Student with down syndrome surprised with scholarship to continue her education

By James Felton

UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. (WNEM) -- A Mid-Michigan woman is achieving her life-long goal of attending college and now, a non-profit is making sure she lives out that dream.

Jessica Day’s smile lit up the room at Saginaw Valley State University.

She has down syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing her education at SVSU.

Day and her family have been paying her tuition entirely out of pocket but that changed when she was surprised with a $5,000 scholarship.

“This is amazing,” Day said. “This is my first time and I loved it.”

The scholarship comes from the non-profit Ruby Rainbow, which supports people with down syndrome.

Founder Liz Plachta named the organization after her daughter Ruby, who also has down syndrome.

“This is my jam,” Plachta said. “I just love every second of it. To me being able to help somebody like my daughter go for their dreams of higher education and independence means the world to me.”

Day’s parents were also on hand for the big occasion. Her father, John, said winning this scholarship means the world to this daughter.

“For her to see that, it just acknowledges the amount of support that she in the community and here at SVSU,” John said.

A lot of that support comes from the Think Cardinal Program. Ted Lind is the program’s coordinator.

“Jessica works with peer mentors, so those are SVSU students,” Lind said. “They come from all majors but more typically in some of your health professions programs and they assist Jessica where it’s needed on campus.”

As for Jessica, she is set to graduate in the spring and while she appreciates all the help she’s received so far.

She doesn’t plan to stop chasing her dreams anytime soon.

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