ANN ARBOR—For the kids who move often and change schools, the kids from families who have yet to receive a first college degree, the ones who don’t see themselves as college material, University of Michigan alumna Tonya Allen has a message: She was like you. She did it. You can too.

As president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, a Detroit-based nonprofit whose goal is to building opportunities for children, Allen is a long way from a childhood of moving nine times across the city of Detroit, changing schools along the way.

She never saw herself as a U-M student until university representatives visited her high school, Cass Technical. Then, she said, she knew “the University of Michigan was one of the best schools in the country and I wanted to attend.”

But could she? She knows it’s a question asked by many children with similar circumstances to hers. Allen wants kids, whether from Cass Tech or Cass County, to know U-M is more accessible, affordable and accommodating than they might think.

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