Fostering College Dreams
College can be a time for students to learn about new things, to excel in their craft, and to have doors opened up to countless possibilities. Foster students can take advantage of these opportunities, but with only a staggering 17% of foster children attending college and only 2% graduating, there is work that needs to be done to better these statistics. That is why the Bell National Resource Center (BNRC) recently held a campus visit at The Ohio State University for foster children, giving them more information about the preparation needed and chance of attending and succeeding in college. Nine middle and high school-aged children, who are from the Simba program with Franklin County’s Children Services, gathered to hear Maria Sanchez of the Young Scholars Program speak about COLLEGE – Create a timeline, Open doors through research, Learn to ask the right questions, Look for funding, Establish good habits, Go visit, and Evaluate your strengths. Each of these points was stressed to show how anyone can make it in college.
Foster children can need an extra push in their life and someone to show them things that they are uncertain about pursuing. This campus visit showed the children that the idea of stepping foot on a college campus with knowledge and inspiration from those who can effectively guide them can make all the difference in the world. Maria presented some helpful tips to get the students on the right path to college. When it comes to searching for colleges, she suggested that students should not just choose a school based on its name, but actually do more in-depth research about the school and its programs, as well as the city the school is located in. Establishing good habits can also aid in the stress of college such as going to school on time, creating study habits, and being consistent. If there is any question that needs to be asked, just remember that “No question is too trivial to be asked.”
BNRC’S own Tai Cornute, who created this event, can relate to the difficulties that a foster child may face. He shared his story to the children he was once like. “Due to struggles with drugs and alcohol to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from her stint in the military, my mother lost custody of my two brothers and me when I was nine years old. Our family decided to share the responsibility of caring for us. So we all grew up in kinship care, a component of the foster care system.”
Not letting his circumstances define his future, Tai strived for success when it came to academics and did something that had never been done in his family. He not only was the first one in his family to go to college—The Ohio State University— but he also earned a prestigious scholarship, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Morrill Scholarship. “I was able to beat the odds because I refused to use my reality as an excuse.” Now as the Program Coordinator for the Bell Center, Tai is continuing his encouraging work by helping students and future Buckeyes fulfill their greatest potential. “I dare you to be brave enough to try your best. Everything you need to succeed is already inside of you. You just have to help it grow and let it out. Growth does not mean it will be easy, but it does mean the results will be worth it.”
About the Bell National Resource Center
Housed in The Ohio State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Bell National Resource Center has created programming for Black male students at Ohio State that works to increase the success and retention of those students. The center examines and addresses critical issues in society that impact the quality of life for African American males. It achieves these objectives by conducting robust research studies and evaluations that inform social policy and theory on African American males and developing research-based programs, models, and initiatives that could be replicated at other institutions.
Written by Whitley N. Hawkins, Advancement Intern