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First Name:  Erin
Last Name:  Gray
City:  Clarkston
School:  Clarkston High School
Essay:  The strength of Michigan depends on the strength of its workforce, therefore, action must be taken to attract talented young graduates. Marketing the beauty of our state through exciting images, apps, and financial incentives will increase the attractiveness of employment in Michigan. Investing in motivated youth to live, work, and play will be rewarding for all involved. The multifaceted MI_APP project will recruit those who take risks and demonstrate success through three channels that resonate with today’s generation: a smartphone APP, a valuable APPrenticeship, and a student loan repayment APPlication.

The free MI_APP is the first bait available to be used by recruiters promoting Michigan. When companies are competing for top talent, this APP can show off the greatness of the Great Lakes State. The magnificent photo montage will play much like the ‘Pure Michigan’ campaign. In addition it will be customized to show the most attractive hotspots for recent grads and new families: entertainment venues and festivals, parks and adventures, lofts and city nightlife. The MI_APP is easily shared with family and friends in smartphone or conventional website formats to help convince graduates that Michigan is the place to be!

The MI_APPrenticeship component provides the perfect test drive for the future graduate and employers to find good employment matches. Different from normal corporate internships, MI_APPrenticeship can take advantage of students’ need for experience in their field of study and employers’ need to make the best hiring decisions. Applying campus resources to extend APPrentice projects will build deeper bonds between business and academics. Projects can involve tasks that need a fresh perspective or regular work to support growth before fulltime employees are added. High wages are not needed because the value comes from the experience, the confirmation of desirable work and resume strengthening.

A final ‘carrot’ to strengthen the Michigan candidate pool is the MI_APP student loan recovery APPlication. Substituting grants for loans and a method for dedicated students to have them forgiven could accomplish multiple results. The current method of providing something for nothing is rarely a strong motivator and does little to secure strong graduates to work in Michigan. The option to take on loan debt with a path to have a large portion forgiven shifts the financial situation from family wealth to student dedication. Loan forgiveness in exchange for employment in Michigan is a better way to allocate existing funds and drive those who succeed in college to consider living in Michigan.

The MI_APP project focuses on supporting higher education connected to reaping a payback for society. It packages youth focused recruiting methods and enticements in a capitalistic way to reward hard work and commitment and secure many of the brightest and best youth for a strong Michigan.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Daniel
Last Name:  Kovacs
City:  Hazel Park
School:  Hazel Park High School
Essay:  Michigan is a state known for being hit hard by the economic recession of recent times. Even the “Big Three” have succumbed to the recession and required a government bailout. A greater focus on job promotion and empowering the unemployed, the homeless, and others that can help stimulate the economy should be a top priority. Furthermore the quality, not the quantity of primary and secondary education needs to be raised. Throughout my years in the city of Hazel Park, I have heard and seen teachers remark about the disconnect they posses from other teachers in the district. The high school, junior high, and elementary schools do not know what each school is teaching and consequently find that many of their students don’t have the knowledge or skills they would expect them to have. Primary and secondary schools have to expand the amount of different courses, and extracurricular activities they provide, in addition to increasing quality standards, so a new era of progress can be achieved through the increasing number of outlets for students of various socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, or other demographic features. The minds and hearts of everyone living in Southeast Michigan must be reached to maximize the progress and efficiency that can be achieved. Communities have to join together to help each other, if they are unable to get results by themselves, generosity is always a stronger force than selfishness. We need to promote intellectuals as much as, if not more than others that prove that they are not as intelligence or not as devoted to excellence. We need to promote intellectuals through scholarships, rewards, privileges, any incentive that will keep talented and skilled workers from leaving the area. Teachers should not be the scapegoat for the stagnant or regressing effect that parents, students, and/or heads of education and business, when they may or may not be a factor in putting school districts in debt. Southeast Michigan has to build up the city of Detroit back to its former glory, if not past everyone’s wildest imaginations. The rich and powerful need to give back to others, as much if not more than the poor, the affluent and influential need to rise up with others to make Southeast Michigan a place that is worth fighting for, a place that is enjoyable to live, a place that demonstrates that the underdog can be just as good as the champion. A greater unity of people and more emphasis on praising, not condemning individual abilities and unique perspectives are also concepts that are crucial to making Southeast Michigan a better place. Great things are possible for Southeast Michigan, these things require a positive attitude and mindset, and a plan that takes in to consideration the needs of everyone, not the few, not the majority, but every single person within Southeast Michigan.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Jennifer
Last Name:  Shi
City:  West Bloomfield
School:  Groves High School
Essay:  Michigan is grim. Decrepit buildings, vacant lots, and empty streets reveal no trace of the vibrant nightlife, well-kept homes, and bustling roads that existed decades ago. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, but I still refer to Detroit as my hometown. It is where I went for my first elementary school field trip to learn about Henry Ford, where I went to watch the fireworks over the Detroit River every July Fourth, where I learned about art and culture in the Detroit Institute of Art, where I went to my first rock concert, where I had my first violin concert, and where I will always proudly represent. This is a city that has been and will continue to be a big part of my life, and the bleakness of its future is heartbreaking.
In high school, I began to visit Detroit a couple of times each month. I joined a program called Generation of Promise my junior year, which brings students together from across the metro-Detroit area to reveal the beauty that still exists in the city. The program allowed us to tour downtown Detroit, learn about the various ethnic groups in the city, and meet with community leaders to brainstorm ways to help the area. I also began volunteering with Summer in the City, which aims to restore the city through community gardens that provide fresh produce and murals that brighten up schools and community centers. Summer in the City tries to add a bit of art and beauty to the otherwise gray, industrial landscape. Though these small projects do not seem to significantly impact the economy or outlook of Detroit, they show people, both within and outside of the city, that positive change is still happening. Even those who do not live in the area still care about the future of the city and are willing to spend their free time laboring to make the community a better, more positive place to live.
Somehow, while working with the people of Detroit and spending time in the city through these programs, I fell in love with Detroit and with Michigan. The potential and the resilient spirit of its inhabitants inspired me. Today, the rest of America views Michigan as a dead state; I view it as a place full of possibilities. I want Michigan to be one of the greatest states in the world again, not one of the old, has-been states. I want Michigan to be a cultural and economic hub, not a state known for its obesity and unemployment rates. I want the hope and creativity and vitality to return to the people. Most of all, I want to eradicate the despair and misery I see in people’s faces. Michigan needs help. Bright, energetic people who genuinely care about the city and have strong ties to it are essential to Michigan and its economy, and programs with local roots help young people forge an unbreakable connection with their hometowns.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Sarah
Last Name:  Poliquin
City:  Brighton
School:  Brighton High School
Essay:  It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young person in possession of a degree must want a stable job. It is also widely known that Michigan is not home to a myriad of available, stable jobs, and that the root cause is the economy. Across the globe, experts are searching for a way to ease the economic ailments of the world. As this worldwide problem is beyond the scope of this essay, I shall avoid discussing methods to remedy the plight of the economy. Delving even deeper than the economy, college graduates are leaving Michigan because they choose to do so. Therefore, we must take their choice away, or at the very least make it difficult or unwise to leave. Putting an electrical fence 50 feet high around the borders of Michigan would be impractical, so we cannot physically prevent people from leaving. But what if they sold their future?

Michigan could offer student loans at a ridiculously low interest rate, or even zero interest, but the fine print says the rate only applies for those who file Michigan taxes, i.e., living in Michigan. If a graduate leaves Michigan, the rate skyrockets to something obscene, such as ten percent. At the start of their freshman year, college students are not thinking of where they are going to live after they graduate. Four years later, they cannot leave. Well, technically, they can, but they would be insane to pay the out-of-state interest rate rather than the in-state interest rate. Michigan, ever the land of abundant cash, will be able to afford this low interest rate, as a large portion of the funds will come from those graduates who decided to seek opportunities elsewhere, opting to pay the high interest rate. If that is not sufficient, then the in-state interest rate does not necessarily need to be so wonderfully low—it just has to be lower than the federal loan interest rate, so that incoming college students take the Michigan loan, and stay to live and work in Michigan.

To further encourage college graduates to stay in Michigan, offer internships, specifically for industries centered in Michigan. While still in college, students will be offered internships for, say, automotive, rather than Texas-centered petrochemical. When they graduate, they have valuable experience in the automotive industry, but oh look, where can one go with that experience? Primarily Michigan! The company that initially offered the internship then hires the job-desperate graduate, and college graduates become locked into the industry.

Until the economy is fixed, the best way to keep college graduates in Michigan is to force them to stay. Competitive interest rates on student loans will bring people here, and then trap them when they realize it is perhaps financially unwise to leave. In addition, the experience they earned with internships only applies to Michigan industries. It will sound great—low interest and ample opportunities for internships, but the fine print discourages college graduates from leaving Michigan.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Ashley
Last Name:  Simmons
City:  Detroit
School:  Eaton Academy
Essay:  Brightest & Best Essay Contest

