When you walk around TWU’s beautiful campus you do not just appreciate the aesthetics; individuals walking on the TWU campus are quickly enveloped by a feeling of comfort that makes TWU feel more like home.
You walk around and you feel safe, you feel welcomed, and the students and staff only amplify the feeling; many of the students who have chosen, and will chose, to make TWU their future alma mater did so because the TWU campus simply felt right; TWU felt like home.
However, what many people fail to realize is that for some of our Pioneers, this is the only place they have to call home. Although many might not know it, TWU is actively playing a role in facilitating an enriching learning environment for students who have past experience in the foster care system. o meet the needs of these individuals, TWU established the Frontiers Program. Overseen by the Campus Alliance for Resource Education office, the Frontiers Program was started to address the lack of support that affects the community of individuals who have experienced being in foster care.
The issues surrounding this group of marginalized individuals is one that often goes unnoticed. Sadly, many individuals can attest to this. Campus and Community Liaison Sarah Matteson stresses the importance of such programs and the advocation for foster care alumni: “The program was started to address the national statistic that less than three percent of students who have experienced foster care will graduate with a bachelor’s degree. When compared to the general population where 33 percent held a bachelor’s degree, this statistic is alarming.”
With figures as low as three percent, it is no surprise that TWU feels the urge to take part in changing the lack of collegiate support for students who have been in the foster care system. It should also be noted that TWU has had a visible impact in graduating foster care alumni. Through the use of support oriented programs and services, TWU has seen improvement in the percentage of individuals graduate and have past experiences in foster care.
“Since the program started tracking students in 2012, we have had 130 students enroll at TWU who have experienced foster care. Of those 130; 26 have graduated (almost 30 percent), 46 are currently enrolled, eight have gone on to get graduate degrees, and three are enrolled in a graduate program currently,” said Matteson. These statistics, which are from the spring of 2017, are a great example of the impact that TWU has in the lives of real individuals.
This semester, the Frontiers Program is going to be working on partnering with graduate students in TWU’s Occupational Therapy program to develop a mentoring program focusing on first-year and sophomore students who live on campus. “Across the board, students do better in college if they are engaged and active on campus. According to the website, “The mentoring program will work on the following tasks with the Frontiers students; increasing life skills, connecting to campus resources, identifying support on and off campus, and increasing independence.”