Foundation Shares Fall Semester Update on Forman Scholars
It’s hard to believe how quickly the fall season is flying by! Typically, Director of Scholarships Rick Wilson travels to students’ universities to visit the Forman Scholars in person and on campus. Since so much has changed and we can’t travel as safely now, Rick transitioned his visits to virtual video calls and still had a meaningful time with the students. Read on to hear how our Forman Scholars are doing:
During the fall semester of each year, I usually spend a great deal of time traveling to the various campuses that our scholars attend and visit with them to assess their progress. Visiting with the students is always an amazing experience and I so enjoy seeing them in their element on campus. However, as we all know, the transition to college life this year has been anything but usual. In fact, at least 50% of our 33 current scholars are not on campus. They are either living at home in the Salem area or living in alternative housing close to their campus. The remainder of the scholars are on campus, but living under the same restrictions that we have all become accustomed to; social distancing, wearing face coverings, and dining outdoors or getting takeout food. Since most campuses are closed to visitors, I have been meeting with them virtually since the semester began and the conversations with them continue to be filled with fun stories from them about their classes and adjusting to life this semester. I’ve also been assessing their needs to make sure that they have all the necessary equipment and supplies to ensure a successful semester for each of them. Our goal at the Foundation is to continually monitor student progress and be ready to assist whenever necessary so our students feel supported and encouraged. Scholarship money at the beginning of the semester is of course important, but we also believe it is the ongoing interventions and conversations that we have with our scholars that lead to retention and graduation.
Most of our scholars are studying and receiving virtual instruction, and only a few of them have had opportunities to have in person instruction. Many of them have reported that the virtual instruction has been high quality and that the professors clearly are doing the best that they can to keep them engaged during class. This is in stark contrast to this past spring when students and staff were thrown into the world of virtual instruction without proper planning, adequate technology, or understanding on how to transfer successfully from one mode of instruction to the other. It is very clear that the colleges our scholars attend have put in the necessary academic planning and staff training to make this semester work for all involved. They carefully thought out all the safety procedures and modifications to meet the needs of their students. The goal is to keep the instruction going and keep school open. Despite the difficulties and issues that our scholars are facing, they remain enthusiastic about their programs and placements and willingly share about their successes and challenges thus far this semester. I am so proud of all the effort they are demonstrating to make the very best of their situation. Dr. Acton would be proud as well!
When I have visited previously with them on campus, we always try to take a picture and then post a little bit about their experiences on facebook or our website. Since that is not possible this semester, I’ve asked the scholars to submit a recent picture of them for us to create a collage of all of those submitted. Some are a favorite spot on a campus, others at their desk or work station, or might just be a recent photo of them in an activity they enjoy. Regardless of where it was taken, they all look great!