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Editor in Chief:
The Statement is The Michigan
Daily's news magazine, distributed
every Wednesday during the
T our readers,
This week, The Statement brings you its annual Students of the Year issue. Like the other special issues before this, we've scrapped our usual content
- Junk Drawer, About Campus and Personal Statement - and have dedicated the entire magazine to one theme.
For this issue, we had the especially challenging task of picking just ten "Students of the Year" out of the 26,208 undergraduates at the University - sort of a
best of the Leaders and Best, if you will.
Though the students on our list are certainly unique - we have a pair of Olympic silver medal winners, the president and founder of a national veterans orga-
nization and a political activist vying for a spot on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners - one thing remains constant between them all: the desire
to change the world around them.
"There's something in the eyes of our generation," one of our students said. "I feel like we're on the cusp of a better future."
Change the world? Maybe. Make a difference? Definitely.
Trevor Calero and Allie White, Magazine Editor and Deputy Magazine Editor
Afghanistan with his friends.
"I'm sitting there thinking about
(how) I'm wasting my time and wast-
ing my life sitting in this classroom
when there's something far more
important for me to be doing," Blumke
Because he had trouble integrat-
ing into campus life, Blumke thought
other veterans could possibly be hav-
ing the same problems. So, in the
spring of 2007, he started the Student
Veterans of Michigan and was funda-
mental in founding the Student Vet-
erans of America in January 2008, of
which he is the first president.
As president, Blumke works on the
national level to advocate for veterans'
In the first six months of his presi-
dency, Blumke said he went to Wash-
ington seven times in support of the
passage of the Post- 9/11 GI Bill.
The bill, which became law in 2008
and went into effect last August, pays
for veterans' tuition at public colleges
and universities and gives them a sti-
pend for books and housing. Blumke
said the new GI Bill is helping veter-
ans continue their education.
,March-24, T m 7B
"(Before), if you wanted to go to
school and you had a wife and kid, or
a husband and family, it wasn't really
an option," Blumke said. "You had to
work and support your family. Now,
with this new GI Bill, you can go to
school and you can have a family and
you can move on with your educa-
On a local level, with over 200
chapters nationwide, Blumke said the
SVA is dedicated to easing the transi-
tion to college life for returning veter-
ans so they won't have to struggle like
he, and countless other veterans, did.
Blumke added that in the two years
since SVA was formed, veteran servic-
es on college campuses have improved
drastically. He said it's critical that
veterans help one another adjust
because they have shared experiences
that a majority of the population can't
"Today, a lot of the college campus-
es are better suited for returning vets,
and I also think that veterans on cam-
puses across the country are doing
a better job of helping each other,"
Blumke said. "I think that's probably
the most important piece of that puz-
zle because we're doing a better job
taking care of each other."
Though he is graduating in August,
Blumke said the SVA will continue to
advocate and assist student veterans so
they will be able to stand out for their
achievements, not their differences.
- JOSEPH LICHTERMAN
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Derek Blumke has always stood
out from his peers.
Last week, when it seemed
like all of Ann Arbor was either study-
ing for midterms or celebrating St. Pat-
rick's Day, Blumke was in Washington,
D.C. As the president of Student Veter-
ans of America - a national organiza-
tion dedicated to assisting veterans on
college campuses - Blumke was par-
ticipating in roundtable discussions
regarding the implications of repeal-
From Page 5B
that he was inspired after observing
disadvantaged peers achieve academi-
cally despite their difficult circum-
"Seeing all these people who have
these disadvantages but that are ten
times smarter than me and work a
lot harder than me, it kind of made
me really want to be involved or to do
something about it," Carole said.
Carole said that, in terms of the engi-
neering job market, being a minority is
actually an advantage but many African
Americans lack the confidence to excel
From Page 5B
director where I'm dealing with very
technical things, like making sure
the lighting works," he said. "The
challenge of producing in general is
that you're bringing together person-
alities. My job is essentially making
sure that the choreographer is get-
ting along with the directors."
Michelon cites this as one of the
most difficult things to assess about
"As a senior, I'm now trying to
ing the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell
policy at the Pentagon, and veterans'
benefits on Capitol Hill.
