“I am very honored to have been chosen as a LEAD Scholar. From the moment I found out that I was accepted into this program, I felt very fortunate. My future at the University of Michigan is an exciting adventure full of opportunities that will help me discover my unique place in the world, and this is in large part thanks to LEAD donors.

As a Puerto Rican girl growing up in New York City, my cultural background requires me to balance the seemingly polarized worlds of being American and Puerto Rican. However, these emotional and cultural struggles have allowed me to have an immensely strong global identity, and I can connect and be comfortable with people of different backgrounds. I am excited to see what I can bring to Michigan as a LEAD Scholar. LEAD inspires me to push my own limits, emphasizing the importance of diversity on campus and collaboration for the betterment of society. The values represented by the LEAD program mirror the values of the person I want to become: one who embraces the ideals of leadership, excellence, achievement, and diversity in order to become a positive influence in the world around me.

I envision my journey at Michigan to be full of life-changing opportunities. As a LEAD Scholar, I will be part of a group that allows me to focus on what’s important to me, such as community service. I have volunteered as an assistant catechist, a theater camp counselor, and as a social media organizer of a non-profit organization. These activities are very different in many ways, but each one has made me more compassionate and socially conscious. I am profoundly fulfilled by the simple joy of making another person happy. The possibility of taking this passion and using it to enhance Michigan’s campus and eventually the world is very exciting to me. I believe universities are a country’s center of culture and represent the future of a nation. The LEAD program is enabling future generations of Americans to be active, conscious members of their community.

I wouldn’t be attending a great university like Michigan without donor support. You helped make Michigan a place that provides diverse opportunities that will help prepare me and my fellow classmates for life’s challenges.

Thank you for making all of this possible. I am ready for the adventure.”

– Gloriela Iguina-Colón, ’18 LSA

Your gift keeps Michigania moving forward so we have something to look back on.

Dick Gross quite literally turned the lights on at Camp Michigania. The ’51 U-M Economics grad, who owned Gross Electric in Toledo, was told by an architecture friend that a camp bought by the Alumni Association on the shores of Walloon Lake in Michigan could use his expertise. So he packed up his family, fixtures and electrical supplies and made the trek up North. Once there, he hooked up his lights, helped with some remodeling and fell in love with the place. From that summer on, he made the same trek up I-75 with an ever-growing family.

“It was like Christmas morning, the day we’d leave for Camp Michigania,” remembers Laurie Gross, Dick’s eldest daughter. “We were so excited to go, us kids would wake up at 3 a.m. The noise we’d make woke up mom and dad, and by 6 a.m. we were in the car.” Truth be told, Dick and his wife Skip hardly had to be dragged out of bed as they were just as excited to get to camp as the kids.

“They were kids at heart,” said Gross. “Dad and mom believed in camp and the power it had to make you a kid again.” In fact, at the age of 83, Skip strapped on a helmet and harness and took to the zip line…to no one’s surprise. “She loved the crafts and water sports–especially sailing–and they both loved volleyball. Dad enjoyed the skeet range and having some quiet time to catch up on his newspapers. They really loved everything about the camp.”

“To mom and dad, camp was one of the things that kept the family connected. No matter what people were doing in their busy lives, Camp Michigania week was set aside to be together. We’ve grown to 26 now, so it’s tough to do with people all over, but you just can’t miss it.”

The last few years of Dick’s life were plagued by dementia, and he remembered less and less. But the family still took him to camp as long as they could so he could be with everyone. The last summer Dick went, he was walking between the dining hall and their cabin and he stopped and looked around. After a moment of taking it all in, he said, “You know, I think I’ve had a lot of good times here.” Those with him were brought to tears. That’s the power of Camp Michigania. Skip joined the family at camp for the next three years without her husband, missing him every minute and talking about all the good times they had. Ten months after his death in 2014, Skip passed away.

2015 marked the first summer that there was not a founding member of camp present. 52 years have passed since Dick Gross first turned on the lights. He not only provided the lighting and electrical for the original cabins, but the ones that stand today. In July of this year, the Gross family held a regatta out in Walloon Lake in honor of their parents. No doubt, Dick and Skip were looking down, happy as little kids.