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From the President: Making Siena Heights a “Home Away from Home”

Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD President

Students—and many of our graduates— often refer to Siena Heights University as their “home away from home.” And we try to be exactly that for them in so many ways.

But what about those students who arrive at Siena Heights on a one-way ticket? For them, Siena Heights is their home.

Are you surprised we have homeless students here at SHU? We do. It’s not something we advertise or want to promote, however, we certainly want to call attention to their situation. In fact, this issue of Reflections reveals the challenges of a few of our homeless students, from their day-to-day struggles to the long-term trials they often face. We not only nurture their physical, emotional and educational needs, but their spiritual as well.

And, just as important, we also want to highlight the sometimes-herculean efforts of our faculty, staff and administration to help these students succeed.

At Siena Heights, we take a proactive approach to homelessness on a variety of levels. We host an annual homeless conference each year that discusses these issues and helps connect community resources with these needy individuals. SHU faculty member Sister Pat Schnapp and Tom Puszczewicz of SHU Campus Ministry continue to head Siena’s participation in the Salvation Army’s Share the Warmth program that helps house and feed the homeless in Lenawee County.

Also, Beth McCullough, one of our outstanding graduates, is meeting the local homeless challenge head-on. Her work as the homeless liaison for Adrian Public Schools aids homeless high school students in achieving their college goals. You can read about her story in greater detail in this issue.

However, the work we do with our own homeless student population touches me on a very personal level. As a trained social worker, my heart is with these students, many of whom come to us with nowhere else to go. I tear up every time I think of these students. Every fiber of my being wants to reach out and embrace them, and tell them someone cares.

Read more . . .