Stephens College Offers Scholarship for Fostering Pets

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COLUMBIA - Ten students from Stephens College got scholarships this year to foster pets through Columbia Second Chance.

The Second Chance Animal Care Scholarship Program provides each student with $3,000 for a tuition waiver and pet supplies.

Stephanie McHenry, one of the students in the scholarship program, said she was shocked and excited by the program when she heard about it.

"I can get a scholarship for loving and taking care of animals? It was so shocking to me. At the end of my senior year, I found out the new fostering scholarship program, and I was like, I really ought to try it out," McHenry said.

McHenry said this is a wonderful program. It helps ease her homesickness and made her a more responsible person.

"I think it's the money that lures the college students in, but it is the experience that keeps us and knowing that we are truly helping out these animals," McHenry said.

Valerie Chaffin, director for Columbia Second Chance, said her organization has been planning for this program with the Stephens College for years. She said the organization has had a relationship with Stephens College for years through administration and students.

"A lot of students have volunteered with us, fostered with us, and adopted with us. And this program will make it mutually beneficial for both students and Second Chance," Chaffin said.

Chaffin said Second Chance is desperately and will always be in need of fosters and adoptors.

"We can't rescue any more dogs than we have foster homes for. Second chance can't thank Stephens College enough for supporting us, and supporting their students by the scholarship program. It opens up the foster homes in the Columbia community to allow us to rescue more dogs and find more homes for them," Chaffin said.

Ryan Smith, Director of Residence Life at Stephens College, said the college expects to continue the scholarship program next year, and may even expect to have more students in the program.

Stephens College started the pet program back around 2004, and Smith said it has been very successful. He said the program helps with the transition for in-coming freshmen students who are maybe not quite ready to go to college or make that separation from home, and the program also helps the student to develop a sense of responsibility.

Stephens College currently has about 50 pets living in its resident halls, including cats, dogs, lizards and a baby pig. Smith said Stephens College was just named the number one most pet friendly campus in the country in the past year.