Tucked in the back corner of the Office of the Dean of Students is a recent Boise State graduate who is not well-known, but is making a huge impact in the state of Idaho.
Anna Moreshead, Impact Scholars coordinator, built Impact Scholars, a program assisting former foster youth to succeed in higher education, from the ground up.
Impact Scholars is currently the only program in Idaho with a full-time staff member aiding former foster youth in achieving higher education.
Idaho State University is the only other school in Idaho with a similar program, Guardian Scholars, but they have no full-time staff.
“There is so much trauma associated with spending time in foster care,” Moreshead said. “Outcomes for youth are just terrible. When I came here I was interested in some sort of program development and when I realized there was an opportunity to do something proactive for youth in care, I was like ‘that is it.’”
Building Impact Scholars
Moreshead began building Impact Scholars last academic year as a graduate student, where she committed 10 hours a week to the cause. Last fall, Moreshead, with support from the university, expanded her efforts to full time. Half of Moreshead’s time is spent at Boise State, and the other half working on statewide efforts.
Impact Scholars uses outreach, trouble-shooting research and evaluation at the core of its program.
Not only is the support of foster youth important, but so is the outreach to current and former foster youth in high school and the community outreach to raise awareness and research.
Fall 2013 was the pilot semester of Impact Scholars at Boise State, and according to Moreshead, it was successful.
“This is really important to not go at this sprinting but to take our time and be thoughtful about it,” Moreshead said. “So though I’ve been working on this project for about a year, we are finally coming to a place where we have some data and we can start setting our metrics of measurement.”
Impact Scholar’s pilot semester
Further expansion within Idaho rests on the success of Impact Scholars at Boise State.
Last semester Moreshead’s outreach efforts brought 15 students who were former foster youth to Boise State. Of these, 13 were engaged in some level with the program, meaning they utilized Impact Scholar’s services.
Nohemi Parke, a political science and Spanish double major, is one student Moreshead brought to Boise State. According to Parke, knowing there are people in the same city for positive reinforcement and encouragement has helped her be successful.
“This program is important in the state of Idaho because as a former foster child it’s hard to even imagine one day going to college or having a better life,” Parke said.
“I lucked out and was also led by the most amazing parents ever. They always stressed the importance of education and going to college.”
Parke continued by stating, “Some aren’t so lucky though and these kids don’t ask to be put in the situations that they are in, but they do need good role models and adults that believe in them and encourage higher education and betterment.”
Moreshead said she sees a significant difference in the success of those students who engage with the program and the university and those who do not. GPAs are steadily on the rise with engaged
Two of Moreshead’s students graduated last semester. The average age of Impact Scholars students is 22, and most are transfer students. Moreshead is increasing outreach efforts to bring in more students directly from high school.
Future goals of Impact Scholars
Moreshead has found importance in connecting current students to individuals in the community.
“Most young adults will have their parents and their parents’ social network to be connected to and through that come employment opportunities, internship opportunities, socializing opportunities in general,” Moreshead said. “So (the program is) kind of filling that gap, especially for my older students.”
Among Moreshead’s future goals for Impact Scholars are growing numbers of enrollment, attaining a scholarship fund for program participants and creating more partnerships with campus and community organizations.
“Right now I’m kind of an island in the state, which is great because we are starting somewhere and we are leaps and bounds ahead of other states,” Moreshead said.
Aside from her major goal, for every university and college in Idaho to have someone on campus specifically dedicated to serving former foster youth, Moreshead also hopes to see Impact Scholars led by students who have graduated from the program and who are former foster youth.
Already she has seen her students become interested in support and outreach to incoming and future students.
“I get to tell them (Moreshead’s students) ‘you are the less than two percent. You are by bounds beating the averages,’” Moreshead said. “They are so much more than a statistics, but it is really fun because it really then settles in.”