A volunteer with the Edwardsburg Area Historical Museum since January, 2019, Marie Gruver is a member of the Edwardsburg High School Class of 2020. The essay below is being submitted by Marie as part of her college applications. It originally was penned to qualify for the high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and the museum thanks her and her family for generously allowing it to be published on our website.
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
I have always loved history. However, I never could have imagined how much this love could affect myself, my community, or even my heritage. Over the past year I have volunteered at my local historical society in my hometown of Edwardsburg, Michigan. In the short time that I’ve volunteered, I have learned so much about the history of my town as well as myself.
To qualify for my school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, I needed to find a community service opportunity. At first, I wanted to help at the animal shelter like many of my friends. However, my mom suggested I try our local museum since I loved history. After volunteering my required hours, I knew I couldn’t just stop there. Ever since then, I still come in to help out almost every other week. Using my love for history and the opportunity to give back to the community was definitely a “win-win” for me.
While donating my time at the museum, I was able to find a place in my community. The museum is currently run by longtime residents of Edwardsburg who didn’t feel comfortable using modern technology. I was able to help them transfer all of their paper obituaries onto an electronic database and catalog their entire library and collection.
Whenever I went to the museum it was a time for me to learn more about my hometown of Edwardsburg. I’m first-generation Edwardsburg resident on either of my parents’ sides. Many of the people I know in Edwardsburg have had family who’s lived in the area for generations; or at least one of their parents attended the high school. Unlike them, I never felt as attached to Edwardsburg. As the ladies at the museum shared stories and family heirlooms, they and the people in their stories became my family. While I learned about my town’s heritage, it became my own. The people in the stories I heard, extended me a branch into their shared heritage. Their stories soon became mine and it became something I have cherished ever since.
Just because the people in Edwardsburg aren’t exactly related to me, it doesn’t mean we don’t share the same heritage. I have come to the realization that it isn’t necessary have blood relatives in a place to be able to call it your home. My family wasn’t originally from here, but we have been adopted into Edwardsburg by the most simplest of terms: friendship. And I’ve since realized that someone doesn’t need to be your blood-relative to be your family. Family is what you make it, and for me, the people of Edwardsburg are my family.
The one activity that I could keep doing for the rest of my life is music. Both of my parents are music teachers which has allowed me to be surrounded by it my entire life. When I had the opportunity to join my school’s band program, it was an obvious decision for me to do so. Since the beginning, I have made some of the best memories and friends in my life. In college I want to continue my passion for music and to join whatever marching band program it may offer. I believe that when you find “that thing” you love, it’s important to never let it go. And for me, “that thing” is music.
A community that I belong to is my high school’s marching band. Joining the band was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made. As the section leader of the drumline I have had a great opportunity to set an example for the underclassmen in the band below me. I have also been privileged to assist in teaching the first-year band members and to encourage them to find their talents and passions. As the band grows and participates in competitions, watching the unity of our community brings me great pride. Personally I no longer believe that we are just a community, in fact, we’re a family.
The University of Michigan is my first choice in furthering my education. Many of the unique qualities that attract me to the University’s LSA college is its prestigious and rigorous Classical History program; it is one of the best. I also desire to attend a university that will challenge me. Michigan’s coursework is rigorous and thorough, which is just what I need to get the most out of my education as a Classics major. As a high achieving student, I am looking for a university that will challenge me. I know I will be pushed to achieve at the University of Michigan.
There are many aspects of Michigan’s facilities that drew me to the university. Its massive papyri collection, multiple libraries and Kelsey Museum are extremely intriguing and exciting for me as a prospective student. I look forward to being part of a program that will allow me to study abroad as well as being able to take advantage of the many internship programs that it might offer. Having met with a Michigan graduate and hearing his raving reviews of how supportive and knowledgeable the professors are, only makes me more excited to attend the university in the fall.