StoryCorps Detroit Podcast: “Much better than everything people said you were”

WDET/Candice Fortman

WDET producer Laura Herberg records Ruletta Street (left) and Jennifer Smith after they exit the StoryCorps mobile booth. They were the first pair to interview each other for StoryCorps’ current stay at the Detroit Institute of Arts which will last through July 28.

Jennifer Smith is the founder of Closing the Gap, a nonprofit that uses personalized mentorship to help Detroit students enter and make their way through college. At a college fair, high school senior Ruletta Street caught her eye.

Street entered into foster care as a teenager, was transferred from school to school, and didn’t have the best grades… but that day she told Smith that she wanted to graduate and go to college.

Smith took Street under her wing and became her mentor. Now Street is about to enter her senior year at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

In this excerpt of her interview with her mentor, she realizes how far she’s come since the time they met.

Click on the player at the top of this page to hear the interview in the first episode of the StoryCorps Detroit podcast. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


Ruletta Street holds the photo that her mentor showed her during their interview.


Image credit: WDET DIgital

Aired on: StoryCorps Detroit

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



About the Author

Laura Herberg

Community Reporter

Through sound-rich storytelling, Herberg covers stories about the people inhabiting the metro Detroit region and the issues that affect them. Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter 2018 and 2017.

Follow @HerbergRadio

Sascha Raiyn

Reporter & Producer

Native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.   Follow @raiyn

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