Cody Rivera ’17 used his winter break as an opportunity to give back by bringing Syracuse youth who are in foster care to HWS for a college tour. Through collaboration with the non-profit Youth in Progress, Rivera invited seven high school students in foster care to learn from HWS staff and students about the admissions process, scholarship opportunities, academics and other programs and services that are unique to a college campus.
“I thought this would be a good opportunity for these kids to see what their options are,” says Rivera who himself grew up in foster care. “Many people who grow up in foster care don’t know that there are scholarships and other types of support that can help them reach their goals. I want them to be able to see college as a reality.”
While at HWS, the high school students talked with Admissions Director John Young, Career Services Director Brandi Ferrara, Community Engagement and Service Learning Representative Jesse Singleton ’19 and Centennial Center for Leadership Coordinator Kaylyn O’Brien ’12.
Rivera has been working with Youth in Progress for several months on creating positive youth-adult mentorships and strategic partnerships for youth transitioning out of the foster care system. Introducing them to the potential of higher education seemed like the next best step.
“It was inspiring to meet a group of students who were energized by the possibilities of higher education,” says Young, who notes that questions from participants were the same ones he typically hears from most high school students. “There was, however, a greater sense of appreciation for the opportunities that a college education provides and an eagerness to learn more about it.”
Rivera says he enjoyed leading the campus tour. “I especially wanted to show them what it’s like to live in a residence hall or a theme house,” Rivera says. “For many of those kids, and especially the ones who have lived in residency programs, the idea of living with your friends in a theme house is really exciting.”
Rivera is looking forward to future projects with Youth in Progress and plans to work with nearby colleges to host more college tours. At HWS, Rivera is majoring in architecture and minoring in anthropology. Last summer, he completed an internship with FosterClub, a non-profit creating a network of students in and out of foster care.