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Updated 4:14 PM May 14, 2009

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Helen Mataya Graves

Helen Mataya Graves, associate professor emerita at UM-Dearborn who launched hundreds of students into careers in public service as director of the campus's political internship program, died April 21 at her home in Rhode Island. She was 84.
(Photo courtesy Graves Family)

raves worked with more than 1,700 student interns while on the faculty at UM-Dearborn from 1972-95. In addition to teaching political science courses, Graves led the campus's internship program, which provided students with hands-on work in the political system.

Graves initiated intern placements in the private sector as well as legislative and legal offices in Lansing, Detroit and other southeastern Michigan cities. In 1979 she inaugurated a summer internship program in Washington, D.C., and later organized internships in Toronto and Ottawa.

Following her retirement from UM-Dearborn in 1995, Graves became a visiting associate professor and director of political internship programs on the Ann Arbor campus, where she served until 2005.

Graves taught the first "Women, Politics and the Law" course at UM-Dearborn in 1974, and developed the campus's women's studies minor. She was co-organizer of the UM-Dearborn Women's Commission. Other honors include the campus's Susan B. Anthony Award in 1980; the Sarah Goddard Power Award from U-M's Academic Women's Caucus in 1989; and the Outstanding Service Award from UM-Dearborn in 1993. Graves also served as the first woman president of the Michigan Conference of Political Science in 1970.

Among many other awards, Graves was honored by a tribute read on the floor of the Canadian House of Commons in recognition of work organizing the programs in Toronto and Ottawa. In addition, she served a three-year term on the Fulbright Program for Canadian awards.

Former Gov. James Blanchard appointed Graves to the Michigan Women's Commission for two consecutive three-year terms. Her work with interns also was honored by resolutions from the Michigan House and Senate.

Graves received her bachelor's degree at Southern Illinois University, her master's at the University of Minnesota, and her doctoral degree at Wayne State University at age 50.

Graves is survived by her daughter, Adrienne Southgate, and sons James Bau Graves and John Graves. She also is survived by a brother, John Mataya, a daughter-in-law and six grandchildren.

"Helen was amazing," says Ronald Stockton, professor of political science at UM-Dearborn and former colleague of Graves. "She would walk up and down the halls grabbing students. She would say, 'Why haven't you signed up for the internship? It will change your life. I want you in my office at 3 p.m.' and they would come.

"They joked at how she hovered over them like a mother hen, but they loved her."

A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. May 16 at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. in Ann Arbor.

The family has requested memorial contributions be sent to UM-Dearborn to support the Helen Mataya Graves Political Science Internships Scholarship Fund at the Office of Institutional Advancement, 1040 Administration Building, 4901 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI, 48128.

Mignonette Yin Cheng

Mignonette Yin Cheng, 76, professor emerita of painting at the School of Art, died at her home in Ann Arbor on April 23.
(Photo courtesy Cheng Family)

Born in Amoy, China, in 1933, Cheng received her early training at the Russian Art Academy in Shanghai and the Chao Shao-An Studio in Hong Kong. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from Ohio University, and taught at U-M for more than 30 years.

She has been recognized with extensive national and international awards and exhibitions. Her work is represented in numerous public and private collections.

In 1996 she published "Watercolors of Italy," a collection of open-air paintings of the Italian landscape.

Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, she completed "Distant Places," showing her open air and oil paintings of China and the Far East. A retrospective publication and exhibition is planned for the upcoming year.

A devoted teacher in and out of the classroom, Cheng was a gifted artist, loving and supportive wife, mother, and grandmother.

She is survived by her husband, Richard; daughters Renee and Alicia; her sisters, Mignonne Drake and Lena Lee; her brother, Stanley Yin, and three grandchildren, Conlan, Pel and Minya.

In lieu of flowers, non- tax-deductible contributions can be made to the Mignonette Cheng Retrospective Publication Trust, Richard Cheng, Trustee, which will work towards publishing the retrospective publication.

A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, at the First Presbysterian Church, 1432 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor. Visitation with the family will be from 4-6 p.m. Friday, at the church.

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