The Bookgirl from the University of Michigan...
Henry P. Tappan, the first president of the University of Michigan (U-M) envisioned an institution where education meant the “unfolding of the capacities of the mind.” U-M extended that desire to me in 1996 when I was welcome as a future wolverine. I came to U-M as a wide-eyed 17 year old from Queens, NY by way of Jamaica, West Indies and left the university, a true ‘Leader & Best’. Michigan gave me the courage to reach within myself, typ think outside the box and grow intellectually and emotionally. Day in, day out, the Michigan spirit is a part of me.
U-M had the awesome advantage of not only fostering a community that included people from all walks of life but also a variety of programs, both educational and social that went beyond the realm of the classroom providing me with the necessary tools to face the challenges of the twenty-first century head on.
“What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent – in the broadest and best sense, intelligent- is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them.”
John Holt~ Teach Your Own
When it came to summer jobs during my early college career, I went for adventure; during the summer recess after both my freshmen and sophomore years, I worked on the West Coast (California and Utah, respectively) as an independent contractor of Southwestern Advantage of Nashville, TN, running my own business as a door-to-door sales person of educational reference products.
As Spring semester came to a close at the end of April, a caravan of at least thirty of us – all college students, would drive from Ann Arbor, MI to Nashville, TN to attend sales school for a week where we would interact with other college students from approximately 200 campuses worldwide. At the close of sales school, we’d drive cross country to our respective summer destinations, college students who attend schools on the East Coast would be placed in locales in the South to work for the summer, those who went to schools in the South would work in the Midwest for the summer, etc, etc. Essentially, everyone got placed in a total opposite locale from where they attended school. Since 1868, Southwestern Advantage has offered a sales & leadership program that gives university students a way to afford their degrees, gain entrepreneurial skills, and build character.
Door-to-door sales was interesting to say the least, it wasn’t so much about making a sale as it was meeting people, people I wouldn’t have otherwise meet. Sure, there were folks who wouldn’t give me the time of day, dogs who’d try to bite my head off, the dry, hot heat and sun that would just be blistering between the hours of noon and 3:00 PM. But there were those instances when I’d knock on someone’s door and that individual would open their door, greeting me with a smile and before I knew it, somewhere between saying hello and my name is Alecia, I’d be popping a squat with that individual on their porch, in their living room or around their dining room table, drinking a tall glass of lemonade, iced tea or water and discussing life, family and career aspirations, somewhere in their I’d squeeze in my sales pitch, where I may or may not make a sale, either way I’d leave that individual’s presence all the wiser for the experience of meeting someone who enriched my life.
So keep an eye out this summer for the bookperson! These young people are doing a great thing – promoting education to families in our communities. If the bookman or bookgirl knocks on your door, give them a minute. Whether you buy anything or not, they’ll leave you in a good mood. I guarantee it will be the most positive conversation you will have all week!