Ann Marie's All Stars: School counselor connects students with opportunities through website

DETROIT (WXYZ) - This week we’re honoring a Detroit counselor who quit her job because she knew she could make a bigger impact.

The average high school counselor in Michigan has more than 700 students.  As a counselor, Justine Sheu realized she could not effectively help all of her Detroit students, but today she’s helping thousands all with the click of a button.

“Imagine you don’t have a lot of guidance from home,” Sheu said. “Either you don’t have people in your family who have finished college and your school itself is strapped for resources.”

That’s when she created Pro Up – a website connecting students with endless opportunities in southeast Michigan.

“She had a career in the public school system here in Detroit where she was actually counseling young student and not finding very good resources to be able to do that,” Carolyn Cassin President and CEO of the Michigan Women’s Foundation said. “So she came up with an idea that she needed to connect students with opportunities.”

Sheu knew how many amazing companies, organizations and colleges wanted to provide summer programs, internships and scholarships to students especially those in Detroit.

“All students say is, this is what I do, this is where I live, these are my career interests and they start to get personalized text notifications each time an opportunity in their area is posted that matches their interest,” Sheu said.

She says there are so many students who don’t even know these opportunities exist because they all get funneled through a counselor bottle neck in the schools.

This is her way of making sure students don’t fall through the cracks.

“What I recognized is that my students were just not exposed to the right types of early career experiences that would help really inform their future decisions,” she said.

Since Pro Up’s launch in July, it has already connected hundreds of students with life changing opportunities.

“It makes me feel like I have to power to do in the things that I’m interested in,” 9th grader Alia Cummings said.

Sheu says this is her life’s mission.

“That is so beyond the scope of what I as one individual could do,” she said.

Congratulations Justine! We want to know who’s going above and beyond in our school. To nominate someone for Ann Marie’s All Stars email annmarie.laflamme@wxyz.com.

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