In February, the U of R School of Education’s Student Success Partnership created the Senior Seminar program, a new offering for foster youths who are close to, at, or just beyond their senior year of high school. Over the past two months, six participants have learned about college and workplace readiness, and two of them were recently awarded scholarships that will help fund their academic goals.
The Senior Seminar provides participants with practical experience related to key topics for teenagers. With a focus on college preparation, the Seminar also equips students to enter the job market. During the program, participants explore different career options, learn about applying for scholarships, and gain an understanding of different financial aid packages, such as grants, loans, and work-study opportunities. Additionally, they learn how to apply for a job by creating a resume and participating in mock job interviews.
Two students were eligible to apply for the San Bernardino County Children’s Fund Shine-A-Light Scholarship, a competitive scholarship program open to foster and other vulnerable youth populations in the region. Nominated by Jazmine Campoa ’19, who served as the students’ writing coach and guided them through their application essays, the students each received a $500 scholarship to use toward school tuition, materials, or living expenses as they pursue the next step in their academic careers.
Their essays address how they were shaped by their life experiences, their role models, and how the scholarship will impact their future goals. One of the students, who is planning to attend a trade school in order to launch a career in home renovation and construction, detailed the experience of being arrested, incarcerated, and tried as an adult for selling drugs.
“That incident taught me a lot about myself as a person, about life, and how this justice system is set up,” the student writes. “I learned that I am very adaptable, patient, and self-controlled in adverse environments because I had a really good support system.”
The other student, who is looking forward to studying business administration, wrote about the personal and academic toll of losing both parents at a young age. After transferring to a new high school and fulfilling the credit requirement needed to graduate, the student has prioritized saving money in order to purchase a laptop and apply for college.
“Alongside purchasing a new laptop, I am also prioritizing college necessities such as transportation, housing, and textbooks,” the student writes. “I simply want to continue my education, receive my degree, and hopefully in the future own my own business. Any help I can get will go a long way and will be greatly appreciated.”
Funding for the Student Success Program comes from San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and the San Bernardino City Unified School District. I co-direct this program with Kelly Kwok, carrying on the mission set by the late School of Education Professor Emeritus and Student Success Program Director Carol Ann Franklin.