UTSA recently opened the Fostering Education Success Center (FESC) in the Student Union (SU 2.01.05) for students with a history of foster care. The FESC was created in Fall 2019 by the Department of Social Work and the Division of Student Success to give students with foster care backgrounds a space where they can meet with the FESC associate director for assistance, community and the center’s resources. Only 1.3% of students with foster care backgrounds graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree by the age of 24 in Texas, and the FESC was formed in part as a response to this statistic.
Dr. Christopher Goldsberry, the associate director of the FESC, views the center as an important step to help those students succeed at UTSA.
“Not only are we a safe space for students, we are a place for students to actually come and receive campus coaching, a place for them to build their own community within UTSA,” Goldsberry said. “We want to serve as a one-stop shop for students because it’s very difficult for a student with a history of foster care to go from office to office to office to reshare their story. That can recreate trauma.”
Senior kinesiology major Jacob Brown is a student with a history of being in the foster care system who was frustrated with the lack of support he felt he received when he first enrolled.
“My initial start to UTSA was not great. I had a lot of struggles. I was running around to different departments, I was being misadvised in different departments…It just seemed really messy,” Brown said.
However, Brown said that Goldsberry’s support and the new FESC have changed his perspective.
“Without [Goldsberry], I wouldn’t be in college right now. I might not even be alive,” Brown said. “[The FESC] is going to be probably one of the most impactful centers on campus.”
Junior psychology major Savannah Dill is another student with a history of foster care who believes the FESC is part of a trend showing that UTSA is moving in the right direction regarding students with foster care backgrounds.
“My experience at first [at UTSA] wasn’t the best…they told me that my [tuition and fees] waiver wasn’t valid, and they didn’t really understand what it was,” Dill said. “But I think now, since then, I’ve been reached out to so many times, I’ve been offered help…and that’s been really fantastic.”
The FESC serves all students with a history of foster care on campus, but Goldsberry sees it as an opportunity to make an even greater impact across the community.
“Well, my personal goals are to see a growth in our foster care population [at UTSA]. That’s one thing this center will do is to actually actively recruit,” Goldsberry said. “I would always want students to know that it’s not impossible and that…there’s a safe place for them.”