Hector*, 23, immigrated to the United States from Mexico, leaving behind his mother and father to join his siblings for a better life. When he arrived to New York City, he was immediately expected to seek full-time employment to help support his family.
But when Hector expressed a desire for a formal education, his siblings scoffed at him. He struggled with balancing the need to produce financially and wanting to pursue his American Dream. When he turned 16, his siblings grew weary of his obsession with school and kicked him out of their apartment. With nowhere to go, he ended up in foster care.
After he was placed with Children’s Aid, he continued to reach for achieving something bigger. He landed on becoming a math teacher, so he worked closely with our academic tutors and foster care social workers to help him prepare, apply, and eventually enroll in Guttman Community College. In the spring of 2019, he was so excited to graduate and earn his associate degree, and saw the graduation ceremony as an opportunity to reconnect with his siblings — so he invited them. At graduation, he walked across the stage, proud of his accomplishments, and looked out to the crowd for his siblings — but they weren’t there. Hector was really hurt, but resolved to keep striving for his goal. And his resolve paid off: he was accepted to City College of New York and began pursuing his bachelor’s degree in the fall of 2019, with all tuition, dorm, and mental health therapy costs covered by Children’s Aid and the Administration for Children’s Services’ Dorm Project.
The transition from community college to a full four-year college was not easy. City College was bigger and less tight-knit than Guttman, and the large class sizes and intense coursework proved challenging. But Children’s Aid provided him with targeted academic tutoring, and social-emotional supports to help him cope with the rejection from his siblings.
We also recently worked closely with Hector, who is undocumented, to help navigate the immigration system, and connected him to resources to pave a pathway to citizenship. Things were looking up.
Then March 2020 came. Just months away from finishing his junior year in college, he received the news: the dorms were closing because of a raging pandemic. His dorm was his only home — where would he go?
He turned to his Children’s Aid and Dorm Project contacts to quickly secure an emergency foster care placement. Without their help, Hector would have been homeless. After several months in a foster home, Hector was struggling with the loss of independence he had enjoyed at college. After COVID-19 case counts in New York City lowered, a dorm reopened, and we advocated for him to obtain a placement. After moving back in the dorm, he began thriving once again.
With his life back on track, Hector spends a lot of his time in his dorm room studying diligently to become a math teacher. He now has his eyes set on graduate school to get his master’s in teaching.
These services we provided to Hector, and so many youth just like him, were only possible because of your support. Thank you for giving Hector a lifeline and helping him get through this difficult year.
*An alias name and stock photo are being used to protect the security of our client.