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‘First Five’ Congratulated

News Feature

News & Events

May 17, 2014

It was an emotional day as five young women received their diplomas bachelor’s degrees from Bridgewater State University as part of the first graduating class from The Home for Little Wanderers.

The graduates were the initial participants in the Home’s  Academic Support for College and Life program (ASCL). Witnessing their success during the spring commencement convocation provided a special moment not just for the graduates, but for Dr. Joan Wallace-Benjamin, a BSU trustee and president and CEO of the Home, and BSU President Dana Mohler-Faria

During the commencement ceremony, President Mohler-Faria cited the program and the five graduates as examples of the good things that happen when people and institutions give of themselves.

Drs. Wallace-Benjamin and Mohler-Faria created the ASCL program at BSU, a dream the two first discussed when working together under Gov. Deval Patrick – she as chief of staff and he as special advisor for education. With the backing of the commonwealth, The Home and BSU launched ASCL with the initial goal of providing youth aging out of foster care with a one-year college-level prep course, as well as clinical, social, vocational, and daily living supports. 

“The graduation of ASCL’s ‘First Five’ is a testament to the strength of these young adults, and their commitment to achieve success in higher education,” said Carl Morton, director of the Home’s Transitional Age Youth Programs. “It is also a testament to the strength of  the partnership between ASCL and BSU to support these young adults in achieving their goals,” 

This unique program supports young people as they successfully transition from state systems of care into higher education. ASCL is a research-based, outcomes-oriented program. What began as a one-year program at a private college is now a lifetime support system that sees BSU students through not only their four years at college, but sets them up for successful lives post-graduation. The partnership between The Home and BSU began in 2009. 

Earlier in the month, an ASCL Celebration Dinner was held at the university. Dr. Wallace-Benjamin lauded the graduates-to-be as a, “testimony to the effective of this program.” She added: “They are also examples of young people who have kept hold of their dreams, in spite of sometimes difficult circumstances. They are examples of just what can be achieved when opportunities are made available.” 

She went on to say that both she and President Mohler-Faria believe that this partnership is one that can and should be replicated across the state. Dr. Wallace-Benjamin pointed out that the success of partnerships between child welfare organizations and universities could be of utmost benefit to the 80 youth who age out of foster care every day, the 700 who age out in Massachusetts each year, and the 26,000 who age out across the country. 

Mr. Morton said he is already looking ahead to congratulating the next group of ASCL students who graduate from BSU.

“At ASCL we are thankful to have BSU as our partner, and we look forward to celebrating more ASCL/BSU graduates in the years to come.” (Story by Heather MacFarlane of the Home for Little Wanderers; photo by student )

ASCL graduates, on left, with President Mohler-Faria and officials from The Home for Little Wanderers