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After six years of extraordinary work and leadership with the Semester in Detroit Program, our dear friend and colleague, Rion Berger, will be leaving their position to begin a Masters of Science in Information Program at the University of Michigan this fall. Rion has made so many important contributions to the growth and development of SiD during this time, and we will be forever grateful for their wisdom, kindness, humility, and - there’s no other way to write it - their deep and genuine love. Below is just a sampling of some of the many ways that Rion touched all of us over the years; we are grateful that they will remain nearby as they will always hold a special place in SiD’s history and in our ever-evolving learning community. Thank you, Rion!
Carl Abrego, Chief Administrator, Residential College
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to work with Rion over the past six years. They were the perfect person for the right time as Semester in Detroit moved towards, into and beyond its next century of life. Rion's candor, dedication and organization was exactly what SiD needed as the program grew and prospered in different directions. Their dedication to wellness and self care helped me to be a better supporter of all of the staff through the challenges of the past 2+ years. Thank you so much, Rion, for being part of the heart and soul of Semester in Detroit and the Residential College.
Darcy Brandel, RC/SiD Faculty Member
It is difficult for me to imagine Semester in Detroit without Rion because they so deeply embody what we strive for as a program. Rion's quiet yet fierce compassion stood out to me from the first time I met them, and their reliability, reciprocity, and unwavering commitment to social justice have been a kind of compass for me throughout my time in SiD. It's no wonder I feel a bit lost thinking about moving forward without them. And still, imagining all the resources and strategies for resistance they'll be sharing with the people in their new role as a radical, community-minded librarian gives me great hope at a time when hope's hard to come by. How grateful I am for their wisdom and loving presence in the world!
David Goldberg, Associate Professor, African American Studies, Wayne State University
Rion was the backbone of the program and kept everyone on task, from students to faculty. Rion did so behind the scenes, but I’m happy to deliver some public flowers today. We love you and wish you the best going forward.
Vanessa Mayesky, Community Programs Business Administrator, Residential College
I wish I could manipulate time so that I could grow up with Rion as my local librarian! I imagine Rion will be a trusted guide and a companion in discovery wherever they go. Rion was both of these as the RC Wellness Committee chair. They thoughtfully curated and shared wellness resources with our group and asked questions to help us explore new ideas.
Craig Regester, Associate Director/Lecturer II, Semester in Detroit
There is so much that I could write about Rion, but I will focus on three areas: First, Rion puts serious and consistent determination and effort - their full self - into everything: from their paid work with Semester in Detroit, to their friendships and family, to their own self-care. Second, Rion is a firm believer that we are all lifelong learners and they live into this philosophy in every personal and professional aspect of their life. More specifically, Rion regularly challenges themselves and everyone around them to grow in our understanding of structural racism and the endemic white supremacy that is still deeply embedded in our country. Lastly, Rion has a powerful and inspirational social justice vision for why and how they want to become a librarian, their next journey in life that we should all hope will bring Rion back to working in Detroit very soon. Indeed, for everyone who enters through the doors of that library will be greeted by a simply wonderful human being; someone who will walk with them as co-learners and co-doers in a shared journey toward greater health, justice and well-being in this world.
Diana Seales, CASC Assistant Director, Adjunct Lecturer, UM School of Social Work
Every project that Rion embarks upon touches others in a way that improves their lives. I have every confidence that the next phase of Rion's life will continue to do the same and that they will go on to do great things. I so appreciate my time with Rion within the Semester in Detroit program, they clearly had an enormous impact on the students as well as the SiD team. I miss working with them and I know it will be a huge loss for the program. It's definitely the end of an era.
Kim Sherobbi, Director, Birwood House
I will miss our fishbowl conversations where we dove into the waters of justice, identity, gender and racial equity. Continue making waves with your insights and courageous actions. The world will keep being informed by your deep diving.
Stephen Ward, Associate Professor, RC/DAAS, SiD Faculty Director
Rion is the best. We know that, but it deserves to be stated and restated. Rion is at once conscientious, thoughtful, caring, and kind. They contributed to SiD in multiple ways and have made an enduring impact on the program. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Rion, not only because they are great at what they do, but because they are a great person. So, I will--we all will--miss Rion tremendously. But I am also excited for Rion as they embark on new paths, and I look forward to seeing the heights to which they rise and the contributions they make to the communities they engage as a radical librarian. Wherever those new paths lead, Rion will always be part of the SiD community, so this is not so much a "goodbye," as it is a "thank you" to Rion for what they have done and an encouraging word for what is to come.