Michigan has had its ups and downs over the past few years, but Michigan is looking towards a bright future. The graduates of today are definitely our answer. Since we the graduates of today are the leaders of tomorrow then it is up to the young graduates to change the future. Changing our community could be one way to move Michigan forward. Keeping Michigan’s youth living and working in the state could help build Michigan’s economy. One final way the young graduates could move Michigan forward is by making Michigan have a better reputation, that way people will view Michigan differently. Therefore Michigan will definitely have an amazing future if the graduates of today make a difference within the state.
One of the first places to start is our community. In Michigan we need every community and neighborhood safe. Young graduates could pursue being a policeman or a fireman who are truly dedicated to doing their job. There could be people doing neighborhood watches and neighborhood meetings to keep up with what is going on. Every community should have this, not just some communities. Another way for moving Michigan’s community forward is by keeping them clean. If the graduates live in Michigan then they would want to keep the communities clean. Having volunteers clean up the community would help also. Graduates could be the volunteers too. It’ll be for the best because the graduates would have to live in the community.
Having future doctors and lawyers work in Michigan could help our Economy. The participants of 2011 Brightest & Best are going to become excellent entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, and leaders for tomorrow. If some of them become the Governor or have a high political ranking in Michigan then they could come up with ways to generate revenue for our state. Then again they don’t have to be a politician they could be an entrepreneur with a great business or service to bring Michigan money. Having the graduates of today just lead our state in a better direction could help the economy.
With having great future leaders could also help Michigan’s reputation in a good way. Maybe more people would come and visit, resulting in more tourists. Having more tourists could mean more money for the state. With Michigan having a good reputation isn’t going to mainly result in anything but money for the state because then more people would come to live in Michigan. There would eventually be more jobs and people would be proud to live in Michigan. The graduates of today could also influence the generation after the current one. So then the Michigan that is so great could continue. In Summary, there are a lot of ways the young graduates could move Michigan forward by living and working in the state.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Victoria
Last Name:  Balogh
City:  Clinton Township
School:  L'Anse Creuse High School
Essay:  A perfect husband, perfect children, a picturesque house in a perfect neighborhood; it is a perfect life, the “American” dream. With today’s economy, though, this is unheard of in most families, families struggling to make ends meet. The economy has affected the lives of many Michigan families; it has introduced a new level of difficulty to life. I believe, though, that the challenge that these hard times have brought is making Michigan stronger. The working people are learning the true meaning of working to maintain a living, and families are learning to work together, relying on one another. As people are pinching pennies and counting coupons to save the most, they are learning never to take things for granted. In a world where everything is ruled by money, the people of Michigan are learning what it means to live without, focusing instead on more important things, like family. So, forget the perfect “American” dream, and make room for the flawed, yet wonderfully valuable “Michigan” dream.
This dream may be tough, but in this dream, a person learns to value life. To make the dream reachable, though, the government must make a change and find a solution to persuade graduates to choose it. Graduates need something appealing, an incentive to choose Michigan. Graduates are leaving because of the economy, a lower cost of living elsewhere, or a job offer. These reasons all have something in common: money. So, the solution should, consequently, deal with money. Graduates are not looking to leave their families or Michigan, but money is the driving force behind a successful life, so they chase that life. These graduates are looking for well-paying jobs, keeping in mind college debt. As a solution, the government could pay a percentage towards each graduate’s college loans every year if they, in return, stay in Michigan. It could be the government’s way of thanking the graduates for building their foundation in Michigan and the incentive for graduates to stay. The graduates that leave the state would not get the percentage paid from the government. Of course, if Michigan is helping to pay for every graduate, the expense is large, but the state of Michigan must make sacrifices in order to better itself. The money spent would be a sacrifice on the way to stabilizing an economy of new consumers working in Michigan.
The “American” dream has always been the precedence for a good life, but as the state of Michigan fights to maintain its pride, while learning the value of appreciating life, a new precedence has been set. There is more value in working for what a person has than living in a simplistic utopia. In the new model of the dream life, though, there is a place where the government of Michigan must help make the dream achievable. A life in Michigan where graduates can find stable jobs, enjoy beautiful Michigan, and receive financial security could be the sought after dream. It is the “Michigan” dream, so chase it.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Makenzie
Last Name:  Frodle
City:  Fraser
School:  Fraser High School
Essay:  For the past few years, the recession has caused the economies of states around the country to drop significantly, but Michigan has been one of the most unfortunate victims. With our dimming economy it's no wonder young graduates plan to move out of state as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the loss of these young workers is damaging the economy even more. The only way to help Michigan stand back up on its feet is to keep our graduates in state, but they are not going to do so without job security and a rising economy. To address this issue, it's important to look at three factors: available natural resources, available technology, and available work force. The ideas of solar power, wind power, and hydropower are not new. They have been floating around for years, but nobody has ever invested enough time and money into them to really create a major industry. It's just too risky. However, the use of these natural resources could be the jumpstart we need to improve Michigan’s economy. Because these resources are unlimited--and free--they are ideal for energy use. The amount it would cost to start a business like this may be disheartening at first, but in the long run, the profit would far exceed the cost. As for available technology, Michigan does not have a shortage of engineers and engineering schools. We have the resources to develop this technology. Bringing this big of a project to Michigan will bring jobs and a stimulated economy, and Michigan can become a leader in technology of natural power. Not only will in-state graduates want to stay here, but out-of-state graduates will want to come here. And because we have such a huge work force on standby, there are virtually unlimited workers available. When the economy dropped, workers were laid off and large factories were abandoned. Now, we can use these workers and factories to jumpstart a new industry—an untapped market. We have the resources, we have the technology, and we have the workers. All we need to do is put them to use. Not only will this open up a wide variety of jobs for engineers, but it will stimulate other businesses. When a large business, like this one would be, is thriving, it brings life to the area and surrounding businesses. It's like the domino effect: if we can get one business up and running, it will bring vitality back to Michigan, and it will help other businesses thrive. All in all, if we can stimulate our economy, our young graduates will want to stay here. Graduating engineers will greatly benefit, and as the economy begins to grow even more, it will open up more positions for a wide variety of job opportunities. We need college graduates to stay in Michigan, but this will only happen if we take the time to invest in our resources.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Lauren
Last Name:  Hammond
City:  Brownstown
School:  Gabriel Richard Catholic High School
Essay:  Even though Michigan has been hit hard by the recent economic crisis, the state has shown resilience and has struggled back to its feet, primarily through the continuous effort of its hard working residents. In order to keep Michigan moving in the right direction, I believe the state needs to find a way to keep its “brightest and best,” its graduates, within its borders. While this is no easy task, I believe it can be accomplished through increasing job opportunities and reviving the city of Detroit into a business and family friendly city.
The first thing that needs to happen in order to lure graduates into staying and working within Michigan revolves around providing an apt amount of job opportunities. As of April 2011, the unemployment rate of Michigan was 10.2% and the state was ranked 46th out of the 50 states for the worst unemployment rate (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.) In addition to lowering the unemployment rate, Michigan needs to diversify job opportunities offered. If the state wishes to keep its graduates working within its borders, it needs to become known for more than just the “Big Three.” The state should look into creating jobs, especially for those in growing fields, such as biomedical engineers , network systems and data communications analysts, financial examiners, medical scientists, physician assistants, biochemists and biophysicists, athletic trainers, computer software engineers, veterinarians, and environmental engineers, which have been rated the top ten fastest growing careers by the U. S. Department of Labor. I believe if Michigan focuses on reducing its unemployment rate while diversifying job opportunities, the state will find great success in keeping graduates within its borders.
Furthermore, the state needs to provide both a business savvy and family friendly city that graduates will be attracted to working and living in. Detroit could be the ideal city for businesses due to the vast amount of unoccupied and inexpensive land. However, due to Detroit’s crime rate, many companies refuse to start a business within the city. Neighborhood Scout states that the city of Detroit is only safer than 4% of the cities within the United States. The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime and property crime are 1/60 and 1/16 respectively. Not only are companies wary of starting businesses in Detroit, potential residents are wary of living there. Graduates do not want to live in a city notorious for crime and most certainly do not want their future families living there. I believe if Detroit becomes a respectable and safe city, business will increase and residents will be willing to stay.
While Michigan does have its fair share of problems, I believe the state has the potential to become a booming center of business. Graduates will want to work within the state’s borders if unemployment rates decrease, the state diversifies its job opportunities, and Detroit becomes a safer, friendlier city.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Erin
Last Name:  Eberhard
City:  St. Clair
School:  St. Clair High School
Essay:  Michigan, as it is now, is not that appealing to the young graduates of the state. Instead of staying in the area when they graduate they choose to live and work somewhere else, which takes a lot of the states bright young adults away. In order to keep the young graduates in Michigan, the state needs to provide more job opportunities and a more rounded culture.
One of the biggest factors that has young graduates moving out of the state of Michigan is the lack of job opportunities in fields that are up and coming. Instead of focusing all of the states attention on the dying auto industry, leaders should focus on bringing in more jobs that will push the state and country forward. Many of the booming job fields are scientific based. If the state decided to be an innovator in a high demand area such as renewable energy, many jobs could be created in researching and testing new ideas. By focusing attention on all job fields that are up and coming instead of ones that are not doing so well, the state could have more of its young graduates stay. When looking for a job, young graduates want a place that is up and coming not a place that never changes in its ways.
Michigan could also keep its young graduates from moving away by creating a more rounded cultural environment. Many students move away because they feel Michigan is not exciting enough. Sure local sports games can be a lot of fun, but a person can get that anywhere. In order to make Michigan more unique and enticing the state should revitalize the arts. The theatre is a great way to bring more culture into the area. The theatres in Detroit do a nice job, but no youth really knows about the work that is done there. If the state were to push more advertising for events like the theatre, concerts, art, and film then more people would know that the state actually does have other activities to enjoy besides sporting events. Also if the state were to bring in more new artistic material along with the old classics it could entice younger people to take part in the arts. Promoting the arts would create a more rounded cultural environment right in the state of Michigan, so young graduates would not have to move away in order to find it.
Michigan is a beautiful state, but in order to move forward and keeps its youth from leaving, the state needs to focus on up and coming job fields and creating a cultural environment that graduates can get nowhere else.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Victoria
Last Name:  Spain
City:  Southfield
School:  Bradford Academy High School
Essay:  When I think of Michigan, I think of all the pleasant qualities it possesses. From the Great Lakes to the Motor City I see the potential Michigan has to flourish. The youth are the future and when our young graduates are leaving the state for college and jobs our potential is leaving. The three main problems that must be addressed in Michigan that would hinder our young graduates from leaving the state includes minimal job opportunities, foreclosure, and lack of attention to the education systems. These issues personally factored in to my decision of going out of state for college or not.
To begin with, Michigan’s job opportunities are very slim. College students make decisions based on college loans and other finances. When factoring in things like, jobs not being guaranteed and being hard to come by staying in Michigan appears to be more stressful. Offering young graduates scholarships and first chances at internships for staying in Michigan can make it beneficial for young graduates to stay in state and provide hope for a more successful future in Michigan. In addition, Creating a standard of cleanliness and pride in our cities will help bring job opportunities to Michigan. The broken window theory expresses the idea that if you see a broken window that has not been attended too it gives criminals the impression that you don’t care. Ignoring graffiti, trash on the ground, and abandoned buildings gives the impression that Michigan doesn’t care. If the state does not care the citizens will not care thus crime rate increases. Giving major businesses and investors the idea we do care and take pride in our state will motivate them invest in Michigan, Resulting in more job opportunities.
In addition, many Michigan families in the last few years, encountered foreclosures. A as a result, the idea of living in Michigan has become more frightening for young graduates. More and more college graduates are getting laid off and cant afford to pay their mortgage resulting in foreclosure. Providing grants to first time home buyers in Michigan will give young graduates a reason to want to live in Michigan. If they know they can get additional money to purchase a house for staying here they would more likely want to live in Michigan.
Furthermore, showing students that Michigan cares about the education system will keep young graduates in Michigan. If successful Michigan citizens such as Dave Bing, Aretha Franklin, Kid Rock Visit high school students and explain to them the benefits of staying in Michigan, Students will be more interested in staying here. The students will not stay if they do not have a reason to.
Overall, attracting young graduates to stay and work in Michigan is the goal. The way to reach this goal is to offer incentives, make Michigan a more economic choice for students and pay more attention to the education system. Remembering that education and success go hand and hand could make Michigan a better option for young graduates.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Shannon
Last Name:  Hurst
City:  Warren
School:  Macomb Christian Schools
Essay:  The beginning of the 21st century has been a difficult time for many states. Michigan has been hit particularly hard by the economic recession. Unemployment is incredibly high and good jobs that can support a family are hard to come by. Many people have become willing to leave the familiar comforts of family and friends to find gainful employment, even if it means leaving Michigan. Michigan needs to move forward, beyond the recession, to regain its strength. Michigan needs to be a state worth staying in, working in, and building families in. There are numerous ways this can be achieved. Often times when trying to find solutions to move Michigan forward people overlook lower level education and focus entirely on college level academics. However, lower level education is just as important as that of the college level. When people graduate from high school, they enter adulthood and start having families of their own. As these young adults begin preparing for children, they also begin planning for their futures. By having a superior lower education system, these young adults will desire to stay in Michigan and raise their families here, bringing more life to our state. Another way to keep graduates working and living in Michigan is by offering strong college programs. As students graduate from high school, they begin looking for colleges that offer what they need to be successful in their future careers. If Michigan colleges offer strong undergraduate and graduate programs, high school students might be more inclined to attend an in-state college or university. Also, if incentives are offered in these programs, such as quality in teaching and accessible resources to get people working in their careers faster, graduates might have more opportunities to prosper in our state and be willing to live and work here full-time. The final way Michigan can keep moving forward is by offering quarterly job fairs in each county to promote job growth in our state. Since the unemployment rate in Michigan has been very high, many people have decided that it would not be a very prosperous place to reside. By offering job fairs, people would have equal chances to visit with those who work in careers similar to those that they want to pursue. If there were more job opportunities, people might consider Michigan as a beneficial place to live and establish a home. There are many positive ways that Michigan can be improved to keep its graduates working and living in the state. By ensuring that lower level education systems are superior to those of other states, families will be ensured that their children are receiving an education that will benefit their futures. If college programs are strong and offer many incentives, high school graduates will feel encouraged to continue their education within their home state. And lastly, if county job fairs are offered on a consistent basis, adults might look at Michigan as a prosperous place to live rather than as a failing one.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Cynthia
Last Name:  Madu
City:  Detroit
School:  Cass Technical High School
Essay:  Half of Michigan's college graduates now leave the state within a year of graduation, taking with them their diplomas and the talent needed to help rebuild Michigan's economy. It is a sad, but true fact that college graduates do not feel that Michigan can provide them with the opportunities needed to be successful in life.
In order to change this outlook and the future of Michigan, a niche industry that can provide a variety of jobs for the educated population need to be present. This is not as hard as it seems as Michigan already has a lot of companies who have the power to together become this niche industry, such as Wayne State, DMC, and even Beaumont Hospitals. Take a look at East Lansing. It has managed to avoid the economic recession and continue to function, including opening the East Lansing Technology Innovation Center, launching The Hatch program and expanding its high-tech incubation to virtual tenants all in recent years. By allowing Wayne State to modernize Detroit into a place like downtown Detroit or East Lansing, the most problematic city in terms of employment will be transformed into a machine producing educated individuals.
All these individuals need are jobs. This can be provided by other companies who will partner with the schools to hire right out of college, providing security for a newly graduated student. Baltimore, MD was named the number one city for college graduates because of three key factors: low living rates, strong income growth, and great activities. This can all be provided by Michigan. The river is a great source of activities if we open it up to festivals by the waterfront and other things. Low living rates are easily provided in a college city. East Lansing's cost of living is 15.56% lower than the U.S. average. Strong income growth can easily be provided if we let such steady companies like MSU, U of M, and Wayne State help in renovating Michigan.
These steps to the success of Michigan are very easy:
1. Create a niche industry that has jobs for educated individuals (just the big 3 was a long time ago).
2. Open up Michigan to fun activities that draws tourists
3. Reduce the crime rate
Michigan has all of the tools needed to provide a thriving community for graduates; it just lacks the adequate use of its resources.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Skyler
Last Name:  Lehto
City:  Auburn Hills
School:  Avondale High School
Essay:  A time like this is unique for the challenges that it provides society with. It may not seem out of the ordinary for my generation because individuals of my age know little else about how society should be. Nonetheless, it is of utmost importance to be vigilant and assertive in confronting these issues that Michigan faces. It would be wrong for all of Michigan’s young graduates to abandon the people of the state that raised us.

The most prominent factor in the exodus of young, talented individuals from the state of Michigan is our dismal economy. So long as employment is scarce, young graduates will seek other locations to live. Is the answer more spending on education? I often read that education of the workforce is important for business decisions about where to locate. This will lead many to believe that what Michigan needs is a better education system. Educational improvement is a highly desirable quality, especially in those seriously lacking areas such as Detroit. However, Michigan’s educational attainment is not below average to the degree that its employment and economic performance falls behind other states. For Michigan, education is not necessarily the most significant missing piece to the puzzle.

The growing trend is for young individuals to complete their quality education in Michigan, but then take their talent out-of-state to where in the nation there may be more employment opportunity. What Michigan needs most of all to curb this trend is economic reform, not only in the realm of taxation, but also in the regulatory sense. In other words, the answer is liberty. We need not only be the state that undertakes economic liberation to the extent that it “keeps up” with others; Michigan must be in complete defiance of the tendency of governments to overburden their citizens with their taxing-and-regulating presence. Michigan must become a shining beacon among states that have gone dim under economic overregulation.

Take New Hampshire for example. This is a state that is consistently renowned for its business-friendly and liberty-friendly policies. It stands apart from the entire region of New England in this sense. It is no coincidence that the home of the Free State Project and the state with the motto “Live Free or Die” has an unemployment rate of only 4.7 percent. As a young individual in America, I can personally say that what young people seek out in the world is freedom. And where there is freedom and opportunity, we bring our talent. What Michigan can learn from New Hampshire is that a state that focuses upon the ideal of freedom is a state that is destined to succeed above all others that choose to remain in the darkness of an overwhelmingly statist society.

For Michigan, the answer to retaining young graduates is the pursuit of economic freedom and liberty in general, not as a policy, but as a philosophy. With this, our state can succeed to a degree exceeding anything it ever had in its often glorified past.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Gregory
Last Name:  LaHood
City:  Grosse Pointe
School:  University Liggett School
Essay:  Proposal to Retain College Graduates in Michigan
By: Gregory LaHood

The key to ensuring that Michigan’s young graduates remain in our state as productive members of society is to mend our broken education system and offer benefits to graduates that they cannot find in other states. Michigan’s educational system once towered over others, but now it is crumbling.
The lackluster state of education in Michigan is leading to increasing drop out and illiteracy rates. I am baffled that I, along with a number of other “exceptional students”, will be acknowledged on T.V while thousands of less fortunate students are unable to get their hands on the textbooks and computers that they need to excel in school and are ignored by many in society. Although it is an honor to have our hard work and dedication to schoolwork acknowledged, the stroking of our egos does little to help the students who have not been afforded similar opportunities. It is unfathomable to me that we will be reassured of our educational prowess yet again while other high school seniors are not even able to read beyond a third grade level. We need a state-run program that employs successful students such as those chosen as the “Brightest and Best” to help those who struggle with their academic endeavors. Those who overcome their obstacles and have never been congratulated for academic achievement before could be featured on television, in the newspaper, and on the internet. The program would be like a Michigan education Peace Corp, which would give volunteers a sense of ownership over the success that their work brings to Michigan’s educational system and instill a sense of shared responsibility to improve education. This would increase the desire of the mentors and the improved students to remain in our wonderful state.
Although the reform of Michigan’s educational system will lessen poverty, lower crime rates, and prompt young graduates to regain interest in their indigenous state, the government will have to offer programs that make Michigan even more desirable. One such benefit would be to offer 20,000 dollars in state tax credits to college graduates who locate in the state. This economic benefit would prompt people to get a college education due to the resultant tax breaks and keep more educated people in the state for the rest of their lives. Although some will argue that the state’s government cannot offer such tax breaks, that statement can easily be refuted. The graduates are currently leaving Michigan in droves and thus pay no Michigan taxes so the state will not notice tremendous losses. However, the state will eventually see increased tax revenue after the credits are used and people continue to live and work in the state. We must keep our eye on education as it represents the plinth of the Jenga tower that represents our state’s future. The whole tower will topple if it is not treated with care and consideration.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Chelsea
Last Name:  Cendrowski
City:  Ann Arbor
School:  University of Michigan
Essay:  I would love to see Michigan create a program that expands on Michigan Corps. This program would support valuable services such as education and health care in Detroit and also offer to pay students’ college debt if they joined. This would give students a job and an even greater incentive to contribute to their community. Instead of joining the Peace Corps and going abroad, college graduates would go to Detroit for a minimum of two years. They would be offering a greatly needed service to a disadvantaged community, freeing themselves from college debt and also supporting and boosting Michigan’s economy by staying in state.

Just like with the Peace Corps, this program would have a branch dedicated to education. It would draw in innovative teachers and encourage critical thinking in the classroom. It would support incorporating health education, environmental awareness and vocational skills into its curriculum.

The program would also create youth and community outreach programs. These would involve working in youth centers, helping to build leadership and vocational skills, and training youth development workers. They would also work on organizing volunteer projects, work as health educators and provide counseling, temporary shelter, advocacy and more for low income families.

Another essential part of the program would deal with health, which ties into the community outreach program. This would draw in nurses and doctors who would significantly help Detroit’s healthcare system and help take some of the strain off its understaffed clinics and hospitals.

Another very important part of this program would deal with generating more jobs and creating a stronger, more durable economy in Detroit. This branch would do everything from training entrepreneurs and introducing businesses to new markets, to restoring homes and neighborhoods and bringing new as well as established businesses into Detroit.

There would also be an environmental and agricultural branch to this program. These workers would support weekly farmers markets, encourage farmers to cut back on the use of harmful pesticides and encourage Detroit citizens to buy a crop share from a local farm.

When we think of Illinois the first city and usually only city that comes to mind is Chicago. The same is true for Michigan. The first and only city many people think of is Detroit. As a result people see Detroit as a reflection of how the rest of our state is doing. So this program could be exactly what Michigan needs. If Detroit starts thriving, people will start believing that the rest of Michigan is doing better and be more likely to move here, creating more jobs and stimulating the economy. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Megan
Last Name:  Fraser
City:  White Lake
School:  Lakeland High School
Essay:  Michigan is facing some economic challenges that are leading to young graduates moving away and taking their talents, dreams, and skills elsewhere in pursuit of success. Although there are many possible solutions, first and foremost, Michigan needs to let its young adults know that it cares. As a teenager preparing to enter into the world of adulthood, I can definitely say we mainly wish to be wanted and appreciated.

