Student Life director shares her story

Courtesy / GVSU News and Info
Michelle Burke

Courtesy / GVSU News and Info Michelle Burke

Hannah Lentz

Director of Student Life Michelle Burke gave an inspirational account of her life to a group of students on Thursday as part of the “Her Story” series at Grand Valley State University.

During her presentation, “Keepin’ it real in a Facebook World,” Burke discussed the clear line between an individual’s social and professional life and the importance of knowing about yourself.

“Getting to know yourself is imperative before you get to know others and can work effectively with others,” Burke said.

She also talked about the hardships of growing up in a broken family and the idea of resilience and doing what you love no matter how you get there.

“Early in life, I could have gone either way,” she said. “I’m glad resilience found me.”

Working 30 hours a week throughout her entire college career, Burke found ways to make things happen and graduated debt-free as an undergraduate. She said that working, even menial jobs at first, is imperative to building skills such as communication and problem-solving techniques.

Burke also talked about her time in Sigma Sigma Sigma and how it gave her a support group that influenced her work and who she is today.

“The sorority was my home away from home,” she said. “It taught me the importance of having a support group and allowed for me to make connections in and out of college.”

The goal of “Her Story” is to encourage students to make the most out of their lives and the time they have—a goal that Burke took to heart.

“I’m thankful for the experiences that Grand Valley has given me and all of the people who have been influential parts of my life,” Burke said. “I want to spread the word to do what it takes to get to where you need to be.”

Before Burke joined GVSU in 2003, she was director of Student Leadership and Activities for Ferris State University. She received a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Florida State University and currently serves as vice president of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.

The “Her Story” series features influential women in leadership roles at GVSU. The event is co-sponsored by the Women’s Center and Women’s Commission and has been occurring for the past 10 years.

“Burke is an example of a woman on campus who can serve to inspire all students,” said Theresa Rowland of the Women’s Center. “She can give advice that will be useful for years to come for all in attendance.”

The next talk will feature Koleta Moore, assistant director of Graduate Business Programs, and will take place from noon to 1 p.m. on Jan. 23 in 2263 Kirkhof Center.