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 Alex M.! Alex is a student and scholar pursuing a degree in biomedical sciences with a minor in chemistry. We recently asked Alex to share with us her various accomplishments and her future plans... Here is what she had to say!
FSM: Tell us a little about your [accomplishment, talent, leadership activity, etc.].
AM: I will graduate with a major in biomedical sciences and a minor in chemistry. I am currently an undergraduate research assistant for a faculty member at WMU, The lab is focused on neuroscience, particularly the processes of regeneration of neuronal cells. Along with lab work, I am working full time as a phlebotomist to gain clinical experience for PA school.
Outside of work and my studies, I have some other interests. I am very into creative expression and art. In the past I have painted a mural for the Department of Human Services office in downtown Kalamazoo and have received a few small scholarships and awards. I was also involved with WMU's club volleyball team for 3 years where I served as treasurer and vice president on the student board. In addition, I served as vice president for the Foster Youth in Higher Education RSO at Western. My newest hobby is running and I am currently signed up to run a marathon in the spring (wish me luck!).
FSM: What do you hope to do after graduation? Do you have a specific area of passion?
AM: Figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life is not easy by any means. Personally, I discovered my passion by combining two of my favorite things together: science and caring for people. This combination eventually led me to the career goal of becoming a physician's assistant. After graduation, I plan to finish obtaining my clinical hours for application into the PA program, then obtaining my master's in this profession. I hope to specialize in the area of neurology.
FSM: What can professionals do to better serve students with experience in foster care?
AM: Professionals can better serve students who have been involved in foster care in a couple of different ways. Students growing up in the foster care system are often unaware of the right steps to take in order to be successful professionally. I was lucky to have been a part of the Seita Scholars program at WMU, where I was given an exceptional start (and to whom I am so grateful), but many foster youths do not know of this program or that there are several other colleges with similar programs. Publicizing these opportunities would greatly help student's gain awareness of what is available to them. Also, creating a support system that is consistent would be very helpful. Those who have grown up in the foster care system are very used to doing things alone. Learning to rely on others is helpful in reducing stress and can help a student better handle the transition into college and beyond. I really benefited from having the coaches in the Seita program by my side to answer my questions and help me problem solve.
FSM: What advice do you have for students thinking about going to college?
AM: I fully support any students thinking about going to college. I know that many students in the foster care system do not think graduating is an attainable goal but that is not the case. If you work hard and explore your options, chances are there is some kind of help out there that can get you started on your way. College is different than high school in that success depends mostly on your own work ethic and self-discipline. There is no such thing as not being smart enough. As foster youth, we have a unique set of skills that our backgrounds have given us. I have discovered that this uniqueness is an advantage that can be used to motivate and power a way through the past and into a brighter future. Overall, my advice is to set a goal and work your hardest to reach it.
Favorite Quote: Per Aspera Ad Astra - Through Hardships, To The Stars
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."Make a Donation