An advocate for those in need

June 15, 2020

CEHHS student Kyle Ralston wants to improve the lives of people with mental health and trauma issues. The Sidell Slosberg Sorscher and Samuel Sorscher Memorial Scholarship is preparing him for his future career in Public Health by presenting him with opportunities to hone his skills.

Kyle Ralston and Ilham Saleh at the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) poster showcase
Kyle Ralston and Ilham Saleh at the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) poster showcase
Kyle Ralston and Ilham Saleh at the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) poster showcase

Kyle Ralston, a Public Health major in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services, won the Best Presentation award during the second annual Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) poster showcase, held last September. He won for his poster highlighting his research on the Impact of Trauma on Economic and Labor Market Opportunity in Detroit. Kyle, who is a recipient of the Sidell Slosberg Sorscher and Samuel Sorscher Memorial Scholarship, notes that he is “deeply appreciative” of the support he’s received at UM-Dearborn which has been an “enormous help.” He is passionate about being an advocate for others. “I hope to gain many more skills as I continue my education and use these to improve the lives of the people of Michigan,” he says. “I want to become as prepared as possible so that I can do my best to help others.”

We asked Kyle some questions about his time at UM-Dearborn and his experience with the SURE program.

1. Why did you choose to attend UM-Dearborn? What are some things you like best about UM-Dearborn?

I chose to attend UM-Dearborn because I needed to be able to commute to college and it was in a commutable distance. It also is a 4-year university and has a reputation as a good school. The things I like best about UM-Dearborn are the professors I’ve had in my major of Public Health and in my social work classes.

2. How did you become interested in your major?

I actually started as a mechanical engineering major when I started at UM-Dearborn. I found it wasn’t the right fit for me and chose public health after trying an intro to public health class which was recommended to me by a mentor on campus. It is a great fit and I’m glad I made the switch.

3. What are your educational/academic goals? What are your future career plans?

I want to finish my degree in public health. After graduation I’m considering going for a Master of Social Work degree or starting to work first. I want to work in mental health and have a passion for trauma research. I want to work to improve the lives of people with mental health and trauma issues.

4. What faculty member(s) most encouraged you in your studies? 

I’ve worked with two faculty members who have greatly encouraged me in my studies and personal development. My first public health class was with Dr. Natalie Sampson. I went to office hours and took several more of her classes. I also did an internship and independent study on grant writing with her and an organization she connected me with called the Warrendale Community Organization. I wrote a grant for that organization during that internship and independent study which got funded. The grant funded solar light purchase and installation at their community garden in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit.

Dr. Jessica Camp and I met when Dr. Sampson recommended doing an informational interview with her because of my interest in mental health. Dr. Camp was a social work professor on campus. I took a quantitative research class and some social work classes with her. I also got the opportunity to work with her and the Office of Metropolitan Impact to continue research on trauma and youth disconnection from work and school as part of the SURE Program. We worked together on a Healing Centered Restorative Engagement (HCRE) project there. That has been my favorite experience of being an undergraduate student.

5. Talk a bit more about your Summer Undergraduate Research Experience project. How did taking part in the program impact your academic experience? How will it help with the rest of your studies and your career?

During the summer of 2019 I got the opportunity to be a part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). This program funded me to be able to work with Dr. Camp and the Office of Metropolitan Research on our HCRE Research Project. This was my favorite experience of being a UM-Dearborn student. It gave me more research experience with a great team and group of people. This experience and the research skills I gained will help me to finish my remaining classes and will help me get a future position after graduation.

6. How has the transition been to online classes?

The transition to online classes has been difficult. I am a student that prefers in person instruction. I also lost my job during the pandemic. I went from being out of my house 6 days per week to at home every day. I miss the social interaction and being in class. I think I am handling the class portion well though. I have taken a couple online classes before, so this isn’t entirely new to me. It takes better time management as you don’t have dedicated class time. I think it is the correct decision to be online though. I don’t see how you could make the classroom environment safe in the pandemic. 

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