SAN ANTONIO – A UTSA student says he is now on track to graduate thanks to the help of a new support center on campus.
- Only half of foster kids graduate high school
- Less than 3 percent go to college
- New program providing more support to those students
You could say Jacob Brown's odds were stacked against him. He lived at nine foster homes by the age of 2, and was then abused by the people who adopted him. Still, he did what some thought he couldn't.
“I graduated high school despite being homeless with a 3.8 (GPA)," said Brown.
He was then accepted to the University of Texas at San Antonio.
"College was my light and then I got here and it was a struggle," he said.
Brown spent his life trying to navigate without a parent to look up to or lean on for advice, and that was no different in college.
"There is a feeling of isolation and a huge lack of trust. You're born into a lack of trust," he said.
But people like Chris Goldsberry, the man who leads the new Fostering Educational Success Center at UTSA, are stepping in.
It’s part of a county wide program that adds resources to colleges and universities to support students with a history of foster care. The first lady of UTSA, Peggy Eighmy, helped secure the funding for the program.
The center is a modest facility, made up of a pantry filled with food and toiletries. There is also a small study room for students to work in.
But the space is enough and gives students get more than a handout.
"We want to serve as their family," said Goldsberry.
According to the National Foster Youth Institute, only about half of foster children graduate high school. Less than 3 percent of those who go to college actually graduate. Many foster kids who age out of the system are homeless.
Though there are tuition waivers, not everyone knows about additional benefits that can fill in the gaps. But even then, money is only part of the solution.
"It is not enough to throw money at the situation because it's a much deeper, deeper issue. These students need all the money they can get, but money does not fix all. They need a person," said Goldsberry.
"I should (have) graduated already and if this center was here in 2014 when I got here, I'd (have) graduated already," said Brown.
He may be behind schedule but refuses to be a statistic. He's on track to graduate in 2021. And this time with the support of the center, he's sure he'll meet that goal.
"Foster students go through a lot of struggles, but they're also some of the most resilient people you'll ever meet. If you give them a little bit of hope, they'll take that hope and run with it," said Brown.