student success

Student story: A growing connection to the college

By Henry Ford College

Tamon Howard went from struggling in high school to becoming a Detroit Promise student at Henry Ford College (HFC), where his GPA is 3.4.

Howard was on academic probation at Renaissance High School in Detroit. He transferred to Oak Park Virtual Academy, which gave him the opportunity to work at his own pace. His grades improved and he even graduated a few months ahead of schedule in 2022.

“HFC was the first college to accept me, and that definitely influenced me,” said Howard. “My dad (Tamon Howard, Sr.) attended HFC (then called Henry Ford Community College), so that was also attractive. It wasn’t a hard decision, because I feel connected to the campus.”

A community of belonging

Because he lives in Detroit, Howard was eligible for the Detroit Promise, 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 pays for the associate degree tuition and fees as long as the students stay 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 success. Howard’s coach is Reco Spencer.

“I don’t know how I’d be able to afford to attend school and keep my sanity without the Detroit Promise,” said Howard. “It’s an invaluable asset. It’s given me a community, a place I belong, a family. I’ve been able to grow as a person, come out of my shell, and make connections with people that I never would have known otherwise. It has been the foundation of my college experience here at HFC.”

Developing skills in surprising ways

Howard is majoring in pre-nursing and works as a Student Ambassador, supporting visiting incoming students as part of the Admissions and Recruiting team.

“I volunteered during Discover Day last fall. I really enjoyed that experience and get to work with Delphine Davis [HFC on-campus recruiter],” he recalled. “As a Student Ambassador, I give tours around the campus for prospective HFC students. I talk with them about my experiences. I give them information that I wish I had prior to coming here. I also help Delphine prepare for events and do whatever I can around the office.”

Howard continued: “I like this job. It’s given me the push that I needed to listen better and has enhanced my communications skills. It’s given me the confidence, especially when speaking. People are listening to what I have to say, and what I am saying does matter. If nobody is speaking, I will fill that silence. It’s given me skills that I can take anywhere.”

Davis is impressed by what Howard has brought to the table.

“Tamon is a hard worker and has a zest for life,” said Davis. “At such a young age, he shares wisdom based on his experience with students who are contemplating higher education. He is definitely an asset to our team.”

Shining even brighter

Howard is grateful to his teachers and called out HFC biology instructor Vivian Johnson.

“She softened my approach to college. She was welcoming and accepting and understanding of my situation,” explained Howard. “She showed me that attending college doesn’t have to be a grind. There are people here who are willing to help you and can connect you to resources that can help you. It’s not ‘all or nothing.’”

HFC has given Howard the opportunity to find himself and expand his horizons.

“The size of the campus gives you a personalized learning experience. It lets you know that you’re ready for college. If you’re not ready, HFC will get you ready. HFC has a support system that will either help you transfer to a 4-year school or find a job,” said Howard. “You feel that you owe something to the College when you leave because of how well it treats you. It makes you want to give back.”

“Tamon is a star that hasn’t realized how bright his light shines,” said Spencer. “He is intelligent and thoughtful by nature. Tamon is a star. Once he knows this, he will shine even brighter.”

This article originally appeared here.

Henry Ford College

is a community college in Dearborn, Michigan.