Undergraduate finds support with Fostering Success program

By University Communications
February 22, 2016
UW-Stout student Javauhn Staley, who lived with a sister while growing up, is involved with the university’s Fostering Success program and speaks with high school students in foster or kinship care.

Photo: UW-Stout student Javauhn Staley is involved with Fostering
Success and speaks with high school students in foster or kinship care.

University of Wisconsin-Stout undergraduate and athlete Javauhn Staley always knew he wanted to attend college, even when life took some unexpected turns.

When Staley was 14 years old, his mother died and the family fell apart. The youngest of eight children, Staley stayed with his father and older brother, but without the structure and discipline he needed, he got into trouble, including being expelled from school twice.

The family decided that he should move in with one of his big sisters. “She was more like a mom,” he said.

His nieces and nephews were close to his age too. It was a better living arrangement, and there he stayed until he graduated from high school.

Because he was living with his sister, not a foster family, his situation is referred to as kinship care.

Today, Staley, who grew up in Sanford, Fla., is a junior majoring in criminal justice and rehabilitation and playing for the Blue Devils football team as a cornerback.

Staley is happy to be at UW-Stout. “The classes are small enough that I can get one-on-one help from my teachers,” he said. The teachers are accessible, and he has used the tutoring labs, math and writing, many times, he said.

Staley also is involved with the university’s program Fostering Success. The program, designed for university students who are orphans, homeless or were in foster or kinship care sometime in their past, has helped him academically and socially.

He also has had the opportunity to meet with high school students who are in foster care and to be a role model as someone who achieved goals despite setbacks. “I can identify with these kids,” he said.

“Nationwide less than 3 percent of youth who have been in foster or kinship care graduate with their bachelor’s or associate’s degree,” said Greta Munns, Fostering Success liaison. In 2015, three students who were part of the Fostering Success program graduated from UW-Stout.

“Javauhn is a gifted and committed student athlete, and even beyond that, he's a grateful, determined young man,” Munns said.

“Despite being busy with football, Javauhn has always been willing to talk to incoming students about the unique supports offered for foster, homeless and orphaned youth through the program and to offer his experience and empathy to make college feel realistic for those who in the past may have seen it as unattainable,” she said.

Choosing UW-Stout

After graduating from high school, Staley was recruited to play football at Concordia College of Alabama in Selma. After attending for a year, and visiting UW-Stout where coaches also were interested in him, he decided to transfer.

He wanted to go somewhere very different from his experience growing up. Plus, he had never lived where it snows.

Javauhn Staley is a cornerback on the UW-Stout football team.At UW-Stout, Staley’s football statistics include: action in nine games in 2015, including starting in the first five of the season. He had 34 tackles, including 22 solo and 12 assisted. In 2015 he also picked off a pass in two consecutive games and broke up five total passes.

“Javauhn, or as his teammates call him, J-Rock, has a great story to tell. He is a persistent athlete and has a passion for the game. It has been fun to work with him on and off the field and to watch him grow both athletically and academically,” said Clayt Birmingham, head football coach.

Staley chose his major because he likes the idea of being in a job where he can help people, and his uncle is a sheriff, he said. He also is interested in being an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

But that’s the backup job. His dream job is as a professional athlete.

Looking back on his life and the difficulties he faced as a young teen, Staley points to his high school coaches as being a crucial factor to his survival. They provided emotional and practical support at the time. “They are like uncles to me,” he said. Staley still is in contact with them and sees them when he goes back to Florida during his breaks.

For more information on what the university offers foster youth, go to Admissions/Foster Youth.



Javauhn Staley is a cornerback on the UW-Stout football team.