Blog - Category: Service
UDM alumnus nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year
Sarah Hirschmann, the 2020 University of Detroit Mercy valedictorian and former women’s soccer goalie, just earned another impressive accolade. She’s a nominee for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
The award was established in 1991 to recognize graduating female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will name the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year this fall.
Sarah graduated from Detroit Mercy with a Bachelor of Arts in Literary Arts in Primary Education, specializing in Language Arts with a minor in Leadership, with a 3.97 GPA. She was a member of the women’s soccer team from 2015-18, a four-year member of the Detroit Mercy Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and a three-time member of the Horizon League Fall and Spring Academic Honor Roll.
Away from athletics, she started a non-profit group, volunteered and played a key role in a number of University events.
In 2015, Sarah started “One Kid At A Time”, a non-profit organization sponsoring the education of two students in Kenya, and distributing funds throughout Detroit. She also spent two summers with the International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ), teaching children ages 1-16 in Nairobi, Kenya and Faridabad, India.
Locally, Sarah volunteered with Ford Community Corps Partnership, working at Detroit Public Schools with fifth graders and students with behavioral disabilities to improve mathematics and social skills through educational card games. In addition, she worked with the Zoe Counseling Services of the Detroit Public Libraries, tutoring students in and out of foster care and those who have fallen behind grade level and need extra help.
One of her big efforts on campus saw her take part in the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC), where she helped lead a committee of 20 students to create the conference with Detroit Mercy serving as host for the first-time ever in 2019. Sarah also was part of the Ignatian Family Teach-In For Justice (IFTJ), a national social justice conference in Washington, D.C., where students gather from around the country to learn about more ways to fight injustice and advocate for themselves and others.
Sarah is indisputably a model scholar-athlete. Her commitment to excellence in the classroom and on the field is strong and her dedication to her community–both locally and around the world–is unwavering. It’s an outlook that’s prevalent at the University of Detroit Mercy and Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities. Purposefully smaller, the colleges and universities pride themselves on helping students follow their own path, engage in the world around them, and find their passion. They emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
A Student Perspective: Sometimes Second is the Perfect Place
According to Olivet College rising senior Rose Kemmerling, the perfect college fit is defined by a homey feeling and awesome supporters. For her, Olivet College fits that description to a T.
Second Family, Second Home
“I would encourage a student to attend Olivet College because it is not just a place, but also embodies a great feeling,” Rose said. “When I come back to campus after summer or Christmas break, I feel like I am at my home-away-from-home. It is hard to explain, but once you are on campus you can feel the family atmosphere and know that it is the place that you should be. The College is more than just the academic buildings, dorm rooms and the KC — it’s the people who become your second family.”
As a biology pre-medical major, member of the volleyball team, President’s Leadership Institute fellow and vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Rose’s second family is comprised of her teammates, science professors and classmates.
“My relationships with professors at Olivet have helped shape me into the person I am today. Being a biology major with a pre-med focus, Organic Chemistry was one of the classes I had to take,” Rose explained. “I established a bond with Professor Susanne Lewis, Ph.D., because I was with her four times a week in addition to a lab on Tuesday nights and the extra time I spent in her office hours. I know that her door will always be open and that I can go to her when needed.
“I also know that my coach, Megan Merchant, is someone that I can go to. I have the chance to work with her as both a coach and SAAC faculty adviser, and I know that she wants to see me succeed. My athletic trainer, Kaitlin Sznajder, is someone who I know will always be there to encourage and support me — she was my rock when I got a concussion this season.
“I am lucky to have teammates, friends and a support system all wrapped up into one.”
Rose added that a very special member of her OC family and volleyball team is nine-year-old Lianna Shearer. Liana was recruited to the Comets from Team IMPACT, a nonprofit that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Lianna attends practices, games, team dinners and other events with the team. More importantly, Rose and the rest of the OC volleyball team are members of Lianna’s support system as she overcomes challenges related to cystic hygroma.
Class of 2020
While Rose’s undergraduate journey at Olivet is nearing its end, she says she’s not done building relationships and using those connections for good. Next up, she’s preparing for further studies that will help her enter the medical field.
“I have always known that I want to do something in the medical field,” Rose said. “This past summer I read an article about genetic counseling, and I knew that this career was perfect for me. Genetic counseling does not only allow me to help others, but it still allows me to be involved in the medical field and solving problems. My goal is to attend a two-year genetic counseling program after graduating from Olivet. I am preparing myself for my future career by shadowing genetic counselors, taking prerequisite courses for my program, adding a psychology minor, participating in crisis volunteering and studying for the GRE.”
With the support of her OC family, Rose has no doubt she’ll be able to achieve her goals.
“My experience as a Comet has helped shape me into the person, student and athlete I am today. I have gained life experiences and learned lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life,” she concluded.
Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alma College Alternative Fall Breaks Include Local Service Options
Students learn about the impact of genocide, interact with special needs youth, remove invasive shrubs and participate in wildlife rehabilitation during Alma College’s Alternative Fall Break.
Alma College’s mission is to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations. Students of Alma College strive to take this mission statement and transform it into a way of living. One example of these efforts is the nearly 200 students who participate in the Alma College Alternative Break Program.
This program began in 2003 as a single service trip with 20 participants. Students now participate in 10 or more volunteer opportunities throughout the course of the academic year.
Alma College had the third highest percentage of alternative breakers last year according to the Break Away national survey. A total of 193 schools responded to this survey hosted by the national organization supporting the development of alternative break experiences.
Alternative Fall Breaks offer several one- or two-day trips across the State of Michigan. Meanwhile, the holiday and spring service options allow students to serve throughout the nation for an entire week. More information on fall service and upcoming trip options can be found at https://www.alma.edu/academics/experiential-learning/leadership-programs/alternative-breaks.php.
“I went on my first Alternative Break in the spring of 2017. The destination was Mammoth Caves National Park and the experience was wonderful,” says program student co-leader Erin Goggins of Hastings. “Learning about the environment, making new friends and serving others have made this program extremely important to me.”
“Helping others become active citizens in the community is something else that I find especially great about organizing these trips,” says Goggins. “I am thankful that Alma College has provided me with the opportunity to do this.”
Andrews University Wins Acclaim for Prison Bible
Sometimes, faith leads you off the beaten path.
Such is the case with Andrews University and a group of ministry activists, who have teamed to produce beautiful, leather-bound Bibles designed for prisoners.
Known as the prison ministries of the Andrews Study Bible, the book is designed to be a keepsake for inmates and spread the good news, while accommodating their special needs.
It’s cheaper than traditional, high-quality Bibles — $20 compared to $100 — but still impressive enough to become treasured behind bars. Bonded with leather and immaculately produced, the Bibles are themselves are a work of art.
“We believe these Bibles tell the inmate they have value, which matters a lot, as they are mostly shunned by society and forgotten by their families,” Judy Mackie, who runs a nonprofit, Binding Broken Hearts, told the Adventist Review.
“We get letter after letter expressing their joy and thankfulness that someone cares.”
The partnership began after officials at Andrews University Press — the publishing arm of Andrews University — began noticing Mackie buying their regular, highly acclaimed Bibles in bulk at retail prices, $70-$99 apiece.
After Andrews officials reached out to her, the idea took root for a less-expensive but still comprehensive edition of the Andrews Study Bible, which debuted in 2010 and has quickly become one of the most coveted editions of the good book.
An initial printing of 5,000 copies of the prison volume in 2014 sold out quickly. Ditto for last year’s run of 5,000. And ditto again for the 2016 pressing.
“If you could just see the faces of some of the inmates who have received the Andrews Study Bibles, your heart would melt,” said Dan Preas, a prison ministry leader in Washington.
Doing good work is a mission for Andrews University, the flagship school of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Like the Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities, the schools stress community over conformity.
Class sizes are small, allowing students to work closely with professors committed to helping them forge their own path.
It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Alt Spring Break Stories – Cuba
We’re always inspired to learn about the exciting and impactful projects the students from Michigan’s top 15 private colleges and universities accomplish on their Alternative Spring Breaks.
Spring Break can be a time to kick back or a time to step up. The fine students from Andrews University chose to do both on their study tour of Cuba. They captured the highlights in this video.
Madonna University Reaches Out to Help Haiti
The world was horrified when a powerful earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010. Within days, 220,000 were dead and $13.5 billion in charitable donations rolled into the tiny, chronically poor island nation.
And then, after a few months, the news shifted, sympathies waned and donations slowed. Haiti returned to “normal”: Devastating poverty, corruption and illness.
While others left, Madonna University put down roots.
The Michigan-based university is marking the fourth year of its Haiti Education Leadership Program (HELP), an online business administration program that teaches English-speaking Haitians.
“It sounds cliché, but you help one person at a time,” said Donald Conrad, a business professor who helped found the program.
The three-year program graduates about 25 students per year and is believed to be one of the only programs of its kind in Haiti. The program trains students on business practices with the goal of expanding the tiny middle class in Haiti.
“We want those in the middle to have the chance to create successful businesses and have good careers working for the government or organizations in Haiti,” said Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, who created the program and retired as Madonna University’s president this year.
Organizers are in Haiti for the long haul. They hope to expand the program to include new studies such as hospitality management.
The benevolence is typical of Michigan’s top 14 independent colleges and universities. Because helping students follow the right path and fulfill their passion is what they do.
All emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools. With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.
Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.