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Week of July 22, 2013

Coleman to recognize Detroit interns at event

Mariama Nagbe started an empowerment dance program for at-risk youth in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood.

Erica Andrews helped create an Emerging Leader Award program to promote Detroiters who demonstrate the potential for works of merit.

Master of Social Work student Mariama Nagbe leads a discussion with U-M undergraduate interns at the Golightly Education Center in Detroit. The positive impact of U-M Detroit interns will be celebrated in a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 23 at the m@dison building in Detroit. Photo by Parth Singh.

Mary Harrell is helping to guide Quicken Loans public relations strategy.

Lindsey Palar facilitates monthly Youth Nights and community outings in the Cody Rouge neighborhood.

These U-M Detroit interns are among 200 who have accepted President Mary Sue Coleman’s invitation to a 5:30-7:30 p.m. reception Tuesday, at the m@dison building, 1555 Broadway St., off of Grand Circus Park in Detroit. The purpose is to recognize the work of U-M interns in Detroit.

“Thank you for making a positive impact in Detroit with your internship this summer. You are a part of something special happening in the city, and your commitment and contributions make a difference,” Coleman told interns in her invitation.

The program will include brief remarks, a Q-and-A session, building tours and refreshments on the rooftop terrace overlooking Comerica Park and Ford Field. Business leaders also are scheduled to attend, and speak of innovative developments in the city.

Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, says the event celebrates the work of students who seek a challenge and deeper exposure to the city. “This is a way to reach out to those involved in the internship opportunities and get them together. We are also hoping to expand these exciting business partnership opportunities,” Wilbanks says, adding that the internships expose students to work opportunities in Detroit and in Michigan.

Sam Hamburger, an acquisition associate with Bedrock Real Estate Services and 2012 U-M graduate, says a number of his firm’s 24 interns downtown are from U-M. “I think there’s a lot of interest at U-M in Detroit and establishing a network here. A lot of these students go back to Ann Arbor and share their experiences,” he says. Hamburger adds that while graduating students in the past would focus on New York City or Boston as likely sites to begin working, they now see Detroit as an option.

A Detroit internship became a good option for Nagbe, child welfare certificate-track student and Detroit native, as she works toward a master of social work degree. “After reading through the mission statements of each of the provided field placements, the mission of the Detroit Initiative was the most appealing,” she says.

Nagbe’s activities included creating and implementing a social skills program through dance at Delray Neighborhood House, a Detroit partner agency for at-risk youth.

“I have been dancing professionally for 16 years, so when the opportunity of developing a youth empowerment dance program at Delray presented itself, I started working on it right away,” she says. “The arts has allowed me to rise in the face of adversity within my own life story, so to translate that concept into a dance program at Delray has really made my internship experience with the Detroit Initiative quite gratifying.”

Graduate student and Detroit native Andrews’ internship experience with the Arts of Citizenship program through Rackham Graduate School included creating an Emerging Leader Award. It was inspired by the annual Detroiter Hall of Fame selections to honor leaders and native Detroiters such as actor/comedian David Allen Grier and fashion critic Robin Givhan. Andrews’ job was to research U-M graduates from Detroit and talk to city leaders to identify award candidates.

“I also found a master of ceremonies for the event, Stephen Henderson, the Detroit Free Press editorial page editor who hosts the program American Black Journal (on Detroit Public Television). He’s great at asking questions,” she said.

The honoree was Detroit playwright and actress Dominique Morisseau. Andrews helped stage a reading of Morisseau’s play “Detroit ’67” at the award festivities, at which the playwright also received a Spirit of Detroit Award from a city council member. Andrews also is working on an exhibit on the founding of U-M in Detroit, in time for the 2017 university bicentennial.

Emily Taylor, a Stephen M. Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources graduate student from Rochester, N.Y., is interning this summer with McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm with offices around the world and in downtown Detroit. “I’m trying to develop a big data strategy for an agriculture company,” says Taylor, who hopes to launch her career in the city. “There is so much vitality and energy with the revitalization efforts and I definitely want to get more involved outside of work,” she says.

Harrell, a communications and international studies major from Kalamazoo who graduated this spring, has been working as an intern with Quicken Loans public relations team downtown. “My parents were a little worried at first, but its been really great — There are so many activities going on downtown, it’s really blown me away,” she says, adding continuing with the company would be a great first job experience.

In reviewing field placement sites for her internship, Palar, an MSW candidate from Kalamazoo, says the U-M Technical Assistance Center stood out, as she was interested in community organizing and working on youth anti-violence efforts. She was referred to Kenyetta Campbell, executive director of the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance.

“I work closely with the Youth Council in their efforts of leading by example and engaging with the community as change-makers,” she says. Palar facilitates monthly Youth Nights open to neighborhood youth ages 13-18, and tailors activities to their interests.

“I have an exceptional opportunity to practice social work at a pivotal point for this city,” she says.

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