Seita Scholars to share stories with Congressional panel

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KALAMAZOO—Four Western Michigan University students who have transitioned from Michigan's foster care system to lives as successful college students will share their stories Monday, July 30, with members of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth at an event in Saginaw, Mich.

During the third stop on the caucus's four-city national listening tour, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp of  of Midland, Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means and member of the caucus, will host colleague and co-chair of the caucus, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass of California, for the event that begins at 8 a.m. at Saginaw's Horizons Conference Center and Temple Theatre. The event is being scheduled in conjunction with Casey Family Programs, a Seattle-based foundation that focuses on foster care issues.

WMU students who are part of WMU's famed Seita Scholars program are among a number of people who will address the lawmakers during the event. Seita Scholars Program Director Chris Harris also will provide an overview of the University's successful effort in a panel session designed to "highlight best practices."

The four Seita Scholars who will speak are:

  • Terence Brown, of Pontiac, Mich., a sophomore and new member of WMU's Lee Honors College who is interested in nursing and social work.
  • Brittney Carter, of Comstock Park, Mich., a sophomore social work major who plans to attend law school.
  • Brittney Grant, of Chesaning, Mich., a junior majoring in social work and behavioral science who plans to attend graduate school.
  • Michael Marotta, a criminal justice and psychology major from Clay, Mich.

The goal of the Listening Tour is to allow lawmakers to gain a better understanding of the current state of foster care throughout the nation as well as identify potential federal policy modifications that could improve outcomes for the 420,000 children in the nation's foster care system.

The bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth is co-chaired by Bass and U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, Tom Marino of Pennsylvania and Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota.

WMU's Seita Scholars program

Begun in 2008, WMU's Seita Scholars program provides a comprehensive support system for individuals who have aged out of the foster care system and who wish to earn a college degree. The program includes tuition support, year-round housing and around-the-clock counseling availability. The program is the largest and most comprehensive such collegiate program in the nation, enrolling some 160 students this fall.  The first four-year students to graduate from the program earned their degrees earlier this year. The name Seita Scholars honors Dr. John Seita, a former foster care youth, a three-time WMU alumnus and one of the nation's leading advocates for foster care children.