In the fall of 2007, the first day of classes at UM-Dearborn left Suzette McGraw-Price feeling like she had been whisked back to junior high school, complete with butterflies fluttering in her stomach. At age 37, not only was McGraw-Price a nontraditional student, she also was a student veteran who spent 12 years in the Army. “Having to walk through the door was the hardest part,” she says, explaining her fear of not having anything in common with traditional students.
But she quickly became involved in campus groups like the Student Outreach and Academic Resources (SOAR) program - which increases access to post-secondary education for non-traditional adult learners experiencing socioeconomic challenges - and the Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) program - which develops the analytical abilities and skills of undergraduate women while promoting their will to be community leaders.
She also founded the UM-Dearborn Student Veterans of America chapter, where she creates change for student veterans within the campus community as well as throughout Michigan. She serves as the organization’s state director, assisting more than 16 chapters at different college campuses and sits on a focus committee in Lansing that reviews and restructures the current veterans’ policies and creates legislature for new policies.
McGraw-Price loves working with others who are successful, supportive and mentor her during her experiences. “I am not a Difference Maker of my own doing, but instead a product of what I choose to expose myself to,” she says. “I stay close to those who I admire and emulate a positive character I strive to possess myself.”
IN MY OWN WORDS
"I founded the Student Veterans of America Chapter, and the Student Veteran Association. This has allowed me to connect veterans on our campus to educate them about the resources available to them. I also assisted the Veterans Success Team at UM-D to become a veteran friendly community. This has allowed me the opportunity to work directly with the Department of VA and state legislators on veterans policy in Lansing."