The DRDFS Suited for Success event is a celebration of achievement and a chance for students to prepare to take the next step on their journey

“This event is a huge celebration of these students—an opportunity to show them how many people believe in them and what they are going to accomplish.”

Those are the words of Lyric Bingham, Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS) Post-Secondary Transition Coach, describing the organization’s Suited for Success event that took place on May 2, 2024, at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The event serves as an important milestone in the educational journeys of DRDFS students and gives DRDFS seniors the opportunity to share publicly with peers, friends, and family what their plans are after high school.

For Miranda Alonso, a DRDFS senior from Detroit Cristo Rey High School, those plans include attending Notre Dame and studying finance. Miranda explained how important DRDFS has been in making her college dreams a reality. “Being able to learn so much about so many different colleges and helping me find the best fit has been one of the best aspects of my DRDFS experience,” Miranda said. “I can’t say enough about how this program has been so much more than just something to challenge us academically. For me, DRDFS is about making connections and meeting people and learning skills we can use for the rest of our lives.”

That sentiment resonates with DRDFS Post-Secondary Transition Coach Tania Vega. Like her counterpart, Lyric, Tania sees Suited for Success as a celebration of the students who have come so far and are primed to go on to exciting new challenges. “For me personally, this is my favorite event of the entire year,” said Tania. “I love that it’s focused on the students and their accomplishments. I think it inspires them and it shows them that what they have achieved is a genuinely big deal— and that people care about them and want to help them get where they want to be.”

For Lincoln High School’s Saniya Traylor, that support is palpable and meaningful.

Saniya, who will be enrolling at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, said that “through DRDFS, I’ve had so many people supporting me during my high school journey – from my advisors, from conversations with people in the program, and from tutors who have helped me study for my SAT.”

William Hollins of Clintondale High School values the multiple networking opportunities and college tours he experienced through DRDFS, noting that “one of my top school choices – the University of Toledo – is a place I’d never heard about before getting started on my DRDFS journey.” William expressed gratitude for the unconditional support he has received from DRDFS while in the Next Level Scholars program. “DRDFS supported me by reassuring me that even if I don’t go to college, there are so many post-secondary opportunities out there—and there will be a support system behind me no matter what,” William said.

Communication & Media Arts High School’s Taylar Toodle also enjoyed the college tours and the chance to meet so many people. Taylar noted that having DRDFS’ support has been especially vital this year, when confusion around FAFSA changes raised a lot of tricky financial aid questions for graduating seniors. She will be attending Western Michigan University in the fall, and encouraged those who come after her to take full advantage of everything that DRDFS has to offer. “Be bold! Step outside your comfort zone,” Taylar said. “The experiences and training opportunities you’ll have are so helpful now and will continue to be valuable as we move into the real world.”

Opportunities for Yousif Salim of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights will come this fall at the University of Detroit-Mercy, where he is entering the school’s six-year business law program. “DRDFS has been a part of my high school journey from day one,” said Yousif. “In fact, it was talking with my counselors that ultimately helped me figure out what I really enjoy and was passionate about. And that was so important in figuring out where to go to college.”

That is music to Tania and Lyric’s ears. Tania was emphatic that DRDFS students should continue to “use the resources available to them, including us!” and encouraged graduates to reach out when and if they need guidance or support.

That is why, for the hundreds of students at the 16 DRDFS partner high schools across Southeast Michigan, and for the long and growing list of program graduates who have gone on to impressive post-high-school accomplishments, Suited for Success is more than just a celebration. It’s a powerful reminder of the personal and institutional support that is available to them as they strive to become the most fulfilled and empowered version of themselves.

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