• Katie Kelton

Pandemic Response for Foster Care Students

Updated: Jun 5

Published for International Student Foundation + Track15


LaThisa, UT Arlington

With an International Student Foundation (ISF) scholarship, LaThisa earned both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work from UT Arlington - an amazing feat for a young woman with such a difficult background.

LaThisa’s early life contained both homelessness and abuse before she entered the foster care system at age 13. With over 10 foster care placements, her neglect continued through age 18, until she connected with ISF and received both a college scholarship and a mentor. After years of a successful education, she sold her car, sacrificed her belongings, and moved to Zambia with the Peace Corps. LaThisa was eager to give back to a community in need. Dismally, when the Peace Corps brought home all their volunteers during the pandemic, LaThisa boarded a flight in less than 48 hours to return to a “home” that did not exist. The instability triggered a fear of the homelessness and neglect she remembers from her childhood.

LaThisa connected with her ISF mentor right away, which allowed us to meet her at the airport and provide transportation, lodging, and stability during the pandemic. We stand ready to help with any additional needs.


Kyra, Ball State University


Meet Kyra, who entered the foster care system at eight years old after her mother was incarcerated. She lived in eight different homes until graduation before embarking on an education at Ball State University through our scholarship program. Although childhood left her skeptical of close relationships, she has made great strides through a tremendous bond with her ISF mentor. She is earning her bachelor’s degree in Choral Music Education, and she got married!


Kyra relies on her on-campus employment to pay her bills, and is currently unable to work due to the pandemic. When you support the International Student Foundation this National Foster Care Month, you support emergency expenses and future scholarships for students like Kyra. A simple helping hand can set students on a successful trajectory.


Isaiah, Louisiana State University


Isaiah has not always had a safety net. After being abandoned at 18 months old, he lived in eight foster homes before the age of three. He then lived in poverty from age three to 13 in the same home, and was placed back into five different foster homes until age 18. Despite the mounting obstacles in his way, Isaiah excelled in high school; pursued computer programming, theater, and music; was elected class president; and was introduced to ISF by his mentor. He entered LSU on an ISF scholarship and has since joined a fraternity, been elected to a leadership position, and succeeded in his studies. The COVID-19 pandemic affects him too. In addition to the disruption of his education, he also has friends and family who are personally grappling with COVID-19. He shares, “My foster parents and ISF together have helped ease the burden of this situation on me.”


Zolena, Texas Woman's University


Zolena was removed from her parents’ care at a young age and faced a tumultuous childhood in CPS until she aged out at 18 years old. Her scholarship with ISF brought her to Texas Woman's University, where she studies theatre and works several part-time jobs.

The shelter-in-place mandate has reduced her part-time income to nearly zero, and she has no safety net - except for ISF. We are helping her with groceries so she is no long food insecure.


Brittany, Columbia University

Brittany was orphaned as a teenager, separated from her siblings, and placed in the foster care system. Defying the odds, she flourished at Spelman College with ISF support and is now earning her Masters of Social Work at Columbia University. Her graduation is set for this May, 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic shut down New York City and her college campus. Brittany is currently facing uncertainty about her suspended work-study program, housing situation, and grocery and utility expenses. ISF is meeting her immediate needs so she can focus on graduation.


Hailey, Belmont University


Hailey attends Belmont University with an ISF scholarship and is a soon-to-be-nurse, graduating this May, 2020. Becuase of the pandemic, she had to leave campus earlier than planned and is struggling with her college experience being cut short. She shares,

“I am the first in my biological family to graduate college. I am a foster child who surpassed the 3% odds and got into college. I am a foster care child who earned to be in the 1% who graduates from college. I am a nursing student who worked hard, failed, got back up and still made it to graduation day. This is an achievement that I never thought I could truly obtain.”


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©2020 by Katie Kelton Storytelling