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Alumni Spotlights

Each month leading up to our 10th Anniversary event in April, we will be featuring a SiD alum in our monthly newsletter. Click the (+) to read more about what cohort the alumnus was in, their advice to future SiD students, and where the alums are now. You can also check our Facebook for weekly featured SiD alums!

Want to be featured? Fill out the Semester in Detroit Alumni Spotlight Survey, or email us at

October 2018 Alumni Spotlight: Salam Rida

This month's SiD.10 Alumni SPOTLIGHT is Salam Rida! Salam was a member of the inaugural Semester in Detroit cohort in Winter of 2009. She was SiD's first intern with WDET public radio(we've had many since!), and loved going to music and art shows in her free time. After graduating from UM in 2011 with a degree in Sociology, Salam purchased a house in Detroit's Boston Edison neighborhood, before getting a Masters in Architecture from University of Michigan

Today, Salam works as an Urban Designer for the City of Jackson, Mississippi. She also has her own interdisciplinary design practice, Carbon Office that specializes in sustainable architecture and urban design consulting. Although Salam only recently moved to Jackson, she has already made quite an impact with her project The Ecoshed. (Scroll down here to read about Salam being recognized as one of Jackson's "Young Influentials" for 2018).

Salam's advise to future SiD students is to, "Learn how to listen and do not enter into a situation thinking you want to 'save the city' or that Detroit is a 'blank slate'. Listen and learn about the history that came before you and you might find yourself being inspired to do something more than what you imagined."

Thank you, Salam, for sharing your SiD experience! We hope to see you and all of the original SiDsters (see photo below) during SiD.10, April 5-7, 2019.  

**Read more about Salam's work in Jackson, and how she compares the city with Detroit, in a recent Jackson Free Press article interviewing her during the summer 2018 Allied Media Conference in Detroit (also a SiD community partner!)

November 2018 Alumni Spotlight: Eric Riley

This month's SiD.10 Alumni SPOTLIGHT is Eric Riley! Eric was a member of the Spring 2015 Semester in Detroit cohort and interned at Downtown Detroit Partnership, an organization dedicated to promoting downtown development in order to create a vibrant and resilient urban core.

Eric’s favorite memories of Semester in Detroit are “the way Craig’s face lights up at Berts, the way Stephen puts everything in the appropriate context, and the way Lolita brought us to tears just by making us write a few words.” Eric remembers running around Belle Isle, biking from Midtown to Dutch Girl Donuts, and spending time in Grace Lee Boggs’ home and participating in her 100th birthday celebration. These are some of the few ways that SiD helped Eric see his city in ways he had never imagined.

Eric graduated from UM in 2016 with a degree in Public Policy, and minors in Business Administration and Urban Studies. He then went to graduate school at Penn, and received a City Planning degree in 2018.

Today, Eric lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He is a Planning Associate at Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), where he works on KDI’s LA based projects that focus on transforming neighborhood streets into mini public spaces in some of LA’s park poor communities. His role mostly involves providing community engagement and policy analysis support for these projects.

Thank you, Eric, for your work in the LA community and for sharing your SiD experience with us! We hope to see you and the rest of our SiD alumni at SiD.10, April 5-7, 2019.

December 2018 Alumni Spotlight: Max Lubell

This month's SiD.10 Alumni spotlight is Max Lubell! Max was a member of the Spring/Summer 2017 Semester in Detroit cohort, and interned at the United Community Housing Coalition - an organization that provides comprehensive housing support to Detroit’s low-income residents.

Looking back on his SiD experience, Max says that “the hardest part of Semester in Detroit was learning to listen. The program shows you the ways power operates in the city, and sometimes this is counter intuitive… it can be hard to take [your] hands off the reins and listen.”

Still, Max will tell you now that the listening pays off. He says that SiD taught him the importance of community. “Semester in Detroit offers numerous ways for their students to learn how a community thrives and supports itself,” Max says. “From working at the housing coalition fighting to keep Detroiters in their homes to learning about the history of Detroit’s neighborhoods, there are ample opportunities to investigate the power within Detroit’s communities.”

Perhaps that is why Max is now living in Chicago and working at the University of Chicago’s Crime and Education Lab. The Crime and Education Lab partners with civic and community leaders to design, test, and scale promising programs and policies to reduce crime, violence, and victimization and improve educational outcomes for youth in urban neighborhoods. Max says that as a project associate at the labs, he primarily works on projects evaluating intervention programs that aim to improve life outcomes for youth who live in some of Chicago's most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. He says the labs use data from a number of administrative sources to test the degree to which these programs improve outcomes for youth who participate in them, which in turn helps to highlight the best ways to decrease crime involvement and improve educational achievement for youth in urban neighborhoods.

Max says he would love to hear from any current, former, or prospective SiD students who are interested in urban social science research as a general topic and/or career.

Thank you, Max for your insightful reflections on your SiD experience! We are proud of the work you are doing in Chicago, and we hope to see you and the rest of our SiD alumni at SiD.10, April 5-7, 2019.