Fostering Futures students share big dreams for a better life

Fostering Futures student Kira Bolger gets to know other incoming students.

Photos by Ralph Freso

Free pizza is always a joy for college students but seemed minor when Kira Bolger shared what it meant to be taking a slice into a college classroom.

 “I’m here because I want to go to college. In my situation, college wasn’t an option for me,” she said before an orientation session recently for 19 incoming Grand Canyon University students from foster care who received Fostering Futures Scholarships.

Bolger soon will begin study to one day be a health care professional.

“There were situations where I was being beat up or abused before I was put in foster care. In several situations, I have gone to the hospital, and they have always been there for me and helped me feel safe. I just want to bring that comfort to other people, especially children,” said Bolger, of Page, Arizona.

The road to overcome trauma can be hard, but that’s why GCU has partnered with Arizona Department of Child Safety to offer scholarships that cover 100% of tuition, fees and year-around room and board for Arizona children in foster care.

The program launched last academic year with 11 students as it worked through first-year refinements, and this year, organizers are expecting an enhanced experience with added mentorships and buddy programs for a group that completed an application process to land a scholarship.

“We’re really trying to be very intentional this year,” said Charity Norman, Director of Welcome Programs, which oversees the program. “I’m excited for them and praying for them.”

New Fostering Futures student Desiree Bivens-Uribe graduated in two years from her high school and dreams of opening a hotel.

The students are excited, too. They heard about the fun events on campus, the tight community of support, the dreams that could come true.

“I want to open up a resort hotel,” said Desiree Bivens-Uribe in an interview.

She spoke with confidence about her future, proud to say she graduated in two years from an alternative high school in Phoenix after dropping out and “being in and out of juvie (juvenile detention).”

“I have a harsh background. But an education opens me up to better things.”

That includes dreams of a hotel that helps people leave their troubles behind.

“I want people to be able to get out and experience life. When you are in foster care, you never get to experience your childhood. You are always in survival mode,” Bivens-Uribe said. “Just living and experiencing and being able to provide that to other people feels important.”

They know the challenges.

“I used to be a social person, but it’s really hard for me to get close to people because of the trauma of childhood. College promotes getting close to people,” she said.

“I think GCU offers a connected community, because it feels like I am always alone.”

Bolger said that she’s heard many good things about GCU, but she also is nervous about being around a lot of people.

“It might take me awhile to pick good people,” she said. “Also, the medical field is a lot of work, there is no ‘fake studying.’”

The two students joined the group to get to know each other and learn about all the support services, including a new mentoring program where participants will be matched in September with mentors that include student leaders, GCU staff and students from the Social Work program who provide guidance and advice.

They also will have peer buddies for encouragement and friendship.

Fostering Futures Student Administrator Brandi Turner talks with new Fostering Futures students.

“We are putting in a lot of support we didn’t have last year,” Fostering Futures Student Administrator Brandi Turner told the group. “We understand this is a whole new life for you.”

A life that many in the room couldn’t imagine before.

“A lot of times when you are going through the foster care system, you don’t have a lot of stability in your life,” said Emma Corse, a behavioral health technician who accompanied a student from her group foster home. “They think college isn’t available to them, so programs like this with resources and opportunities help them make the transition. It shows kids their options.”

It also provides a caring community — and one that nurtures dreams of a good life ahead.

When Turner asked students to share with the group what they are most excited about before joining the mass of excited students on Welcome Week at the end of August, Bivens-Uribe’s hand shot up.

“Growth,” she said.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected]

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Related content:

GCU Magazine: College dream realized for Fostering Futures student

GCU News: Fostering Futures move-in provides big lift

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How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

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