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Alumni Spotlights

*Please note: SiD.10 has passed; this page exists as part of our SiD.10 Historical Record. Stay tuned for more SiD.10 follow-up.*


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

March 2019 Alumni Spotlight: Dana Eardley

This month, our SiD.10 Alumni spotlight is Dana Eardley! Dana participated in Semester in Detroit during the Fall of 2016. During her time in Detroit, she interned at the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network — which is an organization dedicated to promoting food security in Detroit’s African American community, as well as African American leadership in the food movement.

Dana says that the relationships she developed throughout the semester was the most memorable part of her Semester in Detroit experience. She recalls that she met so many beautiful and brilliant people who helped to challenge the ways she thought about race, urbanization, and equitable food systems, which are lessons she carries with her to this day.

Now, Dana lives in Grand Rapids and works at the Fulton Street Farmers Market — a 97 year old market that connects farmers, food creators, and artists, in West Michigan. Dana’s work revolves around supporting farmers, promoting food access, and working to build a community space where people from all backgrounds and ways of life feel seen and heard.

Dana, we are so proud of the work you are doing!

Want to reconnect with more alumni? Register for SiD.10! This community celebration is less than 3 weeks away, and we hope to see you there!

February 2019 Alumni Spotlight: Leah Schneck

This month, our SiD.10 Alumni spotlight is Leah Schneck! Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Leah graduated from UM in 2018 with a degree in Social Theory and Practice through the Residential College. Leah was a member of the Spring/Summer 2016 Semester in Detroit cohort (aka SiDsational: Summer SiDteen), and interned at Matrix Theatre Company in Southwest, Detroit—an organization committed to building community and pursuing social justice through the art of theatre. As an intern, Leah spent most of her time helping out with theatre summer camps by leading activities, acting as an assistant director for the plays campers created, and planning field trips. 

For Leah, the most memorable part of Semester in Detroit was the Cass Corridor Commons. “The space has an ethos that is infectious,” Leah says. “We all learned so much about what creating radical community can be like, sharing physical and emotional space, truly imagining a more just world.” She always feels at peace when she’s at the Commons, even though she is conscious of her position as a non-Detroiter. Just like so many other SiD alumni, the Commons’ has remained a strong influence in her life since her SiD experience.

Since graduating from UM, Leah worked on a congressional campaign in Michigan and is now back home in Chicago working at Mikva Challenge—a non-profit organization that gets young people involved in politics and policy-making. Leah was a Mikva student in high school, and is thrilled to be able to go back and work as staff. Leah is helping to coordinate Mikva’s Elections in Action program, which right now means helping students campaign for Chicago’s municipal elections, and facilitating activities in class visits about being engaged voters and community members—because youth voice matters!

Leah is doing a lot of door-knocking in the snow, enjoying public transportation, getting back to playing the piano, hanging out with her cat, Digit, and looking forward to SiD.10!

We can’t wait to see you in Detroit for SiD.10, Leah! Keep up the great work!


January 2019 Alumni Spotlight: Larissa Richardson

This month's SiD.10 Alumni spotlight is Larissa Richardson! Larissa was an undergraduate junior when she participated in Semester in Detroit during the Winter of 2011. She interned for the Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan. Her role was to serve as program coordinator for their college enrichment program and to help support event coordination for a few of their annual events. 

As someone who was born and raised in the city of Detroit, Larissa wasn’t quite sure what she would gain from participating in SiD. “To [my] surprise,” Larissa says, “it was just the experience that I needed to strengthen my roots and knowledge about local history and grassroots work.” Larissa’s favorite parts of the program were meeting Grace Lee Boggs, taking tours of the city with Stephen, and learning the creative writing process from Lolita.

Over the course of the semester, Larissa ended up developing an abundance of relationships that would eventually help her launch her career and education in community development. She says “being on the ground, connecting and learning from so many social change advocates and agents was something that I would've never gotten staying in Ann Arbor. So if nothing else, I would say the relationships and network of the SiD community was so transformative for me.”

Since her Semester in Detroit, Larissa finished her Masters of Community Development, worked as District Manager for State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, worked as Economic Development Manager for Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, served as Director of Collaborative Workspace for TechTown Detroit, and also served as an Adjunct faculty member for the Master of Community Development program at UofD. Currently, Larissa serves as District Director for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, board member for the Grandmont Community Association, and adviser for the E. Warren Tool Library, and will soon be joining the Urban Neighborhood Initiatives Board. Larissa also recently got married and bought a home in Grandmont Rosedale. Larissa, we are so proud of you!

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.


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.

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!)