Jessica J.
Guardian Scholar, Hunter College

Jessica is a 21-year-old junior at Hunter College studying Childhood Education. Her interest in education and work with children was due to her struggles as a young child growing up in foster care. Placed in foster care at the age of six, Jessica had to learn to fend for herself, grow up quickly, and be strong for her siblings in a very chaotic environment. She and her siblings were placed with their grandmother, and she helped around the household including taking care of her siblings.

She is very active with her local church as a Youth Leader. She leads weekly teen and Bible study groups and his well respected by her peers and youth. She is also a very active member of the NYFC Youth Advisory Board, planning events for younger youth in foster care. In her spare time, she is a dance instructor for children in her community.

She received her Associate’s Degree in Childhood Education from the CUNY – College of Staten Island and will be pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education from Hunter College in the Fall. She hopes to become an elementary public school teacher or a principal and open a school for at-risk children.

Vanessa L.
Guardian Scholar, Kingsborough Community College

Vanessa is a 20-year-old freshman at Kingsborough Community College studying Business Administration. She is motivated to complete school with an Associate’s Degree and to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She aspires to become an entrepreneur and to start her own business.

Vanessa is very proud to be the first individual in her family to attend college. It was during her time in living upstate New York that revealed her love of learning. She believes going to college is an investment in one self. A college degree would mean endless possibilities and a means to reach her full potential. This means not only achieving her dreams but giving her the ability to help her community.

Vanessa currently works part-time as an usher at the Apollo Theater. She also volunteered for the Boys Club of New York. She also enjoys writing poetry in her free time.

Seong I.
Guardian Scholar, Hunter College

Seong is a 18-year-old freshman on the Pre-Medical Track at Hunter College. She is in the Macaulay Honors Program, a CUNY program for academically gifted students. She is passionate about women’s rights, especially surrounding reproductive and sexual health, and is interested in studying International Relations.

Seong was recently selected as an essay contest winner for Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) essay competition on sexual and reproductive health rights of teenagers. She was invited to attend a three-day summit at Washington, DC. She has also participated in the Columbia University Science Honors Program and the Smith College Summer Science and Engineering Program, learning more about human physiology/psychology and women’s global/domestic health issues, respectively. She is currently working at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation through the YMCA Teen Career Connection Program.

Due to her experiences in foster care, Seong felt a desire to give back to her community. She was the President of Amnesty International chapter at her school and has been civically engaged in the Korean community through her involvement in the Korean American Voters’ Council and the Korean American Youth Foundation.

Amara T.
Guardian Scholar, Kingsborough Community College

Amara is a 20-year-old freshman on the Allied Health Sciences track at Kingsborough Community College. Amara is originally from the Republic of Guinea and moved to the United States with his brother at the age of 16. Both were immediately placed into foster care. He has witnessed tremendous violence and loss in his home country. He quickly learned English and graduated high school a semester early and with Honors.

College has always been a goal for Amara. He was inspired by a friend who graduated from college and achieved his dreams. With hard work, Amara knew he would be able to succeed in college as well. He would be the first member of his family to have the opportunity to attend college. He hopes to inspire his younger brother who is only a few years younger to be on a similar path. Amara has an interest in becoming a Physician’s Assistant or another career in the medical field.

Katia S.
Guardian Scholar, John Jay College

Katia is a 20-year-old sophomore studying Forensic Psychology at John Jay College. She is described as a diligent student whose example inspires the other youth at her foster care agency. She was placed into foster care after losing her mother to a violent act. She did not let this tragedy destroy the dreams she had set for herself. She wanted to fulfill her mother’s wishes for her and her brothers – and that is to pursue a college education.

Katia looks forward to her new journey at John Jay after transferring from Long Island University. As she begins to age out of care, she is also looking forward to finding part-time employment and her own apartment. She will not let adversity stand in her way.

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