This month, the Transitional Age Youth-Financial Assistance Program (TAY-FAP) is celebrating its five year anniversary with a Resolution from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and a celebratory awareness event at FCNI. We are honored to partner with the Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide TAY-FAP services, and over the last five years, we’ve enjoyed working with over 169 youth, celebrating 21 documented graduations and providing financial and other support services to current and former foster youth who are working to achieve their dreams of higher education. Below, is a personal story written by Alyssa, one of our TAY-FAP participants. When we celebrate TAY-FAP’s achievements this month, what we’re really honoring is the hard work, tenacity and resiliency of the young men and women we serve. TAY-FAP, in partnership with our community, only provides the means towards success—the young students being served must do all of work hard to actually achieve it. This month we celebrate our youth’s amazing abilities to overcome numerous obstacles to reach their goals. Here’s Alyssa’s story.
Hi, my name is Alyssa and I have been part of TAY-FAP for about three years now. I have had the most wonderful experience. When I first graduated from high school, I wanted to go to college to become a marine biologist. But I thought to myself, as a foster kid, how am I going to do that when I don’t have any money for books or classes or anything? I didn’t even know how to get enrolled in college. When I turned 18, I moved to Paso Robles and I got pregnant with my son who is now three. At the time, I thought I was never going to be able to go to college and puruse my career. Then one day I got a call from my DSS Social Worker and she asked me if I would be interested in talking with an Independent Living Program (ILP) worker who would help me sign up for classes and enroll in college. I gladly said yes because I wanted to knock out as many classes as I could before my son was born. Through ILP, I learned about TAY-FAP and how they could help me pay for my books, gas, rent and much more while I attended college. I then met Marie from FCNI who works in TAY-FAP. She and all the other people from TAY-FAP are amazing—they wanted to see me go to school and succeed. After taking a few classes and giving birth to my son, I became really interested in the nursing program at Cuesta College. And when I decided to change my major from science to nursing, TAY-FAP supported me 100%.
Raising a child and going to college was very hard, but the most difficult was yet to come. After about two semesters at Cuesta, I had to go through a custody battle for my son that was very difficult. I was working, going to school and trying to support my son and myself alone. Trying to do everything was stressful, and my grades started to drop. Soon, I hit a really low point where I just wanted to give up and call it quits—just take whatever job I could regardless if it was a good one or something that I’d be happy doing. Then Marie, the wonderful person that she is, talked to me and told me about the tutoring I could receive at Cuesta. I got myself into the tutoring program, brought my grades up and was able to finish the semester. Once done, I decided to take a semester off to focus on the custody issue, and Marie supported me the whole way through it. Once that issue was resolved, I went back to school and was able to focus on nursing once again.
Once back in school, I was proud of myself that I was getting things done and trying my best to finish what I started. I soon became pregnant with my second son (who is now one), but stayed the course, and, shortly after he was born, I got my license to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). I know this is an entry-level position, but we all have to start somewhere, right? Because someone believed in me and I received the help I really needed, I now have two beautiful boys, my own apartment, am a CNA working for the state, and I have also earned my EMT and dental assisting certificates. And I’m not stopping here! In January, I am going to submit my application for the Psychiatric Technician Program through Cuesta College which is a one year program that will still enable me to work. Who knows what I’m finally going to end up doing professionally or where I’ll end up—but I know it’s going to be somewhere great. I am so excited about all the jobs that are now open to me, and the different careers that I am able to pursue.
Everyone who has a part in TAY-FAP has made a difference in my life. They have made it possible for me to succeed and provide for my family. They have made it possible for me to say that I am somebody; that yes, I am the first person in my family to even attempt to go to college; and that yes, I am making something out of myself! I know my success is due in large part to the people who support TAY-FAP—those who believed in my future and helped me financially so I could focus on improving and educating myself. I am very thankful for this support. And I want to tell other young people in similar circumstances that as long as you believe in yourself and make an effort to succeed, there are people like TAY-FAP out there who want to help you. I want to end my story with a quote that I have always followed by Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Congratulations, Alyssa, and all the TAY-FAP youth who are putting in the long hours and the hard work to achieve their dreams!