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Former foster youth overcomes challenges to earn college degree

From child welfare to college graduate, 23-year-old Michelle Calleros wants to inspire others from a similar background.

SAN ANTONIO — There's nothing quite like the graduation season for high school and college students! And imagine overcoming the challenges of being within the child welfare system to walking the stage as one San Antonio's hundreds of college graduates this spring. 

That's the exactly the case for 23-year-old Michelle Calleros. She just graduated from Texas A&M San Antonio with her undergraduate degree in Business Administration, with hopes of starting coursework towards cyber security and her Masters Degree this fall. She's quite the impressive young lady. We spoke with her this week about her recent successes. 

"To be here, and not be graduating, but graduated is crazy to me, but also, really awesome," she said. "I feel like I have helped many foster youth with the idea of college. I feel like when you are young you don't have anyone there to motivate you, and tell you, like, this is an actual possibility for you."

Credit: Michelle Calleros

Michelle told us that most foster children don't know that there is a college tuition and fee waiver after they age out of the system. 

"I would say, one, you have resources, and two, utilize them," she said. "Whether or not you have biological family that is there to support you, there are people on your campus that are there to support you."

Michelle wanted all kids working their way through the foster system to know that they will be supported in many ways. 

"I think that as long as you want to do it for yourself you can make it happen," she said. "Lots of kids think they have to do it on their own, and that is not the case."

Credit: Michelle Calleros

Michelle's university, A&M San Antonio, for example, offers many ways for foster kids to navigate the daily college grind. 

"We help students get bus passes," she said. "We help pick them up. If you have kids we can help get you support for your kids. Whatever barriers you have in your life it is still not a big enough barrier to stop you from accomplishing the goals that you want to accomplish. That is really important for kids to know."

Michelle also said that confidence is huge for former foster youth chasing any collegiate or career goals. 

"Be confident in that idea that you have in your head," she said.

Credit: Michelle Calleros

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