In 2016 18-year-old Aliya was an Angel Honoree at the 15th annual appreciation luncheon for Foster Angels of South Texas. With her attorney ad litem on the board in Foster Angels of South Texas, a beautiful relationship for many years began.
When Aliya went to Texas State for college, Foster Angels of Central Texas connected with Aliya when we provided a laptop so Aliya could easily navigate her coursework. Over the summer, Aliya set her sights on studying abroad but fell short when she could not find a program that would take the tuition waver. Instead, she found a program at the State University of New York in Syracuse near Canada that could give her some new experiences!

Hear from Aliya on how things are going below.

I am currently dual enrolled in Texas State University and the State University of New York in Potsdam. I am a junior as a Psychology Major with a focus on adolescent behavior and a minor in Sociology.

When the opportunity to travel to New York State came up, I simply could not pass it up. It came at a time when I was bummed about not being able to study abroad internationally. As an aged-out foster youth, I already don’t have the financial support a traditional student, may have so trying to come up with enough money to cover tuition (the tuition waiver does not cover this) and the actual trip of the cost was overwhelming. However, this program the National Student Exchange allows for some host schools to be paid by the home school. Meaning, I can use the tuition waiver at Texas State, and Texas State can pay tuition and fees for SUNY. Then the only costs I had to cover were housing, travel, and normal everyday expenses. Way less stressful!

This past summer, I worked three jobs and began to save as much as I could for my year away from home. In late August, my former attorney ad litem, and current mentor/friend Phyllis Stephenson, traveled with me from little ole’ Corpus Christi to Montreal Canada. Where we stayed and toured for 3 days. Being able to experience going out of the country for the first time with someone who has always rooted for me, really felt full circle. It was almost surreal to look back on when we first met to now. What made the whole experience even better, was knowing that I had the full support of Foster Angels in Central and South Texas. I cannot even put into words how privileged I feel to have so many people rooting for me, in Corpus my forever home, and in Austin, my home away from home. So I just want to say once again, how grateful I am to both organizations. It really was a great experience that I won’t ever forget.

I specifically picked SUNY-Potsdam for four reasons. Number one, it’s a bus ride away from NYC! Second, it is just two hours away from Canada! Which is just like traveling from Corpus Christi to San Antonio. Third, I love to sing and play instruments, and for a while was looking towards a career with music. This school has one of the best music schools in the state and I get to see that firsthand. I go to a show almost every week. Fourth and finally, SUNY is known for their great, community-based relations. The ability to get hands on experience in your intended career field before you ever touch a graduation cap is invaluable. In particular, this SUNY branch has a great program with their local shelter for domestic violence victims. I specifically get to work with the children involved in the program, and kind of show them something different from what they have always known. I get to use my own personal experiences to help them know that the world is not all violence and despair, and that even though we go through horrible things- there will always be a way to rise up. I tend to be a little too honest with them, as a way to build a relationship so that they know I have been in way too similar situations, as well as that I was (and still am) horribly average in school. Nevertheless, I still find ways to make the best of every situation, and that I am always trying to live life to the fullest.

As I continue to make the most of my time here, I hope to keep forging meaningful relationships with as many people as possible, so that I’ll have many stories and memories to share in the future.