Dreams2Reality, a program for metro Detroit high school students sponsored by PILOT, concluded their year-long program Monday with Dream Day, a day-long event in the University of Michigan School of Education.

PILOT is a student-led organization with a goal to develop leadership skills and encourage campus engagement within underrepresented communities.

LSA sophomore Una Jakupovic is a member of PILOT and co-led D2R this year. Jakupovic explained the premise of the program.

“PILOT is an organization founded with the mission to serve underrepresented communities and aid those students in their transition to college,” Jakupovic said. “PILOT’s programs focus on leadership development for students in these communities, and PILOT does this through various projects, which includes Dreams2Reality.”

D2R, a sub-committee of PILOT, consists of four workshops in Detroit throughout the year that discuss social justice-related topics with high school freshmen and sophomores.

Approximately 25 high school students participated in Dream Day this year. Throughout the day, the students went on a tour of the campus, conversed with University staff and faculty and talked to a panel of University students regarding their experiences on campus.

Jakupovic said the main goal of the program is to aid the students as they apply to college.

“We hope that this program inspires these students to pursue higher education and to know that despite being from underrepresented and marginalized communities, they do have a support system and resources at this University and other colleges as well to support them in their transition to college,” Jakupovic said.

D2R Project Coordinator Giovanna Bautista, LSA sophomore, said she became involved with PILOT after seeing the community it created. She said the program cultivates an environment for leadership development in which she feels comfortable.

“We hope to promote their post-secondary education, first of all,” Bautista said. “Though we know that college isn’t for everybody, and we don’t necessarily say, ‘Oh, go to college,’ it’s more broadening their options. For them to know that there is a community here for them especially — a lot of them seek a lot of support that they wouldn’t find otherwise in their high school. They literally would have never worked with anyone who is passionate about the things they are. Building a community for them that will help them broaden their options, whether it’s college or not.”

Zeinab Alghanem is a high school sophomore at Fordson High School in Dearborn. Through her participation in D2R and Dream Day, Alghanem said she now is considering applying to the University of Michigan and is interested in either philosophy, psychology or journalism. She said she plans to go to law school and continue to work in social justice.

“The most important (takeaway) was to be vulnerable and that there’s empowerment and strength in being vulnerable,” Alghanem said. “… This was a really great opportunity for us to network and have the opportunity of questioning ourselves and striving to know that we can do better.”

The event also discussed the Big House Program, an additional program sponsored by PILOT, aims to help high school seniors apply to college. Jakupovic said her participation in the Big House Program confirmed her decision to join PILOT upon arriving to the University.

“The Big House Program focuses on aiding students from underrepresented communities in the application process and the transition to college,” Jakupovic said. “… Upon going to the University, I wanted to give back to those same communities and help other students as I received that same help from PILOT during my senior year.”

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