Family ties: Alumni legacy provides inspiration, support
By Madeline Swanson
University of Michigan-Dearborn sophomore and Canton, Michigan, native Davian Bennett (CASL Class of 2024) always knew college was in his future. He credits his mother and UM-Dearborn alumna, Tiandra Gunn Bennett (BBA ’13), for inspiring his curiosity and love for education. While studying at Salem High School, he became interested in colleges early on, and decided to pursue dual enrollment at UM-Dearborn to get a jumpstart on his college education.
“I chose UM-Dearborn, and it was the perfect fit for me. Even as a high school student, the environment was so welcoming and the professors were excellent,” Davian said. “I loved that the class sizes were smaller and I was able to interact with my professors.”
But when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, suddenly Davian was worried his college dreams were in jeopardy.
“I was worried about the mortgage and food and being young going through it all, but my mom was an inspiration to us,” he said. “Even though I was working, I knew I needed to find some extra funds to continue paying for college.”
Not knowing how he was going to pay for the next semester, Davian began applying for scholarships, and it wasn’t long before he received relieving news from UM-Dearborn. He was in class one day when he got a call saying he received the Alumni Legacy Scholarship—support for academically talented students with familial or other significant relationships to UM-Dearborn graduates. In addition, he received the U-M Faculty Undergraduate Scholarship, providing need-based support to undergraduate students. Davian’s college education was quickly back on track.
“I was freaking out!” Davian said. “This scholarship has had a huge impact on me. It’s amazing that someone you don’t even know can alleviate the stress that comes with paying for college.”
During dual enrollment, it was UM-Dearborn Professor Kevin Early that inspired Davian to study Criminology. Davian took a Sociology class with Professor Early, who also teaches Criminology, and encouraged Davian to enroll in the class. Now as a sophomore majoring in Criminology, Davian hopes to one day earn his doctorate in the field and eventually become a professor or a rehabilitative therapist.
“I always knew I wanted to do something to help people, just like alumni helped me with this scholarship,” Davian said. “I was initially interested in forensic pathology, but I didn’t want to become a doctor, and I had always been interested in forensic science, so I knew criminology was something I could really dive into and eventually pursue my PhD.”
When he’s not focused on his studies, Davian stays active in the local community playing piano at nursing homes, performing singing recitals, and staying involved at church. While the pandemic has prevented student organizations from meeting in person, he plans to immerse himself on campus when in-person activities resume. Davian credits his scholarship support for the opportunity to pursue his diverse interests outside of the classroom.
“Scholarship support means opportunity,” Davian said. “I would have probably had to work three jobs to pay for the next semester if it wasn’t for this scholarship. Donors have played a huge part in my success so far at UM-Dearborn, and I can’t wait to get more involved. I’m beyond grateful for this chance to continue my education.”
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