'There's a place for everyone here'

September 19, 2022

Twenty years after graduating from high school, April Marvin takes a nontraditional college route and shares her success as a Dearborn Wolverine.

Photo of students walking outside of the University Center in Fall 2022

Everything came easy to April Marvin in high school. She was a good student who was involved in student council, drama, choir and more. When she found herself in college shortly after high school with a failing GPA, she didn’t know what to do. So she dropped out and got a job.

That was 2005. Now, nearly 20 years later, she is back in college with a new focus, good grades and a successfully completed policy and law internship. She shares what’s made her experience at UM-Dearborn as a non-traditional student successful and she gives advice based on her return to college life.

Photo of April Marvin
April Marvin

What I thought was going to be a terrifying return-back-to-school where younger people judged me, turned out to be anything but that,” she said.

Thinking about returning to college? Start with self reflection.

“It wasn’t until recently that I sat down with myself — yes, seriously — and spoke the tough words out loud to accept my life choices. I think that is one of the toughest things about truly growing up, being able to tell yourself the truth and accept your mistakes. These are not roadblocks, they are stepping stones. Every obstacle has a way through/over/beyond if you look at it as an opportunity.”

Then reach out and ask for help.

I wrote one very scared and humble email to the admissions department at UM-Dearborn. In that email, I asked for another chance. I honestly didn’t know what the response would be. I could get a resounding “no” for the way I left my academics and my GPA standing. But the response that came back was, “we would love to talk to you.” With that one email, the door was opened for me for a second chance at a degree and at life.”

Realize that, if your schedule allows for it, there are a variety of opportunities at UM-Dearborn.

“I am an office manager for a physical therapy clinic, but wanted to experience what college has to offer too. I looked for student organizations to join like the Public Relations Student Society of America. I'm currently the PRSSA president. I also found a unique summer internship. I worked as a policy and law intern for the Mental Health Association in Michigan. I attended every meeting I could from board meetings to webinars with legislators. I registered for events with the organization, like a mental health improv course and even pharmaceutical presentations on medications. I put myself inside of everything I could. Because of this, I was included in many important conversations and given a lot of freedom to work on projects and pitch my own ideas.

The ending of my internship was more of a transition. As I was wrapping things up, my supervisor talked to me about being a contracted employee to continue my work and research. In three short months, I made connections and found self-validation in my work and my abilities. It was a bigger lesson than I ever expected, but one that’s helped me develop an even stronger voice.”

There’s wisdom in experience.

"I have seen things as a nervous freshman and as an (still sometimes nervous) adult. This university supports students like me. Students who have full-time jobs and families and dependents at home who need them. Students who are unsure of what they want to do in life and need some extra time to figure it out in school. Students who are first-generation college attending. Students who have so much life going on around them that they need to step away for a while. 

If you are one of those students, I am here to tell you that UM-Dearborn is a place of solace for people like us. For the non-traditional student, it provides a great environment to learn, grow and become what you know you were meant for. I wear that non-traditional badge proud because it comes with some impactful life lessons. 

If you feel like you may not fit in with whatever situation you have, trust me, there is a place for everyone here. It’s only one step away.”

April Marvin, a SOAR Program student, is a Communications and Public Relations major. She is also a writer for the Dearborn Wolverine Student Blog.