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Architecture alumna wins Challenge Detroit fellowship

Release Date: August 13, 2013
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Samantha Szeszulski

Challenge Detroit, an urban revitalization program focused on attracting and retaining talent in Detroit, has selected recent Lawrence Tech graduate Samantha Szeszulski as one of 33 fellows who will live in Detroit and work in the metro area for a year. She received her bachelor’s degree in architecture in May.

The second-year class has members from Canada and nine other states besides Michigan. Each fellow is assigned to a participating company for a set salary of $30,000 and also receives a monthly living stipend of $500 from Challenge Detroit.

“In collaboration with our host companies, non-profit and cultural partners, our first year fellows have made an incredible impact on the city and region during our inaugural year, and we know our year-two fellows will continue the positive momentum,” said Challenge Detroit Executive Director Deirdre Greene Groves.

 The 33 fellows will work with non-profits throughout the year to address regional challenges and opportunities, including multi-modal transportation, homelessness, and community development. They will also work with and learn from one of 33 Challenge Detroit host companies, including the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Lions, Macro Connect and General Motors.

Challenge Detroit assigned Szeszulski to Victor Saroki & Associates Architects PC in Birmingham. Saroki is an LTU alumnus and a member of the University’s board of trustees.

A native of the Bay City area, Szeszulski is looking forward to the opportunity to explore and investigate Detroit and hopes to help in any way that she can.

“I’m always hearing about small start-ups and entrepreneurial companies with new ideas,” she said. “Detroit seems to have a good atmosphere for entrepreneurs and creative people.”

She picked an apartment in the New Center area of Detroit where rents aren’t as high as they are downtown. As an architecture major she enjoys living next to the famed Fisher Building designed by Albert Kahn. She expects to be commuting up Woodward Avenue when her job starts on Aug. 26.

She also likes the idea of being part of a group of peers and an organization like Challenge Detroit during her first year after college. “It’s a good transition since I just graduated. [It doesn’t feel like] going to work every day for the rest of my life just yet,” she said.

She said that her architecture degree has prepared her well for a wide variety of jobs. “You learn so much more than architecture. You learn to market yourself, brand yourself, and how to deal with clients and do presentations. It touches on many aspects of business,” she said.

During their year in Detroit, Challenge Detroit participants will share their stories through regular blogging, video logging and social media updates. For more information and to meet all of the year-two fellows, visit www.ChallengeDetroit.org.

The Collaborative Group, a Michigan-based non-profit dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, launched Challenge Detroit last year. It is a new model for attracting and retaining talent to reinvigorate the city. Challenge Detroit engages in the community through team challenges, in partnership with area non-profits, designed to positively impact the city and region.

Challenge Detroit has received a two-year grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as part of its LiveWorkDetroit! initiative. The goal is to build awareness of the momentum in Detroit to support the economy, culture and innovation.