Last week, we posted the first half of our interviews with three past scholars to see what they’re doing now. Here is the second half of our interviews with Chris, Cherish and Jessica. We are so proud that these inspiring people are part of the Blavin family.
Chris S. was our very first Blavin Scholar. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – earning a Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Studies in 2006 and a Master of Science in Safety Science in 2009.
Cherish F. graduated from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2009 with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in African American Studies.
Jessica H. graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science in History, with minors in Anthropology, International Affairs, and Psychology.
What is your favorite Blavin Scholars memory or experience?
Chris: “I would say the best experience so far was testifying in front of the Arizona Legislature to pass the Arizona Tuition Waiver for former foster youth. It was an exciting and daunting task with great rewards.”
Cherish: “My favorite memory was going to the Grandy Dancer and meeting other students who were on campus that were alum from foster care that I never knew. We were presented these awards which blew my mind, but I was excited because I had never had an award like that. It’s still one of my favorites.”
Jessica: “My favorite memory was Thanksgiving dinner the Blavin scholar group had with another separate group of scholars in the fall of 2014. When I arrived, I was sitting alone and felt anxious, uncomfortable. However, Paul walked right over to me, sat down on the stair I was sitting on, and started talking to me about my last year, how they were excited for me, what I wanted to do.”
What advice would you offer to incoming Blavin Scholars?
Chris: “Keep swimming!”
Cherish: “I would advise Blavin scholars to focus on getting acclimated to the campus, know where things are. Keep continuous open communication with advisors and campus coach. They are there to help. Take your education seriously and most of all Finish! You can do it. Nothing feels better than earning your degree and having a degree with your name from University of Michigan that confirms you graduated. You made it!”
Jessica: “My advice to the incoming scholars would be to work hard, and if you think you can’t work harder, you can. You need to come up with a strategy to energize yourself. Also, think of your goals and keep them clear in your mind. It’s okay if those goals change, but it’s not good to not have goals. Next, it’s going to be so hard sometimes, but you just have to keep going. Cheesy, I know. But Paul and Amy NEVER just give up on somebody so don’t give up on yourself.”
What advice about higher education and life, in general, do you have for young adults who are about to age out of foster care?
Cherish: “Everything requires sacrifice, nothing comes easy. The best asset in life from my experience is your relationships. I live on the saying that your net worth is determined by your network, meaning develop a circle of friendship, mentors and kinships that will build you up, support you, believe in you and learn from them. Relationships are key to long-term success.”
Jessica: “I think most importantly academically, is cultivating relationships with your favorite teachers or teachers that you did really well in their class for recommendations in the future and opportunities that they know of. One professor that I really did well with got me an internship opportunity at a law firm and offered to allow me to stay at his home in India if I ever wanted because I worked very hard and I started reaching out to him. We still talk today. Mentally, emotionally, physically. We’ve been through things that can make walking through life very different for us. Don’t be afraid if those things come up – you can deal with it and handle it with help from others.”