A Lasting Impact: A Message from College

We interviewed one of our dreamers, Rafael, who’s enjoying his first semester away at college thanks to the College Bound and Beyond program for children in foster care at SOS Children’s Villages Illinois.

In fall 2017, Rafael set out from one of our Villages to his newest adventure: college on the east coast. As a Posse Scholar, Rafael was chosen among 3,000 applicants for the prestigious scholarship opportunity, offering him the chance to experience a first-rate education at a highly selective institution. We recently caught up with Rafael to talk about his first semester in college, his new friends, and all that he looks forward to this academic year. Below are some highlights from our conversation.

Tell us about your experience away at college so far:

The school is very beautiful; there’s lots of gothic style architecture. I am currently taking four regular courses: Calculus 1, Interarts 101, Intermediate French 201 and Drawing in Space… I have already joined three extracurricular activities: Division 3 Wrestling, an art house on campus, and a student photographers group. There are students here from all around the world; students who’ve had access to a substantially larger amount of resources than the average public school student like myself. Still, I am not discouraged because we are all in the same college now, which means I am capable of this. I just have to keep working hard.

What is a hope that you have for your first year of college?

I hope that I make it close to the top of my class of about 600 students. It’s a pretty hard goal to reach, but I won’t be satisfied with myself if I do not. I also want to overall grow as a person and learn what exactly I want to pursue academically.

How did your experience with SOS Illinois prepare you for college?

One way that I would say SOS Illinois has prepared me for college is that I have become used to living around people that I am not related to, which is pretty much the dorm experience. I see other students here who are so homesick, and I just feel normal for the most part. The Village also provided me with paid work, which is helping me out here during my first months, as I have money to buy things I need.

College Bound and Beyond

We are so proud of Rafael and all of our dreamers. At SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, we celebrate the fact that the young men and women in our Villages have a 100% high school graduation rate. The care and love that our Foster Parents, community members, and staff hold for our youth extends far beyond when they venture out of our Villages to attend college.

Thanks to the generosity of our corporate partners, SOS Illinois offers the College Bound and Beyond Program for our children in foster care. This program includes five core components: Academic Preparation, College Outreach, Application Support, Job Readiness, and Material/Technological Support.

We prepare our children with the essential STEM curricula, support test preparation and awareness for entering college, and provide educational and training services to help our young adults enter the workforce and pursue careers.

Our foster care agency in Chicago and Lockport provide an alternative to foster care in Illinois where life-long, bright futures aren’t just a hope but a reality for the youth in our communities.

Be a part of the support and opportunities for children in foster care at SOS Illinois by becoming a Dream Maker, and together, we’ll continue to change the lives of our youth for the better.