Education is the cornerstone for a successful life. From the time we first enter preschool, a high value is put on education to become intelligent, self-supporting, and obtain a successful career. But somehow, in a suffering economy, the value of education has been forgotten. Reducing funding for education frustrates teachers because of the decrease in resources available for teaching as well as salary cuts. Some teachers then are forced to take on extra jobs to make a living and support their families, leading to more stress and strain on their classroom. Students see the drastic cuts and don’t feel like they are valued and that their education is unimportant.

At the college level, tuition is rising every year and scholarships are scarce. For example, the “Promise Scholarship” was an important funding source and taking it away hurt many people, again making them feel unappreciated. Also, the scholarship system at major state universities such as Michigan State could help more students by offering more partial scholarships in place of a very few large ones. This would provide students with a sense that someone cares and appreciates all the hard work put into doing well in school. Working on the scholarship system as well as containing tuition prices would provide Michigan with an edge over other states, attracting many more people because of the sense of security provided.

Once graduated, a young adult has their choice of where to live and work. Having an incentive to stay in Michigan could help them to decide to lay their roots down here. Offering a special scholarship to students that plan to go to school in Michigan and remain in the state for a minimum of two years after graduation would help to create this. If a student does not follow through, the money would be required to be paid back in full. This addresses the scholarship problem while also giving Michigan the young, inspired minds it needs to see change.

Although I was offered generous scholarships at schools in other states, I chose to stay in Michigan. Although the economy is not the brightest, I am confident that with the right amount of work, things will turn around for the better and a life of success is in store for those that are willing to put in the time and dedication to help Michigan turn around. Keeping young graduates living and working here is key and can be most simply done by letting them know they are appreciated and that there is a sense of security and stability as they lay a foundation for change.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Victoria
Last Name:  LaRoy
City:  Carleton
Essay:  How to Move Michigan Forward
I believe that keeping our graduates in Michigan is essential. Being a young graduate myself, I know that the in-state tuition fee for colleges is a major incentive for us to stay in our home states, but there needs to be something specific for Michigan to cause graduates to stay. It is a tricky thing because everyone has different preferences and reasons for staying or leaving, but if you could use the unique things about Michigan to your advantage, that could keep graduates here. For instance, Michigan weather gives a variety of opportunities for people to work in many temperatures and experience life and nature differently every day, unlike in most places. Another reason graduates might stay in Michigan is because their family is most likely here. The colleges that offer alumni scholarships are beneficial to keeping graduates in Michigan as well, because the students would get money for it. Also, a reason for us to stay is if there was a way to guarantee graduates a job if we stay in Michigan, or that Michigan graduates have to be chosen over non-Michigan graduates. If there could be a tax break for young graduates of some sort that could be helpful as well. If you find a way to do these things and make good jobs easier to get, and school cheaper to afford, and show us all the benefits of staying in Michigan, you can definitely move Michigan forward.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Ali
Last Name:  Ruffner
City:  Lapeer
School:  Lapeer Community High School
Essay:  Bettering Michigan

Michigan is home to an abundance of people, hard working people. It is also home to many young entrepreneur's, who one day will be running this country and hopefully also living in our state. The goal is to keep these people here, and to do this efforts must be made to do so. As a Michigan resident I know we can do it, we can strive to be whatever we want to be. Leaving the state may seem like a good idea to some but staying here could be a much more rewarding opportunity. If what you're looking for isn't here, make it.

Michigan not only has room for improvement, but room for better use of the resources we have to offer as well. There are a multitude of resources already available to young people that just aren't being used. I think that if there were some type of life skills classes taught in schools, that really showed what Michigan had to offer and how to use it, people would be more likely to gravitate. People won't use what they don't know is out there, so show them its there, and how to use it. You could be surprised at the results.

In order to keep young adults in Michigan, we have to have a place to stay. Often times rent can be high and difficult to pay with beginner jobs that graduates generally hold. The pay isn't high enough to support themselves. Making other aspects of life more complicated. If affordable housing/apartment's were presented to new graduates, I believe many would take the opportunity to get their life started. In return tax credits to the landlords/realtors who offer more affordable and adjusted rents to these people would be given. A nice reward to the people who helped keep our youth here.

To keep people working here, a key role is incentives. My suggestion to keep people actually working in Michigan is tuition reimbursement programs. As most of us know, money is hard to obtain as a graduate especially with a hard economy forcing a lack of jobs. If a program like this was implemented it could give young adults the opportunity to move up in a company from which they hired into. All while allowing their education to be paid for by their employer, and a helping hand into the real world which they would repay by staying with the company a certain amount of time. Company's want young educated people, and I believe this is a way they could help them become that way. Another possible way of keeping the young people in Michigan involves tax cuts. Tax cuts to businesses who hire graduates within the first two years of completing high school. This would also present a chance for the youth to obtain employment to keep themselves supported and here, not to mention pay for their education if they so choose.

"Now is the time. Needs are great, but Michigan's possibilities are greater"

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Nagee
Last Name:  Rahimee
City:  Hamtramck
School:  Hamtramck High School
Essay:  To move Michigan forward in the topic of working and living in our states begins with the economy. First and foremost, to improve local economy by shopping local and creating more jobs through technological advancements and research. Create innovative and worthy opportunities throughout the years with a grant disposed from the local government with a focus on economical improvements. And it begins with the education in Michigan; give an incentive to students to research such issues in government and politics. Also, idealistically, improve city safety because the city of Detroit is one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Revamp the police program along with educating young people about gangs and drugs at a young age to increase graduation rates in the local and urban communities through unique strategies that can be made by the Detroit school board its self, because they are the ones that know the students best and what are the bad influences that the teenagers are drowning in and help guide them to the right path for a better future. With a better image, it would attract more out of state people and they would help stimulate the economy by buying local creating a domino effect. To keep graduates local, use government grants to improve salary and wages. Michigan must modernize its tax code to ensure fairness and equity, while offering a tax cut to 90 percent of Michigan families, either by using tax cuts from big companies so they can exempt it for taxes or creating a pole for the people to vote from a couple options given from the government and let the people of Michigan decide.

Seeing young adolescents trying to be drug dealers almost everyday is the most sensitive result of our state’s economy. What causes this factor for many desperate individuals that are trying to keep a roof over their families and food on the table is the lack of employment in our state. As many people know, Michigan has a very high unemployment rate. Someone some where has to come up with a solution for our communities because as of now, many people are losing hope as a result of what they’ve been though over the years. Countless people lost their homes right before my eyes and of those people were close friends. There was nothing I can do but convince my family to lend them money just so they can barely get back on their feet to live a normal and decent life. Rick Snyder (governor of Michigan) is an intelligent man with many credentials and is currently doing his best to build a bright future for Michigan. He just might pull us as a society from a financial crisis to more jobs and opportunities for this generation and the next (God willing). In the mean time, I will do the best I can in helping the people of my surroundings that could really use a hand and hope that I can change their lives.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Jennifer
Last Name:  Sylvester
City:  Romulus
School:  Romulus High School
Essay: 
Michigan’s unemployment rate is 10.2% and is ranked 46th highest in the nation. These are simply just numbers but mean many people have left or are considering leaving the state to find employment elsewhere. With the increase in cost of living, it is impossible for families to live on minimum wage paying salaries. The factory jobs that were available fifteen and twenty years ago aren’t there and the automotive industry isn’t providing jobs like in previous years. Job sectors and education correlate directly; therefore preparing students for jobs that will be available in the future is the best way to keep people living in the Michigan area.
It is nearly impossible to predict the future jobs in a community. However, schools can prepare their students for all careers starting at a young age. Most school systems in Michigan start arranging student’s schedules around their career pathway starting in high school, but this needs to happen much sooner, like in the elementary grades. This will help students get an idea of what career they want to enter and help prepare them better. Similar to China’s tracking, young children will be on a track to enter a career based on the classes they choose to take. It would be the educational system’s role to plan curriculums based on the jobs that will be available ten years later.
There are many skills that are useful in life that are taught in schools. Skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, time management, and socializing are driven into young student’s minds to prepare them for the problems they will encounter within a career. Mastering these skills creates a person with versatility that can adjust to new jobs that will be available. The power of the mind is indescribable, its features allows us to outthink any machine so we need to learn these skills to create more jobs.
As years have passed, it feels that vocational jobs are not worked towards as much in schools. Schools need to do a better job at offering classes to learn specific vocational skills – welding, carpentry, electrical and mechanical work, and plumbing. Not all students are capable of finishing school and moving onto college to become a brain surgeon or a top dollar profession. Focusing on vocational studies allows these students to learn a trade – ones we will always need even with advances in technology – and be involved in the job sectors of the state.
It is vital to Michigan to keep people living here if it wants to recover from its downward spiraling economy. Improving the school systems and what the students get out of it to prepare them for careers is the first step that can be taken. Right now, jobs can be for people to predict what the future jobs of Michigan will be by looking at trends from previous years. We can’t get rid of old jobs, but we need to add more and prepare our students for what is to come.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Tyra
Last Name:  Cooper
City:  Detroit
School:  Communication & Media Arts High School
Essay:  I am a young high school graduate from Michigan and I feel that there are not a lot of job opportunities for us. When I listen to my peers, I hear that they want to go to school and work outside of the state because there is nothing here for them. At times, I have felt the same; however, I have realized that we are the future. We are the generation that can make a difference in our society. We have to bring more opportunities to the state. The only thing that is stopping us is that we have no one encouraging us to make this change.
I grew up in an urban neighborhood, where making it to high school is an accomplishment, and graduating is rare. I have watched teenagers drop out each and every day because they have felt like school is a waste of time, college is only optional, and jobs were handed to you. I have listened to those individuals and noticed how they all had something in common; none of them were high school graduates and had no real motivation. When you look at the environment around them, they all were influenced by drugs, faced abandonment and grew up around negativity.
I came to the conclusion that this is what we need in our state; we need some type of inspiration to keep them motivated. In order to move our State forward, we need to encourage others to be innovators. We need some inner-city organizations to keep these kids off the streets and into the books and to show them that we need to make our society a better place for future generations. With the money Michigan has, we could invest in programs to push young adults into their field of choice. If you introduce them to workers of their interest, then they will understand what it takes to work hard to become a lawyer or an engineer. When I took trips as a child, I would always look and say I want to do this kind of job or that kind of job; if we continue to introduce different areas of the work environment to teenagers my age and keep them motivated, we could make them want to keep Michigan moving forward. If we had more daily programs to help them benefit, we can show them that anything is possible; then they would want to make a difference in their communities.
It is up to me to bring money into my home state and make it a better place. It is up to me to change my community for the good and show my future kids that this is where I am from. It is up to the children of my generation to believe in our city when no one else will. I will never forget where I am from and nor will i give up hope on my home state. I have always had love for Michigan and I know Michigan loves me.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Giulia
Last Name:  Pink
City:  Goodells
School:  Memphis High School
Essay:  The state of Michigan has been experiencing a “brain drain” for many years. Governor Rick Snyder said in his ten point plan to rejuvenate Michigan that the loss of college graduates has cost the state 1.2 billion in 2007 alone. College graduates cannot find security within the borders and have fled the state in favor of a home that is suitable for a family to live, work, play, and learn. Although Michigan is appealing to most new graduates as a permanent home, there must be an increase in business investment, educational support, and diverse job opportunities to create a prosperous economy. Young people who were raised in Michigan generally feel a connection with the state. However, remaining in Michigan can be superfluous if they do not acquire a job that successfully pays off student loans. One idea to keep talented people within the state is by investing the billions that could be lost with their departure such as offering to assist or defer student loans if graduates remain in Michigan for a certain period of time.
Business investment in Michigan is vital to an increase in jobs. However, businesses will shy away from a state that makes extreme cuts in education and does not keep a neat fiscal house. Due to inefficient housekeeping, Michigan has created a hostile environment for potential investors. Education, for example, has experienced severe cuts from the government. This is ineffectual in creating an educated work force, which is paramount in attracting companies to Michigan’s economy. Monetary support rather than monetary suppression of schools is crucial to a new graduate’s decision of where to raise their families. Business attraction can only occur once Michigan leaders set politics aside and civilly discuss real options on moving forward.
New business influence will produce diverse job opportunities, which are essential to the economy of Michigan. History has blatantly shown Michigan that investing in a single industry can result in disastrous consequences. In order to avoid disappointment, it would be wise to explore different job options. Although the medical field and engineering are prominent now, Michigan should focus on developing a broader array of career options so that the brightest and best of Michigan can remain in their home state. An increase in jobs would encourage college graduates to feel confident that Michigan could support them and their families. Without this security, young graduates will continue to immigrate to states that are able to provide them with a livelihood.
The flight of Michigan’s college graduates has created an educational vacuum. This can be reversed, but the involvement of Michigan’s government is necessary. Business investment in the economy, financial support of schools, and diverse job opportunities will provide answers to Michigan’s economic difficulties and give college graduates a reason to stay in Michigan.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Anna
Last Name:  Pearson
City:  Lake Orion
Essay:  Moving Michigan Forward

How do we move Michigan forward by keeping our young graduates working and living in our state? There are various groups of graduates to address, high school and college who remain in the state and those who relocated. They should be studied separately in case their wants and needs are different. We want to know what is driving their decisions so that plans can be formulated and executed to meet their needs within Michigan. A targeted survey would be used to complete this study. Results would then be used to retain current residents and attract relocating graduates.

State government and universities could work with the business community to perform the survey in order to learn what is driving work and living location decisions. By looking at recent graduates, we would learn from people who have had to make these important decisions. We might find that certain fields are of great interest, such as healthcare. In addition, graduates may desire specific living locations. We can try to match up business development in desired fields with locations that correspond to graduates lifestyle choices.

We can identify opportunities to expand existing businesses in the state and opportunities for new attractive businesses. Survey results would be available to Michigan’s business community and to the state government. We might find that high school and college graduates desire to work in the healthcare field. In this case, we can work with our health care providers in Michigan on plans to expand their services, such as a Mayo Clinic type development located where graduates want to live. We might find, for example, that there are graduates who are interested in certain electronics/entertainment related fields and that plans could be developed to encourage the formation or expansion of businesses in those fields within the state. The Michigan movie tax credits are an example of a plan to attract a particular industry. While the types of jobs graduates choose is important, it’s equally important to understand where they want to live. We should not assume that they want to live in Detroit or its surroundings suburbs. Instead, there may be areas of the state of Michigan that appeal to large numbers of students outside the Detroit metropolitan region. Business development must correspond with the locations graduates wish to live at, making these jobs even more appealing to them. They may want to live, for example, near the great lakes or up north as opposed to the urban and suburban Detroit environment. Or, perhaps, they desire an urban environment like Chicago or San Francisco.

