Education: Not an option – a necessity

Photo: Tessa at Graduation Ceremony with a Cake

By Tess Bump

In the summer of my seventh grade year, I discovered my life would change forever. I would be going into foster care, in a new world with people I’d never met before. I was so nervous of all the factors that would influence my life for better or worse. I worried about how I’d explain this to my friends, would I ever see my family again, and what happens if I don’t like it in this new home? But as time passed, these worries subsided and things got better.

When I moved in with my foster family, I felt that they weren’t my real family and never would be. I kept my guard up because I was so nervous. Thankfully I had my older sister with me and that made the transition a lot better. Eventually I realized my foster parents wanted to care for me and improve my life.

I was in foster care for five years and I truly believe it has made me the person I am today. I have been through many struggles in life – and yet I wouldn’t change a thing.

Ever since high school I knew that college wasn’t just an option for me – it was a necessity, and something that would improve my life forever. I surrounded myself with good friends who valued their education and were very ambitious. I signed up for student groups that prepared me for college so I wasn’t afraid. Being a foster child means all my tuition and fees are paid for, which was a huge blessing I definitely took advantage of through BCFS Health and Human Services’ Education Training Voucher (ETV) program.

Only 3% of youth in foster care across the U.S. attend college and earn a degree.

I don’t know what I would have done without BCFS’ support through the ETV program. They provided me with so many useful and necessary items for college, like my laptop, school supplies, housing – the list could go on for pages! BCFS made it easy for

me to request funds, or ask a question. I am so grateful I had the support of the program to make my college career less stressful.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and now I’m working on earning my Master’s. This has in part made me feel like I’ve grown into an adult, and now have those real “adult” problems to overcome. As an undergraduate, my focus was on going to class and working a few part-time jobs. But in graduate school, a lot of the funding support goes away so I have to worry about saving money, paying bills, and staying on top of my finances.

I studied abroad this summer in Greece and Italy. I am so excited to have the opportunity to travel the world and experience things most people never will.

In five years, I hope to have my PhD and either be teaching or administrating in a school district I love. I am only 22 years old, so having a family isn’t my biggest goal for the immediate future. Finding a teaching job is my focus this year. It’s time I start my career and build my life up to the expectations I have set for myself!

Becoming independent and successful is my number one goal in life at the moment – and I would love to travel and see the world!

I am thankful for all the people in my life that helped me through hard times. I’ve learned that no matter where you come from, you make your own life and your own happiness.