Desirae Tolbert

Advocating Urban Living


Desirae Tolbert’s commitment to seek a better future for Detroit is evident both on campus and in the community. She began making a difference as a freshman, joining the National Society of Black Engineers and later the Black Student Union, leading the latter as president for two years. She served five organizations and held executive board positions in three.

Off campus, Desirae is just as active with several non-profit organizations, including Inside Detroit, where she promotes Detroit as a preferred destination to live, work and play by educating the public about the city’s history, culture, community and livability.

Her passion for the Motor City is helping to pave her future after graduation; Desirae hopes to study and practice family law in an urban city, such as Detroit. “My focus is on reaching the youth and encouraging healthy relationships, developing coping skills, promoting higher education, and establishing a more esteemed self-awareness,” she says.

Desirae’s desire to help others has earned her many accolades; she’s a recipient of the campus’s Emerging Leader Certificate, the Inaugural MLK Essay Contest Award, a Leadership Synergy Certificate, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Educational Advancement Foundation Scholarship. Yet, she’s quick to admit she could not have done it without the encouragement of UM-Dearborn’s faculty and staff who motivated her along the way.

“No matter what your circumstances are, with the help of the faculty/staff and all the various departments, you can succeed,” she says. “Above all, I believe that through civic engagement and service I can and will change lives.”


"There is no such thing as a traditional student or a path that everyone should take. I allowed experiences at UM-Dearborn to help sculpt the individual I am and will be. The major that I started in as a freshman (Pre-Business) has no relation to the degree I'll graduate with in December (Criminal Justice/ Urban & Regional Studies), and thats ok. UM-Dearborn takes fearful anxious freshman and develops them into fearless resilient community leaders. And no matter what your circumstances, you can succeed at UM-Dearborn."