Most people on campus will tell you that the University of Michigan is a truly great university. But what makes it so great? Michigan has excellent academics (and the rankings to match), a wide range of interesting classes, incredibly accomplished professors and yes, some pretty great athletics as well. But while all of these things are truly important, I’d say they’re not the most important factors in Michigan’s success. To my mind, there are two things that make Michigan truly special: the bold ideas that are created here at all levels — by students and faculty — and the desire to give back to the Michigan community.

When I was in high school, I decided to come to Michigan for those two reasons. I was impressed with the exciting and novel work being done in Ann Arbor, but I was even more impressed with the Michigan community, working together to give back to the University that had educated and supported them. I truly believe the largest factor for the greatness of this University is that the community works together to create bold ideas, which is now one of the three pillars of the University’s Victors campaign.

Why is support of inventiveness on campus important? In some ways, it’s obvious. These are things that change the world on a local and global scale. When a new medicine is created, when a new technology is introduced, you can be certain ingenuity was the seed of development. Important to University researchers and scholars, original ideas allow for the realization of goals, the thrill of discovery and the ability to help those in need. Bold ideas are the lifeblood of the University of Michigan. This creativity helps to maintain our reputation as one of the world’s top universities. But ingenuity isn’t just for University professors; it’s important for University students too.

Very few students are content to let their Michigan experience begin and end in the classroom. In my experience, my fellow classmates want to get their hands dirty, working in the lab, helping out in the world, doing things that matter. Supporting bold ideas will allow for students with the drive to make things happen and get involved here on campus. The 1,200-person Hackathon in the Big House, sponsored by MHacks, is just one example.

And while Michigan students can make just about anything happen, there are certain things, such as laboratory research, that students can’t do on their own. Ideas fostered by researchers on campus provide students with an opportunity to volunteer in labs, work exciting projects, apply their knowledge to real-world situations and maybe even contribute to their community and their world. Basically, bold ideas give students an opportunity to give back.

I came to the University because I wanted to be part of the incredible tradition of excellence in research. I have had the opportunity to work in a biomedical research lab, translating bold scientific ideas into reality. I have already benefited enormously from being part of that. I want to be able to say that I gave something back in exchange for what I’ve learned. I want to be able to say that I worked to become part of Michigan’s reputation for research excellence rather than just benefiting from an association with it. I want to do something of substance, something of importance, if not necessarily of great magnitude. I don’t want to leave this university saying, “I’ll give something back to U of M when I’m older.” I want to say that I did everything in my power to make the University proud while I was here. There are many ways to give back to the University. In my mind, the most important is to give back with bold ideas, whether by introducing your own or by supporting the ideas of others.

I consider myself very lucky to be a student in Ann Arbor, and not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for being the beneficiary of the great things the University offers its students. I could be very successful simply taking all that this school offers me, grabbing my diploma and moving on to a career. But if I did that, while I would be successful, I wouldn’t be satisfied. There are other reasons why I’m here.

Jared Frank is an LSA junior.

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