Student Success at RHS - Mariah Hill

Student Success - Mariah Hill
Published On: December 10, 2018

Hill, a recent fifth-year senior and now Spartan alumna, came from Southeastern High School in Detroit, which was named in the lowest achieving 5 percent of all public schools in 2016. The transition to college posed a threat for her. Nevertheless, she persisted and set her aspirations high by declaring a major in Special Education and Mathematics.

Thinking she had been equipped and readied for college level classes, she was surprised when professors consistently gave her Bs and Cs.

All she could think was, “I want more.”

Living in McDonel Hall at the time, Hill looked just outside of her residence hall room and set her sights on the neighborhood engagement center. She began utilizing the scads of free tutoring and help rooms.

“I think the resources are amazing,” Hill says. “I come from one of the lowest achieving high schools. For me, I didn’t know transitioning was going to be a big thing academically, but having those resources helped a lot.”

From the Math Learning Center (MLC) guiding her through mathematics classes, The Writing Center at MSU steering her Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures (WRA) classes, the Economics Help Room offering its helping hand and other general academic advising, Hill felt these resources bolstered her success.

“They taught me how to frame what I was doing, center in on what I was writing about, and really organize my thoughts,” she says. “If I didn’t have that, it probably would’ve been really tough for me to go through my WRA and other education classes because I didn’t have that background.”

Though the MLC served as a strong crutch as she struggled through math courses, Hill decided her skills were best served elsewhere and altered her major so she could instead teach language arts.

She deeply involved herself as an engagement center attendee, applied and ultimately accepted a job as a Brody Engagement Center coach so she could help students in the same way she was helped as a struggling first-year student.

“We get so much information as freshmen,” she says. And though it’s hard to pay attention to all the new things being offered to you, Hill liked reminding students of what is available on campus for their benefit.

Hill enjoyed her time on campus so much, she lived on every year.

 “And anywhere I was living, I was in the engagement centers,” she says, laughing.

As she got her feet underneath her and saw significant improvement in her academics, Hill looked for other ways to get involved on campus. Hill had always taken it upon herself to stay active in high school but felt a lack of involvement during her first year at MSU. Her suitemate served as the floor’s resident assistant. It was she who suggested Hill join the Residence Hall Association (RHA).

Hill described the group as an organization that focuses on those who pay tax dollars to them — essentially, RHA is an on-campus government that gives back to more than 15,000 Spartans.

“We build programs and give back funds so communities can put on their own programs for their halls and neighborhoods,” says Hill.

So, she joined and served as representative for Hubbard Hall briefly where she says the most alluring part of her job was planning events for the building. However, she quickly took notice of the absence of African-American students on the executive board.

Because she was able to get the help she needed at the engagement centers, Hill felt academically and mentally prepared for her next big jump in life. She climbed the ranks of the RHA, taking on the role of vice president and ultimately serving a term as president.

“I wanted to be [on the executive board] so that I can represent students of color and really have a seat at the table and give a voice,” she says.

During her time as president, Hill coined the phrase, “give the money away,” and with the help of advising staff, she created the Cash for Change program, which grants $25,000 to any MSU student group on a yearly basis. Eligible groups didn’t need to be a Registered Student Organization — just submit a proposal that explains how the money will be spent.

Her world moved quicker during her time as president as she became well-recognized throughout the university, and her words became more notable as a student.

Hill became a respected and well-known student within the Spartan community. As president of the RHA, she was invited, as a student liaison, to sit in on the Board of Trustees. Hill described this time as invaluable when it came to thinking about college student’s experiences. She became even more intentional with the things she did and for the communities she represented. She was then endorsed to sit on the 2017-18 MSU Homecoming Court by a friend she made in the engagement center her first year.

Hill looks back on her time as a Spartan with pride. She owes being able to participate in impactful programs and roles to getting involved on campus early on. She ended her time as a Spartan with her graduation in May and is currently in South Africa teaching cross-culturally. Come the fall, she will complete her student teaching requirements in Chicago for one year.