Guardian Scholars Program
Guardian Scholars is a small group of motivated students. Their path to college was filled with obstacles that they overcame. They have amazing resilience, and love and care for each other. Every one of these students wants to make a difference for siblings still in foster care or a difference in the world.
- Connie Hernandez Robbins, Guardian Scholars assistant director
Charting a Steady Course
One by one, students in the Guardian Scholars program sit down with Connie Hernandez Robbins to check their class schedules at the beginning of the semester. Outside of her office, the others get to know each other, sharing where they’re from and what school they went to. There’s no talk about having been in foster care, but beneath the conversation, they know they’re all connected.
“All the students, like me, struggle with their past and having to grow up really quick,” says computer engineering student Israel. “Guardian Scholars provides an atmosphere where we feel like we can succeed in life.”
Rather than focusing on his time in foster care, Israel prefers to concentrate on school and his future. He has already completed two summer internships at Hewlett Packard’s office in Houston, Texas. During the school year, he works part time, is active in the Society of Electrical Engineers and Scientists student club, and has been a peer advisor for Community Engineering Learning and Listening (CELL).
Since the program started, Guardian Scholars, which is part of the Educational Opportunity Program, has helped over 3,000 former foster youths like Israel to see college in their future as a strong reality. The program provides the kind of help most students count on their families for: help transitioning to college, finding housing, and navigating admissions, financial aid and academic advising.
None of this would be possible without generous support from alumni David Amoroso, Connie L. Lurie, and Bank of the West. Jan Terry has also supported the program and has taken a personal interest in Israel and the other students.
“It’s great when that fire inside you that was dying slowly is lit up again because you see that people care for you and want to help,” Israel says.