How Supporting Basic Needs Makes the Difference between a Diploma or Dropping Out
Empowering Success for Foster Youths
It’s easy to understand how young adults in the foster system face extremely significant obstacles in achieving long-term stability and academic success. Basic needs such as housing, nutrition, transportation and emotional stability are heavy burdens to overcome. The College of the Desert Foundation recognizes these burdens and proudly supports the Foster Youth Services (FYS) program, which has helped 100 marginalized and underserved COD students attain academic and lifelong success and supports the complex needs of young adults who have experienced traumatic hardships. Because of FYS, these students have a place to go between classes to grab a snack, study, speak with a counselor or lean on each other and build each other up so they can continue pursuing their dreams of a bright future and new opportunities. The results have been positively overwhelming with stories that we want to share.
Meet Eveny Felix
As a freshman majoring in Biology and Science, Eveny has future plans to transfer to a four-year university and one day become a neurosurgeon. She and her three brothers were placed in the foster care system when she was in high school – until she aged out. “My mother was a single mother of four, so it was rough on her,” states Eveny. “The stress became too much, which left all the pressure on me, being the oldest daughter. I was taking care of three little boys on my own, and I had just started high school. Needless to say, it was a rough transition.”
After graduating from high school in Hemet, she returned to the Coachella Valley to be closer to her family. She had her sights set on a college degree, so she registered at COD, where she soon learned about Foster Youth Services. Eveny says she was incredibly appreciative of the comprehensive services they provided, including priority registration for her classes, assistance on picking the right classes to achieve her future career path, funding for textbooks and school supplies, and even assisting her in getting her California ID. With feelings of relief and gratitude, Event shares, “COD has meant a lot to me. The donors who are supporting FYS are impacting so many people and they are saving lives. Every Foster Youth Services student understands that FYS is a safe and caring environment where everyone is welcome and supported. It has changed my life!”
Meet Stephanie Monroy
Stephanie Monroy is a recent COD Alumna who graduated with her degree in Psychology and Early Childhood Development, along with getting her degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Behavioral Sciences. Stephanie entered the foster care system in middle school, which took an enormous negative toll on her. “It was a tough and dark time for me,” she shares. “I kind of just shut down and didn’t care too much about my school or my future. My sister attended COD and convinced me to come. I started to find focus and direction; creating goals became so important to me. It felt like a breath of fresh air.” Stephanie felt inspired after getting involved with the many clubs at COD. She befriended Carla, the Fostering Youth Knowledge club president, and they became very close. “It felt as if her motivation and drive to succeed rubbed off on me. Then as a new school year began and many club members had graduated, leaving positions available, I was asked to be the president and accepted, serving until it was her time to graduate. FYS has been so supportive of me from the moment I started. The center, the program, the people, it was definitely a second home for me, a second family.”
“COD’s Foster Youth program is a saving grace for many students. Without their generosity, resourcefulness and support in giving us back our self-confidence, I don’t know if any of us would be where we are today. Thank you to the amazing donors who have funded this program, which has significantly impacted our lives and the lives of so many others.”
Stephanie attends Cal State San Bernardino with plans to pursue a career in child therapy and is focusing her studies on supporting foster care youths. “While in foster care, I always wished I had someone there to talk to me and help me. Now, as an adult, I want to encourage others just like the counselors at COD did for me,” she says. The inspiration and encouragement that Stephanie received from FYS will be passed down to future generations of students. “It’s all thanks to the donors for making it possible for students like me to have a second chance in life. We are all walking proof of people who have been positively impacted by the generous donations from the donors.”
Meet Jasmine Lopez
Jasmine Lopez is also a recent COD Alumna who graduated with her Associate’s degree in Health Science. She is currently taking extra classes to apply for COD’s well acclaimed Nursing program. Jasmine was inspired to become a nurse back in high school. She started her freshman year at Indio High School and began participating in their health academy with great interest. Shortly thereafter, she and her siblings entered the foster care system. Jasmine then found herself tossed in and out of the system, constantly moving from school to school, and losing her ability to be in the health academy. During her senior year of high school, she got pregnant. Holding fast to her dreams of attending COD, she gave birth to her little boy and signed up for classes after graduation. When she arrived on campus, it all became too overwhelming, and she dropped her classes.
Everything changed for Jasmine seven years later. As she was getting her second son ready for kindergarten, he looked up and asked her, “Mommy, when are you going to school?” Finally, she recalls, she decided it was time for her to make a change. Though she had buried them deep within her busy life, she realized that she still had dreams of becoming an ER nurse.
This time around at COD, she discovered FYS. The staff helped her enroll in classes, gave her a safe space to study and introduced her to other foster kids and the Child Development Center. The program even gave her an on-campus job so she didn’t have to leave campus and miss dinner time with her boys. FYS was a lifeline for Jasmine. “Countless students and myself have found incredible courage and resiliency within myself because of the unyielding support I have received through FYS and the COD Foundation,” she says. At graduation, FYS presented her with a blue tassel – the Foster Youth symbol. Her kids were so proud of her achievement, and now Jasmine is more determined than ever to become an ER nurse and help others in their time of need.
Become a Path Builder, Give a Student a Chance to Achieve their Degree
Since March of 2020, 70% of COD students lost their income source, and nearly 50% had their housing disrupted. Food insecurity is on the rise and our Valley is desperate for trained workers, yet our students navigate multiple jobs, battle inflation and struggle to regain years of lost revenue – all while juggling childcare and striving to complete their degree. In too many cases, they will relinquish their dreams of building a career and a better life. In too many cases, they will relinquish their dreams of building a career and a better life. No student should miss out on a quality education due to a lack of resources. When we provide COD students with comprehensive access to education, we produce a professional workforce to strengthen our Valley’s social and economic infrastructure.
Join the COD Foundation in providing critical resource assistance to Empower COD Students to Spread Their Wings.
Support COD’s Foster Youths. Donate to CODFoundation.org, call 760.773.2561 or email Cabbott@CollegeoftheDesert.edu.