New Ferris program promises success

Ferris’ new program for orphan and foster care students provides opportunities

For the upcoming fall semester, Ferris instituted a new program known as the Ferris Orphan and Foster Youth Initiative (FOFYI).

The program’s goal is to provide opportunities for students who are orphans or who have aged out of foster care. Aging out of foster care myself, I am grateful for this opportunity that will help other students in my position to have a positive college experience.

Young adults who are orphans or aging out of foster care that are planning to attend college are in need of all the assistance they can receive. In addition, these students are independent students, just as I am.

I am also working to put myself through college, but single-handedly paying for my education as an independent student is not an easy task to accomplish.

When I came to college as a freshman last year, I was fortunate to have received several scholarships from local organizations, a summer internship, and state assisting-programs, such as T.I.P. (Tuition Incentive Program) and the ETV (Education Training Voucher) from Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

Aged-out foster care and orphan students will also need assistance with just more than paying for college; they will need a strong support system emotionally.

I believe this program will give foster youth/orphan students a full chance at success as well as a reason to meet their goals.

When I found out about this program, I was delighted to know that Ferris was reaching out to students like me. The program is funded through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Sally Workman, a Big Rapids resident, approached President Eisler with the charge that Ferris reach out to young people who had aged out of foster care.

President Eisler consulted David Pilgrim, the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, to lead a university- wide effort to build a program that targeted these prospective students. Pilgrim began working with Leroy Wright, Program Adviser and Dean of Student Life, Rob Wirt, Director of Financial Aid and Charlotte Tetsworth, Assistant Director of Admissions and Records to create the FOFYI program.

In addition, Jerry Scoby, Vice President for Administration and Finance and Jon Shaffer, Director of Residential Life, had worked to create 12-month housing options for these students.  

“FOFYI is a collaborative effort involving Ferris personnel and community members, “said Pilgrim.”It is also a program that would make Mr. Ferris proud.”

Students in the FOFYI program will be assigned a mentor, who will be a faculty or staff member, and meet with them regularly, as well as their academic adviser. Other requirements include residing on the Big Rapids campus full-time, maintaining full-time student status, satisfactory academic progress, participating in non-credit workshops, academic mentoring and abide by university codes for campus living.

Also, there will be mentoring opportunities available. I would eventually like to become a mentor for this program to reach out to students like myself.

I find this to be an amazing opportunity and could not be more thankful for it to be presented. Students like me have faced numerous challenges throughout our lives, and to know that Ferris is reaching out to us to help us succeed makes me even more proud to be a Bulldog. n