Jennifer

Jennifer
San Francisco State University
Major: Psychology (subject to change) Minor: Music

How do you view higher education?
A way of self-improvement. For me, and a lot of kids with my situation, it is easy for me to doubt myself. But I realized that even if it is hard at first, or even if I don’t succeed the first time, the feeling I get from bouncing back—it gets to me. Being able to bounce back from my mistakes and hard times, it makes me feel stronger; it gives me a high on life. I want to succeed.

Did you always want to go to college?
Yes, absolutely. I grew up with a single mom, who was a chef. I was very proud of my mom and what she could accomplish despite our situation. But I knew there were opportunities if I left. I was very blessed to have foster parents who cared about me very much. They wanted to support me going on.

How did you hear about Guardian Scholars?
I had an ILP liaison that told me that I was smart enough to skip junior college and helped me apply to SF State. I did the Summer Bridge Program and Guardian Scholars really held my hand through that process.

What is the biggest way Guardian Scholars helped you?
Connecting me with other kids like me. Those of us who were in foster care, we really get each other in a different way than other kids. They don’t sympathize, they understand and support in a different way. All of us walked onto campus for the first time and didn’t really know what to do. But my roommates were all in the same situation I was in. I remember breaking down in the bathroom and locking myself in. My roommates sat on the other side of the door and just talked to me. I remember thinking, “all of us are freaking out, but we are freaking out together.” Them actually listening, actually understanding, that was irreplaceable.

Some former foster youth find it difficult to tell others that they were in foster care. Why do you think that is? How do you feel?
I think some guys are angry. But I think of it as an extension of how I am and it will always be part of who I am. I was angry before—when I was taken away. It wasn’t until I tried to run away from my foster parents and Social Services called a meeting. That was the first time I saw my foster mom cry. She thought she was powerless. That shook me. I realized that they were supporting me. They didn’t try to change me. They helped me become someone I like.

If you could give a message to all current foster youth, what would you say?
You have to have hope. When you have hope, anything is possible. If you think you can or can’t, that’s what you will do.

You have to remember, you are in charge of your future. And that is scary, but it is okay to be a little scared.

These kids need each other. They don’t necessarily need more therapists or CASA workers. They don’t need someone pitying them; they don’t want to have to explain themselves. They need other people that just know.