Though business-casual attire replaced the usual maize and blue worn around campus, the school spirit was still palpable when University President Mary Sue Coleman addressed approximately 300 Wolverines who elected to spend their summers working in Detroit.
In the auditorium of the M@dison Building, a center for entrepreneurship and technology startups within the city, Coleman said she was proud of students who have chosen to use their talents and resources to be in Detroit during a historical time.
“You will have experiences here that you wouldn’t have in another place because of the situation that the city finds itself in,” Coleman said in her speech. “I’m proud of all of you for coming here and trying to make this city better.”
Coleman added that students can have a large impact on the city as interns and eventually full time employees and business owners.
“We all know that there’s a lot of work to do, but right now, it’s more important than ever to recognize the powerful, youthful energy that we feel has real momentum in Detroit,” she said. “We all have a stake in Detroit’s turn-around, and we can all play a role, including this young talent.”
Other speakers included 2012 alum Sam Hamburger, Ross senior Patricia Diaz and 1987 Ross alum Brian Hermelin, who is an active member of Opportunity Detroit, a program spearheaded by Quicken Loans Chairman and Founder Dan Gilbert to draw attention to the positive aspects of Detroit’s renaissance.
Though Diaz grew up in the Dominican Republic, she has made a life in Michigan and said she “hasn’t been able” to leave.
“In Detroit I see people who are passionate and positive,” she said. “When I look around Detroit I see (a place) for leadership to leave a mark, to make a change, because the energy is there and people want to be a part of Detroit’s comeback.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated Dan Gilbert was the CEO of Quicken Loans. He is the chairman and founder.