It takes a whole community of us here at BCFES to help ensure access, retention, and graduation of all students with a lived experience in foster care. To show our appreciation, we are featuring fellow staff members to share a little bit of their world and the passion they have for the students we serve.
Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator at F.A.T.E. Center at TAMUSA
Could you share a little about yourself?
My name is Ashley Garcia and I am the outreach and recruitment coordinator for the F.A.T.E. Center at Texas A&M San Antonio. I am a former foster youth that aged out of care. I have my bachelor’s degree in business, and I’m finishing up my master’s degree in business this semester.
Could you tell us more about the F.A.T.E. Center?
A: F.A.T.E. stands for Fostering Assistance, Transitions, and Education, and we’re currently located in Modular C - Room 158 on the TAMUSA campus. We help students who have had a history of foster care or are adopted. We can assist with tuition and fee waivers, as well as provide resources such as food, emergency funds, clothing and more. Sometimes students just need someone to talk to, and we’re here for that too. We’ve even helped find resources for programs that help students get their cars fixed or even place a down payment on a new car.
The F.A.T.E. Center falls under the BCFES umbrella. All our student staff have a history of foster care, and I think that makes us unique because we can actually say to students, “I know what you’ve gone through and I can relate to your experiences.” We try to be there for whatever the student needs, whether it be a friend, a tutor, a guidance counselor, etc. We help them make sure they’re on top of their schoolwork and assist with any barriers to their success.
How do students learn about the F.A.T.E. Center?
A: Students usually learn about the F.A.T.E. Center through our recruitment program when they are entering college. They usually check off on an application if they’ve had a history of foster care, and I receive a list of their names. From there, I’ll send out a “You’ve been accepted!” email about our program and explaining what we do. Sometimes students do fall through the cracks, but many of them do hear about us by word of mouth.
What does your typical day-to-day look like at the F.A.T.E. Center?
A: It varies and depends on what needs to be done. When I arrived this morning, I pulled in the list for incoming applicants to our program for summer and fall. I make sure I have their contact info and will send an initial text or email to welcome them, as well as any necessary follow ups. Some days I work on finding trainings, and some days a student comes in with a crisis, and sometimes a student just wants to talk. Last week, I spent an hour talking to a student about dogs, just because they wanted to talk. Students can drop in at any time.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: I think the work that’s being done with this program is really great. I aged out of care and had to navigate all the aspects of college by myself and with nobody standing by to guide me. It’s so great that our students can utilize the resources we provide and especially when they take full advantage of it.
Ashley, thank you for taking the time to share your work with us. We appreciate you and all of the work you do!