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CHICAGO (WLS) — There was an incredible show of support at the University of Chicago for veterans on Saturday.
The first cohort of veteran’s scholars walked across the graduation stage. One graduate now plans to build a world-class system for children in foster care.
Ricky Holder accepted his diploma while beaming with pride and surrounded by family.
“For the 10 years I was in foster care, I hardly saw any of them due to just the challenges that come with being in foster care, the separation of families,” Holder said.
The U.S. Navy veteran spent a decade in the foster care system as a child, split from his four brothers and mother, he said, due to extreme poverty. Now, he’s among more than a dozen of the first veteran’s scholars graduating from the University of Chicago on Saturday. He was also named a prestigious “Marshall Scholar,” one of just 40 in the United States with a laser focus.
“How do we keep families together? And, how do we make sure that kids who need the foster care system end up having a healthy and fruitful life?” Holder said.
Holder started his career with military service. And, as anyone can tell, he wants to continue a career of service and helping others.
“My hope is to create a child welfare system, so that what happened to my family when I was growing up doesn’t have to happen to another family,” Holder said. “Veterans get holistic services that aren’t really provided by other schools servicing veterans, which is why we were named best school for veterans in the United States.”
That’s work that he said wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Veteran Scholarship at University of Chicago that covered housing, tutoring and more.
“Veterans get holistic services that aren’t really provided by other schools servicing veterans, which is why we were named best school for veterans in the United States,” said Veterans Program Director Beau Butts. “For many years, our college suffered from not just the under-representation, but the non-representation of our incredible veterans and enlisted service members. That is, until you arrived.”
Now, the Veterans Scholarship Program is servicing nearly 80 veterans.
Holder now plans to study at Oxford University in England as he continues his journey.