When life gets tough, reach out: How I found support at UM-Dearborn

January 26, 2023



Blog written by April Marvin

I am all for motivational quotes and positive affirmations. Most mornings I can be found in front of my bathroom mirror repeating mantras over and over — sometimes to confirm, other times to convince. But sometimes that’s just not realistic. Because in reality, life can be hard. Really hard. Especially when you are going through some big things. It’s not always easy to chant positivity outward when all you feel inside is negativity. 

I want to share a story with you to let you know you are never alone. During my internship with the Mental Health Association, I was able to immerse myself in all things mental health and I am here to tell you, so many people are feeling down, upset, anxious, stressed, worried, depressed, or lost — especially today’s students. The stress of school can be a lot, but when you add life, relationships, personal problems, finances, and hardships to the mix, your problems can feel isolating. Whether you want to be alone, or you’re crying out for someone to help, I think it’s important to know that there are people who care about you, your well-being, and your future. I found them here at UM-Dearborn. 

So, story time… 

This fall semester, everything was looking up for me. On the heels of a successful internship that turned into a working contract, a new internship with the university starting, a scholarship from PRSA Detroit, and my writing being recognized across campus, I felt like I was finally seen more than I had ever been. I was on the right track for senior year, accomplishing so much and making a name for myself, I was feeling BIG validation. 

But then, during midterms, my grandfather passed away. I was the only grandkid, and we were extremely close. Even though those around us age, it is never easy to accept they will leave us. My grandpa was the kind of man that everyone wants to be like — kind, compassionate, hilarious, witty, and wise. I met him when I was five years old, and from day one, we were best friends. As I grew older, our relationship evolved. He no longer was taking care of me, but I instead, was taking care of him. Toting him around to his doctor’s appointments, following up on his schedule, bringing him meals, helping out with things around the house, and oftentimes breaking him out of the house to have fun. (He loved going to Coney’s and seeing my pet chickens.) When he passed, he left a huge hole in my heart, and pretty much in everyone’s that was lucky enough to know him. At the time of increasing schoolwork and exams, I was also tasked with writing the obituary, making the photo collages, compiling the slideshow, and writing the eulogy. Heavy stuff. We said our final goodbyes to him in early November.


Just weeks after, during Thanksgiving, I got COVID. I had COVID early in the pandemic, in March/April of 2020, and had been lucky to avoid it since then. The experience was awful, and I was sick for 2 weeks, luckily staying out of the hospital. Timing is everything, right? Well, getting COVID while having a week off school is a good thing, but returning to classes in preparation for finals with COVID — not so great. 

And even more…grandparents

Then the week of finals, my grandma passed away. She only made it seven weeks without my grandpa. People try to comfort me by saying, “they wanted to be together” and “she couldn’t live without him,” which is a great sentiment, but doesn’t make it hurt any less. Two of the most important pillars in my life were taken from me and all I have left are memories. A lot of memories, rich with laughter and love, lessons, and learning. I suppose what I have learned in all of this is that grief never really leaves us, and its weight is measured by the love in your relationships. And so, because of how deeply I loved them, I will feel this forever, which in a way brings me peace. Along with the fact that now, my grandparents will see me graduate with clear eyes, ears, and minds, clapping for me from above. 

I promise there is a silver lining coming…

The bigger lesson I learned through all this is that our university — the faculty, professors, groups, organizations, and students — is incredible. I write this through tears as I look back on the past ten weeks and the amount of support I received from my professors, mentors, and fellow students. I encourage you to reach out, in any way you can, when you are going through tough times because it can be the very thing that helps you realize you can make it through. 

I’ve had some amazing professors over the years, and this semester was no different. I emailed one very kind professor who has become a wonderful mentor to me, and he extended support that I will never forget. He helped me see that it was okay to reach out. His continued support is honestly what made me see I made the right decision coming back to UM-Dearborn. Professors that truly care about their students, beyond just the classroom. He has checked in with me various times over the past two months, and his messages have pulled me through some of the darkness. 

My internship supervisor has extended a gentleness throughout the past few months that made me feel comforted. Seeing how sympathetic people can be and how much support you have on your side was healing. I also have a caring professor that connected me with a COVID support coordinator on campus who can coordinate all of the emails to your professors to notify them you have COVID and may experience some issues with deadlines/coursework/due dates. Not only was this an extended hand from a compassionate person, but it helped me see that our faculty is here to help us. They want us to be okay. Asking for help and getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather the strength in being able to admit you are dealing with much more than you may be able to handle. 

I also have to say, our campus has amazing resources for our students. From our Health Insurance to Women and Legal Services, there is support for everyone just a click or call away.  Especially with mental health, programs like CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Service) are helping to provide completely free services to students with one-on-one appointments or support and therapy groups, as well as a weekly wellness email. Check out info about Student Support Services: https://umdearborn.edu/students

AND CAPS: https://umdearborn.edu/counseling-and-psychological-services-caps

Moving forward…

I am still hurting and dealing with so much emotionally, but the support I have received pulled me through it all. At a time when I thought I was alone, wanting to just stay in that darkness, several hands reached in to help me on my way out of it. The best part is, I know that not only will my grandparents be cheering me on from above as I walk the stage at graduation, but these wonderful people who are a part of UM-Dearborn will be cheering as I accept my degree, too. I encourage you to reach out if you are experiencing something heavy, or really anything at all that is affecting your life. There are so many people here who genuinely care and want you to feel well, do well, and be well. I am living proof. 

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