RHODE ISLAND — The Tom and Terri Murphy Foundation is pleased to announce the enrollment of Stephen Baker, of Warwick, into the VUnited Scholars Program at Villanova University. Set to join the academic program as a student in the fall of 2022, Stephen is the first graduate of the highly-successful Options Program at Bishop Hendricken High School to advance into the Wildcat family.
“Stephen Baker is the first of many. The Foundation is thrilled to have established and funded the VUnited Scholars program at Villanova University, supporting deserving students like Stephen,” said Martha Murray, National, Director of the Tom and Terri Murphy Foundation.
Because of the advocacy and financial backing of the Foundation, Villanova’s fast-growing program, a first at a Catholic institution of higher education, utilizes academic and life skills curricula to foster independence in motivated students with mild to moderate intellectual differences. Stephen’s acceptance and enrollment after his successful completion of the Options Program further reinforces the idea that students of diverse abilities can grow and learn through all levels of Catholic eduction.
“Stephen’s acceptance into Villanova’s program answers a question posed to me eight years ago,” Tom Murphy, Founder of the Tom and Terri Murphy foundation, explained, “where do I go from here? Students like him are the reason our Foundation exists.”
Inspired by the mission, students, and graduates of Bishop Hendricken’s Options Program, which offers a faith-based high school experience to young men with differing learning abilities, Tom and Terri Murphy turned their attention to the next step in a student’s academic career, passionately advocating for the creation of a similar organization at the university level.
“When Stephen first started his academic career at Bishop Hendricken in 2016, we were elated. The growth he experienced was astonishing,” said his mom, Kerry Baker, “We never imagined that he would have an opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious, private Catholic Universities in the country…We are forever grateful to all those who have donated their time talent and treasure to establish a program for young adults in a Catholic setting.”
“I am super excited to go to Villanova! I am a Friar Fanatic so it will take me a little bit to transition, but while I am at Nova I will be a great Wildcat Fan!!!,” Stephen said.
The Tom and Terri Murphy Foundation, a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization, facilities and supports the establishment of inclusive programs in Catholic high schools and colleges for motivated young adults with mild to moderate intellectual differences, allowing them to fully explore and realize both their intellectual and personal potentials.