Over the past few weeks and in the coming ones, we have all been celebrating our students, friends and colleagues as they complete a chapter in their lives by receiving their respective degrees. I’d like to take today to share some of the stories of graduates in my life who have been the most influential and inspirational people I know from the Class of 2014
Tim Elliott, B.S.
I first met Tim as an undergraduate while I served on Student Government. He worked on his homework outside of the Student Government Office everyday, so I got to interact with him a lot. Then, once I joined the Student Life Office, he and I worked together to get his Second Life Club started He also became initiated into my home Chapter of Omicron Rho of Kappa Sigma Fraternity a year after we were chaptered. I have watched as he has pursued and worked hard for his degree, not letting anything get in his way, not even cerebral palsy, which he was diagnosed with shortly after birth.Not only has Tim been a student all these years, but he’s been a teacher. He has taught the brothers of my fraternity lessons that has transformed them into better men. Tim has been able to help the brothers learn humility, patience, understanding and putting others before oneself. Tim has taught me many things as well. He has taught me that anything is possible and that if you have drive and determination you can reach your dreams. Tim is an inspiration to me for his dedication, persistence, and drive, all the while smiling and enjoying life.
Congratulations Brother! Thank you for everything that you have taught me! AEKDB!
Nichole Josey, B.A.
Oh goodness, I’m about to date myself. The first time I met this amazing young lady was when she was 16 and I was still an undergrad. She was helping out our fraternity members learn how to dance. Her older brother, Nic, was a leader in the fraternity and their family was a pillar of support for us as we went through our chartering period. That’s how she came to help all of us left footed brothers learn how to dance. She was also the key to K’Sync, our chapter’s very own lip syncing boy group. She has persevered and endured through more than any individual should, but she has fought back and is the true meaning of fighting spirit. It was after suffering years of illness and misdiagnoses, that it was found she had Chiari Malformation (CM). This rare disease is a neurological disorder. Those with CM have structural defects of their cerebellum, meaning that part of their brain descends out of the skull into the spinal area.A year after her diagnosis, in 2012 Nichole endured two brain surgeries only weeks apart. Then the process of recovery began. It was then I learned and saw the true meaning of fighting spirit. Through it all she braved forward and maintained her positive, loving and selfless nature. (At times, I think she was doing more comforting to us during her recovery than the other way around). However, not to be derailed, she fought back, and a year later, at the beginning of this academic year, earned a place on the Detroit Pistons Dance Team, will be graduating with honors, and has a bright and healthy future. Nichole is an inspiration to me for her fighting, optimistic and absolutely loving spirit.
Congratulation Nichole!!! It’s been an absolute privilege watching you grow into the amazing young lady you have become and can’t wait to see what you do next! (And blog about next 🙂 ).
Erika Trigg, B.A.
Erika. How do I tell you about her? The first time I met her was at our Campus Activities Board Kick Off Meeting. Actually to be honest, I first saw her hair. As the advisor of CAB, I sat next to the Executive Officers at the head of the room, and when I looked out over the room full of both returning members and new interests, a big curly head of hair was bobbing around talking to a few friends she had already made at UM-Flint. It would be later we would realize that her hair would be her trademark which would only be second to her leadership abilities. Erika has a drive, professional persona and friendly spirit about her. Part of her leadership powers is her ability to make everyone feel welcome and to lead them with confidence and a gentle hand. She has not only been an amazing student to advise, but after I left UM-Flint, an amazing friend to have. She is going to be one of Student Affair’s best assets in the years to come! (After she survives attending Michigan State University for her Masters in Student Affairs beginning this fall). She’s been an inspiration to me for her positive leadership and ability to persevere through whatever comes her way.
Congratulation Erika! Even though you are now a Person Divided (Michigan/Michigan State) you are going to do great things and it’s been an honor to watch you on your journey through undergrad. I’m lucky we have been able to become friends, and cannot wait for us to be colleagues!
Floyd Pouncil, B.A.
Now, Mr. Floyd Pouncil. I met him through Campus Activities Board as well. His quiet, yet strong leadership has been a true example of leadership and dedication to life, love and service to others. He served not only the student organizations but campus community in multiple roles and showed even the professional staff the true meaning of service to students. His priorities have been selfless, and watching him grow into the young man has been a true inspiration. He too is a Person Divided (Michigan/Michigan State) but if theres anyone to forget the labels and just see student needs, it is Floyd. He will be joining Erika at Michigan State University this fall to pursue his Master’s degree in Student Affairs. Floyd is an inspiration to me for his quiet yet dedicated heart and showing me that the most influential person isn’t always the loudest, but always the most purposeful.
Congratulations Floyd! You’ve been an absolutely amazing advisee, friend and role model. You are going to be such an amazing asset to Student Affairs, and I can’t wait to add colleagues to our list of titles.
Natasha Chapman, B.A.
I can’t say enough good about this amazing person. Natasha, or “Tash” as many of us know her by, has been such a dear friend to me and everyone she meets. I don’t think there’s a mean bone, vibe or attitude in her. She has an amazing talent of welcoming everyone into the fold. Her advocacy, intellect, sensitivity and professionalism has allowed her to touch the lives of so many people and to help many more. It is also totally awesome that she’s the partner of my BFF Tiffany. The positive change that occurred in my BFF when she met Tash is indescribable, except to say that Tash has made an amazing partner for my friend and happier than I have ever seen her. Tash will be attending Minnesota State University-Mankato beginning this fall, to start her Master’s program in Gender and Women’s Studies. Tash has been such an inspiration to me by showing me the true meaning of life, love and friendship.
Congratulations Tash! I’m so proud and happy for you!! You’ve been such an inspiration of tolerance, openness, love and advocacy. You have such an amazing life ahead and I’m honored to get to have you as a friend and to get to see you on this journey!
Alaina Wiens, M.B.A
And we now come to my final inspiration. The incomparable Alaina Wiens. She was the one to give me my first job after college graduation, and got me to realize that I wanted to work in higher education. Granted, she had to fire me 5 months later due to departmental budget cuts, but cest la vie ;). But honestly, I’ve looked at Alaina as a mentor, friend, colleague, resource and just general good person to look up to. She is such a great professional, open, honest and willing to both nurture and learn from colleagues all around her. She has been the key player in getting me into social media and blogging and really making it a part of my profession. And not only did she earn her degree and work full time, but also balanced it with having an amazing family. Alaina has been an inspiration to me for who I aspire to be as a professional in the higher educational field.
Congratulations Alaina! To a person who has exampled mentorship, friendship, professionalism and just awesomeness, I can’t wait to see where you go from here and am so privileged that you were my first professional supervisor and now a great friend and colleague .
To close, I also want to say congratulations to the graduating Brothers from the Kappa Sigma Chapters of the Michigan District. Each and every one of you have inspired me and taught me so much over the years and it’s been an honor and privilege to work with you and get to know you all! AEKDB.
Until next time!
Peace, Love and Pandas!