Allison Kinsey is one of the most recent members of the Wolverine family at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. When not spending time at the Office of Student Life, Kinsey enjoys exploring the food culture of Dearborn and discovering new places in Michigan to add to her outdoor itinerary. Recently, editorial assistant Rudra Mehta caught up with Kinsey for our monthly series spotlighting a UM-Dearborn staff member.
How has working as the assistant director at the Office of Student Life been for you so far?
I worked at Penn State before coming to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and UM-Dearborn is a smaller campus, which, in my opinion, has its benefits. Ever since I’ve arrived here, it has been great to really immerse myself in the campus culture. I thoroughly enjoy supporting our students and am dedicated to creating diverse experiences for them. I also find it heartwarming to see that everyone cares for the campus community so much. It’s really a welcoming environment.
So I heard you moved from Pennsylvania. How are you liking Michigan?
My partner works at Ford, and we moved to Dearborn, and there is more diversity in and around Dearborn than in central Pennsylvania, especially since I grew up in the countryside surrounded by farmland. I really like that there are different cultures here and different cuisines. I must say that I’m not a foodie, but I do enjoy eating. Shawarma is my highlight! So some of Dearborn's most appealing things for me have to be the food and the community. I’ve also been going to some concerts here, with my last one in November 2021, watching Billy Strings.
There’s more traffic and people, and such an urban setting definitely makes my outdoorsy side miss the open spaces. However, Michigan has some great outdoor spaces. The Great Lakes are a big draw for me, and trips to the Upper Peninsula have become near and dear. I have checked most Great Lakes off my travel list, with Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior done and dusted. All that remains are Lake Ontario and Lake Huron, which I’ve only managed to see while crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Thankfully, gas is cheaper here!
What turned you into an outdoorsy person?
I’ve always liked spending time outside. I grew up on a farm and was a part of Girl Scouts, and my love for the outdoors grew during my undergrad when I joined various outdoor clubs. In fact, my grad school was in a college outdoor program, and I’ve led many outdoor programs at the universities where I have worked. My primary focus was on building outdoor communities and programs. It was during this time that I discovered I really enjoyed working with college students, and my focus shifted to the student community aspect as a whole.
Have you explored the trails around campus and the Environmental Interpretive Center yet?
I have indeed explored all of the UM-Dearborn nature spots, naturally. I might even go biking on the trails when the weather is nicer. Unfortunately, since I joined the university in November 2021, I haven’t been able to do that yet. There is a fantastic program at the Environmental Interpretive Center called “I Wonder Walks” that I highly recommend everyone on campus do at least once. I go on those walks weekly or whenever possible! I love that it’s right here in the heart of the campus. The green spaces around our campus have so much to offer, and I suggest exploring the outdoors whenever you get the chance.
Recently, a Reporter story mentioned that you enjoy the occasional board game. Tell us about your favorite ones.
I am a strategy person through and through. I’m a massive fan of Carcassonne, Catan and Scrabble. I was, in a way, born into it, as my family is really into board games. So, naturally, Christmas and holiday gifts mostly included board games, although card games are equally valued and classic for my family and me. Pinochle has a special place in my heart. My grandparents played that, and I grew up playing that the most.
Interview by Rudra Mehta. Have a question or idea for Kinsey, or just want to send her a “welcome-to-campus” note? Drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She loves hearing feedback from students about how we can make campus life even better.