Students With Painful Past Find A Fresh Start At Western Michigan University

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Matthew McGuire used to frequent coffee shops near his community college, in search of conversations to battle feelings of loneliness.

But since transferring to Western Michigan University, those feelings have subsided. The 21-year-old is one of 141 Seita Scholars, a student community of former foster children. They share a common in-between status -- they are technically adults but are mostly without homes or skills to get on in the world.

WMU runs the largest Michigan program for former foster kids attending college, allowing them to stay in dorms over holiday breaks. This winter break, about 40 students are on campus.

Program staff members provide activities and a communal meal at 3:30 p.m. daily. The students get a free education, using the Seita scholarship and other grants to cover expenses. Retention rates are equal to or greater than those in the general university population. The first group to use the program for four years is set to graduate this spring.

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