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GM Student Corps celebrates five years of changing young lives

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July 17, 2017
Things are "looking up" for the newest crop of the GM Student Corps, with Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi (bottom center)

The GM Student Corps celebrates its fifth and largest year, helping young people in underserved school districts transform their communities and jump start their futures. Students will spend the day at University of Detroit Mercy’s McNichols Campus on Thursday, July 20, engaging with faculty and learning important life skills as they prepare for college. Pershing High and Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern are the latest schools to join the nine-week program, for a total of 15 schools and 150 student interns from Metro Detroit, Flint and Pontiac.

“Nine of this year’s GM intern leaders are current Detroit Mercy students,” University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi said. “Since 2012, more than 40 Detroit Mercy students have received GM internships from the Student Corps program.”

Student Corps, an extension of GM’s commitment to education, matches teams of 10 high school interns with retired GM executives and college interns to plan and execute community service projects, usually at schools and parks. The students manage all aspects of their projects, from budgeting, planning and troubleshooting to meeting deadlines.

“GM Student Corps helps create safer, more sustainable communities, but just as importantly, it changes lives,” said Heidi Magyar, director of GM Community Outreach and Student Corps. “With help from our GM retiree and college intern mentors, these high school students learn the value of teamwork, leadership, goal-setting and community service — lessons they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives.”

Student Corps interns are selected based on their leadership potential, dedication, determination and academics. In between physical tasks of cleaning, landscaping and painting, they attend workshops on managing money, building relationships, and staying healthy and safe. They tour GM facilities and dealers.

The program culminates in the July 20 event at Detroit Mercy where students participate in workshops on student success, leadership and how to prepare for college.

Students wrap up their work in mid-August, then report on their projects — and lessons learned — to program champion Mark Reuss, executive vice president of GM Global Product Development, and his leadership team.

However, the program usually doesn’t end there: Most retirees stay connected to the students, checking in on grades, goals and personal challenges long after summer’s over.

Former GM Student Corps participant and current intern Brittany Agee is well on her way toward achieving her dream of becoming a social worker. This summer, the junior at Alabama State University returned as a college intern and mentor to help other students see their potential.

“I learned so much being part of Student Corps, and now I want to help others see that education is the way up,” said Agee, a 2015 graduate of the Academy of Public Leadership at Detroit’s Cody Campus. Agee credits the GM Student Corps for her ability to persevere through personal losses in her childhood, finish high school and enroll in college.

Since its introduction in 2013, the GM Student Corps has provided nearly 500 summer internships, 50 school improvement projects and more than 50 park renovations.

Last summer alone, the GM Student Corps led improvements at 13 schools and 14 parks. Students also:

  • Built 83 bikes for donation to children in need;
  • Assembled 77 picnic tables;
  • Spread 542 yards of mulch, enough to fill more than 50 large dump trucks;
  • Applied nearly 300 gallons of paint in four school restrooms, two murals and 80 doors; and
  • Planted 165 flowers and shrubs.

The 2017 GM Student Corps schools are: Central Collegiate Academy, Cody Campus, East Detroit High School, Flint Southwestern Classical Academy, Hamtramck High School, Harper Woods High School, Henry Ford High School, Madison High School, Melvindale High School, Osborn Campus, Pontiac High School, River Rouge High School, Van Dyke Lincoln High School, Pershing High School and Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern.

Follow along on Twitter as the Student Corps participants tweet throughout the program at #DetMercyGMStuCorps.

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