October 22, 2013

I just signed “Aquinas College: Provide safe housing for foster and homeless students during break periods, especially during the cold winter months”

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I just signed this petition and wanted to ask for your support. The more people who join the campaign, the more likely it is to win. Will you help by adding your name?

Sylvia Lydia

Aquinas College: Provide safe housing for foster and homeless students during break periods, especially during the cold winter months

By Jessica McCormick
Grand Rapids, MI

As an unaccompanied homeless youth, college was a goal that I was not sure I would ever reach. Sure, I had thought about it, and knew that continuing my education post high school was one of the greatest keys to building a future for myself. I had even applied for and was accepted to a small college in my city, Aquinas College. But there were many barriers to getting into (and staying in!) college. With the help of a great organization in my community, Arbor Circle, I was able to secure on-campus housing and start at Aquinas College in the fall of 2010. 

Since then, there have been numerous obstacles faced and countless challenges overcome. But one of the main barriers remains: housing. One of the most tricky situations for foster and homeless students in college is what to do for break periods. Conceded, this is also a difficult situation for schools. Aquinas College provides opportunities to rent on-campus apartments during the summer months, and allows international students and in-season athletes to maintain their housing over fall and spring breaks. However, homeless and foster students are not included in the spring and fall allowances, and are left without options for the two-to-three week period during Michigan's cold winters.

Colleges across the country have combatted the issue of break housing in multiple ways. Some have chosen to keep one housing unit open for the break to provide shelter to these students. This cuts down on the utility use for the college, and is one of many ways that the college could ensure safe and stable housing for a very vulnerable group of students throughout the year.

As a senior, I am anticipating to graduate this upcoming May with a double major in Sociology and Community Leadership. I have overcome many challenges, and cannot wait to dance across the stage in celebration of the work that I have done. However, it is my greatest hope that students who are in situations similar to mine, including several freshman with whom I share a dorm currently, are alleviated of this one major barrier during their college years. Here is my story (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2013/04/putting-college-within-the-reach-of-homeless-youth), but there are hundreds more. I am so proud to be an Aquinas College Saint, will be even more proud to be an Aquinas College Alum, and would be so beyond grateful if my Saints would put forth the effort to show that they are proud and supportive of students like me, as well.

Thanks for signing my petition, and as always-- GO SAINTS!

~Jessie McCormick

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