Similarly, in the fall of 1999, when
most of his peers were enrolling in
college, Blumke joined the Air Force
where he served for six years, includ-
ing three tours of duty in Afghanistan.
In 2007, at age 26, when people
his age were starting their profes-
sional lives, Blumke enrolled as an
undergraduate at the University after
academically and struggle when com-
peting with peers in the classroom.
"It's definitely not that they're less
smart, and it's definitely not that they
don't work hard," Pascal said. "It's that
they approach their education in a very
different way. They have a lot to prove
and they have alot to fight for."
Through NSBE, Carole has worked
to foster confidence among its members
by building a community and "having
those individuals uplift each other and
really show each other that they can
Besides establishing faith within the
group, a big focus for Carole is giving
back to the community by mentoring
Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area schools
evaluate the impact I've left on my
organization after I leave. Because
it's so relationship based, it's hard
to tell how long this thing lasts," he
"I can tell myself that I worked
really hard to give MUSKET a good
name on campus in this way, but good
producers, they're not too progres-
sive - you keep things running and
keep things working well," he added.
"It's a day in, day out kind of job. Any
real advancement in the group and
any strides won't be noticed by the
public because it's all internal."
More recently, Michelon has been
spending two years at community col-
When he first came to campus,
Blumke said he felt isolated from his
fellow classmates - most of whom
were much younger than he was
- and struggled with depression.
Blumke said he would be in class and
hear the people sitting next to him
talking about their weekend plans or
the latest gossip, and all he would be
able to think about was being back in
Today's Career Tip:
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personal development plan. 9-Noon at the Alumni Center
Text "UMStudents" to 41411 to win great prizes
and get daily career tips.
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
and encouraging future black engineers
in the community. Carole said he would ; WASHINGTON
also like to see the group play a larger ; From Page 3B
role in uniting students on campus and "
in helping to instilla more positive atti- . "The organization
tude among minority engineers. ; organization of nine
Ultimately, Carole said he hopes tions, so we try to n
someday people will look beyond the * ships between the ot
concepts of minorities and race issues, " Next year, Washi
and race-based organizations like his Teach For America
will no longer need to exist. * ber in Memphis and
"I guess that's a really, really long- * middle school Engli
term goal," Carole said. "But the hope " became interestedi
is that the inequalities that exist will go . school when she pa
away at some point and the community ; internship that allos
can form by itself and it won't necessar- * with incarcerated
ily be just there to support people." understand the sub
- BETHANYBIRON . on their children
,,cases, the neglect th
00because of the deta
looking to expand his management ; parent.
capacities, taking on the job of pro- . "I was just very s
ducing the Go Blue, Beat OSU rally , the kids could be;
back in November. ; their mothers and th
"I've had more fun at Go Blue ; dren are put in when
than in my entire life," Michelon .0,,,,,,,,,
said. "Once again, producing is from ,
conception to execution. Back in the VW HAT'S T
summer, I was just sketching on nap- *
kins what the rally would look like : MUST I
and how we're going to organically
bring X amount of students to the: Tel us for The
Diag. That night, I was able to look *
out and see that crowd of people. You
don't get that as much in theater."
- JENNIFER XU : CAL
n is an umbrella
.ington will join
as a core mem-
d hopes to teach
in TFA in high
rticipated in an
wed her to work
and, in some
achment from a
tuck about how
e positions chil-
they don't have
people in their home telling them
they need to go to school, they need
to do these things," Washington
said. "I just thought it was incredibly
unfair that kids aren't in the same
schools as I am just because there
wasn't someone there to tell them
that college was the way to go."
Washington said she has always
liked working with children, and
through her experiences in teach-
ing dance to underprivileged chil-
dren in Atlanta, as well as attending
a performing arts high school, she
believes that art can level the play-
"I'm really passionate about the
arts and I feel like the arts are a very
equalizing sort of thing," Washing-
ton said. "The arts can speak to any-
one no matter what your education
level is. You can express yourself
through art in ways that you can't
necessarily do through an essay."
- ANNIE THOMAS
IE ONE THING EVERY STUDENT
DO BEFORE GRADUATION?
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