MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Students with all sorts of different backgrounds call Middle Tennessee State University home, including some that are homeless.
“A lot of students are in classes with other students who are homeless and they don’t even know it,” said Becca Seul. “It’s not something that is very publicized by those students in those situations just because they don’t want to be treated any differently.”
Ten years ago, Seul said she was speaking with a student who hadn’t eaten in two days. They started talking about the student’s situation and realized this was a problem that needed to be addressed.
That was the beginning of MTSU’s Next Step program, which focuses on those students that are without a home or at-risk.
“We have people in housing, we have people in financial aid, our student support services, our trio office, that if we call them and say we’ve got a Next Step student that needs x, y, and z, they know, this is what I need to do, and this is how I can help them.”
Since the launch of the program, Seul said they have helped about 1,500 students.
The program has made such an impact that the Tennessee legislature has taken notice. According to WTVF in Nashville, lawmakers are currently working on a bill that would create similiar positions at other schools across the state.
“It allows the students to focus on their studies instead of whether they’ll have a place to sleep, or food to eat,” Seul said.
“They’re so excited that they can actually come to school, because most of them don’t think they can actually get through the process and get the money to go to school, much less to live.”