Michigan's College Access Blog

Decision Day Blog Contest Feature, Part Three

This blog is the third in a series of five installments written or filmed by high school seniors, that explain how college will be a "game changer." The blogs were selected from entries to MCAN's Decision Day Blog Contest, which celebrates the college-selection decision happening for thousands of students throughout the state of Michigan. A winning entry will be featured on MCAN's blog every Tuesday, beginning April 26 and through May 24.


College Will be a Game Changer: Why I'm Excited 

By Zachariah Wheaton, Bay City Central High School

My name is Zachariah Wheaton and I will be a first generation college grad. I am the youngest of a family of 7 and my parents have had struggles with money due to their unfortunate luck of not being able to attend college for the full 4 years. My parents taught us that college is very important and that we all need to receive a degree and provide for our families. My 3 older siblings are currently enrolled at a community college then plan on attending a university, although cheaper and quite frankly smarter, I’ve decided to skip that phase and be the first in my family to be enrolled in a university (I’ll be attending Central Michigan in the fall). My mother and father aren’t so fond of the idea of me doing that, knowing that I will be “up to my neck” in student loans for a long time. They are right, but I’ve always been the different one in my family, I’ve always been the type to do something no one else has done before.

I’ve received my letters, I’ve received the posters, I’ve looked at the brochures, and I’ve had my fair share of college visits. I’ve finally decided the one I like the best, the excitement runs through my veins like a kid walking through the tunnel and seeing their first Major League field. I think to myself of all the opportunities and exciting things that could happen. I begin my housing information and start to think: who’s going to be my roommate? Will they be nice? What will they bring? Now I’m getting prepared for orientation, and I’m so excited I finally get to pursue what I’ve been wanting to do since middle school. I begin to wonder: Will my classes be hard? Will they be fun? How big will they be? Will college really be as hard as people say it is? (I had nightmares from that so I stopped thinking about that one). That’s the best part of college though, it’s the wonder, it’s sticking your hand in that box of chocolates and not knowing what you’ll get, all you know is that it’s going to be a sweet chocolaty taste.

There’s nothing that I’m not excited about for college. I’m excited for the classes. My teachers won’t know who I am so they won’t already write me off as a good kid, or a troubled kid. I’m excited to meet new people, I love the friends I have now, but who doesn’t like making more friends? As childish as this may sound, I’m excited for the food. My 8 year old self would try to drop out of high school and enroll into college right now just for that.
 
And of course: the freedom. Being able to stay up as late as you want and getting to do whatever you want is so exciting to me. I can’t wait to be able to come in late and not have a concerned parent waiting to chew in to me like a Thanksgiving Turkey. Most of all, I’m excited to be around people that don’t know me. In high school people already know who you are even if you haven’t met; it’s like you have a book of your life stamped on your forehead. In college you get a clean slate, you’re no longer the nerd, the jock, the class clown, the prom queen, you get to make your own
reputation, you get to write a new book. That's the most exciting thing about attending college to me.
 
 
Posted: May 10, 2016

Fostering Inspiration

When MCAN asked me to write a blog in honor of May being National Foster Care Month, I had the following thoughts:

“ABSOLUTELY! I love telling people about how they can support students from foster care!”

“Oh wait, I wrote about that last year…Yikes, what else can I say??”

As the Director of Outreach and Training with Center for Fostering Success, I have had the amazing privilege of overseeing the Fostering Success Michigan statewide initiative since its inception in 2012. I could not be prouder of Fostering Success Michigan and the progress we have made to increase access and success in the education to career pipeline for students from foster care. But, the BEST part of my job is talking with students about their education goals. Let me rephrase that…the BEST part of my job is watching a student’s face when they talk about their education goals. When I am with a student and they are talking about their education goals, it is the reminder of just how resilient our students from foster care are.

Like many of us who work in the fields of education or child welfare, we know that the young adults we work with are resilient, but do we actually hear what resilience sounds like? Do we see what resilience looks like? Next time you are with a student from foster care, I want you to try something. First, tell them that you can help them reach their education goals. Second, ask them about their plans for the future and their current successes. Third, watch what happens! Listen as excitement builds in their voice, watch as a glow spreads across their face, take in their smile as it reaches to their ears, and feel the joy as a spark grows in their eye. I promise you that the experience will truly be inspiring.

Unfortunately, if you are like me, running a million miles a minute, you don’t get to sit down with students and revel in these moments of inspiration as often as you would like. So, in honor of National Foster Care Month, I contacted some of the brilliant students from foster care I know and asked them to share with you how college has, or will, change their life…Get ready to feel inspired!

“College is going to prove that I’m not just a case number. I am a survivor of foster care, abuse and neglect that is going to make a life for herself. College is going to help me break the cycle of poverty and homelessness that my family and I have been struggling with for many years. Finally, college is going to open up doors of opportunities that I will be able to give myself and my future kids that my parents could not give me.”

 - Brittney B. is graduating high school this June and will be a freshman at Eastern Michigan University in Fall 2016.

“College has given me many opportunities; this includes connecting with community and pursuing my personal and academic interests in an environment that encourages me and fosters a great work ethic in me.”

Justin M. will start his senior year at Michigan State University in Fall 2016.

