Monday, Jul 9, 2018
Foster Teens Celebrate at Special Graduation Event
More than 110 Santa Clara County foster youth were all smiles as they received their diplomas for high school and post-secondary achievement during a special graduation celebration at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club in June. The event was hosted by Child Advocates, Silicon Valley Children’s Fund, Bill Wilson Center and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
Child Advocates awarded scholarships to several youth who have demonstrated determination in overcoming obstacles to complete their high school education. Ten youth received a $1,000 scholarship and one youth, Victor Pineda, received a $10,000 scholarship. Victor and his brother Kevin came to the United States from El Salvador when they were 14 and 13. Both boys spoke little English but with the help of their Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Adam Escoto, they increase their English skills. Victor excelled in school and will be attending UC Davis in the fall. Read Victor’s amazing story here.
Superior Court Judge Tondreau congratulated the teens for graduating from high school. “Education gives you a foundation to learn new things in life. It is the door to your future and the door to your dreams,” Judge Tondreau explained. “You are all small miracles that have blossomed through hard work and determination to be a success. You are role models for other foster youth.”
Marshal Galvan, a former foster youth, shared his experience with the graduating teens. “Unlike all of you, I didn’t graduate high school. I dropped out in the 11th grade,” Galvan explained. “I was fed up with the system and thought I could figure things out for myself. I was wrong. I ended up in and out of jail and struggled with drug addiction.”
At 20, Galvan decided to turn his life around. He earned his GED and began attending college. It took him 4 years to get his AA degree because he struggled with homelessness and continued drug addiction issues. Despite these hardships, he persevered. He realized he would need to change a lot of things about his life in order to achieve his dreams. He got help for his addictions and started hanging out with new friends who were career oriented.
After earning his AA degree in collaborative health, he was hired at the Bill Wilson Center, which provides housing, education, counseling, and advocacy resources for teens and young adults. Today, he’s sober, passionate about helping others and “wants to help foster youth reach their full potential.”
Galvan encouraged the teens to continue their education and attend college. “See what’s out there, figure out what you want to do with your life. Remember, it’s not about where you come from, it’s about where you’re going. No matter what comes your way, you can achieve.” “When you graduate don’t look at it is a finish line. Look at is as a starting point.”
Galvan left teens with one last thought: “Keep moving forward.”