Titan voice Michael Crane: Former foster youth grad comes full circle, lands dream job – Orange County Register

Image for Titan voice Michael Crane: Former foster youth grad comes full circle, lands dream job – Orange County Register

Michael CranePhoto courtesy Cal State Fullerton

By Michael Crane

Contributing columnist

I lived in a group home in Riverside for the majority of my high school experience, from my sophomore year until the day I graduated in 2010. During that time, I would take part in weekly Independent Living Program classes, which are designed to help foster youth achieve self-sufficiency and prepare them for life before they leave the foster care system.

Topics included personal finance, job readiness, mock interviews and a number of other “real-world” skills administrators thought we needed. One topic I don’t seem to remember being covered though was going on to college after high school.

Most of my knowledge about pursuing college came from movies and television. In my head, just like you go from middle school to high school, going to college after high school is just what a person is supposed to do. I just had no idea what that meant.

Right after my high school graduation ceremony, I was out of the group home and on my own. Whether I was prepared or not, life was happening. I moved back to Orange County, not knowing the difference between a community college, a CSU or a UC, but I knew I had to go to college. So just like any millennial who doesn’t know how to do something, I Googled “College.”

That Google search changed my life forever. Since I lived in Anaheim, Fullerton College appeared as the closest college, and it was close enough that I could take a bus to get there, since I didn’t drive at the time. That is how my college journey began.

I was very lost during that first semester. I took random classes just to get my foot in the door. During that semester, I learned of the college’s Extended Opportunity Program & Services department, and things moved rather quickly from there. Once I went in and met with the EOPS counselor and foster-youth specialist, I was on a roll. I became very active on campus and even started working in the college’s Admissions & Records Office as a student hourly worker. In 2013, I graduated from Fullerton College and transferred to Cal State Fullerton.

Upon transferring to CSUF, I was accepted into the Guardian Scholars, a highly competitive scholarship program for former foster youth. The application process was rigorous and time-consuming, but well worth it. The Guardian Scholars program at CSUF is so much more than a scholarship. It is a second family that makes the dream of obtaining a bachelor’s degree a reality. It also opened up doors to unbelievable connections and opportunities that I don’t think I would have had otherwise.

During my time with the Guardian Scholars, I was able to study abroad for a year, partake in countless volunteer events, and I met my mentor, Joe Emory, who has been there for every major life decision I have made since meeting him three years ago. All of these experiences, paired with the amazing faculty and staff members who work on campus, really made my university experience one of a kind that I will remember forever.

When I finished my final semester of classes in December, it felt like culture shock. I was so used to being a student; I did not really know what I should do first. My graduation was official in January. The big difference this time was that at least I knew what I was supposed to do, and like any recent college graduate, I hopped online and started the job hunt.

I was very selective with the hunt. I know they say beggars can’t be choosers, but I have never believed in just settling for any job. One day, about eight weeks into the hunt, I came across a full-time position opening at Golden West College for a foster-youth specialist. I was very intimidated by the posting and thought that I did not have the necessary requirements to even apply. Still, the job seemed like a perfect fit for me, so I decided to go for it and apply anyway, hoping for the best.

A few weeks and two interviews later, I got a phone call from Golden West College with the job offer. I did not have to think twice before accepting.

I have been in the job for about six weeks now, and I love every single day. I get to work with amazing students who just want a chance at an education and a better future, and I get to help them along that journey. It seems like every week I see high school students who have no idea what they want to do or how to do it, just like me years ago, and I get to help show them that college is absolutely possible for them.

In addition to working with amazing students, all of the amazing people who work with foster youth in higher education — who were there for me and helped me through my college journey — are now my colleagues. I get to work with them and collaborate regularly to help my own students. The feeling is simply indescribable; there is immense joy and fulfillment involved.

I have always viewed my life as a series of chapters, both good and bad. So far, college was the most challenging and exciting chapter, but now the page has turned and a new chapter has begun. This chapter is all about the beginning of my career, my future, and I could not be happier with the way it has started.

This chapter will include an amazing job, going back for my master’s degree and anything else that life decides to throw in. I may not know exactly what all will be in this new chapter, but whatever it is, I will face it head on with excitement, and I am eagerly awaiting it.

Michael Crane, a member of the CSUF Class of 2017, will don cap and gown for commencement ceremonies this weekend, having earned a B.A. in communications-public relations with a minor in communication studies. He cites studying abroad for a full year in Germany as one of the life-changing experiences of his undergraduate years. He will be returning to his alma mater in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in education.


On – 17 May, 2017 By