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Getting to Know Sharonda C.!

Each month, Fostering Success Michigan features a Student Spotlight that celebrates the accomplishments and achievements of students with experience in foster care who are in one of 12 higher education support programs in Michigan. Do you know a student to spotlight? We would love to hear from you!

Meet Sharonda C.! Sharonda is a student and scholar at Michigan State University. Sharonda is a strong leader on campus and passionate about her studies. We recently asked Sharonda to share with us her various accomplishments and her future plans... Here is what Sharonda had to say!

 
FSM: Please tell us a little about your experience of being on the FAME Student Activity Board as well as your recent alternative break to Kansas City, MO and the work you did there.
SC: I have been a part of FAME SAB for two years now. Last school year (my sophomore year) I was the Secretary. Currently, I am the President. Since being a part of FAME SAB, we have put on many social events to try to create a bond between FAME students.

Over Winter Break, I spent the first week in Kansas City, MO on a volunteer trip through an organization on campus called Alternative Spartan Breaks (ASB). While on the trip, I volunteered at Sheffield's Place, a homeless shelter geared towards helping homeless mothers. Working with the homeless mothers at Sheffield's Place was an eye opening experience for me. While being there, we also worked with the children every evening and I got a chance to experience first hand how trauma can affect children at different ages while going through troubling times. 

FSM: What do you hope to do after graduation? Do you have a specific area of passion?
SC: After graduation, I hope to work within the realm of child welfare dealing with foster care and/or adoption. After working with the youth at Sheffield's Place, I've been interested in working with foster or adoption youth who may have experienced some form of trauma and working to reduce its effects. I am also interested in working with "at-risk" foster youth and helping them find things they are passionate about to keep them out of trouble or steering them towards college.

FSM: What can professionals do to better serve students with experience in foster care?
SC: Just based on my opinion from what I experienced during care, I believe caseworkers could use a more strength-based approach to help foster youth. To me, it always seemed that caseworkers and foster families ALWAYS focused on the negative, no matter how good I was doing. For example, I always heard "your grades are great, but you have a bad attitude." I also think it would be great if caseworkers could get to know their children on their caseload and introduce children to new things/activities to help with coping strategies or just so that kids can have a hobby or something they like to do to keep their mind off of the bad. 

FSM: What advice do you have for students thinking about going to college?
SC: My advice for anyone considering college would be to definitely go! It can only help you further your education and maybe your place in life. For me, college has been a way for me to be completely independent and leave the past behind and focus on my future. Plus college is something that wouldn't be a financial burden on foster youth, which was one of my biggest concerns. So, I would definitely say if you have the opportunity, take it. You never know who you may meet and the connections you may make!

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Fostering Success Michigan is a statewide initiative that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline." 

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