NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — This weekend, seven students at Fisk University got a move-in day surprise, complete with a dorm room makeover and items needed to set up their school year for success.
The “Move-in Day Mafia” (MIDM) was created two years ago to help underprivileged students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
News 2 spoke with a Fisk sophomore and MIDM scholar, Jeremiah Armstead, who dreams of playing basketball or practicing sports medicine in the future.
“I always wanted to go to college, I kind of had a feeling that I wasn’t going to go to college because of my circumstances and how I was growing up living, which was due to homelessness and sleeping out of our car, living at beaches, and stuff like that,” Armstead explained.
On Sunday, Aug. 6, Armstead got to see the dorm room he’ll call home this school year, outfitted with everything from bedding and furniture to snacks and cleaning supplies.
“To have a room to myself, that means a lot, and to have it decorated and stuff like that just means so much more to me because I didn’t have that growing up,” he said.
Two years ago, Tennessee native TeeJ Mercer started the MIDM program, which helps students aging out of foster care, those struggling with homelessness, and those without financial support from family.
“I saw a video, a TikTok, of a young woman who had graduated, it was her graduation day, and she was doing a 360 of just showing everybody with their families,” Mercer recalled. “She said, ‘No one’s here, but I made it! I did it!’ And so that struck me, like, no one should be at their graduation alone.”
This year, Mercer will help a total of 39 scholars at HBCUs across the country, but she admitted she needs help expanding her reach.
“We need a lot of money. It takes about $1,700 to move in a scholar, get them set up for about the first two weeks of care packages, but then after that, we need donors who are willing to actually donate on a monthly basis so that we can take care of them,” Mercer said.
For scholars like Armstead, MIDM has made a world of difference. He also hopes to encourage others facing similar struggles.
“I always say this every interview I have, [for] people that’s in my predicament, never give up because you never know when it could turn around,” Armstead said.
If you’d like to donate to MIDM or volunteer, you can find more information by clicking here.