Graduating student Kathrin Schuster: UM-Flint helped me flourish

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Kathrin Schuster will graduate from UM-Flint with a bachelor's degree in social work.
Kathrin Schuster will graduate from UM-Flint with a bachelor's degree in social work.

In the summer of 2013, Kathrin Schuster participated in a weeks-long program that paved the way for the next five years of her life.

Schuster had recently graduated from high school, and hadn't decided yet on where to attend college. She spent the summer participating in a University of Michigan-Flint health careers occupation program. Her time on campus convinced her the university was the right choice.

"That program really helped me choose UM-Flint, because I was able to see that the campus is really diverse. I felt it was a great opportunity," she said.

She started that fall and graduates April 29 with a bachelor's degree in social work.

During her college career, Schuster has devoted time to a range of social justice issues, including homelessness and the water crisis. She is pursuing her graduate studies next, with plans on working within the fields of advocacy and community development in Genesee County this year.

"I feel the university helped me flourish," Schuster said. "I found out who I was inside and I found out how I could make a bigger impact in the world. That means a lot to me."

Schuster served several leadership roles, including three terms as president of the campus chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. The group helps fellow students thrive as leaders, and it was one of the ways in which she worked with students from a variety of backgrounds. At the most recent UM-Flint Corporate Case Competition, Schuster and her team won first place. Her teammates were business students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

"There are so many opportunities for all of us to connect and get to know each other on campus," she said about students from various backgrounds and fields of study.

As an intern at Metro Community Development in Flint, Schuster played a key role in organizing last year's Project Community Connect, a resource fair led by several area agencies that raises awareness and helps individuals experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Schuster also contributed to the Social Work Department's ongoing project, Flint Water Crisis: Amplifying Consumer Citizen Perspectives. In her role, she interviewed several residents, often within their homes, restaurants, or other settings, about the crisis and how it has impacted them.

"It was really touching and motivating to talk to people that have been marginalized, and to have their voices heard," she said.

Schuster said the university's ability to impact students is "unique and revolutionary."

"We are a university with such an awesome curriculum. We are not only University of Michigan, but we are in Flint. I think the university does, and can do, so many great things."

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