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Saturday September 20, 2014
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Ann Arborite Kate MacEwen

 

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A dramatic life change led MacEwen to work in the struggling human services sector. A child of privilege, she attended an elite private high school in Dayton, where her idea of deprivation was having to drive her grandmother's 1981 Buick Skylark.

"Some of my classmates drove Jaguars," she explains. "But my parents tried to imbue some humility in me."

While she "got a ton of grief" from her classmates, the lesson didn't really take. "I used to be judgmental of people who had to rely on food stamps and Medicaid," she remembers. Looking at her parents' prosperity, she figured that anyone who worked hard would be "all right" in America.

Her life and attitude changed dramatically her senior year at the U-M, where she majored in voice and political science. Her insurance executive father started a new business--which soon went bust in the post-9/11 recession. Not long after, her parents divorced. "The house I grew up in sold at short sale," MacEwen says. "My mom took a job at Walmart." When her mother developed medical problems and missed work, she struggled to make car payments until MacEwen took them over.

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