BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program, in partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), hosted the annual Independence Day Conference this year on July 23 at UTSA’s main campus, where approximately 100 prospective students from PAL and similar programs came together to learn more about the details involved in a college career.
The Independence Day Conference allows teens and young adults who are currently or were formerly in foster care to dialogue with college representatives about what they can expect from higher education and what higher education will expect from them. Experiences like these offer vital opportunities for young people from foster care, statistically at a disadvantage when it comes to education, to thoughtfully engage with their futures and think critically alongside partners who can offer realistic answers to their most pressing questions.
“We owe these young people a better future. We can do so much better and I believe higher education is the best path forward in doing so,” Peggy Eighmy said in coverage from UTSA Today. Mrs. Eighmy, the first lady of UTSA, was one of several speakers scheduled to offer encouragement and advice to students throughout the day. President Taylor Eighmy, Coach Frank Wilson, and Judge Charles Montemayor also addressed the group.
Frank Wilson, the head football coach for UTSA, shared how he focuses on who and where he wants to be eight years from now as a measure of personal success. “Every time you set a standard, you raise the bar yet again, and yet again. If ever in life you feel ‘I’ve arrived; I’ve made it,’ that’s when things go down,” the coach said.
After the morning’s speakers, attendants were treated to a campus tour, complimentary lunch, and workshops focusing on subjects from engineering to social work. In the afternoon, Dr. Megan Piel led a student panel where attendants were invited to discuss the college experience with peers who have lived through and know that experience. The final hour of the day was spent at UTSA’s Recreation Center, where youth were invited to play basketball and boardgames, or to climb the facility’s rock wall.
The PAL Independence Day Conference, held now for at least three years, continues to prove its importance as a guiding tool for prospective students from foster care looking to make a positive difference in their own lives and the lives of those around them. Sharing the advantages of higher education and the importance of a college degree lets students build a stable plan to achieve the goals they set for themselves.