My name is Alexander Sieg and I am Partnerships for Permanence's Human Resources Director. I started my post-high education with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and Business Law from Minnesota State University, Mankato, which I received in 2014. But the plan was always more. So immediately following my graduation I applied to, was accepted into, and attended my first year of law school at the University of South Dakota, School of Law. It is a law school most well known for hosting oral arguments before South Dakota's Supreme Court, which is pretty darn cool.
So what is the point? Well, I am a former foster youth and student. If you have read my bio you know that I was in foster care for seven years before I aged out. There are services for former foster youth attending college - programs like ETV in Minnesota. These programs are good and in an ideal world these programs would be expanded.
For me, ETV was a godsend, because while my biological parents may have “cared” about my education (perhaps beyond claiming my accomplishments for their own), they did not ever offer financial support. But I cared about how I was going to finance my education because I saw the wave of issues that accompanies a lifetime spent in debt. And I always cared.
I had decided over ten years ago that I wanted to go to further my education by pursuing a juris doctorate.
I am here now, writing before I begin my first real temporary law job. In the fall I will need to continue to pay for my education - as I have now done for five years - because my biological parents certainly will not. I am grateful for the assistance ETV could provide. Although small, any financial help can make a big difference, and it did, many times over. I only wish the program was expanded.
The problem is that the college degree has become the equivalent of earning a high school diploma. In fact, in some areas you would be lucky to become an associate manager at a local fast food joint with just a bachelor's degree. Degrees used to mean more than that, but I digress. The point of ETV and programs like it is to give foster youth a chance to excel and to provide what their parents should have: an opportunity to pursue their education, and a better life for themselves.
I will end with a question - what is the harm of assisting former foster youths with their continuing education? If it is just that it will cost more money, than that is just not good enough. The reason why is that current programs already take and provide so little. The truth is that we can do more.
We should do more.
Written by: Alexander S.
© 2017 Partnerships for Permanence Inc. All Rights Reserved.