Maybe it was the diverse campus atmosphere. Or perhaps it was the supportive faculty.
Whatever the reason, University of Michigan-Dearborn alumni have fond memories of their college experience. Many of them took to the university’s social media networks to answer questions about their college experience.
Question: Hundreds of UM-Dearborn students participate in research projects with faculty. Did you take part in any research projects when you attended UM-Dearborn? If so, how did your experience impact your career choice?
"I presented at a meeting of the Association of American Geographers on a GIS poster I worked on with Dr. Jacob Napieralski. Presenting gave me a chance to hone my speaking skills, which is a crucial attribute of any career." – Eric Bacyinski ('08 B.A.)
"As an undergraduate, I volunteered for research sorting larvae and banding birds at the Rouge River Bird Observatory on campus. I met naturalists who enjoyed the UM-Dearborn Environmental Study Area (ESA) like me, and was introduced to science in my backyard. While in the ESA, I looked at my rubber boots and realized I looked as I did in third grade. I wandered a wetland, then catching and observing living things. Wandering through the ESA for that was less vital than breathing, but worth more than eating or sleep." – Steve Locke ('00 B.S.)
"I worked on a few research and election projects with Professor Tim Kiska when I was a student. The election experience – hiring and coordinating polling staff across the state and working in the WXYZ newsroom on election night to help predict election results – was one of the most challenging experiences I had while at UM-Dearborn, and helped solidify my decision to work in media." – Jessica Carreras ('08 B.A.)
"I worked with Dr. Radwan Abu Issa for about two years studying the embryologic development of the heart tube using chicken embryos as our models to apply to human development. I had a great time working in his lab. Not only was I trained to perform microsurgical experiments, but as I continued to work with him, I had the pleasure of training other students and have our work presented at the annual Meeting of the Minds. This work helped impact my success in getting into medical school at University of Michigan, where I recently graduated, and now have remained there for a residency in internal medicine, with an ultimate goal of becoming a cardiologist. My time at UM-Dearborn undoubtedly played a huge role in my current success." – Majed Afana ('09 B.S.)
"I had the opportunity to work with professors of psychology on research projects. I worked with Dr. Robert Hymes on several projects in his lab on topics, including attitudes toward the Middle East and terrorism in a post-9/11 world, and cognitive roots of prejudice. I was able to turn this research experience into several conference poster presentations. I also worked with Dr. Pam McAuslan and Dr. Hymes on my psychology honors thesis on gender differences in perceptions of infidelity in dating relationships. This research motivated me to apply to doctoral programs, and I am now a graduate student at University of Michigan in the joint Ph.D. program in social work and psychology." – Lauren Reed ('09 B.A.)
Question: If student housing were available when you attended UM-Dearborn, would you have signed up?
"I'd consider it, but living so close to campus (20 minutes) would be a deterrent. The new housing will certainly expand the university's reach." – Eric Bacyinski ('08 B.A.)
"There was limited on-campus housing when I was a student, but I couldn't afford to live on campus. That was OK, as housing was in a really old building with four people sharing a tiny bathroom and a kitchen that closed off from the living room with a plastic folding curtain – certainly nothing like the new deluxe apartments." – Judy Modelski ('80 B.A., '95 M.P.A.)
Question: We all have certain aspects of campus that stand out. What makes UM-Dearborn special for you?
"I loved the opportunity to really interact with professors. Larger schools...you're just one of many in a lecture hall. I developed great relationships with professors and was able to receive career advice even after graduation. And through alumni events, I've been able to meet some great folks that I didn't meet during my time, since I usually took night classes." - Lynn Haliburton ('06)
"Top-tier professors. Challenging curriculum. Small class Sizes. All under the University of Michigan flag." - Helen Jomantas ('80 B.S.)
Question: If you were assisting the Office of Admissions and Orientation in its recruitment of local high school seniors, what would be your selling point?
"The opportunities a student is afforded through the tight-nit community. Whether it is the small class sizes or active student body, the collegiate atmosphere around campus will greatly prepare you for your future endeavors." – Ali Beidoun (‘10 B.B.A.)
