Belmont University graduated its largest class ever as 490 students received their bachelor’s degree or advanced degree during Spring 2005 commencement ceremonies at the Curb Events Center Saturday. In all, the university awarded 387 bachelor’s degrees and 103 graduate degrees.
Graduates and the assembled family members, friends and Belmont faculty and staff heard a commencement address from one of the new graduates, Stacy Schumaker, a graduating senior who received the Bachelor of Social Work degree.
Schumaker drew upon her childhood in foster care to influence Tennessee’s foster care policy while a student at Belmont. 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.
More Pictures of Spring 2005 Commencement
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