Bridge to Brilliance event to focus on resources for former foster youths
In observance of National Foster Care Month, the Bridge to Brilliance series hosted by the University of Houston-Victoria School of Business Administration will feature a panel discussion with UHV students previously in foster care about how education and other resources have impacted their lives.
Bridge to Brilliance: Foster Youth Celebration will be a virtual event from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday on Microsoft Teams. The event will be hosted by Crystal Lindsey, digital marketing consultant at the Victoria Advocate and author of “Grit & Gratitude: The Former Foster Youth’s Playbook for Adulting.” She will facilitate a panel discussion with three UHV students who previously were in foster care. Discussion will focus on their personal experiences and how students and entrepreneurs can employ resources and strategies to move past trauma and create a better life for themselves.
“This event is for everyone and brings awareness that for those who have experienced homelessness, loss of a parent, divorce or any trauma at a young age, education can be the key to helping them find a purpose,” said Rosie McCusker, manager of student recruitment and outreach for the UHV School of Business Administration. “Education offers a focus to move forward toward a brighter future.”
Lindsey has a personal understanding of the topic, as she was once in the foster care system. Her book focuses on how she learned to overcome struggles in her life and fight for a better, happier existence. One of the main ways she did that was establishing daily habits that have a positive impact on her life.
“Research has shown that childhood trauma can shorten a person’s life, and I wanted to find a way to counteract that,” she said. “I often tell people that you have to fight for your life like you’re training for the Olympics. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, walking, a constructive hobby or a myriad of other positive activities, people need to do something to find a way to heal their trauma and improve their lives.”
One of the student panelists will be Abigail Young, a UHV senior from Houston who is expected to earn a Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences in legal assistance and administration studies in May 2022. Young was in foster care until her foster mother died when Young was 18 and a senior in high school. Because she was no longer a minor, she aged out of the foster system and had to find a way to move forward in life on her own.
Young enrolled at UHV thanks to resources available to foster students, such as scholarships, and living in the residence halls gave her a home when she had nowhere else to go. However, she ended up struggling academically until she reached out to an academic advisor for help.
“I reached a low point mentally and with my classes, and I knew I had to get some help,” Young said. “I was afraid that I just wasn’t good enough to be in school. But then I discovered that there are academic advisors whose entire purpose is to help students choose the right classes and find a successful plan. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for that advisor’s help.”
Young will use her personal story to share how those previously in foster care and other students can find resources they need to succeed, whether it’s through academic or personal counseling, or financial resources to help them take their next step in education.
“I hope people who attend will learn that there are resources available, and it’s OK to get help,” Young said. “It’s better to find out about those resources now instead of when you hit hard times. Everyone at UHV wants to help. No one has to face challenges alone.”
UHV students can RSVP to attend the event through JagSync. Others can RSVP at www.uhv.edu/bridge-brilliance.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.