"It's a University of Michigan education and degree at a fraction of the cost, which makes college affordable for most. That's the Michigan-Dearborn Difference. Professors and counselors that get to know you and help students find the best career path for them." - Lynn Haliburton (‘06 B.A.)
What UM-Dearborn class should be required for a successful career?
Tim Dowker ('01 M.P.A.) "It was by a fortuitous chance that I even enrolled in what I believe to be my most important graduate class. I needed an elective and chose to take Issues in a Multicultural Society with Dr. Les Thornton – because my first two choices were already full. At first I was annoyed by the number of books I had to purchase for a two or three credit class. It was clear from early on that the amount of writing in the class would be rigorous as well. But then we started reading, talking, and sharing our ideas together and everything coalesced. The class became much more than learning about issues that create subcultures and strife in our society and world, but about thinking and seeing the world from a different perspective. I have reread several of those books and still own them all. It was a class that taught me to be a mindful student of the world, and I will always appreciate Dr. Thornton and the class for that."
Fred Starzyk ('74 B.A.) "My most important class at U of M-Dearborn was American Political Thought taught by Michael Rosano. At the time that I took the class I was a history major and never considered politics as a career. That class opened my eyes and made me look at our founding fathers and our founding documents in a completely different way. I became a political science major and took as many classes as I could from Professor Rosano (who I would also say is the professor at UMD who had the greatest influence on me). This new found love of politics led to an internship with Congressman Sandy Levin and that led to a job. I eventually ran Sandy's campaigns and spent four years working as a Legislative Assistant for him in Washington. This led to my own race for the state legislature in which I lost by fewer than 700 votes in a very conservative district against a three-term incumbent. I am now working in Washington, DC as a lobbyist at a small boutique firm and it all started with that one class."
Andrew Gribas (''03 M.S.E.E., 10 M.S.E.E.) ECE5121 Modeling and Design of Electronic Circuits and Systems
Shawn MacDonald ('89 B.A., B.S.) "Until 1987, my entire academic focus was in the natural sciences, with a plan on going to dental school. After speaking to my brother who was in dental school already, I decided that perhaps being a dentist was not the best career choice for me. So, after some soul searching, I decide that a change in major was necessary. I had taken an Econ elective (Money and Banking) with Professor Phil Bartholomew and realized I had a penchant for economics. I did, however, continue with biology coursework and earned my BS as well."
Phil Petrella ('09 B.B.A.) "The most influential class I took at UMD was HIST389 - Nazi Germany. The professor, Mary Kay Carter, held a high standard, made everyone think critically, was a fair teacher, and showed us the history and thought behind one of the greatest atrocities of our time. The class gave me inspiration to read more about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust (which I have now read over 20 books on the subject). It taught me what warning signs to look for in politics (regardless of party affiliation) and life in general; how you can make your own decisions even in the face of evil, and how not to be a victim, bystander, and perpetrator should such events unfold again. For learning history prevents us from repeating the same mistakes so we as a species can evolve."
Renee Susko ('91 B.S.) The class that was required when I attended UM-D was a Career Planning class, which helped out tremendously. It clarified my goals. I kept the paper that I had written for the class and reread it from time to time until I finished my graduate degree. Now, when I meet a young person who seems overwhelmed or lost with their career path, I suggest writing down their 1, 5, 10, 20-year, and retirement goals.
Tom Stroup ('91 B.A.) When I was an undergraduate student at U of M Dearborn I took a class in Organizational Behavior. While I anticipated it would be an interesting class, I had no idea how important it would be. When you consider that virtually everyone in their working lives becomes a member of a "team", the importance of how to deal with people of different backgrounds and personalities becomes very important. Occasionally I am asked to speak to groups of college students today and I use some of the lessons I learned 20 years ago to help them understand the dynamics of what they will be finding during their working careers.
Helen Jomantas ('80 B.S.) Definitely composition. At every level of my career, writing has been a core skill requirement. The number of interns and new hires that cannot write a comprehensible sentence is unacceptable. Thank you for emphasizing the need for writing classes for my degree!