Once the desires are known and the information is shared, the government and the business community can formulate business development and location plans that line up with what graduates want. As plans are formulated, state and local government and the business community will execute the plans to attract and retain future graduates.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Evan
Last Name:  Phan
City:  Dearborn Heights
School:  Robichaud High School
Essay:  Michigan known for many things, such as its automotive industries in Detroit and fine furniture in Grand Rapids, has great potential for change and opportunity of moving forward by keeping our young graduates. To move forward, Michigan can simply “Go Green,” meaning to efficiently reduce impact to the environment through adaptive practices. Now do not mistaken “go green” for sacrifices, such as cutting off lights and use candles to read which it is not, but instead view it as a new lifestyle of the 21st century, such as solar panels as an alternative way to produce electricity instead of coal powered based which also saves money in the process; the way our young graduates also known as the future generation will live. Going Green is a perfect way for Michigan to move forward while keeping young graduates to work and live in our state. Michigan is surrounded by great amounts of renewable resources, such as our great lakes, that can be utilized in order to benefit and advance our state. The best part is if the renewable resources are used sustainably and correctly, Mother Nature would not be harm which also promotes the environment in the process.
As young graduates work and live in our state, Michigan will prosper as improvements are made. The first step that Michigan can take is for young graduates to aid in the improvement of the automotive industries. To do this, young dedicated graduates could stray away from coal based fuel to engineer electrically powered vehicles. Doing this would save money from fossil fuel and pollution cleanup. The second step young graduates could work for to move Michigan forward could be to build windmills along the lakes away from bird migrating routes to get cheap renewable electricity; wind is strong along the coast and on high grounds. The third step young graduates could provide for Michigan is to build efficient energy utilizing facilities to replace old outdated energy wasting buildings. For each facility build to save energy, it will waste little money to maintain meaning the money not wasted could be incorporated into something else useful. More importantly, by doing any of these steps above jobs would be available for the working class stabilizing Michigan’s economy. Jobs provided by “going green” are also long term and dependable since in order to sustainably support the ever growing population, efficient energy use is a must.
Going Green is a perfect transition for young graduates to work and live in Michigan while moving our state forward; here are just a few steps on how it can be accomplished. It is not the matter of “if” or “could”, but “when” and “how.” As the population increase, change is inevitable in order to support all life. The faster we as a state take action, the more prosperous Michigan will be.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Brittany
Last Name:  Zwierzchowski
City:  Waterford
School:  Waterford Kettering High School
Essay:  Michigan’s economy has been declining for the better part of a decade. Businesses and families are moving out of state to find success and jobs in a better market. Governor Snyder’s plans and policies have been fully disclosed to Michigan’s citizens, and they include lowering business taxes. This policy can be implemented to insure that young students and graduates stay to live and work in Michigan. Basically, the main area that the state government should focus on is business. If Michigan becomes a more business-friendly state, more graduates will choose to remain here.
It is too expensive for businesses to be successful in this economy. But a possible solution is for the state government to lower taxes. If taxes are cut, businesses will be more able to afford to reside in Michigan. Moreover, when businesses pay fewer taxes, they have more money to spend elsewhere. Thus they would be able to hire more employees, adding significantly to the market because people who have grown up in Michigan would have a higher chance of getting jobs.
If the state government doesn’t want to cut taxes altogether, it is possible to extend taxes for businesses. Michigan should reduce taxes to bring businesses into the state. Then taxes can be raised after a set amount of years to increase revenue again. Businesses will already be established, and it will be harder for them to leave the state once this happens. This means more secure jobs for graduates in Michigan.
Besides reworking the tax code, Michigan can move forward by keeping graduates working in the state by offering incentives. If the state offers more scholarships to students to attend schools in state, and if businesses are loyal to their roots and hire people raised in Michigan, jobs wouldn’t be outsourced to other states. It is a give and take situation; the state gives to its own, and graduates will give back by remaining in Michigan to live and work for years to come.




Brightest and Best
First Name:  Nathan
Last Name:  Verdun
City:  Deaborn Heights
School:  Annapolis High School
Essay:  When a Michigander stumbles out of college with a degree in his hands the big question is “Where to go now?” With fifty states to choose from our state needs that answer to be “Michigan.” Even though Michigan has endured hardships, with the economy on the ropes and jobs hard to come by, there are a couple things Michigan can do to ensure that our young graduates stay in this wonderful abode!
One essential mission is to divert the focus of Michiganders from negative aspects to positive aspects of the state. When one thinks of Michigan words that generally accompany it are not positive anymore. We need to embrace our state and all the fantastic commodities that are here. The state needs to spread the word on attractions that are sure to impress tourists; Mackinac Island, Comerica Park, the Henry Ford, and many others. The news is full of bad things that happen around Detroit and its suburbs so what else is the population supposed to think? People label Detroit as a bad city purely on what they hear, so by letting citizens know there is more to Detroit than what is portrayed they can appreciate the city and realize it is actually a very beautiful place.
Another task that needs to be accomplished is to enhance our education system. Many leave because our schooling system is declining in value. With the educational budget cuts schools are having trouble meeting the consistently rising requirements. Students are required to learn more with fewer resources. The cuts are also affecting other aspects of school including vocational classes and athletics. There is serious talk at many schools about abandoning athletics all together, and that will push families away from Michigan in a heartbeat.
A third thing Michigan needs to undertake is finding more jobs. Yes, this is fairly obvious as this is talked about continuously, but the state is looking in the wrong direction for these jobs. The auto industry around Michigan is declining, but trying to regain those jobs not very efficient. The farther into the future we go, the demand for more technological jobs will rise. We need to open the doors to technology for young graduates; that is where more majors are being centered about. The jobs may be dwindling in areas that involve labor and elbow grease, but they will be replaced by engineers and robots. Shifting our focus from fighting for old jobs to expanding to new markets will surely bring college graduates back to Michigan and keep them here.
Michigan is a great state, with all of the magnificent attractions and beautiful cities. In order to keep students here we need to glorify our city so the public knows how great we really are. This, in combination with lessening education cuts and shifting our job focus, will assure that our young graduates find Michigan to be the perfect abode after all.


Brightest and Best
First Name:  Abigail
Last Name:  Asma
City:  Lake Orion
School:  Oakland Christian School
Essay:  When I first read the question of how to keep young adults in Michigan, I instinctually responded that it was impossible. Only after a little time did I realize there is a way. I thought of the places I want to move to like Chicago, New York City or London; the one thing they all have in common is a great city life. It is also the one thing that Michigan lacks. Michigan could have that great city life with Detroit. The other night I was downtown for a Red Wings game, and I was astounded with how cool Detroit looked at night. I was also astounded with how few people I saw out and about. Detroit has such great potential, but a bad reputation causes even the locals to be cautious of it. The thing about Detroit that I would miss if I moved away is the spirit. You can see it in the way that people are fiercely loyal to American car companies or how they support the Lions after so many losing seasons or how every can’t help but to belt out “born and raised in south Detroit” at a Red Wings game. The people of Detroit have a pride in the fact that they are from Detroit. The pride makes the city truly unique. The answer to the problem is simple: make downtown Detroit a place where people can have fun. It should be a place where they can shop, go out to eat, or walk around and enjoy the sights. It needs to be accessible by easy, safe public transportation so people do not always have to drive. People from other cities should want to come and visit Detroit because they want to see the atmosphere of a thriving city. The one way to make Detroit into a thriving city is by making Detroit safe. People will begin coming to Detroit once they feel it is safe. The biggest priority right now is to make Detroit a place people can actually visit. Detroit has endless amounts of potential. I would love to see Detroit become a city I can spend my life in. Making Detroit safe will lead to making Detroit a place where people want to visit and live. Young graduates will stay in Michigan if they have an exciting city to live in and visit. Reviving Michigan starts with reviving Detroit.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Megan
Last Name:  Flaherty
City:  Pinckney
School:  Father Gabriel Richard High School
Essay:  Detroit is a city aching for opportunity. A city of nearly 140 squares miles once booming with prosperous industry now has roughly 40 square miles of vacant property, including about 33,500 houses and 91,000 residential lots (David Runk, Associated Press 2010). In essence, Detroit possesses similar levels of poverty and hardship as some third world countries. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan to raze 10,000 houses and relocate residents to stronger neighborhoods is controversial and lacks strong support. Detroit simply does not have the money to finance such a large-scale operation on its own. Any plan to restore Detroit to its once prosperous state will require many years of dedication and numerous resources, including both corporate and federal support. I believe the push to restore Detroit must come from universities and students. Detroit is an artist's palate waiting for the raw talents, innovation, determination, and passion of students coupled with the oversight of world renowned faculty. Using students to rebuild Detroit will also likely keep graduates in Michigan and draw new students to our state because they will be invested in their work.
The 40 square miles of vacant property in Detroit could be the key to its renewal. The demolition of vacant buildings would help decrease the amount of crime and the land would provide the needed opportunity to maintain and draw students to Michigan. An operation of this large-scale would require the skills of students from many backgrounds. For example, as houses are razed and residents face relocation, students with a focus in social work could help these people choose a new home and ease the transition process. Students studying agriculture and bioengineering could develop and oversee plans to use some of the cleared land as farmland, while also attempting to improve the productivity and health of the plants. Students studying business could assist with the sale of harvested crops through both small fresh food stands and marketing the food to larger stores. Some of the land could also be developed by students studying renewable forms of energy to develop and improve green energy technologies such as solar panels and help Detroit become a more environmentally friendly city. Students studying finance could oversee the financial aspects of the entire project.
The universities, students, and the city of Detroit would all benefit from such a partnership. Universities would have the opportunity to expand their research and students would gain experience. Detroit residents would benefit by the job opportunities created in the project. The farmland would create jobs to help maintain and harvest the crops, as well as the fresh food stands. The key to keeping graduates in Michigan is to draw on their talents while they are students.






Brightest and Best
First Name:  Matthew
Last Name:  Melucci
City:  Clinton Township
School:  University of Detroit Jesuit High School
Essay:  Michigan and the city of Detroit are wrought with possibilities. With specific emphasis on Detroit, the city has thrived in the past, beyond any expectations. Here it was, the epicenter of the automotive realm, the pinnacle of a bustling and beautiful urban metropolis. Yet does this beauty simply die? Does it simply fade away into the ash heap of deceit, corruption, and poverty which has reputably pervaded this great city for many recent years?
No, for at the heart of Detroit lies the hearts of wonderful, hard-working people, born and raised to love this great city, which nonetheless faces many obstacles. Detroit can rise, but only through rebirth, only by allowing old ways to die as to bring forward newness. This precious new hope lies in young graduates, who will ultimately become the foundation of Detroit and Michigan . However, to keep young graduates in Michigan, new infrastructure must filter through this diverse state. Anything that causes new jobs is constructive toward drawing fresh young graduates to Michigan. Explore untapped fields; look towards renewable energy; reexamine the filming industry; give newness a chance. Regain the adventurous, pioneering spirit which brought this country to such greatness when the idea of freedom and conquest were imbued deep in our ancestors. Only through outside thinking and creative infrastructure can Michigan offer jobs that young graduates, riddled with student loan debt, are forced to quickly seek and to obtain. If Michigan constantly clings to economic ideology that worked decades ago, then young graduates with new ideas and talents will never receive a chance.
However, primary to young graduates is the need for excitement and richness. Young graduates still crave the excitement they yearned for in college, and to keep them in Michigan, this utmost need must be met. For this to occur, the greatest remedy comes in the form of proper public transportation systems in and around areas of cultural liveliness. Cultural excitement must be easily accessible, for once this is the case, people, especially young, adventurous graduates, will be more adept to explore and get out. This will subsequently bolster the economy through retail spending, thus increasing the demand for shops and entertainment, which thus will increase taxation revenue.
Being a graduate of a high school in Detroit, and as a lifelong resident of Michigan, I love Detroit and the state of Michigan. I have visited many parts of Michigan and have witnessed its greatness in many forms. However, I am aware of its struggles. Despite the fact that I could have gotten into many great colleges across the United States, I chose to go to Detroit's own Wayne State University, for I love the city, yet I want to understand it more so that I can help it thrive once I graduate.
Michigan and Detroit can move forward, but it requires the bright minds of young college graduates. With them, and a pioneering spirit, this state can prosper again.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Chelsea
Last Name:  Shaw
City:  Detroit
School:  Southwestern High School
Essay:  I believe that if we want to keep our graduating youths in Michigan, then we first have to make it a place that they want to improve and see flourish. Now, already most people have an attachment to the place they were born. Detroit is always in my heart, and I take great pride from where I'm from. I have great friends, a great family, and great teachers and mentors all around me glad to help if they can. It's simply home. So if we want others to stay and not want to hightail it out of here right when they get their diploma, then I think we have to make it a place that they can call home too.
One of the biggest experiences in a young person's life is school. I think we spend just as much time there as we do at our house. Yet, Michigan, that is to say Detroit, is making a very horrible mess out of Detroit Public Schools. Robert Bob is trying to make our schools charter schools. He's already given all of our teachers pink slips. I understand the need for money, I really do. But what he doesn't seem to realize is that, if our city and it's higher-ups don't have the cash, then how do they expect us to pay it? School keeps kids off the streets, and prepares them for the future; we literally are the leaders of tomorrow. How can it possibly be a good thing to have parents have to pay for their schooling when they're already working two jobs just to feed their family? We simply can't afford it, and if we're sucked dry from an over taxing economy, then resentment and hate starts to fester. Nobody will want to stay longer in a place that won't even provide their children with a free education. It's something that we as Americans should have by right. History was never my best subject, but our ancestors fought for us so that we would be given these privileges without having to make all the sacrifices they did for them. School is where you learn to work with others, meet new people, learn all the things necessary to help you survive in the world. Those things shouldn't have to come at a price, ever.
Besides fixing our school situation, I think if we expand our development further, then more people would want to stay as well. Our jobs aren't at their best right now, things are pretty bad everywhere in fact. But if we tear down more abandoned buildings, fix up the ones that have worn down with age, and maybe even plant more trees, it will help brighten up our community and impact it in a positive way. If a place just looks like it breeds crime and gangs, then nobody will want to try opening up businesses or move in. You'd be surprised how a little change here or there can really make a difference.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Abiola
Last Name:  Akinpelu
City:  Detroit
School:  Inkster High School
Essay:  Ever since the incident with the stock market back in 2008, the United States economy has taken a toll. One of the states that was impacted by it was the state of Michigan. Michigan is one of the states with the highest unemployment rate. To add onto this, the automotive company has suffered as well, and the population continues to decline. In the past, the state of Michigan has been inclined to favor the people than the businesses, which did not help the state as much. Today, there has been a change and now businesses have leisure and the citizens (such as college students and the elderly) have to endure their pensions being cut, no more tax benefits, and college students may not be issued a bridge card in the future. Instead of the state of Michigan favoring one side over another, it can be oriented equally upon both sides. By doing this, this is how we can keep young graduates working and living in Michigan. When society give the younger people a chance to work, they are sowing their seeds for their future to enable them to be able to work in the state of Michigan, instead of looking for work out of state. Although plenty of businesses prefer experience over new employees, it is pertinent to give everyone a chance to work, and to not deny them because of a lack of experience. This is how front line employees are able to work their way towards being managers and having experience. Michigan can move its state forward by being equally fair. Instead of having businesses to have preference over financial savings (such as tax benefits), people and businesses can have these up to a certain limit upon both. It is always important to help businesses as well as the people because if businesses cannot serve the people, then it will cause a mass unemployment problem for people. If the situation was turned around and businesses were able to have all tax breaks and benefits and cut pensions while the people had no benefits (or little) whatsoever, costs would be high for them (or money would be low) and if the people do not have enough money to patronize to businesses, there will be no customers and both sides will lose. The state of Michigan can move forward by addressing the issue and coming to a consensus. What will ultimately move the state forward is if there are jobs created so that people will be able to work. Many students have paid all throughout their years of college to receive a degree in their preferred profession and some end up nowhere or working at a degrading job for little pay, which may make college seem as if it is not worth it to incoming freshmen. Michigan can help by bringing in new jobs for students that have graduated from colleges and universities. This will allow people to stay in Michigan and move it forward.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Alyssa
Last Name:  Varsanik
City:  Rochester
School:  Notre Dame Preparatory High School
Essay:  I vividly recall my palms sweating within the tight latex gloves, body standing stiff under the crisp blue scrubs, eyes squinting through the protective goggles, and breath whispering against my mouth screen. On two separate occasions, I had witnessed the beginning of life as well as the impossibility of future birth. I contemplated these polar opposite surgeries as one woman listened to the healthy cry of her newborn baby during a Cesarean Section while the second patient succumbed to anesthesia for a complete hysterectomy. For both procedures, the doctors cut through the skin, fat, fascia, abdomen, muscle, and perineum before locating the uterus. During the C-Section, the doctors made one small incision in the uterus, allowing life to pop its head into the world. The mother momentarily cradled her 7 pound, 14 ounce baby girl before the pediatric doctor ensured the baby’s healthy status. Though the doctors removed any chance of future birth from the hysterectomy patient, they simultaneously eliminated the problem of a markedly low hemoglobin count incurred by the patient’s heavy menstrual periods. After shadowing Doctor Dan Greene, an OB/GYN at Crittenton Hospital located in Rochester, Michigan, I clearly recognized my enthusiasm for the medical field. These two experiences ignited my passion for making a difference here in my local community. The motto at Crittenton Hostpital is, “I Make it Better Here!”. If more Michigan graduates were exposed to careers available in Michigan, they too would share the same dream of “making it better here”. The state government should encourage, support, and organize academic programs that allow students to shadow, volunteer, and participate in local careers. Hospitals, law firms, automotive businesses, restaurants, pharmacies, physical therapy clinics, broadcasting programs, etc. could foster graduates’ dreams to contribute to the success of this state.
Along with government subsidized programs that introduce graduates to Michigan career choices, the state could also solidify such aspirations by providing “sign-on” bonuses. These bonuses would be offered to Michigan students accepting Michigan job opportunities. Bonuses would attract pioneering employees to the Michigan work force, while simultaneously offering job security to the young employees. The bonuses would result in more graduates permanently residing in Michigan, thus increasing the state’s tax dividends. This increase in tax money would then support the continued offering of sign-on bonuses. An increase in Michigan population as a result of retained graduates would result in an increase in money spent on living expenses. This cyclical flow of money would cultivate the growth of Michigan’s economy while providing career opportunities for young graduates.
DUE TO TECHNICAL PROBLEMS, THE REMAINDER OF THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN EMAILED TO MR. SETH AT SETH@WXYZ.COM.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Gabriel
Last Name:  Faber
City:  Southfield
School:  Aiva Hebrew Day School
Essay:  When Akiva first started their “Give or Get” program, many people complained. Each family was required to donate 20 hours of time helping the school or to pay $250. How were they going to find more money to pay to the school, or the time to volunteer? Personally I loved the program. It gave me and the other students the chance to get to know the parent body better and to gain from their individual knowledge. It also built a greater sense of community. I believe this model could work in moving Michigan forward.
My two older siblings went to college out of state, but returned to Wayne State University to attend graduate school. Like me, they love Michigan and plan to work and raise their families here. The strongest ties keeping us here are family and friends, and loyalty to our community and Southeast Michigan. We want to help, not abandon the people and institutions we love. Unfortunately, that is no longer enough for many people. It’s not so much that things are better right now in other states (Illinois has a state tax of 9.75) but they’ve lost faith that things are going to improve in Michigan. We need a “Give and Get” program to strengthen community ties and loyalty, and restore faith in Michigan’s future.
Michigan residents could receive incentives (e.g. tax credits for college tuition, health care, our buying a house) for working at jobs that would benefit Michigan communities in need. They could work in schools, health clinics, or state or county parks; with at-risk youth, the elderly or disabled. Participants would get living expenses, and tax benefits that would encourage them to stay in Michigan. Even better, the valuable skills they’d develop would help them compete for the local jobs that would be worth staying for, and the connection they’d form with their neighbors would give them a new sense of pride in and loyalty to Michigan. People working together and watching their efforts pay off in a stronger community and state develop an understanding that living the “good life” has more to do with who your neighbors are than how much you are making. Still, people need to support families.
I understand it’s complicated. How will struggling communities and businesses provide salaries? It will take vision and short term sacrifice. Soon however, the investment of these communities and businesses will be repaid through the growth they will experience. The positive cycle of growth, faith, commitment, and jobs will continue. Networking, communicating with new friends, and gaining insight into new abilities will spur potential new careers, jobs and growing salaries. Great accomplishments take time. If we, the graduating class of 2011, were willing to give our all for our grades, we should be willing to give our all to our state. Then, the slogan “Pure Michigan” could change to “Always Michigan”.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Hannah
Last Name:  Sabol
City:  Allen Park
School:  Baptist Park High School
Essay:  During the first half of the twentieth century, Michigan vastly benefited from its main dependence upon the automotive industry. However, as we entered into the twenty-first century, automotive production caused grave economic difficulties. The emphasis placed on labor-saving techniques and the shifting of operation from the state has significantly reduced the number of jobs available to Michigan workers. The foremost issue with Michigan’s economy today, is that the state is still relying upon its position as the center of the auto industry for its main source of economic success. What people are beginning to realize, is that economic success is not due to the industry, but to the workers that are employed within that industry. Without a sufficient amount of workers, any industry would not yield economic success.
There are 15 public universities located in the state of Michigan, which educate a combined total of almost 300,000 students. The problem is that almost half of these students leave the state after they graduate. Michigan State University and the University of Michigan both found that about 50% percent of their Michigan-native graduates leave the state after obtaining their degrees.
Because of this decline, Michigan has become known for its unemployment rate, which averaged at 15.8% over the past year. Due to this rate, most young graduates choose to leave Michigan because they believe if they stay, they will not obtain a successful career. These young people are hard working, intelligent individuals who have been consistently pursuing a career for at least a four year period. Michigan’s graduates are the key to its future economic success, and they have not even scratched the surface of their potential here in Michigan. What the state fails to provide these graduates with is an opportunity. Because of the emphasis placed on automotive production, little attention is focused on other industries. It is imperative to the success of “moving Michigan forward” that a higher amount of concentration be placed on other businesses. This way more jobs will be created, which will cause graduates to seek a career in Michigan. However, a higher amount of jobs might not be enough of an incentive to keep young graduates here. The state could also provide certain amenities to persuade these individuals that Michigan is the right place for them.
College graduates typically incur an average student loan debt of about $24,000 by the time they obtain their degree. At that point in time, the individual’s immediate concerns are food, housing and transportation. This forces them to hastily acquire a job wherever it is possible. However, if a certain state had specific benefits for a college graduate, the individual would be more inclined to search for employment in that location. These benefits should be put in place to assist the individual with their basic, living necessities while searching for a job that can support their needs.





