HIGH Program's first grad recounts help she received

January 29, 2018

Walking across the stage at Commencement was an important event in Khari Dickey’s life. It signalled the completion of a goal that she had worked hard to achieve since childhood.

“I was raised by my mother in a single-parent home,” Dickey remembered. “She wanted me to be successful, and instilled in me the importance of commitment, dedication, sacrifice and working very hard to achieve your dreams.”

Throughout high school, Dickey was a high academic performer and frequent volunteer. She surrounded herself with friends who were also committed to a higher standard.

Following graduation, Dickey charted a new course, pursuing a bachelor’s in kinesiology at Wayne State University. Dependent upon financial aid and working as a student assistant, the financial challenges were daunting but seemed manageable — that is, until the summer of 2013.

“I was really stretched financially. My financial aid didn’t cover the summer course that I needed, and I had an outstanding tuition bill,” Dickey said. “I was close to not being able to support myself. Just getting by day to day was a challenge. I knew that I had to do something, but I was at a loss knowing what options, if any, were available and workable.”

Dickey faced the realization that she may have to drop out for at least a semester — maybe much longer. She knew that she was at a crossroads, but soon found a Wayne State program that would provide the help she needed.

Jacqueline Wilson, Wayne State’s first lady, founded the HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher) Program in 2013 to help financially stressed students reach their goal to graduate. The program provides resources for students in need, such as housing support, textbooks and other school supplies, clothing, transportation, and child-care assistance. The program’s assistance helped Dickey focus on her studies and reach her goals.

“Through someone at Wayne State, I met Mrs. Wilson and shared my story with her about the financial challenges I was facing, and my goals,” Dickey said. “The assistance that the HIGH Program provided allowed me to continue on and ultimately finish my degree.”

As the first student graduate of the HIGH Program, Dickey received her bachelor’s in 2014 and now supports the program as a volunteer.

“I kind of view myself as an ambassador for the HIGH Program. I want to continue giving back and spreading the word about their mission, about what a blessing they were for me and the hope they offer to students like me that didn’t know about any other options. I am so grateful.”

Dickey recently graduated from Western Michigan University with a master’s in exercise and sports medicine. She is currently pursuing a clinical career in exercise physiology at an area hospital.

Residing in metro Detroit, she still maintains ties with the Wayne State community — especially the HIGH Program, which she calls one of her top priorities. “There are probably hundreds of students who are at the crossroads financially, struggling to get by. The HIGH Program is a great resource for them.”

Dickey encourages students to stay focused and explore all options, while holding fast to three points of advice: “Don’t give up easily, reach out as much as possible, and stay positive.”

For more information about Wayne State University’s HIGH Program, visit