1.7 to 3.9. That number represents the incredible leap Jenna Gilbert’s GPA took from her freshman year in high school to her recent graduation from Macomb.
“When I was in high school, I always had an issue with learning,” explains Gilbert. Due to a difficult childhood experience, she forgot how to read in third grade, contributing to her later academic struggles. She went on to graduate with a 2.9 GPA.
Upon coming to Macomb, something “clicked.” Gilbert discovered she liked the emphasis on self-reliance; that college placed the onus on her to complete her work. She was also grateful for the support she received from Macomb’s faculty.
“All of my professors, right off the bat, really encouraged me to be better,” says Gilbert. “They give you almost personal pats on the back whenever you get a good grade.”
Early on, Gilbert planned to major in nursing or follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue a degree in social work. Gilbert took a special interest in her mother’s required continuing education studies, especially anything involving psychology, such as brain and behavior or drugs. After taking two of Professor Paulina Multhaupt’s classes, Abnormal Psychology and Brain and Behavior, Gilbert had a transformative moment.
“I think she’s one of the reasons where I was like, ‘Okay, you know what? I really like psychology,’” says Gilbert. “I should probably stop messing around with social work and just do it.”
Professor Multhaupt also helped Gilbert come to a personal realization: Perhaps she needed a little outside help to take charge of her life. On the first day of Brain and Behavior, Multhaupt advised students not to self-diagnose themselves. As is often the case with psychology students, Gilbert didn’t heed her professor’s advice. Their ensuing conversation, along with Multhaupt’s “no judgement” demeanor, gently helped Gilbert understand that she needed to place emphasis on her well-being and see a therapist. She appreciated having someone who could listen to her problems and help her address them.
“Even if going to therapy means you’re losing an hour of studying,” notes Gilbert, “It’s more than worth it in the long run.”
The payoff became readily apparent when Gilbert participated in December’s commencement ceremony. The recent Macomb alumna, who extended her studies into winter semester, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.9 GPA. Gilbert’s academic achievements, which now include a $12,000 scholarship to Wayne State, where she’ll be taking five courses in the fall, frequently bring tears of joy to her eyes.
“I don’t know if I could have done it at a different university, or if I had gone straight to university or a different community college,” concludes Gilbert. “I feel like [Macomb] helped a lot.”