William Mercer's testimony
William provided the following testimony to Michigan's legislative leaders.
"My name is William Mercer and I am from Detroit, Michigan. I attended Davis Aerospace and graduated from University Prep Science & Math. I am now a first generation college student at Henry Ford College majoring in accounting.
Like other students from Detroit, I have overcome the toughest barriers, such as lack of public transportation. For example my freshman year I had to take 8 buses a day just to get back and forth from home to school and to work. A single ride could be 1 to 2 hours long coming from the eastside of Detroit to Dearborn, where Henry Ford is located.
Also, throughout the semesters I found myself going to our school food pantry weekly to save money, being that I was barely at home due to school and work. Buying groceries and fast food was too expensive. While working one job wasn’t enough to keep me afloat with bills outside of school, I decided to take advantage of work study by becoming a mentor on campus where I began working a total of 2 jobs, 56 hours a week, and still making an effort to maintain decent grades in 5 classes.
However, despite these hardships I’ve faced over the last 3 years, fortunately enough I'll be graduating this May of 2020 with 80 credits and an Associates in Accounting with plans to transfer.
I am asking for your support on several social problems I and many other college students of Detroit face. Starting with the increase of Pell Grant. Although I have benefited from the Detroit Promise Fund, at the university it won’t be able to cover everything beyond tuition.
Also, I ask that you take in consideration expanding the work study hours and wage. I was limited to working 16 hours a week to minimum wage which wasn’t enough to support me with our standard of living.
Lastly, I want to point focus on the K-12 system as it relates to college readiness. I believe we should have more programs that help teach students early on in high school, not just 11-12th grade, about FAFSA, differences between community college vs university, and just basic college knowledge.
I would like to thank you for taking your time out to meet with me today and listen to me."