Gifts to MSU FAME program help foster care youth find college success
Gifts to MSU FAME program help foster care youth find college successSeptember 13, 2016
Looking back on their college experiences, Lynn (’73, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Honors College) and Dean Fiegel realized the success they enjoyed as students had a lot to do with an abundance of support received from family.
Their realization led to becoming foster parents and guardians of at-risk youth and, now, to make a $1M bequest commitment from their estate.
Lynn and Dean, of Three Rivers, Michigan, are part of a recent infusion of donor support for Fostering Academics, Mentoring Excellence (FAME), a program that provides critical resources and opportunities for students who were in foster or kinship care before attending MSU, as well as students who have experienced homelessness or are otherwise independent.
“If we needed something, our families found a way to provide,” Dean says. “Imagine what it must be like to age out of the foster care system, go to a place like MSU, and have no family to turn to, no home to go to for Thanksgiving dinner. These students may look like every other student on campus, but they’ve been through a lot and they deserve additional support.”
Other significant contributors include Don (’85, Business /MBA) and Deb (’86, Business) Stoner of East Lansing and Michael (’80, Engineering) and Denise (’80, Natural Science) Busley of Traverse City.
FAME is coordinated by the School of Social Work and, according to FAME Program Coordinator and Lead Life Skills Coach Andrea Martineau, private support from donors already has resulted in new opportunities for FAME students including scholarships to offset the costs of summer school as well as participating in once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Karla Nava-Lopez, a criminal justice major in her senior year, was able to intern in Africa this summer which she says had a lasting effect on her perspective.
“I saw people who had very little, yet were able to find happiness in what they did have,” she says. “I realized I could do that too.”
Thanks to FAME support, Karla recently also accepted an internship position with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow in Washington, D.C. for the fall.
The Fiegels’ estate gift establishes the Lynn and Dean Fiegel FAME Award. Lynn, who completed her MSU degree in dairy science and a master’s in dairy production from South Dakota State University (SDSU), spent 22 years with MSU Extension as an Extension 4-H youth agent. Dean, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Business from SDSU in 1975, retired after a 33-year career in agriculture finance. He also completed the Michigan Agriculture Leadership Program, co-sponsored by MSU.
The Fiegel’s support for FAME didn’t stem directly from their professional training or careers. It is a trend noticed by MSU School of Social Work Director Steven Anderson.
“It really is inspiring to see so many people from diverse backgrounds come together to support this cause,” Anderson says. “Few of our donors for this program are social workers, and yet they recognize the roles that all of us can play in helping youth who have experienced abuse or neglect.”
The Fiegels feel strongly that the support must be ongoing, and it must come from many.
“We hope to do more,” Dean says. “If these students have gotten this far in their education journey, they have learned to solve problems and they have been tough and persistent. They have battled adversity and prevailed. Sounds like a Spartan!”
Through FAME former foster students and other independent students gain access to MSU’s unique high-excellence, life-changing experiences, such as:
- Study Abroad
- Internships Away from Campus
- Summer Programs
Students find support through:
- A Resource Center
- Care Packages and Finals Week Survival Kits
- Life Skills Coaches
- Campus Champions who help with:
- Financial Aid