“College has changed my life before I even got here. The word “college”, coming from the inner city of Pontiac, Michigan to Detroit, Michigan, meant only one thing to me: A way out; a way to new-found peace. It’s like going to college automatically meant: moving away from the troubles in life and preparing for untamed success, if you can get there that is. College is tough at moments because it seems like things will all go wrong at the worst times. Sports played a critical role in my education because they opened the doors for me to college, so balancing the two were a task that I knew I was ready for, but didn’t know how they would play out. Graduation is underway; I played two sports in college and maintained a 3.4 GPA. With God, family and a dedication for excellence, anything is possible when you come from nothing, but work hard for everything.”

Damonta’ M. is graduating from Ferris State University in May and will start the Masters in Student Affairs and Higher Education program at Indiana State University in Fall 2016.

“Unlike many people who know their plan from a very young age, I didn’t think that I was going to college, or better yet even understand what that meant. Nonetheless, I was lucky enough to fall into a journey that got me through undergraduate studies and now to be graduate student with only one year left to complete an MSW. My trajectory through education happened in a series of steps which took place at very particular moments in my life. These steps involved educators who encouraged me and “planted the seeds” to get me thinking about what I should do next in my life. Considering these pivotal moments, including all of those whom I’ve met and have influenced my life in some sort of way, I am excited to be able to celebrate such successes as being the first person in my family to graduate from high school, the first person graduate college, the first to attend graduate studies and the first woman in the entire family to be truly self-sufficient and independent.”

- Becky M. is pursuing her Masters in Social Work at Western Michigan University.

I hope you find the words from these students as inspiring as I do. More than that, I hope their words inspire you to think about how you can support the students from foster care in your class, your campus, and your life. Talk with them, ask them to share their education goals with you, let them know that are there to support them and remind them that college really does change everything. You can learn more about Fostering Success Michigan on our website www.FosteringSuccessMichigan.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook as we celebrate National Foster Care Month every day in May.

Don’t forget to show us your blue ribbons for #NFCM2016! 

 

Guest Author: Maddy Day, MSW, Director of Outreach and Training, Center for Fostering Success at Western Michigan University

Posted: May 5, 2016

 

Decision Day Blog Contest Feature, Part Two

This blog is the second in a series of five installments written or filmed by high school seniors, that explain how college will be a "game changer." The blogs were selected from entries to MCAN's Decision Day Blog Contest, which celebrates the college-selection decision happening for thousands of students throughout the state of Michigan. A winning entry will be featured on MCAN's blog every Tuesday, beginning April 26 and through May 24.

 

How We Hope College Will be a Game Changer

By Hayllie Elliot and Sierra Haynes, Mancelona High School

 

 

Posted: May 3, 2016

Decision Day Blog Contest Feature, Part One

This blog is the first in a series of five installments written by high school seniors, that explain how college will be a "game changer."  The blogs were selected from entries to MCAN's Decision Day Blog Contest, which celebrates the college-selection decision happening for thousands of students throughout the state of Michigan. A winning entry will be featured on MCAN's blog every Tuesday, beginning April 26 and through May 24.

 

Northern Michigan University Will be a Game Changer

By Megan Martin, Jonesville High Schooldecision-day-meganmartin-1

“College.” That’s a word you hear quite a bit as a high school senior. There are so many colleges to consider, majors to choose from, extracurricular groups to select. In all honesty, it’s petrifying. I keep myself going by thinking about all the exciting new experiences and opportunities I am going to have while I am there. I’ll be attending Northern Michigan University in the fall. That was a hard decision for me to elect but when it came down to the basics, no other school felt like home to me. I’ve never been the finest at making friends, I’ve always struggled to fit in but the first time I stepped on Northern’s campus, I knew innovation was going to happen. I hope college is going to be a game changer through the new doors that are going to open with friendships, career opportunities and driven passion for new experiences.

I’m not going to be the first person in my family to attend college. My sister has, my brother has and my mom currently is. I will, however, be the first to leave for college. My sister and brother lived at home while they went to school part time. Even then, I chose not to just go anywhere, I chose a college eight hours away. By choosing a college quite a distance away, I hoped I would find my independence and branch out in new way that I can’t here in my hometown. When you hear all those stories from college students about this and that, how they went here and there, it opens your mind to possibilities. I hope to travel to Marquette and be the college student telling my stories to my high school friends back home.

While there are all these exciting aspects of leaving for this next step in my life, what if I get sick? My mom can’t drive eight hours to rub my back and give me soup. What about those days I’m too stressed out and need to relax with my best friend? She can’t drive eight hours to take me on a shopping spree. How do I get home for the holidays if the Mackinac Bridge closes for bad weather? I fear missing my dad’s birthday because finals have me so stressed out I forget. I fear missing my brother’s graduation from basic training because it doesn’t work into my schedule. I fear my family moving my things out of my bedroom. Yeah, college is thrilling and I’m sure everything will turn out fine but I fear not knowing what my future holds or how things will work out.

Ice climbing, cross country skiing, kayaking through Lake Superior are just a few of the opportunities I hope to embrace as I shift to Northern. Northern will be a game changer for me and I’m excited for the experiences I’ll be able to share in the years to come.

 

Posted: April 26, 2016 

 

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