For 18-year-old Lucy Scheffer, college was a dream… for others. High school was difficult, so, too, was life.
Lucy, now a freshman at Florida SouthWestern State College in Collier County, credits a strong support system – her grandparents, her two closest friends and Friends of Foster Children Forever – for helping her see the possibilities. Because of her life experiences, Lucy wants to help others as a child therapist.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to go to college and the chances I’ve been given,” she says. “Growing up, I didn’t think about college because of the environment I was in. School just wasn’t that important.”
An academic tutor provided by Friends of Foster Children Forever helped Lucy improve her grades during her junior and senior years at Gulf Coast High School. A $2,500 scholarship from the organization covered tuition for the crucial first semester.
“I was still in the process of getting my financial aid,” she says. “Having the scholarship locked me in place. College is a great experience. I’m doing a thousand times better than I ever did in high school. In high school, the main focus is on passing. In college, I get to pick me courses and learn about things I’m interested in. I’ve found something I really truly enjoy.”
Friends of Foster Children Forever established the new scholarship fund at the Community Foundation of Collier County in late 2020 to assist foster children in obtaining a two- or four-year college degree or program certificate at a technical college. Scholarship money can be used for tuition, books and fees. Lucy was one of the first three recipients, each of them already defying the odds. Nationally, only 50% of foster children complete high school; only 3% will graduate from college.
Scholarships were also awarded to Julitza Ramirez, an Immokalee High School graduate studying veterinary science at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Mercilia Hyppolite, a Florida SouthWestern State College sophomore completing requirements for a minor in early childhood education with plans to attend another school for a major in social work.
The scholarship is open to graduating seniors and students already enrolled in a postsecondary program. Applicants must be, or have been, in foster care in Collier County. The scholarship empowers Friends of Foster Children Forever to continue supporting foster children in the community and their educational endeavors or goals.
For Lucy, it has made all the difference.
“Getting this scholarship gave me even more motivation,” she says. “Because of the help and encouragement, I’m getting, I can’t fail them.”