By: Anastasia Dula, Class of '58 researcher and UM-Flint student
Audrey Lattie, a Flint native, was the first person in her family to go to college. She had always known that she wanted to do so, despite her father’s conviction that a college education was a waste of time for a woman (as he surmised that she would simply get married afterward). Lattie began her college career at the Flint Junior College, but could not afford to move away from Flint for her junior and senior years, so she took a year off to work as a secretary while she considered her options for finishing her degree. Within that year, the Flint Journal began to publish articles proclaiming that the University of Michigan was about to establish a senior college in Flint. Excited by this opportunity, she eagerly signed up for classes, untroubled by the newness of the school. She expected a University of Michigan-caliber education, but she does remember that some degree of faith and confidence had to be invested in this new school with no catalog, no program schedule, not even its own building or sidewalks in the beginning.
Lattie did not initially have a future profession in mind when she began her college career—simply attaining a degree was her main objective. She ultimately chose to pursue a history major with a heavy emphasis on English classes in the Teaching Certificate Program, and subsequently taught for several years at Ferndale High School. She went on to obtain her master’s degree and doctorate from Wayne State University, and to teach at Mott Community College for thirty years. Her further forays into the world of academia gave her some perspective on the tiny senior college she had attended, and although she states that she took the college for granted at the time and did not realize that she was a part of something of great historical significance, she did come to appreciate the upsides of attending a very small campus—it afforded personalized attention that would not have been possible at a larger school such as the long-established Wayne State University where she continued her education.
While she attended the Senior College, Lattie received a scholarship that covered tuition and the cost of textbooks, but she still worked while in school: she worked in the Admissions Office one year and she assisted the head of the Junior College’s Social Sciences department during another, in addition to working in a store downtown on the weekends. She also served as secretary-treasurer of the Arrow Society and participated in Bridge Club. As busy as she was, she was one of three students who graduated with high distinction in June of 1958.
I had perfect confidence in this new university. I knew that it had to be up to the quality of the U of M. Students embraced the idea that this is new, this is different, we’re going to try, and it’s going to work. And look where we are now.