For young women, Stephens College is a transformational place they call home for three to four years. For some cats and dogs, the campus is also a temporary home — but one that’s just as life-changing.“I am in the pre-vet biology program and have always loved animals — so it was just something I needed to do,” said Sandra Wicklund, a Stephens College freshman.Dozens of students fostered pets this semester as part of the two-year-old partnership Stephens has with Second Chance, a no-kill shelter in Columbia. There are 20 scholarships offered to first-year students in exchange for fostering, but many students say they simply want to make a difference in an animal’s life.Foster parents agree that preparing dogs and cats for “forever homes” is the most rewarding part of participating in the program. That involves getting the animal used to being around new people and learning to trust them, senior Cheyenne Smith said.Students benefit, too. Tiawna Johnson, a junior, said she knew she’d be lonely coming to college without her dog. After fostering a cat, she fell in love with felines. Johnson said she likes coming home to a pet after a long day.Seeing undergraduate students foster animals inspired Alexis Guth, a graduate assistant, to participate. “I was inspired by the students who were giving back to their community,” she said. “After I began fostering, Second Chance encouraged me to assist with the program. I now manage foster cats on campus and help students who foster with any needs they may have.”
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