Brightest and Best
First Name:  Amanda
Last Name:  Schoonover
City:  Waterford
School:  Waterford Mott
Essay:  Michigan is a state full of amazing opportunities. Whether it be the automotive or fishing industries, this is a state that can provide many unique things to do and work for. These great opportunities, along with the new ones that are being created every day, must be amplified in a realistic but helpful way in order for people to continue staying in Michigan to work and live. Therefore, in order to keep Michigan moving in a positive direction by keeping young graduates working and living in this wonderful state, the job opportunities that are here must be exemplified in a more positive manor as well.
Michigan has been dependent on the automotive industry for decades. This industry has crippled our fine state by means of keeping us from expanding our horizons. Michigan needs to emphasize the importance of removing itself from the restrictions of the automotive industry and move on to other means of employment and income. By seeking out different careers and having a variety of opportunities, more young graduates are apt to stay in Michigan to work and live.
Urban farming as a great example of an opportunity that should be exemplified and made known to young graduates and citizens of all ages. In Detroit, as well as other cities in Michigan, urban farming can be used to bring people into the cities, and to support the local economy. By growing food in previously demolished areas, the lot is brought back to life and helps clean the air. Also, the food is grown locally and sold locally, which supports the citizens of Michigan. Urban farming would keep young graduates working and living in Michigan because it provides an opportunity to support the economy of Michigan while making a profit and making Michigan a better place to live.
Keeping young graduates living and working in Michigan has much to do with the reputation of Michigan and it's economy. That reputation can be influenced by many things, such as the media and entertainment. By improving the reputation of Michigan, people will see what an amazing state it really is and they will see the myriad of opportunities that Michigan offers. The reputation of Michigan can be improved by stopping TV shows that portray Detroit as a city of violence and poverty, and continue shows that show the best of Michigan. For example, shows that show the many esteemed hospitals and how their work has positively affected the population. By improving the reputation of Michigan, people will want to stay in the state to work because of the focus on the positive aspects of Michigan and it's opportunities.
Michigan is a state that has so much potential, but it needs the right attention to be able to amplify the positive opportunities that are present. To keep young graduates living and working in Michigan, the opportunities that are here need to be exemplified in a positive and realistic manor that will persuade young citizens that Michigan is an optimal place to live.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Melanie
Last Name:  Kowalski
City:  New Hudson
School:  South Lyon High School
Essay:  With the current state of the economy, many young graduates choose to relocate to more financially stable places. In order to be one of those places, Michigan must work to maintain itself in several areas, including employment, education, and safety.
Because they need a means by which to live, young adults will migrate to locations with more job openings. This means that Michigan must create opportunities not for individuals, but for employers that will attract people to stay. Of course, heavy advertising and a multitude of incentives for businesses are the result. Although the government is already on a good track with the offer of monetary compensation and access to the state’s natural resources, an often overlooked option is the offering of land in current urban areas. Many cities are now home to vacant buildings, left victim to the destructive forces of nature by their financially desperate owners. For the sake of businesses and beautifying the state, the government would be wise to destroy these ragged remains of commerce and sell the land to interested companies. Businesses would find this convenient, as the locations already have access to transportation systems and populations for employment. The cities and the state would benefit from available jobs, graduates remaining to fill them, and new, presentable buildings, all without destroying Michigan’s abundant wildlife. Job availability alone, however, may not be enough to keep graduates in the state.
Another important factor in the quest to find a hometown is the level and quality of education in an area. While education in this state is decent, and many people continue on to higher levels of education, this may not always be the case. Although the economy is not accommodating to the budget, school systems should not be burdened with this struggle. If cuts to educational funding become too great, the bright minds of the future will be seriously disadvantaged in the competition against those who will move into the state in search of the newly created jobs, thus sending them elsewhere to seek employment anyways. There is also the possibility that the low-budget school systems could turn potential employees away from a company due to concerns about their children’s development. Because of this, budget cuts should not be made to the educational systems of the state.
Once people are enticed to remain in the state by employment and quality educational institutions, their only other barriers in regard to residing in the state usually relate to personal safety. Educational advancements should help somewhat with crime rates, furthering the need for the maintenance of school systems. Aside from that, income generated by the sale of property to new businesses could partially be used to aid the state’s network of security.
The application of these strategies should appeal to young graduates, keeping them in Michigan. Consequently, a stronger workforce will accelerate the economy’s recovery.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Chad
Last Name:  Westra
City:  Dearborn
School:  Edsel Ford High School
Essay:  I have been a resident of Michigan my entire life, and I know firsthand what a great state it is that I call home. But during the lingering economic recession, Michigan has been one of the hardest hit places in the US. I’ve seen the devastating effects firsthand, witnessing friends and relatives lose their jobs, or have to foreclose their homes. Some would argue the best way to pull ourselves out of this downward spiral is to attract businesses and new industries from out of state into Michigan. But when Michigan is seeing its brightest young graduates leaving the state, I propose instead to focus on keeping these creative, innovative thinkers within our state. While this is certainly a challenging goal, I have three key ways to achieve this.
First, Michigan needs to be a leader in promoting new technology. The many fields in this area are limitless. Just looking at green energy, it is one of the largest emerging industries in the world, including bio, solar, and wind energy. Incentives need to be given to those who research and implement this technology. Other areas of interest are computer and communications jobs. Both of these sorts of jobs would better Michigan, and as a tech savvy generation, our current young graduates are interested in and attracted to both green energy and technology jobs. If the state creates the opportunities in these areas, the graduates will take advantage of them.
Secondly, Michigan needs to create an environment where businesses will thrive. If a new entrepreneur is starting his own business, he’ll weigh his options; he’ll look to find where he can succeed. And if that’s not in Michigan, than why should he stay? While many of us who’ve grown up here are tied here by family and other factors, that is likely not enough to keep us here. Especially in these hard times, we’ll need to go where we can earn a living. I admit to being no economic genius, but my suggestion for accomplishing this mirrors that of the Governor. Make business attractive by cutting taxes and providing incentives to entrepreneurs.
Finally, Michigan needs to continue to support its largest industries. These are what has made Michigan great, and what will continue to help it thrive. While most think of the automobile industry when they think Michigan, there’s much more than that. Our other major industries need to have the backing of the government as well, including tourism and agriculture. By supporting these industries, it shows Michigan has confidence in its people and jobs. If we gave up on our biggest components, what kind of message would that send to the young people deciding on whether to stay here in Michigan? It would give them no confidence, and no reason to stay here in Michigan.
While Michigan has faced recent troubles, we certainly have a bright future ahead of us, but it starts with keeping Michigan’s best young minds in Michigan.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Trevor
Last Name:  Sultana
City:  Garden City
School:  Lutheran High School Westland
Essay:  It is no stretch of the imagination to say that, when the economy imploded in the latter parts of 2008, Michigan was one of the solitary states impacted most harshly by the faltering financial situation of the nation. Consensus shows that Michigan’s economy unfortunately ranks among the worst in the entirety of the country, and that is certainly no fact that can be simply ignored and pushed aside. Regardless of how bleak this truth may appear, sunshine always seems to succeed rain, and that sunshine can be found in the bright young graduates of Michigan.
The overwhelmingly common initial reaction when discussing job prospects in Michigan is one of pure disgust and evident repugnance regardless of whom you speak to. Why? The reputation Michigan has harnessed as a financial deathtrap is enough to repulse any job seekers, especially locals who call Michigan their home. Changing this outlook on Michigan must be the first order of business in the strenuously difficult but surely plausible attempt to keep young graduates working and living in Michigan. When the graduates of Michigan can feel confident and secure that there is potential financial success by remaining in Michigan to work and refraining from seeking out-of-state jobs, pride shared among these graduates for Michigan’s economy is the only inevitable result, and that confidence will also indubitably radiate to the jobless found in the states that surround Michigan.
As every citizen of this great state can attest to, the economic backbone of Michigan is unmistakably found in the automotive industry. It seems as though every state over the compounding centuries has found its respective niche in the nation’s economy. Michigan can rightfully claim its spot as the automotive capital of the United States, and that title most definitely should never be surrendered. Steps have certainly been made to improve the austere automotive situation found in Michigan, but economic progress is still there to be made.
Furthermore, that is not to say that repairing the deteriorating automotive industry within Michigan is the one and only surefire way to move this state forward, as far as the economy goes, because after all many graduates are applying their brilliance into disciplines that have very little or nothing at all to do with the automotive field. However, by strengthening Michigan’s monetary backbone, that being the automotive industry, the other branches of the economy in Michigan have but no other choice than to thrive and succeed as well.
The talent to move Michigan forward is clearly palpable. Despite popular belief, the aptitude is, in fact, there, but, even more importantly, the necessary fuel to fire Michigan’s economic growth can be found in the local graduates. Michigan needs to reap what it has sown, to harness what it so desperately needs for the future. Give reason for the bright young graduates of Michigan to have pride in their state and its economy, and surely good things will result.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Zahraa
Last Name:  Hadi
City:  Dearborn Heights
School:  Crestwood High School
Essay:  In these economic times, Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in America. With the decreased availability of jobs, it has been hard to keep many of the young graduates working and living in the state. In order to remedy this solution many provisions must be made. It is important to realize that through internships, advertising, and tax reform, Michigan may once again attract younger people.
In order to become a competitive person when searching for a job one must have experience. An internship is an opportunity to amalgamate experience with an undergraduate education. If more companies offered internships, graduates will have the opportunity to cater to their experience requirements. For example, Ford Motor Company and the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) recently hosted a Diversity Intern Program in which students from participating Metro Detroit schools were interviewed for possible internships. Over 25 students acquired positions with these companies. If more graduates were able to get internships, there would be a renewed interest in staying in Michigan. More companies should create events to lure younger students into working for them. It would not only be beneficial to the company and graduate, but also to the economic standing as a whole.
Advertising is used to persuade audiences to take action in regards to certain ideas. There has been increased government advertising to attract people to certain parts of the country. Through the use of advertising, Michigan could highlight the positive things about living in Michigan, such as the cost of real estate. The advertisement should include what the benefits of living and working in Michigan are. For example, the advertisement could highlight the great education and all the jobs available in the automotive and agricultural industry. It could also include the beautiful scenery and all the recreational activities in the state.
In order for Michigan to become a progressive state, changes must be made. This especially applies to the tax program. Currently, Michigan is not a very friendly state for business. The recent shift from the Single Business Tax that took away from Net Revenue to the Michigan Business Tax that takes away from Gross Profit has caused a lessened interest in corporations to keep headquarters in the state of Michigan. Many companies feel that a lot of revenue is being taken away with the recent tax change and thus have moved company headquarters elsewhere. This has caused a decrease in job availability, which is not healthy to a state’s economic condition.
There are a wide variety of things that can be done to combat the decreased amount of interested graduates. Through the use of internships, advertising, and tax reform, the issue of graduate interest may be solved. For Michigan to progress, the state must work closer with businesses to renew a corporate interest, which will lead to more job opportunities for young graduates.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Jorge
Last Name:  Gonzalez
City:  Detroit
School:  Western International High School
Essay:  I am disappointed in Michigan. We ask for jobs, we ask for a cleaner state, we ask for justice, we ask for many useful and useless things, but nothing ever happens; there is no response from either side (the demanders and the demanded). I feel that as a state, we are not motivated to do anything. Sure, it’s not easy to make, pass, and enforce laws. Sure, it’s no easy to watch out for your neighbors, or clean up your neighborhood, or watch over your children, but the truth is, we haven’t even tried. We waste more time in arguing rather than in action. In all, we need morale, team spirit or we will never progress in any way.
It is just like this essay contest, we create an opportunity for the youth to speak out, but what will happen after the “Brightest and Best” speak out? Will the governor read our ideas? Will he do something? How can I trust my state, when it has done nothing to raise my morale in believing that change is coming? We already know what the problem is; all we need to do is fix it. No one is willing to do that. Since no one is willing to do nothing we lose morale.
If the state wants to keep graduates working and living in Michigan, then we have to provide energy to this state. How can we provide energy? Since jobs do not come to us easily, then we just have to take care of ourselves. We have small businesses and big business in our state that could use help in growing. Why not invest on ourselves rather than on some foreign company. This will bring up morale. It would show the citizens that the state is “actually” interested in its citizens. If we show the citizens of Michigan that its government is willing to invest in its people, the current citizens of Michigan will stay and start pulling their own weight. We need to give the citizens of Michigan a homey feeling, a feeling of security. We need the citizens to help, but first we need them to gain morale in order to achieve this.
It used to be that your state would be like your country and you fought for it. What happened? As a citizen of Michigan, I feel less at home than ever before. If we ever want to keep the citizens of Michigan here in Michigan, we have to raise their morale. Our government and its citizens have separated themselves. It’s time to reconnect ourselves with our government and citizens. Don’t just listen to me, but to every single person out there. Michigan will continue to lose its youth as long as we remain stale. No energy, no citizens. Create commercials that invite people from other states to come to Michigan. Create commercials that show that our government is actually helping its citizens. Do something that raises the morale of the citizens of Michigan. We need hope.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Nicole
Last Name:  Pitchford
City:  Royal Oak
School:  Royal Oak High School
Essay:  Dr. Seuss is a common gift for recent graduates: remind them of all the places they can go with their new knowledge. Though wistful and traditional, the gift can be detrimental to graduates from Michigan. Michigan is in dire need of lasting sources of employment, which do not arise without grand ideas. There are no better sources of ideas for companies, projects, and services than recent graduates–full of hope towards their world, they need to become the entrepreneurs of this era for Michigan to return to grandeur. Should Michigan wish to retain its graduates and use them to bolster its economy, it should create an environment that encourages entrepreneurs and provides the skills they need to succeed.
There is a certain demeanor necessary to become an entrepreneur. One must be creative, bold enough to go out alone, faithful in their ideas, and possess the drive to make their new business a success. Michigan needs to foster these qualities in its graduates–teach them while they’re in college to be creative and push boundaries with their ideas. Professors need to teach fearlessness, and remind students that the world is amiable towards their ideas. Self-confidence is also a strong factor in the success and drive of a business–a factor that not many grads possess. Setting foot in a world that doesn’t know you like your sorority sisters and professors know you is frightening.
Michigan as a state cannot create all of these traits in college students, but it can be a state that fosters them from youth. Michigan’s elementary through high schools should be teaching creativity, building students’ confidence, and letting students know that there are more paths to success than “climbing the corporate ladder.” It’s possible to step on the bottom rung of your own ladder and be at the top within years rather than decades –this knowledge would allow graduates to change their big ideas into realities. There is nothing more important to keeping grads in Michigan than providing them with this awareness. Let small businesses shine, Michigan, let their owners know that they are important to our economy, and congratulate graduates on their successes and encourage them to achieve more. If Michigan can do this, it will be on the way to retaining students needed to build its struggling economy back up.
Even if Dr Seuss rhymes his way into graduates’ hearts with the charm of places unknown, Michigan graduates will know that the mitten is the place to stay if they have the right cocktail of creativity, confidence, and courage. Ideas will bloom next to Holland’s tulips, drive ahead of the Big 3, and cross bridges bigger than the Mackinac if Michigan can encourage graduates to remain in-state and use their knowledge to reform our economy – Michigan needs to encourage its teachers and professors to teach skills of entrepreneurship more than equations or metaphors. Only with this education can graduates benefit the state of Michigan the way it so desperately needs.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Christopher
Last Name:  Chockley
City:  Algonac
School:  Algonac High School
Essay:  A Chinese proverb says, “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime educate people.” These are the words that can help Michigan move forward. To keep graduates in Michigan we cannot just plan for the year or the decade but have to look even further ahead. Education is one of the most important parts of a person’s life and a person’s school years shape them unlike any others. Student’s who spend these years in Michigan will be more likely to stay in Michigan. Offering more scholarships is a way to get kids to study in Michigan, and stay in Michigan.
I am a perfect example of why Michigan schools need to step things up. I am a National Merit Finalist, an Eagle Scout, and will be graduating with over 70 college credits, by most standards a very qualified student. Despite this, the only college that offered me enough scholarships and financial aid to make my education affordable was the University of Alabama, an out of state college. I received scholarship offers and acceptance letters from colleges in Michigan but they did not even come close to matching that of the out of state colleges. This resulted, as you can imagine, in me choosing to attend the University of Alabama. While this does not necessarily mean that I will not work in Michigan after graduation it certainly does mean I will be spending 4 years in another state. I now do not know where I will end up, while previously I had always assumed I would stay in Michigan no matter what.
Increasing opportunities for students from Michigan to stay in Michigan will help them to stay here after they graduate. Many college students get jobs offered to them while they are still in college. These generally come from local businesses. Employers in Michigan look to Michigan schools for students to hire, students going out of state will be recruited by out of state employers. A simple fact about most people is that they like to avoid huge changes in their life. Moving to another state is certainly one of these changes so giving them the means to stay in Michigan will help to keep them in Michigan even longer. I know that if I was going to school in Michigan I would only strengthen my ties to here rather than eroding them by me leaving here for a time and already making one huge change in my life.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” Michigan needs to give students the opportunity to have food and fire for their minds if they expect them to continue working and living here as graduates.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Linda
Last Name:  Kalfayan
City:  Farmington Hills
School:  AGBU
Essay:  Keep Michigan Moving Forward

