Brenda entered the foster care system at 17. Her home life had gotten to the point that she decided she was better off elsewhere and moved in with her best friend and her best friend’s parents.
There, she looked for where to go next. That’s when she discovered the Buckner FYi Center in Lubbock, which provides a support network for teens aging out of foster care. The center equips young people with the skills and encouragement needed to succeed in the next stages of their lives.
“Those six months before I aged out, I met with Buckner for the longest time,” Brenda says. “They just kind of help set you up for college and life in general. It was honestly amazing, the things that came out of the woods, some of these people I never knew. They just helped in so many ways.”
Buckner staff members let her know what resources were available, including assistance with college tuition. They guided her through the application process to Texas Tech University and helped her find a place of her own.
“I didn’t even know anything about that, so honestly without Buckner, I wouldn’t know I could apply for college and get into college for free pretty much,” Brenda says.
Buckner coaches supported Brenda when she needed it. They also held her accountable. Brenda particularly bonded with Cindy Garza, her after care case manager, who also aged out of foster care.
“One of the main things that I really like about Buckner is you have to meet up with someone like Cindy once a month and you catch up on like, OK where are you at in life, what do you do in school, what are your goals,” Brenda says. “Cindy’s like a mentor, but also that provides for you. She’s almost like a second mom. Almost like your best friend’s mom that you go over to her house and she has snacks in the pantry and she’s kind of just like, ‘I got you.’ She’s like that. I’m pretty sure I could call her with anything and she would be ready to help me out.”
Brenda’s working hard in the classroom and out. The Haitian native holds a job at a local coffee shop and strives to be a better person daily. With the knowledge she’s gaining, she hopes to help people who are in the same situation she is.
“Ultimately, I would like to graduate with my bachelor’s in global studies and political science and later on, get into this grad program at Tech,” she says. “It’s a dual-credited master’s program with public health and administration, so it would mean three years into that then I would graduate and be able to work with nonprofits internationally. I would like to go home and help people, for sure. Like kids like me that don’t have a resource like Buckner, or just a foster care system like, that’s not a thing in my country, you know?”