Alexis Lenderman was intrigued to hear that Ananke Magazine, a women-focused digital magazine, created a list of the top 100 women from around the world making positive changes.
As the Western Michigan University senior scrolled through the list—seeing names like Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Obama, and one of her role models, activist Malala Yousafzai—Lenderman was shocked to see another familiar name.
“I was just looking to see who was on the list,” Lenderman admits. “I was stunned, and to see my name on the same list as names like Michelle Obama and Ellen and Oprah is surreal.”
Her entry onto the list is no fluke. Having grown up in Michigan’s foster care system from age 13 to 21, Lenderman understands the plight of foster youth and the instability it causes when trying to pursue a college education. As a result, Lenderman founded The Scholarship Expert, which is dedicated to connecting young adults with scholarships to attend college.
“I like to focus on foster care youth because they’re the most neglected in society,” she says. “What I want to do is go around high schools and hold workshops for foster youth or go around to foster care agencies and have their youth come in and hold scholarship workshops.”
Her passion doesn’t stop with her business. Lenderman has worked with the Park West Foundation, helping coordinate housing for forth youth and holding scholarship workshops for the foundation’s most recent Jump Shot Your Future college fair. She also helped raise more than $500 last month for Hope Pkgs to provide foster youth new bags full of supplies.
As her recently published article indicates, Lenderman is also advocating for colleges to provide support for foster care youth. In fact, she is living proof that this concept works. Thanks to the Seita Scholars Program, which is specifically designed to support foster care with year-round housing and other resources, she is in her senior year at Western Michigan University. She is working toward dual degrees in entrepreneurship and global and international studies with minors in nonprofit leadership and political science.
Lenderman has also been named a finalist for the Truman Scholarship, a premier graduate fellowship in the U.S. for those pursuing a career as a public service leader. She was selected from among 756 applicants who will earn $30,000 for graduate school. She plans on obtaining a master’s degree from Georgetown University in foreign services with a focus on international development.
“I was able to escape my circumstances and better myself, and I feel it would be incredibly selfish and neglectful to not give back the knowledge and skills and things I’ve learned to help other youth,” Lenderman says.
For more information on how the Park West Foundation supports foster care youth, visit the foundation’s website.