Yes, as the graduate of 2011, we all need to think about our future and our role in moving Michigan forward. For the past few years we have heard nothing but derogatory remarks about Michigan within the state and nationwide. Yes, we have had challenges, but need to focus on the positive. Who will do this but us? Our generation is the nucleus of Michigan. Without us, the state will eventually die just like a cell dies without its nucleus. We need to focus on increasing manufacturing-which once was the pulse of our beautiful state. We need some new government incentives for new graduates to start a business and buy homes. Or how about we move this city towards music. After all, this city was the birth of Motown.
Because of recent Governor Snyder’s cut on the business tax, I am hopeful that this will encourage future entrepreneurship from our recent graduates. Nothing is impossible, we can move this state forward. If only we paid closer attention to our childhood stories, they give us the answers to everything in life. According to Dr. Seuss,

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go….You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go….So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact and remember that....Life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)"

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Michael
Last Name:  Yuille
City:  Marysville, MI
School:  Marysville High School
Essay:  Diogenes Laertius once stated, “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” While Laertius is correct, he did forget another important piece of that foundation, which is keeping the educated youth in the state. Without this part, the education the state provides basically goes to waste. That scenario is currently occurring in Michigan, where the youth leave the state after they graduate. Michigan will never get out of the current recession without being able to keep their young graduates working and living in the state. Fortunately, this can be done by making a competitive tax system that will bring businesses to Michigan and creating incentives for the graduates to stay in Michigan by helping them with their college loans.
Obviously, to keep the young graduates working in Michigan, there has to be jobs available for them. The best way to bring jobs to Michigan is to make it a business-friendly state by creating a competitive tax system. Businesses want to make money, and if they see that one state requires lower taxes than the state they are in, they will most likely move. This is most prevalent in the move of businesses from Illinois to Indiana. With Indiana cutting their corporate income tax rate by a quarter and Illinois raising their taxes, big companies like Sears Holding Corp. are threatening to move. Moreover, largely due to their tax system, Texas has added more jobs in the last five years than all other states combined. If Michigan could follow the lead of states like Indiana and Texas, businesses will come to the state and Michigan will be able to offer jobs to its young graduates.
After creating jobs in the state, the next step is to entice the graduates to accept them. A great way to do this is to offer students an incentive to help them repay their massive college loans if they accept a job in Michigan. This is not only good for graduates who were born in Michigan, but also for graduates who come from out of state since they normally have to pay much more. For instance, out-of-state students attending the University of Michigan have to pay approximately $50,000 a year. With the cost of tuition skyrocketing, offering students a helping hand would not only help bring students to Michigan colleges, but it would keep them working here after they graduate.
As Michiganders, we cannot look at the past decade as bad news. We have to look at this as an opportunity; we realize the mistakes that we have made and we will not make them again. Port Huron native Thomas Edison said after inventing the light bulb after many attempts, “I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.” That is the attitude that we need to have if we want to become prosperous once again. With this attitude and by keeping young graduates in Michigan, there is no doubt in my mind that Michigan’s greatest days are still to come.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Sahithi
Last Name:  Gogineni
City:  Canton
Essay:  Michigan is a beautiful, diverse state with abundant resources, both human and capital. From first generation immigrants to the Native American population, there is no lack of diversity when it comes to Michigan communities. These diverse Michigan inhabitants have the privilege of living in one of the most ecologically diverse states in the nation. Michigan's landscape is carved by buildings and infrastructure, forests and mountains, beautiful freshwater lakes, and one of the longest freshwater shores in the nation. When a state has such a variety of resources, it is essential that it encourages its citizens to stay in Michigan and appreciate all it has to offer. One way to keep Michigan moving forward and encourage bright, young students to stay in our great state is by promoting education.

When Michigan graduates leave school with a better understanding of the world and their role in it, they will have a greater capacity to make a change in the community. With the necessary skills and a positive mindset, students will know how to contribute to the community and make a positive difference. They will be more innovative and able to come up with creative solutions to the state's social, economic, and political conflicts. Brighter, more educated students are more likely to stay in Michigan because they are more likely to see the many advantages and benefits that Michigan has to offer. In a state where there are so many different types of people and resources, young graduates have an array of different opportunities to leave their mark upon society. Whether they are interested in medicine, business, or politics, graduates will easily be able to find a niche in Michigan where they can belong. They can then take advantage of their education and the opportunities afforded to them by the state of Michigan in order to better the community and move Michigan into the future.

In order to move Michigan forward, the state has to take a step back and start from the beginning. It has to improve the quality of public education in order to create a more competent, innovative population. Each intelligent individual can then go on to find a place in the community where they belong and succeed. As each individual grows and succeeds, the entire state will be able to slide into a bright future full of innovation, efficiency, and success. As education improves and young graduates find more reasons to work and live in Michigan, they will take advantage of opportunities in Michigan and continue to make Michigan a place that we are all proud to live in.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Mariam
Last Name:  Abdulghani
City:  Dearborn, MI
Essay:  I look ahead, far beyond the depths of the present time, and attempt to envision. Though I try to come across a clear picture, none appears. I only see misty, dark-grey clouds of obscurity and confusion. The future is simply unknown. It is a blank page for a script, left open to interpretation and influence. It is one that young graduates, standing as actors, must write. While much is uncertain, there is one, bright gleam of hope: a sign of promising years to come. It is an education, an opportunity that will allow the younger generation to mold the future into a bright, fulfilling one.However, for an educational system to truly serve both the individual and the society itself, it must be carefully looked after. This does not only mean polishing high school years with a sense of achievement, but rather by starting at the very roots: pre-school. An educational system is no “hierarchy,” if you will. It is an integrated one where each component is weighted equally. Students should always be expected to think, imagine, and create. In order to do this, we must focus on those who teach, for teachers are especially significant. When they instruct effectively, they have an uncanny ability spark a passion in their students. Unfortunately, they also have the power to disappoint. Therefore, we must raise the bar when it comes to teacher certification tests as well as other criterion. Only by doing this can we ensure that teaching remains a respected, and honorable profession.An education should also provide a student with a pave way to explore, discover, and achieve. Field trips offer a refreshingly new learning environment, all while putting knowledge to practice. Dual-enrollment programs offer a glimpse into the real college experience. Online learning experiences, organizations such as DECA, and study abroad programs are also a sure way to shape open-minded individuals willing to experiment in new, unfamiliar areas. These programs should not be a privilege, but a right. Michigan schools should also host frequent career fairs. They are valuable resources that help students identify career options. Furthermore, they can also be used to help students realize the many job opportunities available here. In this way, we can instill a sense of patriotism in these students, patriotism for their home state. In the past few years, many families have left Michigan. If we constantly provide new resources, there would be no need to look beyond our state boundaries for something better. No longer are the days when students fear their AP Class might be cancelled, or class sizes exceed the number of chairs available.
A strong emphasis on education is what will move us forward. Basic economics is a testament to this: with more people working, more money, especially income tax revenue, flows into the system. Not only that, an education will create thinkers and problem solvers. The answer lies before our very own eyes. Now, it is just left for us to take action.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  veronica
Last Name:  forbes
City:  hazel park
School:  winans academy
Essay:  As a native of Michigan I have experienced many issues that we have had first hand. In some areas the High School dropout rate has increased dramatically over several years. For instance, Clintondale School District in Macomb County has a graduation rate of 18 percent for the Class of 2010 which was the lowest in the state among regular school districts. I’m extremely proud to declare that I am a High School graduate of 2011. I believe that by keeping Michigan’s young graduates working and living in our state we can help move Michigan forward. Many young people are going to college to become dentists, doctors, police, firefighters, veterinarians, teachers, and etc. By keeping our graduates in our state we, as a state, will benefit from what their futures hold. Michigan would have many more teachers to educate and many more law enforcements to protect our state. Together, we all can make a change.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Yashesh
Last Name:  Parekh
City:  Sterling Heights
School:  Adlai E. Stevenson High School (Sterling Heights)
Essay:  A sleek black mid-sized sedan quietly drives through a city with a deep soul-penetrating voice speaking of the glory and will of this city to survive. A well known native of the city strides confidently to a stage where a choir is passionately performing. He utters a short statement simple yet so profound, “This is Detroit, and this is what we do.” With that, the commercial ends, but each Michigan home watching is silenced. A surreal feeling of pride creeps through us all making every hair on your arm stand up with overflowing delight.

Is this the city, and ultimately the state, that has been a victim of bad economic times and turmoil? Yes. However, despite the present condition, the hope that we can bring this city back to standing tall on its feet still exists. Ads and other campaigns can be used to inspire change, but will only bear weight when action is taken. The reason that each of us watching that commercial had chills going through our body was that there was some truth to what was being said. This city, our Detroit, is the heart of Michigan and home to some of the toughest people in the world. The people of Detroit have an insurmountable will to survive, they’re dedicated to working hard to get what they want, and willing to go to “hell and back” to make this glorious city rise once again. This is the culture that more youth have to become a part of. Our state of Michigan has a great deal of college graduates each year from some exceptional universities. From the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to Wayne State University in Detroit, colleges in Michigan are teeming with many brilliant young men and women. Before these men and women graduate, it is important to instill an appreciation of the culture that surrounds our great city. Students must grow an attachment to the city and the state from understanding the attitude and strength that surrounds it. An attitude that speaks: “We’ll get knocked down. We’ll get back up. We’ll keep going. Just don’t give up. Watch us, because we’re not going to.”(Rowland Bell) Monetary incentives may keep some graduates in Michigan, but to make it a growing pattern we must start at the foundation.

