Alumni Voices

Helping Others Through Reading

Author and counselor shares the power of books

A person sitting in a chair with a book


icon of a calendarMarch 21, 2024

icon of a pencilBy Laura Cassar

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For Tara Michener, SEHS ‘12, it’s always been about books.

Her grandmother, a teacher and Oakland University Pioneer, made sure reading was important to Michener.

“Growing up in Pontiac, I collected anything I could read, even free flyers,” Michener explains. “My grandma taught me the piles I assembled were not clutter, they were knowledge.”

Sharing knowledge is also important to Michener. She was already a published author when she began attending OU for her master’s degree. Unsure in what area she wanted to get her advanced degree, touring stores to support her books gave her the answer.

“A lot of counselors came to my table to talk to me about my books and how helpful they were; getting a Master of Art degree counseling seemed like a good fit,” Michener says.

After obtaining her degree, Michener founded Tara Michener Industries, LLC, to provide diversity training for organizations. She created Professionals Against Bullying to offer resources and community solutions to bullying and relational aggression, and launched Michener Associates, a practice specializing in child and adolescent therapy.

And she kept writing. Michener’s collection now includes seven award-winning children’s books, including her latest, “My Good Grief Guide: 100 Ways to Cope with Grief When You Are Not a Grown-up.” In fact, her writing, counseling skills, and entrepreneurial spirit will be recognized by OU this June at the annual Alumni Night of Excellence, where Michener will receive the community engagement award.

“I never want to lose sight of mental health,” Michener explains. “Books are bibliotherapy, they help us focus and give us resources. Books are a gateway to express ourselves.”

With this belief and the strong desire to give back to her community, Michener also works on literacy projects to help motivate kids to want to read. Doing events at schools, libraries, bookstores and online, Michener says she gives her readings all the energy she can so her young audience can “see” the characters through the way she speaks.

Her happiest moments are when once-skeptical kids admit after her reading that they now think books are cool.

The reason behind Michener’s literacy efforts is intensely personal, she explains, “I wouldn’t be who I am now without my school library.”

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