Coming out of Chandler Park Academy High School in Detroit, Adrian Russell earned a scholarship to attend Eastern Michigan University. However, as a first-generation college student, Russell says he didn’t take classes seriously enough, missed too many 8 a.m. sessions and ended up losing his scholarship.
His family paid out of pocket for him to attend his second year, and he bounced back with a 3.7 grade point average — but, out of money, he took a gap year to earn money by working at Target.
Ready to return to college, Russell transferred to Wayne State and enrolled in the Mike Ilitch School of Business’ MPrep Scholars program, which provides underrepresented students with academic support, mentorship and industry exposure. Russell majored in marketing with a minor in political science.
“MPrep really helped me become more locked in, focused on work, and just thinking about my future more often,” said Russell.
However, his challenges weren’t over. Russell’s live-in grandmother, Leslie, a diabetic, suffered a stroke and heart complications. With Russell’s mother and stepfather working during the day, he began to take care of her, preparing her breakfast, making sure she took her medications and giving her insulin shots.
After a long period of illness and disability, Leslie passed away just over a year ago. However, her memory still looms large in Russell’s life.
“She was one of my best friends,” said Russell. “She was always really proud of me and how motivated I was. I told her I was going do everything I set out to do in this world. She is still definitely motivation.”
And, she would no doubt be proud. Through MPrep, Russell landed an internship at Ford, and after successfully helping his unit land two new clients, he was offered a full-time job with the automaker after he graduates in May.
He begins his new position with Ford in the fall.
While he’s excited to enter the workforce, he also plans to take the LSAT this summer and will consider law school based on how well he scores.
“The one thing I hate in life is saying that you can't do something because you never tried it or you just think you can't,” said Russell. “I always try to do everything. If I fail, I fail — but at least I learn something.”