WestSouthwest: 100th Graduate Milestone Hit for WMU's Foster Youth Program

Jul 17, 2017

Officials say the comprehensive approach that Western Michigan University's Seita Scholars Program takes to addressing the needs of former foster youth is what helps them succeed.
Credit Seita Scholars Program courtesy photo

A winter coat? Boots? An umbrella? Sheets? Toothpaste? Things we take for granted. Not so for former foster youth starting college, says Ronicka Hamilton, director of Western Michigan University's Seita Scholars Program that helps these students succeed at Western. The program, which just graduated its 100th student, is now collecting items for the new round of participants. On today's WestSouthwest current affairs show, we revisit the Seita Scholars Program. It turns 10 years old this fall. (Click on icon to hear the show.)

Seita Scholars Director Ronicka Hamilton
Credit Earlene McMichael | WMUK

In this updated rebroadcast that originally aired in February, Hamilton says students who’ve been in foster care often arrive at college without the moral support of family to guide them, much less basic things like bedding for a dorm room. That’s because, at age 18, they are released from the foster care system – or age out, in short, often have no place to call home.

Hamilton says say that’s where the Seita Scholars Program steps in by providing for its students’ financial, physical, emotional and academic needs, and giving program participants their own campus coach. This comprehensive model, known as the “Fostering Success” model has won national recognition, and Western operates the Center for Fostering Success to train others in that model.

In fact, the program will hold a training from August 15 to 17 that is open to the general public, Hamilton says.

She says the program is also looking to the public to provide items and financial donations to its Welcome Pack initiative, currently underway, to assist this fall's new Seita Scholars. Needed items include new coats, winter boots, comforters, sheets, umbrellas and personal hygiene products.

For a list of resources for current and former foster youth, click here for links contained in our original story.