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Success Stories

Refuses to Be a Statistic

Posted on July 01, 2013

Picture of Thomas Wise

It’s a startling statistic: 94 percent of foster youth will not graduate from college.  But, odds like that can also be powerful motivation.  They were for Thomas Wise. 

Wise grew up in the foster-care system, and in May 2013, he earned his Associate of Science in Business Administration from John Tyler Community College, becoming the first student in the College’s Great Expectations program to graduate.  (link to

Great Expectations provides much-needed support to youth aging out of the foster-care system and transitioning to college.  Sometimes it’s help navigating the financial aid or class scheduling process.  Other times, it’s finding transportation or a place to live.  For Wise, it was guidance at that critical moment when he realized he wanted to switch from studying engineering to studying business. 

Each Great Expectations student is paired with a mentor, and Wise’s mentor helped him make the transition to business and then guided him to the next step: transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University to work on a bachelor’s degree. Now, the young man who already has one big milestone behind him is moving on to the next challenge.  How’s that for beating the odds?

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