Detroit Promise made it possible for Jerikiah Douglas to attend HFC

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Jerikiah Douglas on the left wearing a grey Henry Ford College hoodie and Mark Yancy on the right in a black blazer and blue T-shirt in front of the Detroit Promise logo.

Jerikiah Douglas would not have been able to attend college if it were not for the Detroit Promise.

“It’s benefitted me tremendously. Being a first-generation college student and the youngest of five siblings, it was hard for my single mom to support all of us going to college,” said Douglas, of Dearborn. “I would have had to somehow get a high-paying job without a degree or would’ve had to get a big scholarship to make a living.”

Fortunately, Douglas got the scholarship.

Detroit Promise is a tuition-free college program that grants any student graduating from any high school in Detroit a tuition-free path to an associate degree or technical certificate. The City of Detroit pays for tuition and fees for an associate degree, as long as the student stays on track toward their degree.

The program is administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce in partnership with colleges like HFC. HFC has the largest number of Detroit Promise students of any college. HFC follows the Applebaum Family Campus Coach model, which ensures that all Detroit Promise students have an individual Campus Success Coach to support them. Douglas’ Campus Success Coach is Mark Yancy, Jr.

“The Campus Success Coaches are there to help you through your college career,” said Douglas. “They’re there to give you a push and a steady hand to guide you along the way.”

HFC resources turned her into a better student confident of her abilities

Douglas graduated from Renaissance High School in Detroit. She will earn her associate degree in liberal arts from HFC in May 2024. Douglas will then transfer to Madonna University to work toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“I have a different way of learning. If I went to a big university right out of high school, I wouldn’t be as successful as I was by attending a college like HFC instead. I’m a one-on-one kind of learner. I benefit from being in small groups. That’s my style of learning. I knew that going to a community college first would be for the best, to get a feel for a larger school,” explained Douglas.

During her time at HFC, Douglas took advantage of the many resources and opportunities the College offers, including:

“Detroit Promise has given me many opportunities to prove myself as a person,” said Douglas. “The resources available at HFC have helped me and built me into a better student. They’ve given me a lot of skills. I used to be really shy, now I’m more personable. I used to be very nervous around people, now I’m more confident. I’ve connected with more people and have learned how to network.”

Yancy is proud of Douglas’ accomplishments.

“Jerikiah is an amazing student,” said Yancy. “She has taken potential barriers and used them as stepstools as she continues to progress and accomplish her goals. As her coach, I have had a front row seat witnessing her growth. I tell all my students, ‘College is not something that you can just put on top of everything else in your life; you have to treat it with value and importance.’ She thrives when challenged and is continuing to learn more about herself as she grows.”

Passion for helping others fueled her desire to become a nurse

Douglas spoke about her desire to become a nurse.

“As a kid, I always gravitated toward helping others, whether someone fell and hurt themselves on the playground or if someone cut themselves. I would make them as comfortable as I could or give them a bandage. I always had a passion for helping people,” recalled Douglas. “My mom worked in a hospital as a patient care technician. I would wait up late for her to get home and ask her about her day.”

When she was a senior at Renaissance, Douglas shadowed healthcare personnel at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit in the following departments:

  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU)
  • OB/GYN
  • ER
  • Administration

“This was when I decided I wanted to become a nurse. This gave me an understanding of how a hospital is run,” she said. “I want to be in the emergency department because it’s so fast-faced and there’s never a dull moment.”

After she earns her nursing degree, Douglas wants to work in an ER for a couple of years. Afterward, she wants to become a traveling nurse.

“As a traveling nurse, I can go around the world and help people in areas that don’t have many resources and limitations on medical care,” said Douglas. “Having a traveling nurse present will better their community and resources.”


Video: “The Detroit Promise Kept Its Promise” featuring Jerikiah Douglas

Douglas is one of three students featured in this one-minute video about the Detroit Promise free-college program.