Phasing Up to New Possibilities Celebrates Ten Years

CHARLOTTE, N.C./September 20, 2019 – Phasing Up to New Possibilities, the foster program developed at Johnson C. Smith University in 2009, is celebrating 10 years. To mark the momentous occasion, the program is bringing back a dozen alumni September 20, 2019, to speak on a panel about their experience.

Program director, Pat Newell, is excited about the occasion.

“This program provided some kids that never would have had it, an opportunity to become an adult in an environment that was safe and structured,” she said.

Initially the program, which launched under the Ron Carter administration, was designed to assist aged-out foster students during their time on campus. Today, the program also assists students who are homeless or facing homelessness. 

Newell, who has been managing the program for eight consecutive years, said the program has been able to sustain for a decade because of the environment JCSU provides students.

“As an HBCU we have a rich tradition of staying connected.  Our Homecoming Celebrations are well attended by our alumni and that also provides a reason for our former students to venture back onto the campus,” Newell explained. She added, “Many colleges that claim to provide support services to aged out foster youth are only around for two to three years, at best. We stay connected with our graduates so that we can help them as they move into their careers.”

Dr. Melvin Herring, MSW program director, also credits Newell with the programs longevity.

“Mrs. Newell's efforts to refute negative stereotypes about these young people and to prove the larger society wrong by demonstrating that these young people are capable of more than what is generally expected of them has helped them succeed,” he said.

To stay connected with students, Phasing Up collaborated with the School of Social Work. Each student is assigned a MSW student, who communicates weekly with students and assists as they adjust to the rigor of college.

When speaking of The School of Social Work, Dean Helen Caldwell said, “As the school promotes the academic areas, such as the BSW and MSW Programs, the Phasing Up non-academic program displays the work and value of social work as a discipline.”

As successful as the program is, with 14 graduates since 2011, Newell still would like to see more growth.

“I would like to see a more formal role for our graduates to assist me with the recruitment of more scholars,” Newell emphasized.

Newell is as grateful for the program as the students are to have her. While she did not launch Phasing Up, she has truly incorporated it into her life. Every summer she throws a barbecue for students at her home, mentors students and regularly communicates with alumni.

“The students have impacted my life in ways too numerous to express. I have grown in every area; however, I think I would have to credit my students for my spiritual growth most significantly,” Newell said.

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