When I learned of the work of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, it made me think of my own experiences as a DPS student.

My years of education are best defined between a balance of science, arts and extracurriculars that combined to provide me with the experience I have needed to be successful in my career in my life.

My education in the Detroit Public Schools began at the Golightly Educational Center for 1st through 8th grades and culminated at what was then called the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, where I was a theatre major and a dance minor.

One of the key things that my parents were looking for when selecting a high school for me were strong science and arts programs.  The head of sciences at the school made a promise to my mother that I would have four strong years of strong science development. So, I was able to build a foundation in science at a performing arts school.

Then, the school was located in an old building. It was a “diamond in the rough” and we learned without some of the fundamental facilities that are typically found for arts programs. Our principal Dr. Davis reminded us that we are the voice of the school and we needed to communicate to the community what we had and what we needed. We all became student ambassadors and got involved with programs where we faced off against other schools. That included a forensics team, that entered public speaking competitions against suburban and private schools, which was a first for DPS. We even won a State Championship. I also participated in math competitions as far away as Indiana.

In the classroom, I had a pivotal experience sophomore year in AP Chemistry. It was the hardest class I could imagine. But a teacher, Mrs. Daniels, gave me confidence and developed my skill through extra problems to help me understand.  She saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself. Two years later, I ended up as a chemistry major in college at Howard University in Washington, DC.

I was able to be the salutatorian of the Class of 1998 because I was able to live the value of a well-rounded experience. Learning inside and outside of the classroom go hand in hand. That’s how the world is. You have to learn how to work inside the office and in the community.

I chose dentistry as a career path because of the underserved needs in communities like Detroit. I also shadowed dentists and did internships that taught me that I wanted to do something hands on to serve the community because the community has served me so well.

I ended up graduating from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. Today, I am Director of Multicultural Affairs at UDM School of Dentistry for the last four years. We run a program in more than 10 DPS schools, exposing 7th to 12th grade students to the exciting field of dentistry. You can see details at dental.udmercy.edu/enrichment

Hands down, you have to be a well rounded person to be successful in this climate. What the Foundation supports helps students become that person.