Several years ago, I started working as an administrative assistant at a school to support youth with mental health issues. I started to build connections with a lot of the students and realized that there was more I could do to help these youth. I thought that if I could provide direct services to these students, they would find much more success in life. A lot of the students with whom I was working grew up in low-income communities, like I did. However, I was fortunate enough to receive the support from my parents growing up and I wanted to provide these same opportunities to others. Students were able to see themselves in me because of the shared cultural experiences and I was able to better support and connect with them.

I faced a turning point in my career when I no longer had to work behind the scenes as an administrative assistant. I was given the opportunity to work as a housing specialist for foster youth. I learned more about the child welfare process and the lack of resources available to foster youth. Soon after, I had the wonderful fortune of finding an opportunity at Promises2Kids. Now I work directly with 35 former and current foster youth students as a program coordinator. I strive everyday to ensure they have the necessary tools needed to finish college and succeed in life.

I want to give foster youth the opportunities that other students have when navigating through the education system. I want to be that person that students can rely on and call whenever they need to, even if it’s personal. I’ve realized that my personality and my past experiences allow me to connect better with the students and that’s how I know I am in the right place helping foster youth. Every time a student achieves success, I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing I have helped them by providing the support they need. I want to continue to see the impact and serve our foster youth so they can succeed. That is why I am a Promise Maker.

George Puga