Belmont University’s Spring Commencement, 10 a.m. May 14 at Curb Event Center, will feature the university’s largest-ever graduating class, with more than 500 graduates, and a commencement speaker who drew upon her childhood in foster care to influence Tennessee’s foster care policy while a student at Belmont.
Belmont University President Dr. Robert Fisher has invited Stacy Schumaker, a graduating senior who will receive the Bachelor of Social Work degree, to be the commencement speaker. A former foster child, Schumaker has done much for children in the foster care system in Tennessee during in her four years at Belmont. As a student in the social work program, she developed and implemented the “Suitcases for Children” program, an initiative through which people donate suitcases for foster children to use during their frequent moves.
Placed in foster care due to abuse and neglect, Schumaker attended 12 schools from kindergarten through high school. At age 12, she decided she didn’t want to be just another statistic. Though many foster-care children end up lacking a high school diploma, she decided, “I wanted to be different. God put something in me that made me care.”
Schumaker has testified in front of both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly on behalf of legislation granting tuition waivers for youth like Schumaker who grew up in state custody and are aged out of the state foster care system on their 18th birthdays. She also worked with Belmont University’s senior leadership team to develop scholarships specifically for foster children. Schumaker plans to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to pursue a master’s degree in social work and also has her sights set on law school.
The media is invited to attend and cover Belmont’s Spring 2005 Commencement. No special media arrangements are necessary.