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April 17, 2013 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-04-17

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8B W dnesdayAprl 1,201 // The Statement

giving these girls ...
a Michigan degree,
S obut a chance at a
better life, that's
While many college students barely
have time to heat up a bowl of ramen noo-
dles, LSA senior Meaghan O'Connor has
baked over 1,000 cupcakes this year. But
the Grand Rapids, Mich. native isn't trying
to fill an insatiable sweet tooth - she's hop-
ing to inspire students around campus.
It was through a marketing internship
with Food Network Magazine in New
York this past summer that O'Connor met
the national organizer of She's the First,
a national non-profit organization that
raises money to send girls to school. When
she came'back to Ann Arbor in the fall,
O'Connor founded the University's chap-
ter of the club. This is where the cupcakes
come in: The club has periodic bake sales
with all ofthe money raised fromselling its
signature tie-dyed cupcakes going to sup-
port the education of underprivileged girls
in Guatemala.
"I was inspired to start this non-profit
because I feel really blessed to have this
educational experience," O'Connor said.
So far,the club has raised enough money
to send two girls to school, an impres-
sive feat for a fledgling organization. And
national organizers have noticed. Earlier
this month, she and LSA junior Elizabeth
Rich, another member of the student orga-
nization, went to the Clinton Global Initia-
tive University conference, where they met

with Chelsea Clinton and other student
leaders to discuss global issues.
Besides baking, O'Connor also men-
tors local high school students as part of
Young Life, a non-denominational Chris-
tian ministry she herself was a part of
in high school. She meets with about 20
students once a week to read the Bible,
discuss life and give advice. As the oldest
of four, she said she is drawn to helping
younger people.
"I think with growing up with younger
siblings I've always had a knack for caring
for younger people," she said.
Currently, she has internships with Cur-
rent Magazine in Ann Arbor and Neebo,
the textbook company. She's also a member
of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and she was
editor-in-chief of The Forum Greek News-
paper for two years.
O'Connor will graduate a year early this
May. Though she has no concrete plans
yet, she said she will go back to New York,
where all of her internship and job experi-
ence will hopefully land her in a marketing
position at a magazine.
"I really feel ready to be at the next step
in my life," she said. "It terrifies me, but I'm
also ready for it at the same time."
Though she used to be shy in high
school, she said coming to college broke
her out of her shell. Through her intern-
ship experiences - as well as many trials
and errors - she said she's transformed
from a soft-spoken leader to an outspoken
go-getter. If her time at the University has
taught her anything, it's to branch out and
make connections with people.

enny Ryan is a lot of things.
She's an LSA senior, she's a
point guard, she was the cap-
tain of this year's women'sbas-
ketball squad and she's a third
team All-Big Ten selection.
But above all else, Jenny Ryan is a
The Saginaw native will go down as one
of the best women's basketball players in
program history, both on and off the court.
"As a freshman, I just tried to learn my
place," Ryan said. "(But) by senior year, I
just wanted to leave my mark."
Averaging 10.2 points per game, while
adding 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists, Ryan
was not only a leader in the locker room,
but also on the court. Kim Barnes Arico,
Michigan's first-year head coach, consis-
tently pointed to Ryan as the most invalu-
able part of the team's success.
"I've coached a lot of really good point
guards in my career as a coach, and she
leads the pack just because of everything
she does," Barnes Arico said after a huge
win against Michigan State in February.
"She's the total package. She's a coach's
dream really."
Added Ryan: "With a coaching change
you don't know what to expect, but Coach
Arico made our senior year as special as it
could be. She gave me a lot of freedom and
a lot of responsibility. She trust me a lot
and by naming me captain, it kind of made
it that much more special."
During the rare moments Ryan spent
on the bench, she strived to pump up her
teammates, keeping everyone focused and
motivated. Even in the locker room, Ryan
was at the center ofit all, pushing everyone
to get better.

One of the highlights of Ryan's senior
season was in a season-defining win over
Michigan State on Feb.16, where the Wol-
verines ended a six-year drought against
their in-state rivals. During that game,
Ryan scored a career-high 24 points while
committing zero turnovers.
But as the curtains close, and Ryan
looks back on her last four years, she can't
believe its over.
"Just being apart of the University of
Michigan and being able to support the
'Block M'is something that you try to put to
words, but you can't," Ryan said. "You just
look down at your jersey and see what you
were given. It was an awesome experience
the whole time. I can't believe its over."
Ryan, however, isn't ready to leave
just yet.
"A big part of me wants to stay in Ann
Arbor," Ryan said. "I love this place and
I don't want to leave anytime soon. If I
stay in basketball it will be in a coach-
ing position."
Seeing Ryan as a coach doesn't seem too
far off. Both she and senior center Rachel
Sheffer were chosen for the "So You Want
to be a Coach" program, a workshop held
in conjunction with the Women's Basket-
ball Coaches Association National Con-
vention in New Orleans from April 5-7.
But before Ryan makes the jump to her
next endeavor, she can't help but look back
one last time.
"I know in my senior year I became a
better basketball player, and I became a
better person," Ryan said. "I just think
that every time you do your last thing as
a senior it becomes that morespecial. It's
something you can look back on and lay
your hat on."

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