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Dai-Zhanie Plummer

Moving to Big Rapids to attend Ferris State University was like coming to a "foreign land" for Detroit native Dai-Zhanie Plummer.

She had never seen horse and buggies before arriving in Big Rapids and she was surprised by how many people wore camo clothing.

"Growing up in the city people more or less stick to themselves, so when I moved to Ferris and everyone came up and greeted me, it was a whole new experience with everyone being so friendly."

It was the first of many positive experiences during Dai-Zhanie's time at Ferris, but her journey here wasn't easy.

"A lot of people didn't think I would even attend college," she said. "Just for me to come to college was a big accomplishment."

Dai-Zhanie came from a low-income background, but made the most of her opportunities. She applied for Michigan's Tuition Incentive Program, which encourages high school completion by helping to pay college tuition. Ferris' TIP Scholar program supports the recruitment, retention and graduation of students who receive the TIP scholarship. It is designed to help recipients become successful college students.

After graduating from Oak Park High School, Dai-Zhanie sought a degree program that would build on the hands-on experience in audio production she gained in high school.

"I decided on Ferris because their Music Industry Management program is like no other in the United States," she said. "Ferris is top notch because you get hands-on experience, which is one thing that stood out for me."

Graduates of the College of Business program earn a Bachelor of Science, which Dai-Zhanie did in May. Music technology was one of her favorite classes, where she learned about sound reinforcement, electrical instruments, recording techniques and other technical aspects.

"At the end of the class, we received hands-on experience being a recording engineer by recording our own song in the laboratory with an artist of our choice," she said.

In addition to her classwork she also worked as the studio manager for Bulldog Radio.

"I made sure the shows were running smoothly and that we were getting nice signals on air in order to build up our FM audience," she said. "Sometimes I actually had the opportunity to do my own show, so I had a chance to play my own music and talk to the audience, which was a great experience."

Lori Armstrong, MIM Administrative Assistant, said Dai-Zhanie was a "model student," who was involved in many activities, from deejaying at athletic events to working at the Bulldog Radio and in the MIM laboratory.

"Her positive attitude and energy motivated others to get involved," Armstong said, who credited Dai-Zhanie with organizing songwriting workshops and potlucks held during talent showcases."

Armstrong said is especially proud of Dai-Zhanie, because she chose to pursue a career in the recording industry, a predominately male occupied field.

"There are not a lot of women in the professional field, so it's a bit of a challenge," Dai-Zhanie said. "It takes a lot to prove you're knowledgeable about the industry and the business in general and that you know how to use the equipment."

Dai-Zhanie also understands the importance of setting goals. One of the goals she set was to become the studio manager for the MIM recording laboratory, a position never before held by a female student. The position involves teaching other MIM students how to use the lab's resources, which includes synthesizers, sequencers, soundboards and other industry-standard equipment and software.

"I remember telling a friend my freshman year that I wanted to be the MIM studio manager before I graduate, and she didn't think I would be able to do it," Dai-Zhanie said. "The moment my advisor told me I would be the studio manager my senior year was the greatest."

Program coordinator and associate professor Daniel Cronk said Dai-Zhanie has "the perfect blend of academic prowess, people skills and creativity."

While Dai-Zhanie has achieved much during her four years at Ferris, she also faced difficult times, including the September 2014 loss of her grandmother. One of her grandmother's dreams was to see Dai-Zhanie become the first college graduate in her family. When she visited her in the hospital, Dai-zhanie assured her grandmother that she would be.

"It was a stab in the heart when my grandmother passed, but it also gave me the motivation to continue," Dai-Zhanie said. "Even though she's not here, somehow I hope that she will know I did it; I made it to the end and I walked across that stage."

Dai-Zhanie will use her production skills this summer as an intern at Chene Park, a popular waterfront concert venue in the heart of downtown Detroit. After she completes her internship, she hopes to get a job working in a studio doing production and writing songs. She eventually would like to start a recording facility for under-privileged youth, where they can learn about production and the recording industry.

"I want to teach them how to do these things, so they can gain the education and knowledge to grow, and they can accomplish anything they put their mind to," she said.

Last updated: 05-27-2015