Meet five alumni who represent the many urban leaders Marygrove has graduated since its founding.
Justice Maura Corrigan, Michigan Supreme Court: Maura Corrigan was elected to the court in 1998; served two terms as Chief Justice from 2001-2004. She graduated from Marygrove College in Detroit in 1969 and earned her Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the University of Detroit Law School in 1973. While in law school, she worked as a probation officer at a Detroit court. A member of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, Justice Corrigan has been recognized for her work on foster care and adoption issues, including The Detroit News’ “Michiganian of the Year” award.
Mary Ellen Hanlon Riordan: After graduating from Marygrove in 1941, Mary Ellen Riordan became the first female president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), a position she held for 20 years during which she successfully negotiated 10 contracts with the Detroit Board of Education. DFT was a fledgling union and she led the fight for collective bargaining for teachers. Many people felt that the increased rights and benefits generated for Detroit teachers raised the bar in suburban schools as well. After retiring, she became a tireless champion for Michigan public school retirees. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame for her leadership and activism on behalf of Michigan teachers and students.
Brother Richard Samyn, O.F.M. Capuchin and master gardener: Br. Rick began the Earth Works Urban Farm Project in 2001 to address the nutritional needs of Detroit’s poor. He created a three-quarter acre farm on the east side with the goals of creating awareness of the need for sustainable food systems within cities, promoting healthier eating habits for youth and teaching the human food relationship to Creation.
Brother Samyn spent four years in the Navy and nine in the Coast Guard as a ship’s mechanic and in law enforcement investigating illegal drug activity. He joined the Capuchins in Detroit in August 1988. Brother Rick received his BSW (social work) degree from Marygrove in 1995 and then created the position of client advocate at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
Nettie Harris Seabrooks, COO of the Detroit Institute of Arts: Nettie Seabrooks became Chief Operating Officer in September 2002, after joining the museum in February 2002 as Senior Associate to the Director. Before that, she was the chief operating officer and chief of staff for Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer. Ms. Seabrooks had also served as Mayor Archer’s deputy mayor and chief administrative officer. At the time of her appointment by Mayor Archer in 1994, Ms. Seabrooks was director of government relations for General Motors Corporation and had been with GM for 31 years. She has a BS degree in chemistry from Marygrove, an MA in Library Science from the University of Michigan and honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Marygrove and the University of Detroit Mercy.
Reverend Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP, and Pastor, Fellowship Chapel: Reverend Anthony graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in Political Science and from Marygrove with an MA in Pastoral Ministry. He also attended the University of Detroit for advanced study in Black Theology. Reverend Anthony is a Certified Social Worker with the State of Michigan. Reverend Anthony was ordained in 1981, and became the associate pastor of Fellowship Chapel in 1983. --A nationally known lecturer and motivationalist, Reverend Anthony is also a writer and a poet with articles and poems on the African experience in North America and throughout the Diaspora. He is now in his 8th term as president of the Detroit NAACP, the largest branch in the country.
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