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 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 argument before South Dakota's Supreme Court.
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 college attendance - programs like ETV. These programs are good. I would even say excellent.
For me, they were a godsend, because my biological parents had never cared about my education beyond claiming my accomplishments for their own. But I did. I always cared. I decided over ten years ago that I wanted to go to further my education. I do not know why. To be honest, the research about law school does not scare as many people as it should, but that is beyond today’s discussion.
I am here now, writing before I begin my first real law job. In the fall I will need to continue to pay for my law school education, because my parents certainly will not. They are gone. Which is why there should be a program specifically for foster students or former foster youth continuing education beyond the college level. The reasoning is the same except for one difference.
The problem now is that a college degree has become equivalent to earning a high school diploma. In fact, in some areas you would be lucky to be an associate manager at a fast food joint with just a bachelor's degree and zero experience. It used to mean more than that. But 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.
With debt becoming one of the fastest growing issues in America it is hard to believe... I will not go there. Instead I will end with a question: What is the harm of paying for former foster youths continuing education? If it is just that it will cost more money, that is just not good enough. We can do more.
We should do more.
Written by: Alexander S.
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