Leticia Rangel has decades of work experience. A love for working with children. And a fierce dedication for the southwest Detroit community where she grew up and now lives and works.
Rangel (’17 B.A.) is the Clippert Multicultural Honors Academy dean of culture, a senior administration role in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Hearing her talk passionately about her neighborhood and the importance of education, Rangel seems like a natural fit.
“This is my home community. It’s where my brothers and sisters — there are six of us — grew up. And so many families of people we knew are still here. We get to see their children and their children’s children grow up,” she said. “I see my office at school as a home extension. I am blessed to have a job like that.”
Rangel then acknowledges the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s SOAR Program, which she credits for helping her earn the education that connected her interests to that right job.
“I needed that degree to get the position I have today. It took me seven years to finish college and I thank the SOAR Program for backing me every step of the way,” said Rangel, who shared that SOAR staff hosted scholarship writing workshops, loaned out laptops, read through research papers, listened and advised, and connected program participants to needed resources.
“The people in SOAR believed in me and showed me the importance of having faith in yourself. I was raising a son and had life challenges and financial struggles. I was just trying to hold on. I wasn't sure if college was right for me. But the SOAR Program showed me that it was, that it’s never too late to be who you are supposed to be.”
Celebrating those personal and professional successes, Rangel was one of nearly 120 people who attended the SOAR 20th Anniversary event on Oct. 25.
The College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters SOAR — Support, Opportunities, Advocacy and Resources for Nontraditional Students — Program has evolved over the years in name and reach, but the mission has remained the same: To increase access to post-secondary education for nontraditional adult learners experiencing socioeconomic challenges. And it gets students to graduation. The program’s retention rate is more than 85 percent.