Robin Wilson knew it wouldn’t be easy to return to school to finish her bachelor’s degree in 2013. Then 29, she worried about balancing classwork with a full-time career in the nonprofit world and a busy personal life.
She knew she had made the right decision—she just needed a little extra encouragement.
Wilson found that and more in UM-Dearborn’s Student Outreach and Academic Resources (SOAR) program, which aims to increase college access for nontraditional adult learners.
“[SOAR DIRECTOR] Ellen Judge-Gonzalez actually walked to the bookstore with me on my first day here. She took me to get my ID so that I would know exactly where I needed to go,” Wilson said. “There are so few resources available to nontraditional students, but Ellen and the SOAR staff understand the dynamics and the needs of the nontraditional student—of trying to balance work and family life while being a student—and look for ways to provide academic, financial and personal support. The SOAR program is such a vital part of the campus experience for nontraditional students.”
Wilson will show her appreciation for the SOAR program by participating in Giving Blueday, the university’s 24-hour global day of giving that encourages participants to support the people and projects that matter most to them.
This year’s Giving Blueday is Tuesday, November 29.
“Anyone who loves UM-Dearborn can be a part of Giving Blueday. All day people from all over the world share stories, post pictures and participate in fun social media challenges in an effort to share what they are passionate about at UM-Dearborn,” said Eva Gogola, director of annual giving. “The spirit of the day gets others excited and involved, as well—everyone from alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends. It is a great way for the UM-Dearborn family to start the giving season together.”
Last year, 160 donors contributed more than $54,000 during Giving Blueday. Gogola hopes to double those figures this year through a series of online challenges—including matching funds challenges for the College of Business, iLabs Center for Innovation Research, the Natural Sciences Building, CASL Student “Get to Graduation” Fund, the Ally Ash “DJ Alley Cat” Memorial Endowed Scholarship and student giving—and special events.
Participants can go to the Leaders & Best website from midnight to 11:59 p.m. to make donations to any area of the university they’d like to support—like scholarship funds, student groups, academic programs and building facilities—and visit umdearborn.edu/givingblueday to learn more about UM-Dearborn’s Giving Blueday efforts, matches and activities. They can also join the M-Bassadors Network now through November 29 for a chance to win prizes by celebrating the university on their social media networks.
Not everything is taking place online, though.
New this year, Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) will host Drink Brew – Give Blue, a fundraising event from 6-9 p.m. at Dearborn Brewery. Ten percent of all sales will go toward the UM-Dearborn Annual Fund and attendees can compete in trivia games to earn support for their favorite UM-Dearborn programs. Registration for the event is now open.
Leading up to Giving Blueday, campus units are encouraged to develop messages to connect community members with their work.
“This is a great day to share and highlight student projects, events, faculty research and other compelling stories with an enormous audience,” Gogola said. “In 2015, there were over 36 million media impressions—likes, shares, retweets, etc. I want UM-Dearborn to be part of that narrative and excitement.”
Wilson already has started to use her personal social media accounts to share how SOAR has made an impact on her life and to encourage friends and family to support the program—for her, it’s an opportunity to pay forward the assistance she has received.
“Because of the tuition and book support I received from SOAR, I was able to return to school and pursue my passion for education,” said Wilson, who also plans to make a donation to the program on Giving Blueday. “I want other students to have the same educational and professional opportunities that the SOAR program has afforded me.”