(Courtesy: UMD.UMICH.EDU)
(Courtesy: UMD.UMICH.EDU)

By GENNA OWENS, Staff Writer

The 2013 Difference Makers have been selected for this year. Of those selected, Jerrice Donelson and Gabrielle Rodriguez discussed their experiences as students at University of Michigan-Dearborn.


Every year, 50 students are selected to become Difference Makers. The selections are based on nominations from faculty and staff. The students nominated exemplify what it means to be a leader. Selections are based on academic achievement, integrity, leadership, and creativity. This year, Jerrice and Gabrielle are two of the chosen Difference Makers, and they were ready to tell their story.


Gabrielle Rodriguez, a Dearborn native, was nominated twice to be a Difference Maker. She is an anthropology and women gender studies major. She was the president and treasurer of Phi Mu and currently UM-D’s College Panhellenic President.


Not only is Gabrielle an active participant in her sorority, but she is also a part of the National Society of Leadership and Success and is the co-chair for the Communications Committee. Furthermore, Gabrielle works for the Advising Office in the College of Business and is the manager of the lacrosse team.


After graduation, Gabrielle plans to get a PhD in human evolution, with a focus on women. “I want to see all the cultures in their natural habitat,” she said. Additionally, she wants to stay involved with Phi Mu by becoming a chapter consultant. “As a chapter consultant, I will be assigned to help a sorority with anything they might need.”


When asked what has made her the Difference Maker that she is today, she said, “Being a president has taught me to be a leader. It has given me confidence to want to do more than the minimum, and the sisterhood has instilled empowerment of women in me.”


When Gabrielle is not at school, she works at On the Border restaurant and plays soccer.


Jerrice Donelson, a Detroit native, was nominated six times to be a Difference Maker. Jerrice is an English and secondary teaching and writing major. She is also very active on campus. Jerrice works as a writing consultant for the Writing Center and for the Academic Outreach and Student Success Center. She is also a part of the English Club and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).


Jerrice is considered a non-traditional student due to the fact that she is 40 years old, but that does not stop her from becoming the person she wants to be. “Being a returning student has taught me to dream a little bit bigger. It has also taught me that my life experiences are valid and has assisted me in being a better student. I cannot say that I would have had the same experience at 19 as I have had at 40,” she said.


Recently, Jerrice was accepted into the Teach for America program. She will stay and teach children in the Detroit area. While teaching, Jerrice plans to get a Masters of Educational Technology and later get a PhD in Curriculum and Practice.


Jerrice wants to become a professor of first year writing and teach writing to 11th grade duel enrolled students. “My goal is to teach writing across different subject areas while utilizing technology in the classroom.”


When Jerrice is not working or participating in activities at school, she teaches Sunday School at her church, plays the violin, cello, and piano.


Both Gabrielle and Jerrice were shocked when they found out that they were selected to be a Difference Maker, but both truly exemplify what it means to be a leader. Their grades, integrity, and contributions to the campus community have prepared them to go out into the worlds as dreamers and future leaders.