Daisy Gonzales Beat the Odds of the Foster Care System
The foster care system has a complex relationship with education. “The overall graduation rate for foster youth fell from 64.6 percent in 2019 to 55.3 percent in 2020” As for college, around 3% of former foster kids earn a college degree.
These statistics are the hard truth. Foster kids are at a major disadvantage by being in the system. Too many of them don’t have the same opportunities for education as the rest of us do.
Daisy Gonzales, the chancellor for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, beat the odds of the foster care system when she graduated high school, college, and continued to earn her master’s degree in sociology and Ph.D in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
She grew up in the foster care system and shared her story of how she grew up to be a very powerful voice in education. She moved from group homes, care facilities, and relatives’ homes during her time in foster care.
Although some people may consider being a foster youth a negative thing, she wears her foster youth identity as a “badge of honor.”
When talking about her foster care background, Daisy stated: “I know it’s still a stigma … but it is an incredible story. Only in this country can you go from foster care to leading the largest system of public higher education in one lifetime.”
Her Foster Care Experience
Despite her difficult past in the foster system that began at the age of 2 due to family violence and abuse, she was able to rise above the trauma and make a wonderful life for herself.
Her case “was no fairytale.” At 15, she decided she did not want to be reunified with her family, and at 17, she was emancipated and expected financial aid. Unfortunately, she was considered an independent adult and was receiving no further benefits.
Daisy ended up being welcomed into her high school chemistry teacher’s home. They became very close and are still in contact today.
She went to college and changed her life. Recently, she became the acting chancellor and even though her role started in the height of COVID.
She is the first woman of color in this position and only the second woman. Daisy said,
That optimism comes with the journey of your lived experience. I survived many different systems that were not built to help me succeed, from foster care to being an English-language learner to being a first-generation college student. This is not my first time being the first in a role.
Thank you, Daisy Gonzales
Daisy is an inspiration for all foster kids. She reminds them that while the statistics may say one thing, nothing is stopping them. If they set their minds to something, they can accomplish it.
Thank you, Daisy, for inspiring us to work hard and remember that our pasts do not dictate our futures.
If you would like more information on how to help foster kids in education, check out this link!