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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

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

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.)

Credit Earlene McMichael | WMUK
Seita Scholars Director Ronicka Hamilton

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. 

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