Foster Youth Beats the Odds
Posted on May 07, 2013
By Holly Walker
Thomas Wise refuses to be part of a negative statistic, and he’s worked hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Thomas grew up in the foster care system, and he knows that far too often, children in that system don’t graduate from high school and even fewer finish college. But, Thomas was determined to beat the odds, and he is. This month, he will finish his Associate of Science in Business Administration, becoming the first student in the John Tyler Community College Great Expectations program to graduate. Great Expectations is a program that provides much-needed support to youth who are aging out of the foster care system. This support comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s helping a student navigate the financial aid or class scheduling process, and sometimes it’s helping a student find transportation or a place to live. The support also comes in the form of a mentor, who offers encouragement, advice, and when necessary, a little nudge to get back on track. Thomas says the support he received through Great Expectations has been critical to his success, especially when he realized he might want to change his degree focus. Originally, Thomas planned to go into engineering. He found the program to be challenging and the material and instructors to be interesting. But, then came a surprise. He got a job as a retail merchandiser, and he discovered he loved the work. Thomas says he had been shy in high school, so he was amazed to learn that he enjoyed sales and customer service work. His mentor encouraged him along the way, and with her help, he transitioned out of the Engineering program and into Business Administration. She’s also helped him plan for his next academic steps – a bachelor’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Thomas is just one of the amazing graduates that make up the Class of 2013. Read about some of our other graduates at http://www.jtcc.edu/services/graduation/snapshots-of-the-class, and watch a video about them at http://youtu.be/ErZ1ZTlWlFc.
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