Student Stories

Maya Hawthorne

Maya Hawthorne
Hometown: Chicago
Year: Fourth
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Economics and International Spanish

On-Campus Involvement

  • Alpha Phi Omega
  • Racial Justice involvement
  • Canterbury House

Why do you come to CDI?

It's a safe spot for me to hang out and express myself.

Why did you choose Michigan Tech

They have a great mechanical engineering program and so much snow.

How would you describe your experience at Tech so far?

It's been great overall, but a little bit of a struggle when it comes to race and gender.

What would you say to a prospective student who is thinking about coming to Tech?

It's a great school, but takes some getting used to for students of a more diverse background.

On-Campus Involvement

  • Alpha Phi Omega
  • Racial Justice involvement
  • Canterbury House

Why do you come to CDI?

It's a safe spot for me to hang out and express myself.



Madison Diehl

Madison Diehl

Year: Fourth year (on the five-year plan)
Major: Chemical Engineering

On-Campus Involvement

  • Member of the Michigan Tech Dance Team (acting treasurer)
  • SWE member, Resident Assistant (spring 2016—present)
  • Alternative Energy Enterprise Biofuels Team
  • MiCUP alumni
  • Participant in 2015 Fall Academic Research Program

Don’t try to conquer all your challenges alone. CDI can be your safe place and your champion to help you reach your goals, too!

Why do you come to CDI?

I started at CDI during MiCUP in the summer before my official first semester. MiCUP was an opportunity to get into university research and other resources that were not available at my community college. During this time, I helped graduate students in Dr. Brad King’s lab with their work on carbon-filled polymer composites. At the end of MiCUP I gave a poster presentation on my experience and what I learned in another experience I didn’t have access to at my community college.

All along the way I had CDI's guidance to help answer questions or ease concerns. CDI’s guidance introduced me to the Fall Academic Research (FAR) program to which I applied and was accepted. This program was another opportunity to get involved in research, which again, I did not have the chance to do at my community college. During this time, I worked in Dr. Adrienne Minerick’s Medical Microdevice—Engineering Research Laboratory (MD-ERL) with dielectric responses of human mesenchymal stem cells.

At the end of this program, I had gained more experience in a laboratory setting and wrote a proposal to continue this research in the summer through the Student Undergraduate Research Funding (SURF). My proposal from the FAR program was one of the few proposals selected for funding.

But the credit is not all mine. CDI provided me with resources and workshops, support and guidance that helped me build the best proposal that I could.

CDI has been the home base for me as I began my transition from a community college student to a university student.

All along the way, I had people to talk to about my struggles with my transition, to connect me to the correct individuals, and support my endeavors. CDI is a safe place to ask questions and ask for help.

At a technological university, I am surrounded by brilliant people. Asking for help can be hard sometimes. Especially when it seems as if everyone has it figured out but you! I come to CDI because I get the support I need from them and the opportunities to thrive, even as a transfer student.

Why did you choose Michigan Tech?

It was between University of Michigan and Michigan Tech. Doing research proved that either would be a prestigious school to get a degree from, which made the decision even harder. Deciding factors for me were my graduation timeline and cost of attendance. I knew I could get scholarships from Michigan Tech to help me pay my way through. I was given a scholarship based on merit, and just for being a transfer student!

I also wanted to integrate into school and graduate as quickly as possible. Tech and my community college have a partnership that made transferring extremely smooth. They both did a wonderful job. I was able to transfer about 95 percent of my credits from my community college to use for my degree.

I was able to start my transition from Delta College to Tech in summer 2015 when I was accepted into MiCUP (Michigan College/University Partnership Program) that CDI administers at Tech during the summer before I began as a full-time student. This program introduced me to faculty that I would be working with in my department, allowed me to take a three-credit class to go toward my degree, and let me experience the area to see if it was a good fit for me. This program was extremely impactful and opened up numerous doors for me with all of the relationships I have built through the MiCUP program. Getting that kind of experience before I dove into the school year made choosing Tech an easy decision.

