Bagale 'Difference Makers' Scholarship recipients aim to impact community

September 5, 2012

Edward J. Bagale "Difference Makers" Scholarship recipientsTheir interests are varied, but their passion to make a difference brought them together as 2012 University of Michigan-Dearborn Difference Makers, a program that recognizes students who are improving the lives of others. Now, five of these students—Jennifer Drake, Iffa Kazi, Donna Posont, Benita Robinson and Lance Slatton—have been recognized as the first recipients of the Edward J. Bagale “Difference Makers” Scholarship.

The scholarships, available to students previously selected as UM-Dearborn Difference Makers, support student educational goals and student-led projects that impact the community.

“The joy we experience at UM-Dearborn is because we see the work and the achievements of our alumni; we watch our students succeed,” Bagale said.

This year, the students will work to bring projects to life on campus and throughout the Detroit metropolitan region.

On campus, Drake, Kazi and Slatton will use funds to launch or strengthen student-based programs.

Drake will bring financial speaker Rachel Cruze to campus later this month to discuss personal money management issues. Following the event, students can participate in Foundations in Personal Finance, a six-week video-based class.

“My hope is to cause a financial paradigm shift and plant seeds of hope,” she said.

Kazi plans to use the funds to further develop the Diversity Summit she helped organize last year. This year’s two-day event will include a volunteer project followed by dialoguing and discussion groups to talk about philanthropy, engagement and inclusion.

“Students will get the benefit of seeing how the philanthropic acts of others impact their daily lives, enabling them to want to pay it forward, whether it is by giving back their time, their money or their expertise,” Kazi said.

Slatton will use the scholarship to support campus health care resources. Slatton will launch a Health Care Resource and Support Expo for UM-Dearborn students and alumni this fall that will include more than 20 health care providers, educators and agencies and provide students with free health care screenings and resources.

“What I am most passionate about is ensuring that every student is given access to health care resources and assistance to their health care and social needs,” he said.

Posont and Robinson will use their scholarships to support programs geared toward community members, including area youth.

Posont will use funds to support “Birding by Ear” activities for blind and visually impaired children and adults. She also plans to lead birding weekends throughout the year at a state park.

“While learning about birds, are learning why it is important to preserve their habitat, and they are understanding how birds are a valuable part of ecosystems,” she said. “Once they understand what is going on around them in the natural environment, then they have more of a chance of caring and wanting to be good stewards of the planet and its inhabitants.”

Robinson’s scholarship will enable her to host an introductory computer safety and etiquette course for Detroit Public Schools students.

“I hope to get students interested in learning about technology, teach them how to effectively use a rapidly growing tool—social media—and teach children precautionary measures of protecting themselves against Internet predators,” Robinson said.

Students received their scholarships at a reception announcing the Edward J. Bagale “Difference Makers” Scholarship fund.

Bagale, vice chancellor for government relations, has worked nearly 40 years in higher education, including 33 years at UM-Dearborn. His work has helped transform the campus, securing state funding for the construction of numerous buildings such as the College of Arts, Sciences and Letters Building, Social Sciences Building, the Environmental Interpretive Center, the University Center, the Fairlane Center and the upcoming Science Building renovation project.

Bagale also was instrumental in developing a partnership with Oakwood Hospital that led to the enhancement of the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC), a State of Michigan-approved education and child care center for young children that serves as a model teacher preparation and child study facility for students enrolled in a variety of UM-Dearborn education courses.

Long active in the community, he has been a catalyst for restoring the Rouge River, has provided leadership to establish an Automobile National Heritage Area and a new Train Depot for Dearborn, and promoted sustainable development throughout the Detroit Metropolitan Area. Bagale serves on several boards, and was awarded the Detroit Free Press Shining Light Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award in 2010 for his life work.

The Edward J. Bagale “Difference Makers” Scholarship fund began with a gift from Alexander "Alan" Turfe, (’88, B.S.A.) and his family.

“God has blessed me with the ‘best-est’ of angels, Ed Bagale. Ed, you are the Difference Maker in my life,” said Turfe in a note to Bagale. “To the Difference Makers, we are all excited about your projects and futures. I trust that as your careers grow, that you will quietly help and give back to this university and never forget the example of Ed Bagale.”

Back to top of page