What makes you a Difference Maker?
Everyone is capable of making a positive impact in this world. The only factor that sets those who successfully achieve their goal apart from those who fail to do so is simple- making a difference requires action. I believe that herein lies the reason I have been honored as a Difference Maker at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I aspired to create an organization that promotes mutual understanding, forging friendships, and the formation of bonds that connect humans regardless of their differences. I set out to make this dream a reality, and with the support of my peers and mentors, was able to do so by introducing Special Olympics to the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Making a difference in the world can be as simple as making a difference in the lives of those around you. It can be done every day in any way; even the smallest kind gesture can have immeasurable impacts. The actions of just one person can act as a beacon of hope for all to see. I therefore try to bring a little happiness back into the world by being a light in the dark for those who need it most.
The faculty at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has provided me with an exceptional educational experience. I have been able to achieve success in both the classroom and in life. I have made the Dean’s List every semester during my time at UM-Dearborn, and have been able to maintain a 3.97 GPA. Following the Winter 2015 semester I was honored as an Angell’s Scholar and attended the University of Michigan’s Honors Convocation in Ann Arbor, and have been invited to attend this year as well. The NAIA named me a Scholar-Athlete in my two seasons with the basketball team. In addition, I was recently informed that CASL selected me as the recipient of the Honors Scholar Award in the Social Studies Department.
I have also had the privilege of receiving several scholarships at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I was chosen as one of five students honored with the CASL Alumni Affiliate Scholarship in the Fall of 2015. I additionally was awarded the International Studies Tuition Scholarship and the Grace and Evelyn Kachaturoff Scholarship, both of which have contributed greatly to financing my education.
I have had the opportunity to be involved in many organizations and leadership positions in my time as a student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The Dearborn community has been a source of support for me throughout my schooling; I have been fortunate enough to be able to give back in a variety of forms. I have volunteered with Dearborn Special Olympics as a coach for basketball and track. Additionally, I have spent time at Whitmore Bolles Elementary School working with the Young Athletes program, the precursor to Special Olympics for younger children. Amid my student teaching semester at Brownstown Middle School, I have been a volunteer assisting with the seventh grade girls’ basketball team.
Organizations at the University of Michigan-Dearborn have also allowed me to help people on a local scale. My involvement with the fundraising efforts of UM-Dearborn Wish Makers has enabled me to contribute to raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Michigan program, an organization dedicated to supporting and granting the wishes of children battling cancer. UM-Dearborn’s chapter of Circle K has given me the opportunity to make an active difference in the metro-Detroit community. We have volunteered with various projects centered on rebuilding Detroit and providing aid to the great people who live there. I have also been fortunate enough to be the founder of the University of Michigan-Dearborn Special Olympics. Our organization is focused on furthering the mission of Special Olympics and promoting inclusion and friendship among athletes and college students alike. In our first year, we successfully completed two Unified basketball seasons and have brought the joy of team sports to numerous athletes and their families.
My experience at the University of Michigan-Dearborn has also been characterized by my participation on the women’s basketball team. I was able to play for UM-Dearborn for two years, and made good memories and life-long friendships in the process.
What is your Dream Career?
Making a difference in the lives of others has always been my dream. Fortunately, this dream can be realized in a variety of manners. I am a firm believer that you should always love your career; if you are going to devote your time and energy to any one task, it should be driven by passion and enjoyment. I have found this sense of purpose and satisfaction in education. Teaching and learning are the gifts that keep on giving. Being around my students and supporting them in their growth in academics and in life brings me unparalleled joy. Seeing others succeed is something I thrive on, and helping them to succeed is even better.
As mentioned, learning is also a passion of mine. I therefore intend on being a lifelong learner. Upon graduation, I plan on attending graduate school in hopes of earning my Doctorate degree in Anthropology. A Doctorate will enable me to enjoy the best of both worlds, as a teacher and a researcher. The world is a vast territory just waiting to be explored and discovered. I intend on making the most of my time here, teaching those around me and ceaselessly learning myself.
What was your Most Defining Moment at UM-Dearborn?
I have come to find that inspiration is a byproduct of the beauty in humanity. We are inspired by those around us, through their thoughts, words, and actions. It is when these aspects are aligned and people are working for the betterment of one another that humanity is truly a marvel. The product of this combination is simple, yet powerful- it is pure human compassion.
It has been my pleasure to be able to experience this phenomenon working with Special Olympics as a student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Special Olympics is an organization dedicated to providing opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities to interact with others and stay healthy in the process. We have recently brought the mission of Special Olympics to campus through Unified sports, which enables college students and Special Olympic athletes to participate together in athletics in a comfortable setting. It is by means of this avenue that I have experienced my defining moment as a student. I have witnessed the manifestation of compassion firsthand.
The genuine friendship and enjoyment that has emerged between the students and the athletes has essentially put life into perspective for me. As Abraham Lincoln said, “It is not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Our lives are a reflection of the people we have touched, the memories we have made, and the joy we have shared with others. I have the privilege of witnessing lives being made every week at Special Olympics. The bonds being forged between people from different backgrounds and the infectious happiness of the students and athletes alike are enough to inspire me. They are a reminder of what it truly means to live.