We love going to college campuses and meeting our Graiders in person. Because we are an online platform without face-to-face interaction, it is our mission to do these trips as much as we can. This past Tuesday September 20, we had the privilege to attend the Teacher Education Pre-Admit Volunteer Expo Event at the University of Michigan. Liz and I woke up early and drove from Chicago to Ann Arbor so we could spend the day on campus meeting and getting to know our Graiders. We arrived at the Michigan Union to grab sandwiches before heading out to “The Diag,” or the main quad on campus. It was a perfect, warm day and the campus was alive with students. As we waited for Graiders to stop by, I couldn’t contain my excitement to finally meet them in person.
Kat Wallevand, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, spent over two hours hanging out and talking to Liz and me about her family, friends, future goals of opening a charter school for the performing arts and her many involvements on campus. She is one of the busiest college students I had ever talked to, yet she had no qualms spending quality time with us. I have no doubt she will be an amazing teacher who enjoys building relationships with her students. I was not surprised when Liz told me she had been one of the best Graiders on the platform last year.
When Ina Zaimi, a sophomore, showed up to say hi, I admit I was a little star struck. I have e-mailed with Ina so much these past few months, read her blog posts and heard so much about her from my colleagues and our teachers. It felt surreal to finally meet her in person.
Kellie Lounds, a sophomore, hung out for a bit as well and also attended the TEPA event Tuesday evening. Liz and I beamed with pride when we overheard her tell Megan Hubbard, another Graider from last year, how much our platform had improved.
At the TEPA event that evening, Ayesha Amin, a senior, was sitting next to us. She was representing rEDesign, a student organization that she helps lead.
At the TEPA event we got to learn about other student organizations, non-profits and volunteer coordinators who wanted to recruit students enrolled in the TEPA program. Like The Graide Network, they were also looking for passionate, dedicated and diverse students to get involved with their organizations.
Over the course of the event, we talked to many students who were interested in The Graide Network. By the time the event was over a few had already gone home and applied online. On the drive home Liz and I reflected on the day and we both agreed that we could not be more honored to continue to work with Michigan students.
Becca Lett is originally from Dallas, Texas. She graduated with a B.A. in Print Journalism from the University of Southern California in 2012. She joined the Teach For America Houston Corps in 2012 and after completing her committment she then taught at KIPP Houston for two years. She moved to Chicago in July to join The Graide Network full-time as the Member Success Manager.