Luz immigrated from Honduras in hopes of pursuing an education. She didn’t speak English at the time, but was determined to succeed. She had to work two jobs to support herself after her father returned to Honduras, leaving her in the U.S. by herself. Luz was forced to enter the foster care system and became homeless after that. But once she found Mercy Housing, she gained the stability needed to work, support herself, and go to college. She began her associates degree as an entry-level ESL student studying Social and Behavioral Science, then transferred to a four-year college in the fall of 2016 and now has a 3.61 GPA. Luz currently works a part-time job and is a fellow at a juvenile probation department while she finishes her degree. The entire time, she has worked and saved to support herself with the hope of a better future.
This year EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants partnered with Mercy Housing to award 12 residents with the Mercy Housing EPIC Educational Support Grant, and Luz won! Despite her challenges, Luz stayed focused, and it’s paying off. She and the other awardees were chosen due to their clear career goals and exceptional commitment to higher education. They received $2,000 each to ease the financial burden of continuing their education post-high school. This money can go toward the costly expenses associated with being a student, like books and rent. Awardees wrote essays and had to get recommendations of support from Resident Services coordinators. Hear what Luz has to say, in her own words:
“I’ve faced many obstacles that changed my life in drastic ways. I would not have been able to get where I am today without a stable place to live. Mercy Housing has given me permanency and the hope to finish my education without being on the street. I experienced homelessness for almost two years after leaving the foster care system. Now, I have a place that I can call home, and a place where I can focus and do my homework.”
“I am a person who is passionate about advocating for youth, specifically young women. Currently, I am working as a fellow for the juvenile probation department. I constantly witness the impact of the juvenile justice system through my fellowship, as well as, from my own history in the foster care system. I know the importance of advocacy for young adults. As a low-income immigrant, first-generation college student, I know the needs of my community and wish to do my part to assist and empower the next generation. My plan after graduation is to find a job in social work and/or criminal justice, advocating for disadvantaged youth.”