Bay Commitment Scholars get the support they need to succeed at SVSU and Delta College

When Grace Wrzesinski met with the College & Career Adviser at John Glenn High School, she walked away with more than a stack of scholarship applications.

Wrzesinski also decided to follow Engelberts’ career path.

Photo Courtesy of Photography by Melissa MartinIn 2019, Grace Wrzesinski started collecting personal hygiene supplies for teens in foster care. Today, she's a Bay Commitment Scholar.Wrzesinski, who graduated from John Glenn a few weeks ago, is headed to Saginaw Valley State University this fall to study psychology as a Bay Commitment Scholar.

Since 2008, the Bay Area Community Foundation’s Bay Commitment Scholarship Program has helped first-generation college students attend Delta College or Saginaw Valley State University. The $2,000 scholarship goes to as many as 100 students each year.

For Wrzesinski, meeting with a counselor and applying for the scholarship helped her set career goals. She plans to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from SVSU. Eventually, she wants to earn a Master’s Degree in counseling with the goal of becoming a school counselor.

“That’s because of my high school counselor,” Wrzesinski says.

She always knew she wanted to work with kids, but wasn’t sure what career she wanted to pursue. But after talking to her counselor and her mom, Jodi Wrzesinski, she realized becoming a high school counselor could fulfill her goals.

Wrzesinski says she’s not the only person Engelberts has inspired. In her speech at graduation, Wrzesinski praised Engelberts for encouraging the seniors and showing them how to build on their successes in high school.

“(My graduation speech) was really about my school counselor and the impact she’s made on all the seniors’ lives. Every senior knows who she is,” Wrzesinski says.

“She comes into our classrooms, she sits there and pushes us to apply for scholarships. I’m sure half the kids wouldn’t have these scholarships if she didn’t show us how.”

Engelberts says she pushes the scholarship program because she knows it gives students the extra help they need to succeed in college. 

“The Bay Commitment Scholarship provides our first-generation students the opportunity to go to college and eases the stress of the financial burden,” Engelberts says.

“This scholarship also keeps our youth in our community offering support with every step of the college application process and enrolling. It can be extremely overwhelming without this extra layer of support. I am extremely fortunate that my senior English teachers allow me to come into their classrooms to spend the time to work with each student on the scholarship. So many students think they can't afford to go or that they won't get a scholarship, this opportunity gives them hope.”

At SVSU, Marie Rabideau offers regular guidance as she oversees the Bay Commitment scholars. The scholars are required to attend routine meetings with Rabideau to check in on how things are going. In addition she makes herself available for questions that come up before or after those meetings.

"It's helpful for them to have somebody they can go to. Can I answer all their questions? No. But can I find somebody who can answer those questions? Yes," Rabideau says. "I'm here to help. I hope they feel free to call me or ask questions. I tell them, we want to retain you. We want to see you graduate." 

Rabideau adds she encourages all students to reach out for help, not just those in the Bay Commitment Scholarship Program.

Wrzesinski says she appreciates the support and the scholarship. 

“It’s really going to help me,” Wrzesinski says. 

“My parents (Jodi and Kent Wrzesinski) have really set up my life pretty well for me, but they definitely don’t have the money to send me to college. I knew I was going to have to pay for my own college. I knew scholarships were something I was going to have to do. When I found out I got the Bay Commitment Scholarship, it’s really going to help me,” she says. 

Even before she enrolls at SVSU, Wrzesinski is working with children.

For about two years, she’s run Grace’s Photography, shooting senior, maternity, newborn, family, and dance pictures. She also operates Project In The Stars, a nonprofit organization that provides personal hygiene items for teens in foster care. Read more about Project In The Stars in this 2022 Route Bay City article.

For now, she’s let the nonprofit slow down as she gets ready for college. Her family marks two big transitions this summer.  While Wrzesinski gets ready for college, her younger sister, Alayna Wrzesinski, is preparing for her freshman year at Bay City Central High School this fall.

Once everything slows down and Wrzesinski and her sister are settled into school, Grace plans to continue with both her photography business and her philanthropic work.

“I’m just letting life lead me where it wants to go. That’s my mindset,” she says.

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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at