"My success at Marygrove started the day I stepped on campus. Admissions made me feel at home right away and were always encouraging and helpful.
Enrollment Services always answered my questions with patience. The staff in the computer and writing labs is priceless, and I probably wouldn’t be graduating without the help and guidance from Student Support Services. President Fike’s open door policy for students also exemplifies commitment on his part to hear what students have to say.”
Urged by her husband, son and niece, Debra entered Marygrove as a mature student to pursue her lifelong dream of earning a four year college degree. Prior to enrolling at Marygrove, she had already amassed decades of experience. She earned an associate’s degree from Oakland Community College, Magna Cum Laude. She has a builders license, which she keeps current, and has built spec homes in the Dryden, Mich. area. For five years, Debra coached Varsity Track for both boys and girls at Dryden High School and expanded the program to include more than ten percent of the student body. She was also a paraprofessional for the Avondale Schools and has used her work experience at a gardening center to help the Marygrove Urban Hunger Garden.
As president of the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society, she has conducted regular meetings and led members on many service projects. Last December, she coordinated a college-wide coat collection for the COTS homeless shelter. She prepared five mother and baby layette baskets for centerpieces at a social work conference held at Michigan State University and then gave them to new moms. According to Professor Dorothy Seebaldt, Debra is always the first to volunteer and
leads through example. In her role as Professor Seebaldt’s research assistant, Debra is responsible for working with nearly one hundred social agencies to determine their interest in supervising a senior social work student intern. She also manages the complex internship program database. Her enthusiasm for each new project is infectious.
Debra’s 3.954 grade point average earned her a spot on the Marygrove College and National Dean’s lists, as well as a listing in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Some of her campus awards include: a Presidential Scholarship, the St. Catherine Medal and Margaret Desantis Scholarship, the Helen Wessel Cherniak Social Work scholarship, and an Iota Gamma Alpha award. Debra already has her sights on graduate school and is investigating programs and requirements at several universities. She hopes to work in a macro-level capacity in a policy making and/or advocacy position. Debra is especially interested in advocating for the rights of students with emotional disorders or other special needs.
Thanks to Debra’s initiative, Network, a student social work organization which had been dormant for years, was revived and expanded to all students interested in social work. She publicized the organization’s meetings and attends every one. She also assists in Marygrove’s student recruitment efforts at Oakland Community College.
Debra’s community service is extensive, particularly for a full-time student. During a Service Learning trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 2007, she worked with families and groups experiencing various kinds of social injustice. She volunteered for the Beaumont Hospital Parenting Program, which educates new mothers on the physical and mental health of both mothers and infants. During this past summer, Debra taught English as a Second Language to Hispanic adults at a union center in southwest Detroit.
In summing up her philosophy, Debra says, “I believe attitude is everything. We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change what people say or how they act. The most important thing is how we react to it. I also believe that, in order to succeed, your desire for success must be greater than your fear of failure.”