黑料网 Guardian Scholars program empowers foster youth to reach their goals

Published January 3, 2023

After a long road to community college, Leslie Loftis鈥 transition to a four-year university was a 鈥渃ulture shock.鈥 She explored another CSU campus closer to home but didn鈥檛 feel she would fit in.聽

鈥淭he Guardian Scholars orientation sold me on Long Beach,鈥 said the fourth-year major. 鈥淢eeting students who were just coming out of foster care and older students like me 鈥 people who have been through what I鈥檝e been through 鈥 made me feel like I could settle in here. I didn鈥檛 feel invisible.

鈥淭he program does give you a family feeling,鈥 Loftis added. 鈥淭hat sense of community is really important 鈥 it鈥檚 been the most powerful thing for me.鈥澛

Cal State Long Beach鈥檚 Guardian Scholars program helps current and former foster youth pursue and reach their educational goals through academic counseling, financial aid advising, tutoring, mentorship and skills assessment. Counselors also connect students to on-campus resources and services that ensure support during their time at The Beach, as well as college retention and graduation.聽

Programs like Guardian Scholars that empower Beach students and lift up the university's most vulnerable are investment priorities of the聽No Barriers comprehensive fundraising campaign. 聽

When fellow sociology major Georgette Shobeiri came out of the foster care system, help was not readily available. Although similar programs are now more common, as foster youth 鈥渋t can be hard to believe that somebody has your best interest at heart. You鈥檙e constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop,鈥 she said.聽

鈥淚t鈥檚 hard enough being a foster kid 鈥 but when you find that commonality and you have somebody that has that true understanding of what it鈥檚 like to go into the system, it makes you feel more comfortable,鈥 added the third-year student, who was once a court-appointed special advocate for foster youth and hopes to work with them or older adults after graduation.聽

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Students sit on grass while working on computers
Guardian Scholars Leslie Loftis (left) and聽Georgette Shobeiri say the program eases the stigma of being a foster child by offering services and support.

Among the resources Loftis found helpful through the program were internship opportunities, including one that grew into a permanent position.聽

鈥淎ll the internships I鈥檝e had have been in line with my end goal,鈥 said Loftis, who hopes to one day become an educator at a community college or work with a program like Guardian Scholars.聽

Indeed, the Guardian Scholars program complements a Beach education as a tool for personal empowerment as it removes barriers to student achievement, opens doors to personal and professional growth, and boosts opportunities for career success and social mobility.聽

鈥淢ost of the kids that come in are really young. They need that guidance 鈥 and to know that they need to self-advocate and take advantage of resources,鈥 said Shobeiri, a Guardian Scholars Ambassador and the president of , a student-run organization that offers support and fellowship to foster youth.聽

鈥淪ometimes you need a person to hold your hand,鈥 she added. 鈥淚n whatever way I can support Guardian Scholars and advocate for them, I鈥檓 on board.鈥澛