Office for Student Engagement’s Eboni Turnbow celebrates life lessons, school spirit and Homecoming 2018

9/28/2018

The assistant director — a major force behind this week’s Homecoming events — gives advice on how to ‘live your best life’ on campus, in the office and at the game.

In between posting Homecoming signs around campus and putting the final Go Blue! touches on 2018 Homecoming events, Office for Student Engagement Assistant Director Eboni Turnbow said school spirit is something you can’t always describe, but you know it when you see it.

And she’d be the one to know. Turnbow represented her campus as the only African-American female named to her university’s Homecoming court during her senior year.

She helped get people interested in mid-2000s voter registration by serving on a student program board that brought megastars Mary J. Blige, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Combs to her campus to speak on the impact of casting a ballot.

And she’s now working to hype UM-Dearborn's Homecoming — one that has new events along with the traditional favorites — so students, faculty and staff can wear their maize and blue and look forward to this week’s events. Turnbow recently spoke with Reporter about her experiences, drive and love for the college experience.

Get your head into the game.

I feel like Homecoming is a pivotal opportunity because spirit is already high for the first month of school and people are looking for ways to engage with their campus. Research shows that the first six weeks can set the tone of a college experience, and typically homecoming is within that first six weeks. So let’s wear our maize and blue. Let’s help connect students to events and get involved with events too, and let’s have an environment of pride for an entire week.

Speaking of pride, our ice hockey team is something to brag about. We are doing a Homecoming tailgate before Friday’s game. Come join us. Bring a sweater in case you get a little chilly at the game. And, ladies, leave your heels at home. I’m speaking from observed experience on this.

It’s really about the journey.

It took me six years to graduate. Six years for an undergrad isn't something most people celebrate, but I do. Just keep going and do your best, even if you are juggling other responsibilities. Education doesn't have an end date. Those six years helped make me who I am. I worked on campus. I was on the student activities board. I joined Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. I was a student assistant in the college of engineering. Through my involvement, I was named to homecoming court. I learned so much about who I was as a person and the direction I wanted to take my life. So help students get connected and involved. And remind them that no matter where they are on their journey, to just keep moving in their own right direction.

Own your story.

My mom was a single hard-working parent with three jobs; so my two younger brothers were like my children. After school, my mom would call from work to check in on how we were doing. At age 8, I was the one who did the stuff — cooking, laundry, bathing my brothers — parents do. And I was still doing my homework and keeping my grades up.

I’m grateful for that experience. I’m not saying that it was the best way, but it was the way for our family. I grew up on Detroit’s east side in the worst of the worst neighborhoods. But thanks to the multitasking skills and responsibility I developed starting from my childhood, this east sider is on the road to three degrees, has received several professional awards and is very happy with my career. I’m proud of where I come from and where I’m going. And my brothers and I are thick as thieves to this day. So no matter your story, own it. There are positives even in tough situations.

Teamwork is essential, so give it your all.

I come from a sports family. I played neighborhood football with my brothers and their friends. I did team sports year-round in high school and I coached track as an adult. Even if you aren’t in sports, you still have a team. Your team might be your sisters or brothers. A parent. Your coworkers. Your team is anyone who is in your life who’s working with you.

So remember that laziness not only impacts you, but those around you. Accomplishments do not happen in vacuums. So when you decide to have a lazy moment, think about who else you are inhibiting from being successful. Be an asset, not a liability. Do your best for your team. Do your best for you. That’s living your best life.

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