MSU FAME Program a Valuable Resource Available to Hundreds of Students Across Campus

November 17, 2022 - Emily Jodway

A commonly overlooked group of students at any university are those who were raised without a home to call their own. Individuals who grew up homeless, in the foster system, or through kinship care or a guardianship often lack the tools and resources that other incoming college students possess. They may not have a support person on their side to help them navigate the transition into higher education, supplies for classes and life on campus, or a basic roadmap for how to handle personal finances and the stress of daily life. 

Fostering Academics,Mentoring Excellence (FAME) is a program housed within the School of Social Work and the College of Social Science that seeks to fulfill these needs and provide independent youth with the life skills they need to successfully navigate the collegiate experience into graduation. Chiquita Whittington has spearheaded the organization since November 2021, serving as FAME’s director and lead life skills coach. Whittington is a social worker and has dedicated her life to supporting those youth who have experienced poverty, homelessness, and other forms of oppression. 

“FAME exists to provide support to these students who identified as independent before age 18,” Whittington said. “Our goal is to provide a safe community, on and off campus support, and concrete resources that students need while attending MSU. We want to be the support that many of our students might not have outside of the academic setting.”

FAME was organized in 2007 by Dr. Angelique Day, herself an alumna of the foster care system. The program is open to all former foster youth students at Michigan State, as well as youth who were in kinship care, have experienced homelessness, or are otherwise independent. FAME promotes its mission through establishing campus and community partnerships, support networks, and other individualized services for these students. 

Those services range from individual mentoring and coaching to educational workshops, life skills training, and access to supplies like personal care items and food. Each month, the program offers skills workshops across different areas of life, modeled from the Casey Family Program’s 7 Life Domains model. Faculty and staff at Michigan State are also involved via the Campus Champions program. Members of various campus departments can agree to be advocates for FAME students, helping answer questions and enable them to navigate campus and its resources better. In addition, FAME has its own Student Activity Board for students in the program to get together and plan events, as well as use outreach to bring more awareness of FAME to campus and the community at large. 

There are several ways that members of the community can get involved and support the program in different capacities. Individuals can volunteer as mentors, specifically working in an area that is within the student’s major or area of professional interest. Working one-on-one with FAME students brings crucial social, emotional, and professional support to this group. Individuals can also donate money and supplies directly to the FAME Care Closet and Finals Week Survival Kits. Details on more ways to support FAME can be found here.

“Through coaching, mentoring, monthly events, scholarship opportunities, leadership opportunities and student engagement, FAME hopes to connect with students and build a foundation that allows them to successfully graduate from MSU.”

Nationally, only 3-10% percent of former foster care students earn their bachelor’s degree by age 26. At Michigan State, that number rises to 32% amongst students previously in the foster system or living independently. 

Many more students at MSU qualify for FAME than are currently members of the program. Contact Chiquita Whittington at or schedule an appointment with the FAME office here