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How GivingTuesday Powered Nicholas Michael through Student Teaching

An international day of giving focuses Marsal School donors on small funds with big impact 

Giving Tuesday

Like many other organizations around the world, the Marsal Family School of Education has participated in recent years in GivingTuesday, the daylong fundraising effort that encourages people to give back during the holiday season. GivingTuesday takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. The self-proclaimed “global generosity movement” estimates that 35 million adults in the U.S. participated in the one-day giving extravaganza in 2021. The Marsal School Office of Development uses the day to garner support for important needs that don’t always receive a lot of attention among the many donor priorities.

In 2021, rather than call for donations to a general fund, “we chose student mileage reimbursement because there was a lot of need around that area,” says Krissa Rumsey, Director of Development for the Marsal School.

Previously, a grant from the Provost’s Office had established a student mileage reimbursement pilot that proved to be enormously helpful. Since funds for the pilot were nearly exhausted, Marsal School development officers decided to put the call to action front and center on GivingTuesday to make the program permanent. Doing so made all the difference for Secondary Master of Arts with Certification (SecMAC) student Nicholas Michael (MA ’22, TeachCert ’22). 

For 17 years, Michael had worked as a public radio producer in New Mexico, but when opportunities in his field began to dry up, he recalls thinking “Now is the time to switch over, and do something I’m passionate about.” He entered the Marsal School's SecMAC program in June 2021, joining a cohort of students like himself who were willing to put in an intense, accelerated year as they navigated a master’s degree with teacher certification. 

When Michael and his wife relocated from New Mexico to Michigan, they settled in Milan, a small town just south of Ann Arbor. His first placement teaching summer school was a manageable 15-mile commute. But in the fall he was placed in Southfield. Suddenly, he faced a 45-mile commute each way, which translated into 270 miles a week. In the spring semester, when he began teaching onsite five days a week, his weekly commute went up to 400 miles.

“I didn’t mind the driving so much; it’s just that as the gas prices started rising in the spring, it got harder and harder,” recalls Michael, who had planned to work part time while completing his degree, but quickly found he couldn’t work and study on top of being a student teacher. 

Thanks to GivingTuesday donors, the Student Mileage Reimbursement Fund was there to meet his need. 

“We set a goal, and one of our alums made a commitment right off the bat to meet it,” recalls Rumsey. Another alum offered a matching gift. By the end of the day, the fund had seen an influx of cash.

“There are many donors who like to give at the end of the year,” says Rumsey. “I also think that a lot of people are inclined to give when they know a little bit will make a big difference.” 

This year, the Office of Development plans to raise funds for student mileage reimbursement on GivingTuesday once more.

The value GivingTuesday contributions provided to Michael can’t be overstated. “The travel allowance made my student teaching entirely possible,” he says. He’s driving to school this fall again—now as a fully certified English teacher.

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