Former Foster Youth Find a Helping Hand on Campus

Paula Garcia, David Hernandez, Eric Meneses, Jade Mosely and Monica Rucker in cap and gown.The Promise Scholars Program at CSU Stanislaus provides former foster youth the support and resources they need to succeed in college. Proof of the program's success came last month, when five Promise Scholars graduated with bachelor's degrees.

Led by Director Wanda Bonnell, the program gives students specialized attention, helping them identify and apply for financial aid resources and housing while offering academic guidance and counseling as they navigate the university landscape.

"The vast majority of foster youth and other children without parents do not see higher education as a likely future goal," Bonnell said. "For Promise Scholars, having a program that provides specialized, one-on-one support services gives them the confidence they need to succeed."

The Promise Scholars who graduated this year were Paula Garcia (criminal justice), David Hernandez (psychology), Eric Meneses (criminal justice), Jade Mosely (criminal justice) and Monica Rucker (agricultural studies, minor in biology). The program has also seen five students graduate in previous years, with Jessica Tacdol becoming the first in 2008. Other Promise Scholars to graduate were Laura Rodriguez, Serena Vidaure, LaTasha Hayes and Iris Hernandez.

For students who are without parental support, the Promise Scholars Program offers much-needed stability. Rucker arrived at CSU Stanislaus uncertain of how she would pay for tuition while working only a part-time job. Bonnell calmed and reassured her, helped her obtain financial aid and even provided a backpack with supplies she needed for her classes.

"I honestly could not have completed my education if it wasn't for Wanda's guidance and her patience to talk me out of my despair and give me a ray of hope," Rucker said. "I am forever grateful to her, and I hope she knows how much she means to me."

Hernandez said he was "nervous" when he transferred to CSU Stanislaus, but he has thrived as a student even after changing his major from kinesiology to psychology. He credits much of his success to the support he received as a Promise Scholar.

"The Promise Scholars Program has given me access to a great counselor and motivator," Hernandez said. "Wanda Bonnell is a mother figure not only to me, but to all of my Promise Scholar classmates. Had I not been in the program, I don’t think I would have been as successful."

For more information on Promise Scholars, contact Wanda Bonnell at (209) 667-3957 or wbonnell@csustan.edu.