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GM Student Corps returns to Detroit Mercy for its sixth year of changing young lives

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July 12, 2018

Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D. (center, white suit, first row) stands with more than 150 GM Corps students from the summer 2017 session.The General Motors Co. Student Corp has been helping young people in underserved school districts transform their communities and jump start their futures for six years now. And as it has since the beginning, University of Detroit Mercy is proud to play a part in the program.

“Nine of this year’s GM college intern leaders are current Detroit Mercy students,” University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi said. “Since 2013, more than 60 Detroit Mercy students have received GM internships through the Student Corps program.”

The 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 program hires 150 high schoolers from 15 schools in Metro Detroit, Flint and Pontiac as GM interns; the students manage all aspects of their projects, from budgeting, planning and troubleshooting to meeting deadlines.

“We are committed to preparing students to tackle today’s challenges and become tomorrow’s leaders by providing them with opportunities for life skills development and career preparation,” said Heidi Magyar, director of GM Corporate Giving. “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 high school interns are selected based on their leadership potential, dedication, determination and academics. In between the physical tasks of cleaning, landscaping and painting, they attend workshops about managing money, building relationships and staying healthy and safe. They also tour GM facilities and dealerships.

One of the highlights of the program is a daylong event on the Detroit Mercy McNichols Campus, when students participate in workshops on student success, leadership and how to prepare for college. This year’s event is scheduled for July 19.

Students will wrap up their work in mid-August, then report on their projects – and lessons learned – to program champion Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president and president, Global Product Group and Cadillac, 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 the summer is over.

Former GM Student Corps high school intern Brianne Hall is one example of the program coming full circle. Brianne participated in the program in 2014 as a high school student at East Detroit High School (now Eastpointe High School). Her first exposure to Detroit Mercy was through the program, and after excelling in the Student Corps assignment and graduating from high school, she enrolled in the University in the fall of 2015. This summer, four years after her first involvement with the program, she is a rising senior in the nursing program and is returning to the Student Corps as a college intern and mentor to help other students see their potential.

“I knew I wanted to come back to the GM Student Corps program because I want to be able to pass on some of the lessons that I learned to the next class of high school students. The program is a big reason why I am where I am today, attending and thriving at Detroit Mercy as a first-generation college student," she said.

Matt Ybarra, who graduated from Detroit Mercy’s five-year MBA program in 2016, was hired by GM upon his graduation to serve as program coordinator for the GM Student Corps. He was initially selected as a GM Detroit Mercy college intern at River Rough High School in the first year of the GM Student Corps program. As the program coordinator, he works closely with Detroit Mercy administrators and faculty members to ensure that students receive a compelling experience that helps them gain a stronger understanding of the college experience.

“The GM Student Corps helps create safer, more sustainable communities, but just as importantly, it changes lives. It is so much more than just a ten-week program, and it is truly special to see the ongoing mentoring relationships between the GM retirees, college interns and high school students. As someone who has developed greatly as a person and leader in my time with the GM Student Corps and University of Detroit Mercy, I am very happy to be in a position at General Motors where I can give back by providing a valuable growth opportunity for students in Metro Detroit, Flint and Pontiac,” he said.

Since its introduction in 2013, the GM Student Corps has provided nearly 800 summer internships, 57 school improvement projects and more than 59 park renovations.

Last summer alone, the GM Student Corps made improvements at 18 schools and 12 parks. Students also: 

  • Built 40 bikes for donation to children in need.
  • Assembled 47 picnic tables and benches.
  • Spread 585 yards of mulch, enough to fill more than 50 large dump trucks.
  • Applied nearly 349 gallons of paint.
  • Planted 372 flowers and shrubs.

The 2018 GM Student Corps schools are from: Central High School (Detroit), Cody High School, Eastpointe High School, Flint Southwestern Classical Academy, Hamtramck High School, Harper Woods High School, Henry Ford High School, Madison High School, Melvindale High School, Osborn High School, 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 event at #DetMercyGMStuCorps.

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