When you see Laura Howard out cleaning a neighborhood park, she’s doing more than tidying up.
She’s helping a city find its pride again.
The native Detroiter understands all too well how a run-down city can affect its residents.
“I recognize the need to eradicate low self-worth and embarrassment about one’s neighborhood,” she said.
So Laura looks for ways to revitalize dilapidated Detroit neighborhoods. That could be cleaning the parks, supporting local businesses or promoting education.
It’s all her way of being an advocate for today’s youth. She has good reason to concern herself with the city’s youngest residents: her son, Caleb Thomas, who joins her in the revitalization process.
“I want to remold the minds of inner-city at-risk youth who are cryptic in their definition of self as a result of hobbling on the margins of society,” she said.
She challenges youth to use their minds. Whether they write poetry, compose music, play an instrument or participate in a sport, Laura believes positive activities strengthen communities.
Right now, she’s working to launch an Attainable Success Campaign. Her hope is to reconfigure images of success in the minds of youth in the African American and Hispanic communities.
The campaign would have members from each community sharing their hardships as well as their triumphs. With each story, she wants students to learn to turn negative situations into positive success stories.
On campus, Laura has celebrated some of her own success stories. She attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) in 2012, served as moderator for an AIDS Awareness Luncheon and volunteers in the Women’s Resource Center.
“It has been a joy to watch Laura grow personally and professionally,” said Shareia Carter, interim director, Women’s Resource Center. “She is a great example of perseverance as she juggles her parental and academic responsibilities. I admire her commitment to her family, while she is also very active on campus.”
Ultimately, Laura’s goal is to open a K-12 school in partnership with local universities, continuing to build her community and inspire the youth.