We’re All Warriors!

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I was a student at Wayne State University for 90 minutes back in 2004. My thinking? Some non-degree coursework would keep my newfound academic bachelorhood sharp, whether I went back to grad school or was tapped to play a smart person on TV. After one day of microeconomics, I determined my 22-year-old opportunity cost would instead yield higher utility printing ironic iron-on T-shirts in my parents’ basement. In addition to coining such gems as “Stop the Whales” and “Save Protractors: Turn that Frown Pi Radians,” I got a real life lesson in supply (high) and demand (low). Also, I had big plans for John Kerry.

But I held on to my WSU ID — largely because I have a deep and abiding affinity for photo identification, but also because I had a hunch that my tenure at Wayne would be longer and potentially more auspicious than its micro beginnings. And this summer, those long lost 90 minutes turned into three hours — credit hours for the 19 undergraduates who took a chance on me and on the Honors College’s first summer service-learning course.

Through Monday seminar sessions with guest speakers and Wednesdays with Summer in the City, my students proved to be capable painters and planters. But they were most effective in engaging our mercurial middle school crew.

Many Wednesdays, the 40 middle school and college students would chart a collective course through entire neighborhoods — Midtown, New Center, Downtown — scavenging for things to hunt, so we could then send 400 elementary and high school students there on a Friday Field Trip. Proving that 12- and 20-year- olds have at least one important thing in common, there was never any pizza left over.

Nor was this just a few course credits during an otherwise idle summer. These kids worked. Amanda clocked in at Beaumont at 7 p.m., left at 7 a.m. before class at 9:30. Elaira split her time between two law firms. Matt between the fencing team and Kroger meat counter. Leigh at Wally’s Frozen Custard and a family physician’s office.

And they have plans for after they graduate that make my T-shirts look all the more ironic: neonatal nurse practitioner, forensic pathologist, medical examiner (of dead people, majoring in mortuary science), pharmacist, “design engineer for either washing machines or elevators, if not cars.”

My first full-fledged semester at Wayne gave me both a strong sense of Warrior Pride and a hope that you will wear yours on your sleeve — be it scrubs, suit, lab coat or coveralls. An unsubstantiated but unsurprising statistic I heard recently: One in three Detroit-area professionals boasts a degree from Wayne State. Most, admittedly, are Tartars, having turned their tassels before Wayne became the Warriors in 1999. In any case, there are more opportunities than ever before to show your love for the Green and Gold:

• Urban Gridiron. WSU might be divisionally distinct from the Big Ten and MAC, but none of our other collegiate football teams made it to their respective national championships last year.

• Curl Up & Dye. Get your haircut on Cass Avenue or check out one of the many other local businesses sparked by Wayne’s concerted economic and community development efforts.

• Go Stargazing. Who says you can’t see the cosmos from the city — or, for that matter, in the afternoon? Wayne boasts a bona fide planetarium, where, for the love of the little guy, Pluto can still be a planet.

• Start the Presses. Coney Detroit, Hollywood’s Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema and The Glory Years of the Detroit Tigers: 1920-1950 are just a few of the recent titles from Wayne State University Press.

Best of all, a motto I couldn’t have alliterated better myself: Industry, Intelligence, Integrity.

 

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