Detroit’s heritage is one involving sacrifice for the country. During World War II, Detroit set aside its own interests and became “the great arsenal of democracy”, as stated by President Roosevelt. In a rejuvenated Michigan, Detroit will need to uphold the same spirit of service and toughness and continue to encourage industrial diversity, high-level research activity, and the high percentage of employment that Detroit facilitates so that inspired students will have work opportunities. Until the young people of Michigan are educated about the unmatched culture of Detroit, they will find no need to stay in Michigan. If the fundamental understanding of Detroit’s heritage is established in these students, all they will need is an opportunity to work.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Alicia
Last Name:  Tan
City:  Taylor
School:  Harry S Truman
Essay:  I did some research and see what the best cities to live in the United States are. On the website, CNN Money, I found that the three best cities to live in are Eden Prairie, MN, Columbia/Ellicott City, MD and Newton, MA. All three of these cities had a great economy, wonderful schooling, and a beautiful community. These factors may seem very obvious, these are things that people look for when choosing a place to live. How can we make Michigan's cities a place where someone would like to start a life?
Take the first factor, a great economy. Michigan is well known for it's automobile business and what I believe needs to happen is to bring it back to it's high point. Everyone wants job security; there needs to be definite jobs where the population can feel safe. It doesn't matter how many jobs Michigan can throw out for it's people, if there's a chance that the jobs will be gone in a year. Tax incentives for small business would help the economy grow. There needs to be life long jobs for the people of Michigan.
If the education system isn't at the best it can be, no one will want their children to go to Michigan schools and will away. Lately, the government has been cutting back on education. Education is the power behind everything, it's the power to make change, which is exactly what Michigan needs. There needs to be a raise in education, especially in funding for college. We need to highlight education, people will keep their families in Michigan if the education system holds promise for their families.
No one wants to live in a state that has had a city voted the worst to live in. If the image and status of Michigan can be improved, then people will stay. We can start by highlighting the positive in Michigan. When Chrysler's commercial came out during the super bowl, people were proud to be from Detroit. If Detroit was cleaned up, as in the worn out buildings were remodeled to make the streets more community friendly so people can walk around that alone would make big difference. People need to feel safe and be proud of their community they live in.
All of these factors are also reasons why my family came to Michigan. My grandma was allowed to chose any state in the United State to live in she brought her family from Cambodia to Michigan. Many families from all over the country chose to live in Michigan due to it's booming automobile industry and stayed in Michigan because they felt at home. Michigan once had all of these factors and can again. We have the potential to make it even better than it was before. If we can improve the overall view on Michigan people will stay and live in Michigan for generations. The people of Michigan will be stronger for overcoming such a difficult change and that is truly a beautiful thing.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Michael
Last Name:  Stolarczyk
City:  W. Bloomfield
School:  Walled Lake Northern High School
Essay:  Although experienced professionals are the cornerstone of today’s society, the future of Michigan lies in the hands of young graduate. Even though graduates have little to no experience in the fields that they plan on working in, it is that valuable asset that one day help to move Michigan forward. Whether they are graduating from high school, college, or professional school, each graduate is a blank slate, free of mistake. Every mistake made will add to the collective experience of Michigan because without mistakes we do not learn. As long as we do not continue to make the same errors, Michigan will grow in wisdom, and it will put itself back on its feet.

When Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail one thousand times before he created the light bulb he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." It is precisely this attitude that graduates bring to Michigan’s social, political, and economical concerns. Graduates are able to bring new innovations to Michigan’s various industries. Especially now, companies need a refreshment of ideas regarding their products and the ways that they market them. In the hands of established businesses, graduates are untapped resources that can prove to be great assets for the well-beings of companies.

Now it is time for the graduates of Michigan schools to become the innovators that they were taught to be. Each and every graduate received an education that will help them in their pursuits, but it is the freshness of the graduates’ minds that will be the driving force in Michigan’s recovery. There have been many recessions in Michigan’s time, and each time Michigan came out as a stronger unit, but now is the time for graduates to move Michigan forward.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Kurt
Last Name:  Fraser
City:  Richmond
School:  Richmond High School
Essay:  The state of Michigan is in a fragile situation. There is a continuous exodus of good, hard-working citizens that believe their resources are better spent elsewhere. Thankfully, this belief is false, and Michigan has much to offer for entrepreneurs and graduates seeking employment. In order to prevent this, the state must focus on increasing public safety and preventing local legislatures from cutting police, fire, and emergency departments. If cuts keep occurring, the sense of community and desire to live in Michigan will no longer exist and there will be a decline in both population and workforce.
One of the biggest disappointments to citizens across not only the state, but the nation, has been the steady decline of Detroit. However, it has been constantly perceived that this single city is the only urban outlet in all of Michigan, and it cannot be denied that it is vitally important to the state, but there are numerous cities that match the magnitude of Detroit, and have not been advertised. Although in the past few years there have been great steps by local forces to better the condition of Detroit, it will take much longer to restore its glory, and the closing of state police and the cutting of local police forces does not make the restoration process any easier and continues to project that Detroit, which is consistently recognized as the only aspect of Michigan, is one of the worst cities in the nation.
Cuts to public safety are akin to education cuts, they take a long time to heal. Although it is necessary for cuts to be made to reshape the economy of the state and revert it into a healthy and sustainable one, public safety cannot be compromised. Citizens must feel safe, and must be confident that not only they are secure in their cities, but their children and businesses are as well. Once again, Detroit needs to be dealt with, but other cities are deserving of recognition.
Now, the only way to keep graduates in the state is to highlight these other cities and grab the interest of young entrepreneurs. Cities like Ann Arbor, a young and modern city full of small businesses and plenty of potential for growth as one of the leading cities in Michigan. Grand Rapids is a beautiful city on Lake Michigan and has a great urban vibe that resonates with both young and old. Lansing, the capitol city, is absolutely breathtaking with both historical centers and a modern setting just outside Michigan State University in East Lansing. Although the Pure Michigan campaign has done a great job of increasing tourism, it has had little effect on producing long-lasting growth. With a change of perspective to advertising the great living and working communities that Michigan has to offer, there is no doubt past Michigan residents will be drawn back and current residents will feel proud to call the state of Michigan their home.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Shea
Last Name:  Grounds
City:  Ortonville
School:  Brandon High School
Essay:  Will Michigan be able to provide enough jobs for its future graduates in the next ten or twenty years? With the way the economy seems to be headed, it’s hard to say. In the past few decades or so, the economic state in Michigan has undergone a downward spiral causing the loss of jobs and the suffering of its citizens. Michigan was once a main contender as the nation’s leader in auto production, and now its citizens are struggling just to get by. Something must be done, and it is about time the state as a whole asks how and what it needs to do. Michigan has been relying on profits from the auto industry for far too long; fossil fuels are quickly becoming dangerous and downright outdated. To save Michigan’s economy, we must diversify our industries and innovate to once again get ahead in the global market. Alternative energy production is just the new market that Michigan has been waiting for.
The auto industry succeeded in Michigan in the first place because of a few people’s willingness to innovate and take a chance on a new idea. If Michigan wants to once again get ahead, it must once again be innovative. Ten years of declining consumerism has yielded the economic atmosphere that we must contend with today; it is about time for some new options.
Alternative energy is one of the new innovations that Michigan could be waiting for, and the options are unlimited. Michigan is famous for its Great Lakes; production of a hydroelectric plant could be just the thing to get Michigan back on its feet. Building the plant itself would generate new jobs in the transportation of materials, construction of the facility itself, as well as the running and management of the post-production energy plant. Hydroelectricity is abundant, clean, and innovative for Michigan’s economy today.
Another possible industry is wind energy. Wind energy, invented by the Dutch, is a zero-emissions energy, as well as the fastest-growing energy source in the world. The world has entered an age where people must begin to seriously consider the global effects of fossil fuels on our world’s climate and environment. Utilization of clean wind energy could provide jobs for graduates that would ensure a brighter, cleaner future for Michigan citizens.
A third new option is the solar power industry. If the Michigan government allocated some of the capital that is currently being used to fund the auto industry and built a few solar cell plants in choice locations, Michigan could provide cheap electricity for its own inhabitants and those of other states.
The only way to save Michigan’s economy is to innovate and diversify its industries. Production of an alternative energy plant of any kind, whether it be hydroelectric, wind, or any other would create jobs for new graduates, stimulate the economy, and help to ensure a brighter future for us all.



Brightest and Best
First Name:  Katherine
Last Name:  Plumhoff
City:  Beverly Hills
School:  Shrine Catholic HS
Essay:        19th century author Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The Youth of a Nation are the trustees of posterity.”  If the great state of Michigan wants to survive (and thrive) in the coming years, it must find a way to retain its young graduates so that they may continue to improve Michigan’s future. We already want to live here – we just need convincing that you want us to work here.
                There’s no need to entice twenty-somethings into living in Michigan – they already want to.  And why wouldn’t they?  We have likeable sports teams, big cities and small towns, diversified weather, fantastic schools, a wonderful history, and the most gorgeous landscape of any state in the Union.  The mass exodus of Michigan's talented, educated youth is driven by one thing: a perceived lack of jobs. The old picture of auto industry men who work for one of the Big Three from age 25-65 simply isn't accurate anymore, and Michigan needs young professionals in every field imaginable, from movies to accounting to education to publishing.
                So teach us.  As a young student in Michigan, I’d like to stay close to home, close to where I go Up North, close to the kind people and the beautiful places I’ve come to know and love.  I’d love to learn about markets thriving in Michigan, about job opportunities, and about why I'm needed. I think that programs integrated into every high school would solve this problem perfectly. These co-ops, in which students received credit for working outside of the classroom at a Michigan business, would show students that they are needed, and would also allow them to have a head start in searching for jobs after school. Internships should be mandatory, and they should be incorporated into all types of businesses. In Michigan, we have Ford, Amway, Kellogg, Bell Tire, Meijer, Little Caesar…these huge companies should receive tax incentives in exchange for offering internship positions to Michigan high school and college students. It's difficult to find jobs in a state with a 10.1% unemployment rate, especially when green college grads are interviewing against experienced professionals with multiple degrees. While young grads can leave for a better job market, Michigan will eventually be without a workforce if this trend keeps up. Having internships integrated into high school and college, as a requirement for graduation and opportunity for students to learn about Michigan companies and gain experience, would solve this problem.
  Michigan's a wonderful place. The young graduates of Michigan can help to make it even better, and our attention can be gained – and kept – by having mandatory internship opportunities for credit in high school and college. We all want to see our state succeed, and succeed it will – one motivated, talented graduate at a time.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Natalie
Last Name:  Collins
City:  Birmingham
Essay:  Detroit is currently undergoing a renaissance that offers more potential for reinvention and reimagination than any other city in the country. Artists and entrepreneurs, leaders and world-changers, and grads committed to making a difference should want to come to Detroit for the creative possibilities it offers.
Michigan graduates are looking for jobs, homes, and fun and fulfilling lives that aren’t compromises with necessity. The city has land available that could be converted into housing and business communities for recent grads that satisfy all of these ambitions. Entrepreneurs could be offered tax breaks to invest in the land and build attractive and affordable housing for graduates, and entrepreneurial incubators would provide low-cost financing to companies hiring recent grads and to grads who wish to start their own businesses. In-state universities could sponsor areas of the communities where the technology developed at their university would be commercialized.
So many grads’ homes and businesses concentrated in one area would build up a critical mass that would attract other grads wanting to be surrounded by career opportunities, affordable housing and a thriving social life. The communities could propagate themselves as companies started by grads would continue to invest in new opportunities coming into the communities. At the same time, they would be by no means hermetic, as their location in downtown Detroit would allow them to take advantage of everything the city has to offer, such as restaurants, sports teams, bars, shops and museums, supporting the Detroit businesses already in existence. The city's rich cultural and historical background would provide an intangible incentive to graduates and businesses to enjoy living and working in Detroit.
Only by keeping Michigan grads living and working in Michigan can the state take full advantage of its most powerful resource. By consolidating the many opportunities it has to offer graduates, the state can help Michigan grads transform Detroit into the thriving, beautiful city it has been before and is becoming again.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Alex
Last Name:  Wheeler
City:  Farmington HIills
School:  Harrison High School
Essay:  I come from a family that has been in Michigan for generations. My grandfathers were both born and raised in the Detroit area. After finishing their respective educations, both of my grandparents decided to make a living here, taking jobs with General Motors. They stayed because Michigan offered them the best financial chances, secure living, and a comfortable environment. These factors led both of them to start their families in the Detroit area as part of America’s first true middle class. My father followed a similar path: after graduating from high school in Livonia, he completed his education at Lawrence Tech. Now, he has moved up in the ranks at an automotive supply company whose North American headquarters are in Novi.
Much has changed from the days of my father and grandfathers, however. It is now time for Michigan to build upon its rich history to bring the next generation of opportunity into the area. In my personal experience, Michigan has proven to be a great place to live as a family. However, it needs a “kick-start” for its recent graduates to get established with careers in local industries.
In recent years, local and state governments have made great progress in bringing new technologies and businesses to Michigan. Oakland County’s Automation Alley initiative is definitely a step in the right direction, and former governor Granholm helped pass legislation that made Michigan more attractive to technology-based businesses. One issue that seems to have been overlooked, however, is keeping Michigan graduates in the state. This issue is not necessarily in creating jobs for this young workforce since the foundation for it already exists; Michigan must be more inviting for young people in general.
One way to accomplish this would be to develop modern technology hubs. Combined with incentives to sponsor students in co-op programs, these areas would become “cool” places to live and to start a career in the eyes of young people. Then, if they wanted to settle in somewhere a little quieter, Southeast Michigan has plenty of neighborhoods that could accommodate them without moving them out of commute range.
In addition to desirable places to live, graduates need cash flow and cost of living advantages that would allow them to get on their feet faster. Reducing student loan terms or giving tax incentives for staying in state would have a tremendous impact on the current graduating class. With the economy as fragile as it is, this generation must be fiscally responsible from the get-go, leading them to areas that are attractive both recreationally and economically.
Southeast Michigan has the potential to regain its title as the global leader in innovation. The framework is all in place, but a new, young workforce must be brought in to create the most opportunities. We can’t change our weather, but we can change our view in the public’s eye. If we create a “trendy” new Michigan, we can keep our new graduates with us for years to come.


Brightest and Best
First Name:  Mercedes
Last Name:  Black
City:  Redford
School:  Ladywood High School
Essay:  Michigan’s Minds

Michigan faces many challenges in today’s cutthroat society, a society in which only the most pioneering and skilled peoples can prosper. As economical struggles challenge the foundation of renowned businesses and fields of work, jobs seem to vanish just as quickly as they appear. Naturally, many of Michigan’s young graduates seek success and higher education elsewhere, believing that Michigan has little left to offer to their budding talents. However, it is the very core of that talent, those fresh and innovative ideas and perspectives that will drive Michigan into the future, fueling positive change, a united people, and a sturdy state.

The first step in such a daunting aspiration includes revealing the treasure trove of Michigan’s educational resources and professions to its young graduates. Many students fail to experience all that Michigan, its postsecondary schools, and its job fields have to offer. These young adults have grown and developed both educationally and socially through a highly computerized lifestyle. Today’s media-driven society has much to offer these young adults by utilizing technological capabilities, directly connecting with the students and their interests while revealing all that Michigan has to offer.

Unfortunately, glaring unemployment rates often obscure the benefits of seeking a postsecondary education and job in Michigan. Using technology to target students while still in high school could help prevent this misconception. Live chats with students at local universities and colleges can provide valuable and accessible insight into “college life.” In the working field, a recorded “day in the life” of a Michigan employee, from surgeons to stock analysts, hair stylists to electrical engineers, can help promote the prospective working realities of Michigan.

