I recently began reflecting on my time at U of M, particularly as the question, “What are your plans after graduation?” becomes all the more prevalent and pressing for upperclassmen. As a school that has been so academically and intellectually fulfilling, Michigan offers numerous opportunities to become involved with the University, Ann Arbor, and the surrounding community at large. These opportunities often help students unearth a passion, discover a niche career, or at the very least, help guide their post-graduation path. I was lucky enough to come across one of these opportunities when I joined a student organization, Merit, my freshman year. As part of a small, but incredibly energetic and mighty group of mentors in the FATE program, I work one-on-one with my mentee, Kennedy, with the hope of inspiring her to pursue a college education. Merit is unique in its two-fold aim of informing the surrounding community about the importance of education, while also empowering the Jalen Rose students to take charge of their future. Merit and the FATE program have inspired me to make philanthropy an integral part of my future, and as I move into the “real-world” after graduation, I hope to work for an organization that is just as selfless, rewarding, committed, and purpose-driven as Merit. And although I have the official title of mentor, I have noticed that Merit works in two ways, and at times the line between ‘mentor’ and ‘mentee’ is slurred. It is my core belief that we can all gain a new perspective and learn something new from anyone, including our mentees. To me, Merit and philanthropic efforts as a whole, involve developing and enriching the lives of both ‘mentee’ and ‘mentor’. So, while I initially joined Merit because I wanted to give back to students in inner-city Detroit, I have found that the organization has given me so much more – a rejuvenated perspective, a new sense of self and a deepened appreciation for education. Ironically, the things I thought I would be giving to Merit are the very things it has given to me. It would mean so much to me, my mentee Kennedy, all of the other FATE students, and everyone involved with Merit, if you could donate to this amazing cause and further it’s mission of creating world-class citizens.