Dearborn Wolverines say the Go Blue Guarantee is changing their lives

March 13, 2023

With the impact the full tuition financial aid makes, it’s a major focus for UM-Dearborn’s Giving Blueday 2023, the U-M day of giving that takes place March 15.

 Brothers Puwanat and Puwadon Sapprasert of Lincoln Park, Mich. both received the Go Blue Guarantee, which aims to provide a college education to high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds.
Brothers Puwanat and Puwadon Sapprasert of Lincoln Park, Mich. both received the Go Blue Guarantee, which aims to provide a college education to high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds.

When the UM-Dearborn letter came, it carried an important message. Soon-to-be Dearborn Wolverines read that they received the Go Blue Guarantee, a need-based financial aid award for high-achieving students. Their education would be free.

For College of Engineering and Computer Science sophomore Puwadon Sapprasert, this meant his hard-working parents, who had immigrated with the family from Thailand only five years earlier, wouldn’t need to choose between investing in his education or their Thai restaurant, which had just emerged from challenges after the pandemic.

For Valeria Garcia-Lopez, who’s worked since age 15 and wondered if she needed to get additional jobs to help ends meet, the news let her know that she could focus on her studies.

“Because of the Go Blue Guarantee, I am enjoying the college journey,” said Garcia-Lopez, a first-year student in the College of Business. “I’m getting involved in student organizations, taking on leadership roles and learning about myself and how I can realize my dreams."

Valeria Garcia-Lopez outside University Center

The scholarship — which Garcia-Lopez calls life changing — is UM-Dearborn’s free tuition promise to in-state undergraduate students from low-income backgrounds who enter UM-Dearborn with a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Garcia-Lopez and Sapprasert are two of the 839 students on UM-Dearborn’s campus who receive the Go Blue Guarantee, which is funded by the university’s Go Blue Guarantee Endowment. With the impact the endowment makes, it’s a major focus of UM-Dearborn’s Giving Blueday 2023.

Giving Blueday, the university’s day of giving, is March 15. Annual Giving Assistant Director Kaitlyn Ledford said it’s a day for the entire university community to come together and support the causes that make UM-Dearborn the leaders and best.

This year UM-Dearborn leadership and the Alumni Society Board will match up to $18,000 in donations to the Go Blue Guarantee Scholarship Endowment

The Alumni Society Board, which is celebrating its 50th year, wanted to find a program that resonated with their experiences and has the potential to reach students from a variety of backgrounds and interests, said Eva Gogola, Director of Annual Giving and Advancement Services, 2004 CASL graduate, and former Alumni Society Board member. “Many UM-Dearborn graduates really got their chance here. They may be in wealthy or middle class backgrounds now — but they didn’t start there. They saw that their college journey took a village. Now they want to be the ones who lift people up.”

Because helping students earn an education is inspiring, Gogola said scholarship funding is popular. But there are also opportunities to give to student organizations, athletic teams, technology funds, study abroad experiences and more.

“This is a great day to multiply dollars and impact because of the giving matches and challenges,” Gogola said. For example, first-time donors of $50  to the university automatically get a $50/match when giving to a campus area of their choice. Check out all the Giving Blueday challenges and matches.

Brothers Puwanat and Puwadon Sapprasert

Talking to Sapprasert right after midterms, he said his brain was a bit tired after all the studying, especially since he has to do lots of Thai-to-English translation in his head. But he felt good — it was another step closer on his journey to becoming a computer engineer.

“I keep thinking about possibilities for the career that I’m going to have. It’s exciting,” he said.

Puwadon Sapprasert is  not the only one in his home having thoughts like these. His brother Puwanat, a CECS sophomore, is also a Go Blue Guarantee recipient.

“My family, my parents won’t need to worry about our tuition. After we graduate, my brother and I will be able to go straight to work without needing to worry about the debt,” Puwadon said. “This sets us up for a very good future.”

Valeria Garcia-Lopez sitting inside the University Center

Garcia-Lopez said she knows that the Go Blue Guarantee will have a ripple effect on her family too. The first-generation college student already has her curious little brothers asking her questions about college.

“This is changing my life. And it has the potential to change the lives of people around me,” she said. “I want my little brothers to see that anything is possible if you work at it. And not only is it possible, but there’s also support. There are people in the world who want to help you reach your dreams. It’s an honor being a Wolverine.”

Article by Sarah Tuxbury.