When it comes to paying for college, many students struggle with the great financial burden of student loans. But for 19-year-old Ariel Bogan, paying for college was as simple as volunteering in her community and working hard to stand out. Bogan, a second-year psychology major at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, received a full-ride scholarship that she credits largely to her time spent volunteering with her mother through Comerica Bank’s “Comerica Cares” volunteer program.
Bogan’s mother, Tonya Brown, is an administrative assistant for Comerica Bank and has been active in the bank’s employee volunteer program since 1999. Brown, like many Comerica colleagues, often invites family members and friends to join her in participating in Comerica service projects, including her daughter.
Brown said the decision to bring her daughter along to volunteer projects was an easy one. It stemmed from a desire to give her a chance to experience the world. The pair began volunteering together when Ariel was young and went on to help out at countless Comerica-sponsored events over the years.
“When Ariel was young I wanted her to have the opportunity to interact with others and to see more of the world than just school and home,” said Brown. “I told her the most important thing is to get to know people and let them know who you are. And that’s exactly what she did.”
Bogan admitted that before she began volunteering, she didn’t have much to put down on paper. She said volunteering gave her an avenue to distinguish herself and to develop professionally in order to become more competitive among thousands of other students competing for limited scholarship funds.
“Until I started volunteering with Comerica I didn’t have anything to write down on my resume,” said Bogan. “These days students can’t just get by doing only the basics. We need to go beyond the books to get noticed and to keep ourselves busy.”
Besides the feeling of making a difference for others, Bogan said volunteering with Comerica also gave her great experience in professional networking, public speaking, problem-solving and an appreciation for diversity.
“When I volunteer, the main thing I do is make sure I meet everyone and shake everyone’s hand,” said Bogan, who has made many professional contacts through her volunteer experience. “You never know who you’ll meet.”
Not having to worry about paying for college provides a great relief, Bogan said, that allows her to focus on her school work. She said the fact that her college is paid for is a motivation for her to succeed and do well in class.
“When college is paid for, you have no excuses,” said Bogan. “It’s a true blessing that allows me to focus on doing well in school.”
Bogan was one of 12 students to be awarded the prestigious, full-tuition Opportunity Scholarship from the University of Michigan – an award valued at more than $39,000 over four years. Bogan and her fellow Opportunity Scholars were picked from nearly 200 eligible, incoming students on the basis of academics, service to their community and a group interview.
“The volunteer experience she gained with Comerica is truly what gave her the advantage for the University of Michigan,” said Brown, who admitted she is beyond proud of what her daughter has achieved.