Troy A. Blevins and Stephanie Cosby (Photo: Sarah Lewis / MJ)
Webmaster Troy A. Blevins and Staff Writer Stephanie Cosby are both graduating in December 2012 from UM-Dearborn. (Photo: Sarah Lewis / MJ)

By STEPHANIE COSBY, Staff Columnist

In the Fall of 2008 I was 18, fresh out of high school and unsure about everything. I knew I needed (and wanted) to go to college right away but I had no idea what career direction I wanted to pursue nor what school I should attend.

I chose UM-Dearborn at the suggestion of a very wise and very encouraging high school teacher. I hadn’t really thought about it until he mentioned it, but the more I considered it, the better it seemed. UM-Dearborn provided high quality education, was close to home and much more affordable that most of my alternatives.

So I enrolled thinking I’d take my basic requirements, figure out what I wanted to do and then transfer somewhere else to complete my degree.

But then I fell in love with this place.

It sounds corny, but it’s true. I’ve had my fair share of mishaps and small complaints (like how the Wifi NEVER seems to work and you can’t walk to your car without getting stalked by five other drivers desperate for that prime parking spot) but overall, UM-Dearborn has been amazing. How so?

First, some of the most dedicated, intelligent, passionate and hilarious people I have ever met attend school here. Students come from all walks of all, all races, socioeconomic statuses, religions, cities and life experiences. Everyone has their own interests, goals and dreams. (Yes, we’re all delicate, unique snowflakes at heart.) It’s been eye-opening and exciting to get to know all of these different people. I met some of my best friends here and I am better equipped to go out and help others.

Second, we have some kick ass professors. The professors I’ve been lucky enough to take classes with were worldly, knowledgeable, understanding, enthusiastic and engaging. They made me excited to learn. They made it worth trudging through hours of reading and writing papers because they showed me how to connect theory to real life, they taught me ways to sharpen my writing, research and critical thinking skills and they challenged me to always do better. (Plus, they were often hilarious. I can’t tell you how many Dr. Woodward and Dr. Radine quotes I have scribbled in the margins of my old notebooks.)

Third, this school provides a huge range of opportunities for personal growth, for giving back and for building a career. While the prospect of job hunting in this economy is terrifying, I feel confident to go seek my great perhaps (thank you, John Green) because of the experiences I’ve gained through opportunities provided by the Humanities/History Internship Program, guest lectures (Jessica Care Moore, Michael Eric Dyson, Lt. Dan Choi, and SO many more), film screenings, student events, volunteers days and more.

Fourth, we have awesome student life. We may be a primarily commuter campus but we still have dozens of organizations geared toward every interest under the sun. These groups are run by some of the hardest working people and put on events that made me excited to come to campus. Getting involved is also the best thing you can do to meet like-minded individuals, challenge yourself and work with others. I’ll be forever grateful that I forced my shy, introverted self to those first WILL and Michigan Journal meetings because I met some of the best people and grew so much as a result.

The future is still wide open and unknown, but I’m walking away from here with a multitude of marketable skills, a swath of fulfilling experiences, and a bunch of great and supportive friends. I know myself much better than I did when I first walked in here four and a half years ago.

I walked in 18 and unsure. I’m walking out 22, excited to see what the future holds and in love with what UM-Dearborn has done for me.