I grew up below the poverty line and within a tumultuous broken family, but in the face of these struggles, my mother fought hard for my siblings and me to receive a quality education. Thus, I attended private schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade, where most of my peers had ample resources and nuclear families—benefits I did not enjoy. For a long time, I was frustrated by this disparity, but I eventually began to see that my way out of these circumstances was through furthering my education in college.

I did not succeed in my journey through grade school to college and beyond by relying on myself, but because I had a community who cared about me. I have so many people to thank who supported me along the way and believed in me, even when I doubted my abilities. My confidence and work ethic grew because of these important teachers, mentors, and friends in my life. Although I initially majored in Actuarial Math in college, I quickly realized making a lot of money was not as important to me as helping others overcome obstacles and breaking cycles of poverty and injustices. I earned double bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Spanish – the latter to allow me to converse with parents of my Latino students. Soon into my job as a classroom teacher at schools in underserved neighborhoods, I realized my students needed so much support outside of the classroom. I felt called to this arena, stepping outside of the classroom, into the neighborhood, and deeper into the lives of these youth. Thus, I received my master’s degree in Public Administration, focusing on nonprofits, ready to be innovative and thorough in empowering vulnerable youth.

Though I had worked with countless foster youth throughout my decade of teaching, what drew me to Promises2Kids was the structure of their Guardian Scholars Program and how it ensures vulnerable students have the individualized support necessary to achieve their goals in higher education. I constantly tell my students that money only gets us so far, but it is our community that truly promotes us to continue our path to happiness and fulfillment. Youth may initially be attracted to the fun events and generous scholarships, but it is the community that we build here for our youth that truly wows them and creates the lasting bonds they need. My Guardian Scholars know that I care about each of them deeply – this means that I see their potential and hold them accountable to it, while also being their confidant and cheerleader through thick and thin. This is not just my job; this is my purpose – I wake up every day immensely grateful and deeply satisfied that I am a part of an amazing organization that puts foster youth on a pedestal of deep worth and greatness which each of them truly deserves. We are not a victim of our circumstances; here at Promises2Kids we build resiliency, confidence, and know that we are stronger together.

Rose Spellman