Mia Foote: Empath, Explorer, & Scholar

Jess DewesStudent Stories

Mia takes a midday break at a popular gathering spot on her college’s campus.

Mia Foote didn’t get here by accident. The oldest of five children, she developed a habit of leveraging resources to expand her horizons at an early age. Growing up in University City, MO, Mia has always wanted to build a meaningful life for herself.

Mia’s resourcefulness drew her to organizations like Wyman, where she discovered her love of independence and problem-solving at sleep-away camp as a middle schooler. Her relationship with Wyman continues to this day and she credits her mentor there with “being one of the top people that I have in my corner.” Mia attended Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School in the city of St. Louis. While there, she took advantage of every opportunity to connect with agencies that bolstered leadership skills and introduced her to area colleges through campus tours and activities, giving her important glimpses of the future she wanted for herself.

“I’ve been receiving financial aid from The Scholarship Foundation throughout my college experience,” the senior social work major and New Era scholar says. As she looks toward finishing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) next spring, it’s no surprise that Mia is thriving. Her appreciation of counseling, empathy, and public service is a big part of who she is. Two defining and starkly different summer experiences have brought this home for Mia.

In July of 2022, just after her sophomore year in college, there was a major flood in University City. Mia’s family home was hit hard. Working with her student advisor, Dominesha Newton, Mia was able to get help and stay on track in school. “I literally lost everything. I reached out to The Scholarship Foundation, and they were able to give me funds to buy new bedding and replace a dresser and clothing items.” Mia was able to start her junior year on time, with her necessary items replaced and her belief in the importance of community support systems reinforced.

Even before applying for college, Mia knew she one day wanted to study abroad, to learn about other cultures and people first-hand. At her Spring 2023 appointment with her academic counselor, she mentioned that she still wanted to study abroad, but didn’t know if there would be time to do so before graduation. She and her counselor worked together and found a perfect fit in Galway, Ireland: one month, two classes (Gaelic literature and creative writing), both satisfying elective requirements for graduation. She had a plan, but she needed help.

To pull off the study abroad trip, Mia relied on her ability to assess a situation, identify what she needed to achieve her goals, and contact trusted professionals to help her get it done. One of her first moves was to reach out to Dominesha at the Foundation once again for advice about funding opportunities that could help her with trip expenses. With the assistance of a Foundation microgrant, Mia was able to assemble what she needed to cover the cost of airfare, additional housing expenses, and lost wages from her hourly work-study job at the UMSL Service Counseling and Social Advocacy Center.

Mia in Ireland.

In Ireland, Mia studied history and literature, took field trips to important regional landmarks, and explored the city of Galway and the surrounding region. While the experience included many tours of Irish castles and museums, what really made an impact on Mia as a student of social work was a trip to a former Irish workhouse where the poor would live and work to make whatever means they could to survive. She learned about horrible conditions and people who were devastated by famine and poverty. “Going to this country and learning their history, their struggles, was really eye opening. It was very humbling.”

Catching up on a beautiful fall day on UMSL’s campus this September, Mia beamed as she reflected on her four years on campus. “I love my school. I’m excited for the next chapter, too,” she said as she discussed visiting the campus job fair that afternoon. Confident and kind, Mia’s goal is for her next step to combine the professional skills she has gained from her degree program with the resilience and resourcefulness that she has been building within herself all along.

Click to read more from this issue of Opening Doors, Fall 2023.