Marymount Helps Former Foster Students Share Stories of Success

Marymount University helped a group of former foster students share their stories and give advice to others about making the transition from the social services system to college through a series of videos shot this summer on campus.

“There were some incredible testimonials,” said Associate Professor of Graphic Design Barry Erdeljon, who conducted the immersive video workshop for 23 college students and graduates over the course of a week in June.

The workshop was part of the Aim Higher Fellows Program of Foster Care to Success, the Sterling-based nonprofit that helps students across the country who have turned 18 or graduated from high school, necessitating that they leave foster care and live independently.    

Three other members of the Marymount family worked with the students and helped Erdeljon with production and editing: Adjunct Professor Sarah Gulick, ’04; Grace Omijie, ’14; and Tim Brisco, ’14.

First-person accounts by the Aim Higher Fellows explained the obstacles they had to overcome to succeed in college. Skits on time and money management and setting priorities were also produced. The videos are now being shown to high school students in foster care, social workers, counselors and foster care parents

“Having the opportunity to not only hear these young adults’ stories but also provide them the chance to share their stories with others is a most rewarding aspect of media advocacy,” Erdeljon said.

An example of the videos can be found at:

The students, ranging in age from 18 to 25, were housed in Marymount’s Rowley Hall from May 30 to June 14 as part of an intensive skill-building program that teaches participants how to develop communication skills to speak to the foster care community, leverage social media to reach a national audience and build soft skills for the workplace.

“It was a pleasure to work with faculty and staff at Marymount,” said Maria Jones, program manager for Aim Higher. “Everyone was so welcoming and willing to accommodate our group while we were on campus. It was an incredibly positive experience and we look forward to a continued partnership with the university.”

As part of Marymount’s annual Volunteer Service Day in August, 313 volunteers prepared 2,500 care packages for teenagers transitioning from foster care to life on their own.