Rocky Dove knew that he wanted to pursue higher education, but there were obstacles that stood in his way. For him, entering foster care gave him the resources to build the future that he wanted. Along the way, John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) has helped him overcome one of those obstacles.
Rocky is a student in his first year at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He recently received $400 from JBAY’s Burton Critical Needs and Opportunity Fund to help him cover the cost of food and groceries.
Rocky’s path was not always a clear one. Growing up in San Diego County, Rocky experienced family troubles that impacted his mental health and affected his academic performance. It became very intimidating for him to attend his local high school, which had a large number of students. At age 15, he decided to transition to an online school and live with his paternal grandmother. Though he no longer had the stressors that came with a traditional school environment, he still had to deal with family conflicts while trying to focus on his studies.
Rocky entered foster care at age 17 and stayed at a temporary shelter for children in need before aging out of the system when he turned 18. During this time, he made education his priority.
While in foster care, he completed online school a semester early and enrolled right away in community college. Rocky’s experience in foster care further emboldened him to value his education. “It was the first time in my life that I was regarded positively and felt accepted without judgment. I already knew that I wanted to go to college. With the support of my social workers, I was able to do what I had planned.”
With this new support system, he also gained access to transitional housing for foster youth, allowing him to live in a studio apartment rent-free until age 21. Although he has been receiving CalFresh and other forms of assistance, it’s still a challenge at times to meet everyday needs. “In general, food is very expensive. I don’t like thinking about how much I spend on groceries,” he says. With the help of JBAY, he’ll be able to take a break from thinking about these costs and remain focused on his studies.
Rocky is now majoring in philosophy and cognitive science at UCSD, which has one of the top-ranked departments in the country. In the future, he is interested in pursuing graduate school and specializing in the field. As life continues to throw obstacles in his path, he feels confident that he will stay on track and achieve the goals that he has set for himself. With JBAY’s support, he has one less obstacle.