Many define Michigan by its automobile manufacturing and engineering, yet few realize all of the job opportunities that remain in ever-growing demand. With a technology based society comes the need for further development, growth, and protection. Cyber security and biomedical engineering are just a few fields of study that involve technological skills and innovative ideas that many young graduates have the potential to contribute.

However, too many graduates continue to leave the state, fearing that even after pursuing higher education they will not successfully obtain a job position. More businesses could offer internships and other positions for graduates that do not yet possess “field experience.". Fresh opinions and ideas will drive Michigan, its businesses, and its economy forward, and such perspectives can be offered most effectively by the Michigan graduates who have grown up immersed in this culture and society.

This nation embodies a technology-driven lifestyle. Who better to advance such developments in Michigan than the young graduates who already understand them so well?

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Krystal
Last Name:  Holmes
City:  Southfield
School:  Southfield-Lathrup High School
Essay:  One of the first and most important things that come to mind once a student graduates from college is where to get a job. The worst feeling in the world is spending all those years in college, finally getting your degree and you find out that no one is hiring in your profession. This is the number one factor pushing graduates out of the state of Michigan. There are many things that can be improved upon to keep people “coming back for more.”

First and foremost, Michigan should bring in jobs that people like. Recently, the cinema business that was building up in Michigan has started to move out and I know for a fact that some graduates were just coming out of college ready to take those jobs. This would have been a great addition to the state of Michigan because it’s unique and not found anywhere else in the Midwest. Most movie business is either out in California or New York, there is nothing in between. Now these graduates will have to move to those states to put their degrees to good use. I think a key to keeping graduates in Michigan is to make sure there are different types of jobs for everybody. Everyone might not have a job, but there should be jobs available in all careers and venues of interest.

Another approach to this problem would be to make the state more attractive, physically and ideally. For example, more money should be put towards cities that need it most. A city with high crime rates and a poor appearance is what needs to be improved. A state is only as good as its worst city. There should be days during the year dedicated to beautifying a city or part of a city. Volunteers are out there and are willing to help.

More money should also be given to schools because Michigan’s students are Michigan’s future. Education is the key to successful future. Speaking of education, Michigan could keep graduates here by opening up opportunities and creating jobs within the research programs that go on at the various universities. Michigan has great colleges with lots to offer and if we could make our research marketable and make ideas into a reality, we could show our potential and get people to invest in this state.

There’s a saying that goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat forever.” From a personal aspect, we (as a state) need to encourage graduates, not just give them the tools they need to succeed. We need to not just give them an education, but give them a reason to use that education. Graduates tend to stay in places where they were first motivated and inspired. Michigan is such an awesome state that has produced some of the most accomplished and distinguished people in history and I believe we can keep them here to keep Michigan moving forward.



Brightest and Best
First Name:  Stephanie
Last Name:  Zinner
City:  Harrison Twp. , MI
School:  Faith Christian School, Clinton Twp.
Essay:  In a young child’s life he is not always thinking about the future. Of course, a child thinks about what he wants to be when he grows up, but that is not the number one worry in his life. A child wants to be satisfied now, in this very moment. Satisfaction comes partly by what you are surrounded by. A great childhood experience makes it more likely that he will want to experience it again as an adult. If he his born and raised in Michigan, he will want to stay in Michigan; unless, Michigan has nothing left to offer. The grown and graduated child will need reason to stay. Michigan’s terrain, pride, and opportunity are three reasons that young graduates should remain living and working in Michigan.
With the Great Lakes surrounding it, Michigan has much to offer. The Great Lakes provide fresh water and entertainment to Michiganders. Like the Pure Michigan commercials say, the terrain that a person gets to experience are nothing short of enjoyable. Beside the bi polar weather that Michigan has, there is a perfect climate. The four seasons consist of summers that are full of fun in the sun, colorful falls that transition into comical winters, and springs that are full of beautiful, blooming gardens. The surroundings that Michigan provides are the not the only reason a young graduate should stay. The pride that comes with being a Michigander is another reason.
Michigan has a lot to be proud of. We have some of the top medical physicians and great education. We have physicians that are asked to teach all around the world, and who choose to base their careers in Michigan. They are using their engineering degrees and medical degrees to do state of the art surgeries and more. This is the place for people to come and be taken care of. Michigan teachers are also highly rated, and the campuses are enviable. There is a high expectation for graduates here. I am very grateful for my Christian education. There are entrepreneurial opportunities in school and universities in Michigan. Now, there is such a diversity of degrees that any job is possible in Michigan.
Michigan is full of opportunity. I think that the mentality of young minds needs to be changed. Young people have been filled with the fact that there are no jobs left in Michigan, but there are “Now Hiring” signs all around. Sure working at McDonalds is not the glamorous start to a career, but who gets an internship right out of high school? College and a successful career is the next step once a young person graduates high school, but do they have a goal that applies far into the future? Young graduates need reason to stay. When Governor Snyder gets the tax base under control, then businesses will then be able to hire more people, more families will be secure, and we will have more income in our paychecks. Therefore, more graduates will want to stay.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Joseph
Last Name:  Biglin
City:  Grosse Pointe
School:  Grosse Pointe South
Essay:  Throughout my childhood I would travel about Michigan over the many seasons. My parents and siblings would load up my dad’s white, dirt-splattered Ford Excursion Limited and drive, drive, drive to Brighton, Cheboygan, Crisp Point, all the way to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. I enjoyed these adventures, as we called them. On the first day of school, I and my classmates would be asked to write about our breaks. This would happen after nearly every vacation. My classmates would respond with “Florida,” “California,” “Colorado,” “Europe,” “the Bahamas,” (among others) ad nauseum. For a long time I was jealous of them. I wanted to go the Disneyland and to sugar-sand beaches and to the Eiffel Tower.
The problem, my problem—the jealousy—disappeared as I matured. It was merely derivative of lack of knowledge. Not to devalue the wonder of the aforementioned sites outside of Michigan—they are all magnificent and interesting in their own right—but, these places are overrated. This problem I had as a child is the same dilemma young people graduating high school and college and trade school and graduate school face. We—they and I—all live in Michigan our whole lives, dreaming of a place where the grass is greener, the water cleaner, the beaches less rocky, the cities grander.
This is the fundamental problem I have met: young Michiganders have no interest in staying in an area that they have for such a duration “endured” and dreamed of escaping. It is a bleak thought, but many view the state as a wasteland in which they feel isolated, trapped. Once they leave state, they imagine entering a whole new frontier physically and mentally, facing new adventures that will surely put their collective pasts to “shame.”
What must be done is to inspire interest in Michigan at the root: childhood. My family dragged me around the state for years in order for me to finally appreciate my home. Appreciation, now, meaning taking the state for more than face value—not feeling irrational pride. I admire the history, the scenery, the possible excursions to be had, and, at the same time, understand the plaguing problems. Michigan must become more than a birthplace; Michigan must become a source of wonder and inspiration. Education should be harnessed, both physical and mental.
To revitalize interest starts now. There is no monetary value one can place on a feeling: we do not need to sell our state to the world, to ourselves. This is because love does not have a price. Instead of subsidizing businesses and praying for new trends to appear, we need to demonstrate to the children—the future of Michigan—Michigan’s worth. It starts with the grasp between two hands, a sense of adventure, and a simple step forward.
Take a kid on a trip around the state; explore. If some vein of inspiration is tapped, the child might just grow into a graduate who wishes to stay in his home state, like me.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Shelby
Last Name:  Turner
City:  Wayne
School:  Henry Ford Academy
Essay:  The burdens of the present tend to fall on the youth of the future. This is the case with Michigan’s financial crises. The older generation, our parents, caused debt that we, as students, will have to deal with. Although they are trying to fix their mistakes, the time needed to make these changes is long and far reaching. The young generation will eventually have to deal with these problems. Our state will need smart people to help push for the outcome outlined by Rick Snyder’s new campaign: “Move Michigan Forward.” The people with the best knowledge of Michigan, and how to improve it, come from within the state itself.
Our schools and universities help teach and inform students of the growing political and economic concerns. This gives students the best tools to battle the crises and they are able to choose jobs that make a difference. We need to encourage these young graduates to remain within Michigan so that they can help benefit the state. Colleges and universities offer job fairs and job placement organizations that should encourage in-state placements. We need students to work in many different fields. These fields involve the automotive industry, the discovery of new power sources such as, wind or solar, and the business industry.
A leading force in the stimulation of Michigan’s economy is the small business owner. We need smart, determined, and creative entrepreneurs to help stimulate the economy. If they can survive the financial struggles they help provide new money circulation and jobs within the state. Another reason to keep students within Michigan is the overflowing debt. We need new ideas on ways to cut costs and relieve some of the state’s accumulated debt. Young graduates add a new voice in Michigan’s business industry.
Not only does our state need the financial input of entrepreneurs. Michigan also needs big businesses to jump start our economy. The biggest businesses in the state are the automotive companies. They provide thousands of jobs and provide Michigan with one of its largest exports. It is important that our state utilizes its own assets and that people recognize the importance of them. Funding and working for these businesses is the best way to help them prosper. As a result the economy will also prosper.
We must keep our graduates involved and interested in the welfare of their state. Michigan will come out on top as long as it is supported by thoughtful and innovative minds. The state must encourage the engineers, the scientists, the businessmen, and many other types of graduates to remain where their new ideas are encouraged. It is vital that we “Move Michigan Forward” towards a better economy created by the youths of the age.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Roxanne
Last Name:  Daban
City:  Warren
School:  Cousino High School
Essay:  The standard of living in many states functions similarly to a sinusoidal wave; there are times when the standard increases and times where it decreases. Currently, Michigan is at a point where the standard of living is decreasing and heading for a record low. The education department faces major budget cuts, home values are declining, and citizens fear the possibility of unemployment. Many students graduate every year with the intention of avoiding these problems; however, they do so by leaving the state and relocating to states that offer more opportunities. Let us imagine Michigan as one giant clock full of gears and springs. As it stands now, Michigan lacks several gears: some small, some large. Because it lacks these gears, Michigan is stuck in a time full of struggles and uncertainty. Once citizens, especially young graduates, replace those gears, Michigan can continue to move forward towards better times and a brighter future. The smaller gears are usually daily struggles or worries. The environment, for example, poses problems for citizens as it reflects the capabilities of the state. Take a drive through Detroit or other major cities in Michigan, and we find garbage decorating the streets and buildings rotten by time. If we continue to allow our cities to be built with garbage, it gives the impression that we are filth. By creating programs and groups designed to clean up the streets and renew old buildings, we can maintain a clean environment which truly reflects the young graduates of today and the future: bright and powerful. Small gears such as cleaning the environment set the most important small gears in place: young graduates. Although these gears are small, they do not act individually; with all the smaller gears in place, they act together to get the bigger gears moving. By keeping young graduates in Michigan, we keep the brightest and best students each with their own talents, strengths, and ideas. With all these graduates working together, we can start a big movement in Michigan. Major companies from around the world develop new technology every day, and recent generations have developed a reliance on technology. While working to create innovative piece of technology from scratch would be a great leap for Michigan, we should focus on what we have now: the automotive industry. While it has had major financial struggles throughout the past years, the automotive industry has potential for change and improvement. Young graduates can work together to learn about new technology and how to use the technology in developing ways to integrate it into automobiles. Alternative energy, for example, is an area full of potential. With young graduates researching alternative energy for automotives as well as integrating modern technology and automobiles, we can work toward restoring the Motor City’s status.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Tyler
Last Name:  Tabenske
City:  Clinton Township
School:  Chippewa Valley High School
Essay:  Young people enter the job market every day, filled with enthusiasm and ready to face new challenges. They play a vital role in Michigan’s economy: baby boomers are beginning to age, meaning that there should be plenty of job openings for graduating students. Right?
In theory, these jobs are becoming obsolete through a process known as creative destruction. As technology moves forward, certain jobs become unnecessary through new production techniques that lower costs. While the labor is no longer necessary, everyone benefits through lower prices of the produced good. In the old job’s place, a new job is created through another advance in technology.
The problem right now is that there is plenty of destruction, but a lack of creation. Naturally, the recession is the first thing people will blame. Today, the economy is recovering, yet jobs are still not being created – and that is the biggest hurdle the state faces.
The way to keep young people here in Michigan is to facilitate economic growth. In the 1950’s, a time of great economic prosperity, businesses would have job fairs at high schools in order to snatch up the most qualified students they could; now a high school graduate stands little chance of receiving a job at all, let alone one that can support a family. There is a lack of opportunity for young people, putting them at a disadvantage. In short, there are few economic incentives to stay.
For example, the Michigan Promise Scholarships is no longer available; one way to keep high school graduates in the state has been cut due to a lack of funding. This impacts the state negatively in two respects. To start, the cancellation of this program means that college-bound high school seniors that score high on the MME no longer have an incentive to go to school in state, meaning that there is a higher outflow of talented individuals that could create new jobs here in Michigan in the future. In addition, the lack of a reward for doing well on the MME leads to less concern for the exam, bringing forth lackluster performances that underestimate the abilities of the Michigan education system.
Michigan has focused too strongly on being seen as “The Motor City,” and needs to diversify. When the automotive industry collapsed, Michigan bore much of the burden, hurting not only the areas around Detroit, but also the entire state. The state needs to focus on giving incentives to businesses and consumers through changes in both taxes and subsidies. It is the only state to experience negative population growth since the last US Census, and can’t afford to lose any more potential entrepreneurs. The new Michigan business tax is a start, giving incentives for businesses to grow, but there is still much room for improvement. Michigan has the potential to return to greatness – it just needs a push in the right direction.

Brightest and Best
First Name:  Benjamin
Last Name:  Froehlich
City:  Ann Arbor
School:  Greenhills
Essay:  The Power of Greatness
Michigan has known greatness. Fueled by the auto industry, this state was once a thriving land of plenty, where jobs where numerous and well-paid, and the economy was not only healthy but robust. Most importantly, Michigan had a worldwide reputation for success. This kind of status inevitably brought capital, confidence, and above all bright minds to the state, and thus created a self-perpetuating cycle of economic strength. Like a company, to attract the individuals and investments necessary for growth, Michigan must once again convince others to believe, and believe itself, that this state is a sound investment. Becoming a brand known for success, as Michigan has been in the past, is essential to retaining today’s elite graduates.
First and foremost, Michigan will draw talent to itself only if it can project an aura of greatness strong enough to convince others, and ourselves, that we will succeed. History shows that above all else, a state in tatters needs a dynamic, unifying leader. The Great Depression was mended by two factors: deficit spending and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Spending will do little to help Michigan because it is a tool to erase a recession, not build an economy. The personality of Roosevelt, however, was equally important in reasserting America’s confidence in the free market and thus willingness to spend money. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats,” a steady personality, and the ceaseless projection of courage were invaluable in reversing an otherwise intractable cycle of pessimism and economic recession. Michigan has not had such a transcendent, unifying leader for many years. A helmsman of this caliber is essential to establish the confidence necessary to attract tomorrow’s workers and businessmen.
A force equally capable of drawing top-notch talent is top-notch employers. Greatness in industry, as we know from experience with auto companies, carry the weight necessary to make Michigan a place where workers and companies want to do business. My hometown, Ann Arbor, used to host a research center of top drug company Pfizer. This brand name brought with it the feeling of success, not to mention jobs and tax dollars, and contributed to the strength of the Ann Arbor brand. When the local plant was closed to little resistance from Michigan politicians, Ann Arbor was seen as a failure, an attitude that only increased the impossible task of replacing such a pillar of economic strength. Michigan can reap lasting benefits by granting tax incentives and other concessions to big businesses. The government should take every available action to bring industry titans to the state, and force the stubborn heavyweights we have, the auto companies, to adapt to a market that has left them and us behind. The greatness of big business is an invaluable gift to offer the great minds of tomorrow.

 
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