Honors Program at Ferris State University

Student Highlight: Melissa Henderson

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The main goal of the Honors service hours requirement is to encourage students to work alongside and contribute to not only the Ferris community but the Big Rapids community as a whole. We like to hear that our students have made a difference in their community through their service, so when we received word from Lake County DHHS commending one of our student volunteers, Melissa Henderson, we wanted to share the news with the entire Honors community! Below is the letter we received about Melissa’s contributions from DHHS’s Julie Knoop.

I am sending this email to personally comment Melissa Henderson for her contribution to the foster parent training that was held on Saturday, September 19th. All of the Ferris students did well, but Melissa stood out to me because of her professionalism and the outstanding individual attention she provided to one of our special needs foster children.

This specific child presented at the training and almost immediately began displaying aggressive behaviors towards the other children and adults that were assisting with the daycare effort. It was apparent that he was overwhelmed with the chaotic environment, and required one-on-one attention. As the only supervisor present, I was sought out to assist with his behaviors, as it was felt that his specific needs required someone more experienced with special needs children. Melissa was asked to watch me, and then model my intervention and help direct his attention for the remainder of the training. This involved very active playing and eyes-on supervision for approximately 5-6 hours. Melissa devoted her time to this youth, including providing positive feedback and redirecting him as necessary when he started to get a little aggressive. After several hours of hard play, this young man actually put himself to sleep on the cot while watching a movie.

Please share this with Melissa. I expressed my gratitude to her after the training, but I wanted her to truly understand what she did. Our foster children come to us with a lot of baggage, and often times people in the general public shy away from interacting with them because of their issues. Melissa is not one of those people and I am so appreciative of her altruism!

Thank you, Melissa, for all your hard work and we hope our Honors students will take this as a prime example of why we consider “service” to be one of our 4 columns of the Honors program!