Today, I’m a lawyer and a Senior Assistant Corporation Counsel for Oakland County. But as an 8th grader, I needed some extra help to make sure I had an opportunity for success in school and beyond. Thanks to my middle school principal in Detroit, I got that help and that’s why I’m focused on giving back to students today.

I’m now working with Horizons-Upward Bound at Cranbrook schools. The program helps prepare students with limited opportunity for the Detroit Metropolitan area to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

I was a product of the program from ’85 to ’89, before graduating from Renaissance High School and later Michigan State University and the Wayne State University Law School. Since then, I have spent a summer as a resident advisor, been active in the program’s alumni association, and now I sit on its advisory board.

The program has provided great benefits for my life. There are so many kids in the Detroit area that need that type of assistance. Without it, they may not be able to reach their goals. Without the program, my path would have been much different.

My parents instilled in me the importance of giving back. I was taught and I now believe that nobody achieves anything in life on their own. It’s really incumbent upon each individual to give back. It’s a responsibility that I willingly accept.

As a community, we can’t expect students to appreciate the importance of education unless we give them an example. So that means we, as alumni, need go into the schools and talk to kids about what education can get them. It means supporting programs, like those supported by the Foundation, that give children a chance to see other things outside of the school setting that makes their educational process so important.

It’s up to us – as alumni – to expose students to what’s possible. Give a kid something that they otherwise wouldn’t have. It can be easy to have an effect on a child just by having a presence. The many of the other images they have may not be so positive, so it’s up to you to balance that out.

Given the economic climate, every organization has to deal with their bottom line. It’s important to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. You can really see the tangible benefit when you give to foundations that affect kids in an important stage in their lives. Dollar for dollar, the impact is going to be greatest by giving to programs that affect children on a fundamental level.