Emancipated Youths Celebrate College Graduations
June 10, 2011
By Clara Potes-Fellow
CSU Community Partnerships Director
A group of 50 youths who graduated at several campuses of the California State University, University of California and community colleges were recently honored by former State Sen. John Burton for succeeding in college while overcoming many adversities.
The honored graduates grew up in foster homes and began lives on their own as they turned 18 years of age and were pondering whether college would be a reality for them.
"There is nothing you can't do because you have done the most difficult part of your life," Burton told the graduates, many of whom grew up living in more than 10 homes and at least one had lived in 77 homes before turning 18.
"The hard part is over," said Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Marilyn H. Mackel, who knew many of the graduates personally as she had handled their court cases. "You are on the way to start your careers and families and you have a solid foundation."
The event, held at Los Angeles' Japanese American Cultural Center, was organized by the John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes. Staff from the foundation held a drawing to distribute 20 Apple iPad 2 computers donated by a San Francisco law firm. Those not lucky enough to win a computer received gift certificates to buy clothes at Banana Republic stores.
Approximately 75,000 youths are in foster care in California. Only 50 percent graduate from high school and less than 10 percent earn a college degree.
While in the State Senate, Burton championed legislation to improve the lives of children without homes and helped to increase their access to higher education.
CSU campuses provide comprehensive support services for emancipated youths through programs identified as Guardian Scholars, Renaissance Scholars, CME Society, Promise Scholars, ACE Scholars or EOP.