guardian scholarCaption: Andrew Dunphy is one of seven Guardian Scholars in the Class of 2011. Photo by Karen Tapia

Realizing Their Higher-Ed Goals

Guardian Scholars, Former Foster Youths, Graduate

SEVEN FORMER FOSTER YOUTH realized their higher-education goals as they completed their bachelor’s degrees this spring.

The graduates are Guardian Scholars, part of an innovative and successful program started at the university in 1998 to help emancipated foster youth attain a college education, pursue careers and lead productive adult lives. Those selected as Guardian Scholars receive year-round housing, financial aid, counseling, academic tutoring and support — all part of a comprehensive program leveraging the expertise and resources of private-, public- and independent-sector agencies.

The program has received national and state recognition as an outstanding model to assist and support emancipated foster youth in their pursuit of higher education.

Three alumni of the Guardian Scholars program this year completed their graduate degrees. Adam Bateham of Fullerton completed a master of arts in psychology, and Sarah Abedzadeh of Los Alamitos and Tarae Graves of Fullerton each completed a master of social work at Cal State Fullerton.

Abedzadeh and Graves were recipients of the 2009 Dr. Robert Palmer Fellowship Award. Recipients of the award, named after the recently retired vice president for student affairs, receive $10,000 per academic year for two years to help with their graduate education in social work or another helping profession.

Since the program’s inception, 72 former foster youth, including the 2011 graduates, have earned bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, 12 new students will be joining the Guardian Scholars program this fall.

The new 2011 graduates are:

Jorge Cardenas of Mission Viejo, B.A. business administration with a concentration in accounting, has accepted a position as a financial analyst with an Orange County company.

Andrew Dunphy of Brea, B.A. psychology with a minor in business administration, hopes to become an organizational psychologist.

Gina Duran Calandri of Garden Grove, B.A. psychology, has served as a peer mentor in the Guardian Scholars program and for Orangewood Children’s Foundation.

Frankee Estrella of Fullerton, B.A. communicative disorders, plans to pursue a nursing degree.

Tiohn Harris of Los Angeles, B.A. communications with a concentration in public relations, hopes to work in the fashion industry and one day own her own boutique.

Simon Oh of Fullerton, B.A. communications with a concentration in public relations, has interned at the Orange County Transportation Authority and served as an advocacy director for the Public Relations Student Society of America.

Brenetta Wallace of Fullerton, B.S. human services, served as a peer mentor for the Orangewood Children’s Foundation and a 2011 representative on the Guardian Scholars Advisory Board. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in clinical psychology.

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