“Education Full Circle – An Alum’s Return Home to Serve in Leadership at the U”
An Alum’s Reflection
As I reflect on the U Prep Schools network, I can only think of one word to best describe it – GRATEFUL. In 2007 I was introduced to this family as a 6th grade scholar. I quickly gained friends, grew fond of my teachers, and fell in love with exhibitions and the way of life at U Prep Middle School. Time flew and in 2010 I stepped into UPSM High School as a freshman. I knew my high school experience was different from most, as the school was located inside brand new state-of-the-art facility and we, the class of 2014, were the only youngsters in the building at the time. Each year the school added an additional grade, and by the time I reached senior year, the building was finally full and flourishing.
Even though the four years flew by, my high school experience was very memorable. I made great friends, gained the necessary skills and life experiences, and had exposure to committed, caring, and fun teachers. There are many amazing aspects of my life that I can attribute to my time as a student in the UPSM district. Some of my best and lifelong friends are people I met when we were students here. My first international trip to Greece was an opportunity I was afforded as a student at UPSM HS and the school’s focus on college prep introduced me to Michigan State University, where I entered following graduation in 2014, and shared my most memorable college experiences.
Once again time has flown, and it seems like a lot of time has passed since high school graduation and college days. I would often reflect on my time as a student in the U Prep network, but never in a million years did I believe I would return and serve as a leader in the very place that helped to mold me. This past August – four days before I was to return back from my maternity leave at my previous employer – an open position at my alma mater UPSM High was presented. I completed the hiring process and was chosen as the new School Operations Manager at UPSM HS. Talk about coming FULL circle!
Full Circle in Education and Community
It’s been eight years since I graduated and while coming back here feels like home, it also feels very different as an adult. My purpose as a leader is unique because I sat in my students’ seats, literally. I know what it’s like to walk through these halls and I know how intricate life becomes once you graduate and leave the place that’s been home for four years.
Being a student turned school leadership team member has been a beautiful experience thus far. Some of my teachers and school leaders from the past are still serving in this district. A number of my former classmates have also returned to the U Prep Schools network to model and pour into the next generation from our overfilled cup of knowledge and community. I also get the pleasure of serving on the same leadership team as my favorite high school science teacher, Mrs. Hubbard. While this experience has been very rewarding, it’s still new and I am still learning. A place from which I’ve already learned so much will continue to be a one where I will continue to glean and grow professionally, further adding to this full circle moment. My position as a leader in the district is even more critical because I am here to give back everything I absorbed as a young U Prep scholar.
Author: Dana Robinson-Hobbs is an alum from the first graduating class at U Prep Science & Math High School. She is an Eastern Michigan Eagle whose passion for children and being a change agent brought her back to the heart work of education. This is Dana’s first year as a member of the U Prep Schools – School Leadership crew.