academic service and integrative learning.
“Molly shines as an exemplar and dedicated member of the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus,” said Tracy Hall, director of community engagement. “There is no doubt that her leadership skills are outstanding and will serve our larger community for years to come.”
That’s what it all comes back to for Molly: serving the larger community.
“Not only do I enjoy being involved and giving back to my community, but I also feel that as a citizen it is my obligation to give back,” she said.
That’s why she’s spent countless hours volunteering: participating in Martin Luther King, Jr., Day activities, mentoring students, serving as a review team member for Excellent Schools Detroit and organizing a project to construct financial literacy board games for Mercy Education Program.
Moving forward, Molly will keep the lessons of the Inside-Out program fresh on her mind, focusing on education, programs for at-risk youth and conditions for those individuals leaving the criminal justice system.