How would you describe your experience at Tech so far?

I cannot believe the amount of experience I have had in just a year. I have been a part of two different undergraduate research projects, I have been hired as a university employee as a Resident Assistant which is a job I really enjoy, I have joined an enterprise team (Alternative Energy Enterprise Biofuels), I have made great friends and study groups, and am part of two student organizations! With all of these experiences, my experience at Tech thus far has been a busy one. There is so much going on all the time that I am able to get involved in, in addition to classes. I have a full-time student’s course load and I have a full social life. I don’t feel as if I am lacking any forum to express myself and make me happy.

At Tech I feel fulfilled. I have avenues to explore and express myself.

All of these opportunities allow me to find many different groups, peers that I identify with and who help me in all types of ways.

What would you say to a prospective student who is thinking about coming to Tech?

Just come and check it out. Sign up with housing to be part of the Husky Host program—get a chance to see what it is like to be a student in the residence halls for a night. It is a great way to see what you will experience if you attend school here.

Also, assess what your personal and academic goals are. What do you want to accomplish? What student organizations do you want to be a part of? See if Tech can fulfill your vision! I am very confident that Tech can give you all kinds of opportunities to reach your goals. Do you want to be in undergraduate research, or be a published author on a research paper? Do you want to be a part of a collegiate sports team or a Super Smash club?

Regardless of whether you choose Tech or not, make sure that the school you attend has what you are interested in. If you do choose to attend Tech, use CDI as a resource. There are a lot of things that make attending school difficult. Don’t try to conquer all your challenges alone. CDI can be your safe place and your champion to help you reach your goals, too!

On-Campus Involvement

  • Member of the Michigan Tech Dance Team (acting treasurer)
  • SWE member, Resident Assistant (spring 2016—present)
  • Alternative Energy Enterprise Biofuels Team
  • MiCUP alumni
  • Participant in 2015 Fall Academic Research Program

Don’t try to conquer all your challenges alone. CDI can be your safe place and your champion to help you reach your goals, too! 



Ronald Kyllonen

Ronald KyllonenHometown: Berville, Michigan
Year: Third
Major: Mechanical Engineering

On-Campus Involvement:

Why do you come to CDI?

To socialize and to find help with on-campus resources.

Why did you choose Michigan Tech?

The quality of the school and its proximity to a reservation.

How would you describe your experience at Tech so far?

Difficult and life-changing, but fun.

What would you say to a prospective student who is thinking about coming to Tech?

Be prepared for a difficult few years, but remember to enjoy it as well.

On-Campus Involvement:

Why do you come to CDI?

To socialize and to find help with on-campus resources.



Justin Regina

Justin ReginaHometown: New Buffalo, Michigan
Year: Second
Major: Physics and Computer Science
Minor: Spanish and Astrophysics

Area of Interest

Automotive security testing and Cyber Security

On-Campus Involvement

  • Treasurer of Keweenaw Pride

Why do you come to CDI?

As a member of the queer community I sought out a safe space that would allow me to give myself to self-expression and acceptance. I enjoy the breadth of individuals that I encounter when I go into CDI.

Why did you choose Michigan Tech?

The location and the fact that there is a ski hill right next to it. Also the hiring rate.

How would you describe your experience at Tech so far?

I love Michigan Tech. I have had mostly only good experiences. The community is a lot more accepting than you would initially think because of the isolation and primary composite of students.

What would you say to a prospective student who is thinking about coming to Tech?

I have had individuals from my hometown ask if I would recommend coming to Tech, and I have said most definitely. It is a great school that is more accepting, in my experience, than I would have initially expected.

On-Campus Involvement

  • Treasurer of Keweenaw Pride

Why do you come to CDI?

As a member of the queer community I sought out a safe space that would allow me to give myself to self-expression and acceptance. I enjoy the breadth of individuals that I encounter when I go into CDI.