Called to Contribute: Stephanie Chueh’s Path to Climate Planning

Chueh: Looking to clear the air in metro Detroit.

Born and raised in the Ann Arbor area, UniverCities Connection intern Stephanie Chueh says she didn’t always feel a strong connection to her metro Detroit surroundings or have much familiarity with Tree Town itself. During her first semester at the University of Michigan last year, she had to call a friend from Malaysia for directions when she got lost on campus, and took two weeks to find her way through the University’s Diag.

Stephanie’s attention to national media helped her make that connection to surrounding communities. While still in high school, she’d been shocked to read an article in Time that stated less than half of Detroit’s students passed the state writing test. She herself couldn’t stand to get less than an A- on tests, while less than an hour away her peers could “barely…dream about graduating high school and attending college.” Clearly, the region faced enormous challenges. Yet at the time, she wasn’t sure what she could do to help.

At UM, Stephanie caught the student community’s growing enthusiasm for serving the metropolis. “All around me, friends at classrooms and at church constantly talked about lifting up the Detroit region,” she says. The excitement in these campus spaces, an excitement that captivated newcomers to the state as well as longtime Michiganders, spurred Stephanie to strengthen her own commitment. “If they were so dedicated to this region, then I, who have lived and been blessed here all my life, certainly had a responsibility to metro Detroit.”

Thanks to a grant to the Michigan Suburbs Alliance from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Stephanie has a chance to contribute to the region in a sweeping way: building a library of strategies that cities across the nation are using to cut pollution. Out of the library will come a guide for metro Detroit communities seeking to save money, reduce emissions and combat global warming. That work can help improve the prospects of today’s young people and generations to follow.

In less than a year, Stephanie’s come from getting lost on campus to showing the whole region the way forward, making sure metro Detroit finds the best path to sustainable prosperity. We look forward to hearing what the future will bring!


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