On March 21st, the Wolverine Express visited Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA) Early College of Excellence, marking the program’s sixth school this academic year. An initiative of the Center for Educational Outreach (CEO), Wolverine Express is an opportunity for U-M faculty and staff to share their stories and experiences to connect with youth about their college and career paths. U-M faculty and staff representing an array of disciplines and professions visited the Detroit high school, including individuals from the School of Kinesiology, the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and the Office of Financial Aid.

Located in Detroit, DEPSA is a public charter school with a strong focus on academic excellence and the pursuit of higher education. College pennants, framed acceptance letters, and emblems representing the proud college-going culture at DEPSA adorn the hallways and classrooms. CEO partnered with DEPSA for Wolverine Express to underscore and support the school’s mission.

The idea is to go beyond what’s in brochures and websites and give students first-hand knowledge of the kinds of things they can expect in college and the possible career and extracurricular activities.

Kamran Diba, a professor of anesthesiology who researches behavioral and systems neuroscience, said he wanted to do outreach at a previous career stop and was glad to find Wolverine Express established when he arrived at U-M.

“This kind of outreach really gives kids a more accurate picture of the college experience ahead of time,” he said. “Everyone has questions about what college will be like, and that’s especially true if it hasn’t been a part of your family experience.”

For the visit, U-M faculty and staff were assigned to different classrooms of various grades; they engaged with students by tailoring their presentations to their own talents, experiences and stories. Jenna Munson, Outreach Program Specialist at the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, led students through an interactive activity that allowed them to identify different minerals. She related earth science to current issues, such as the Flint water crisis and soil erosion; students had an opportunity to experience what a college lecture is like.

Students in an International Baccalaureate art class heard from Christianne Myers, an assistant professor at the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. Myers shared her story of being a costume designer and presented her digital portfolio of work and designs. Whether it was leading students through a hands-on activity that exposed them to an academic discipline or connecting with them through storytelling, U-M faculty and staff promoted the college-going culture at DEPSA aboard the Wolverine Express.

“For some first-generation college students, it can be hard for them to imagine themselves at Michigan,” said Myers. “So we want to show them they belong.”

Before the classroom presentations, U-M faculty and staff participated in a panel discussion with questions from 10th graders focused on academic success. Following classroom presentations, U-M faculty and staff debriefed with staff at DEPSA about the visit and discussed ideas for improvement and future collaboration. The principal of DEPSA Early College of Excellence, Natalie Taylor, Ed.S., and Ralph C. Bland, the Superintendent of DEPSA and CEO of New Paradigm for Education, each expressed their enthusiasm about having representatives from U-M at the school. CEO looks forward to building upon this partnership and fostering future connections between U-M and DEPSA.

Learn more about Wolverine Express.