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Meet the Foster Scholars

June 24, 2020

Dr. Kizzy Lopez

Fresno Pacific University


Two years ago, at a national higher education conference, the Foster Scholars group was born. Seven scholars with lived experience in foster care co-presented on the topic of family privilege and higher education. I felt so fortunate to collaborate with these talented folx. To top off this wonderful experience, we received a Twitter shout out from Dr. Sonja Ardoin. This made my ENTIRE day!

However, immediately after seeing this tweet, I had a sudden moment of doubt --- Brilliant? My first instinct was to question this word ascribed to our work and scholarship. Depending on how you grew up, it can be very difficult to accept compliments like this.

Then I remembered a quote that I had previously shared with my students in the past who didn’t believe their own brilliance.

“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson

We are the 3%.

We are the 3% of people who experienced foster care who earned a bachelor’s degree. Not only have we earned a college degree but we have gone on to pursue doctorates, we have created programs, services, and developed innovative strategies to improve graduation rates for college-going foster youth, we have given talks, trainings, and presentations locally and nationally, and we have produced scholarship on the experiences of foster youth in higher education.

It is important that WE are the tellers of our own stories.

At that conference a smaller group of us gathered to have appetizers and drinks in the lobby. The ideas and conversation were flowing. Our synergy was electric and absolutely energizing! We began to imagine what it might look like if we created a collective space for our community and our voice by developing a platform to share our work and the work of others. What if we told our own stories from our perspective - as higher education practitioners, scholars, as older adults who have experience with life after foster care? It was that day that the Foster Scholars collective was born.

If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to find your community of practitioners or scholars. Being in community can help foster collaboration, generate creativity, offer peer support and broaden professional networks. Best of all, it can lead to developing long-lasting friendships and connections. Building deep and meaningful friendships has been the most rewarding aspect of the collaborative.

The Foster Scholars is a community of scholars with lived experience in foster care committed to transforming the narrative and outcomes for college-going foster youth through practice, research, and advocacy. 

It is my distinct honor to introduce the women of Foster Scholars.

Meet the Foster Scholars

  •       Angela Hoffman, M.Ed., Director of Professional Development, ACPA - College Student Educators International
  •       Jamie Bennett, LMSW, ACC, Owner, JLB Training & Consulting
  •       Kizzy Lopez, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Fresno Pacific University
  •       Molly Sarubbi, PhD., Senior Project Manager, Education Commission of the States
  •       Sara Gamez, Ed.D., Associate Director, Student Support & Equity Programs, Cal Poly Pomona


Visit the Foster Scholars website:www.thefosterscholars.org


Join us for our Community Connections: “Meet the Foster Scholars” on Zoom - June 30, 2020 at 10 am (PST). Learn about their scholarship and purpose for the Foster Scholars community.

Register here: bit.ly/3cEpwnS