Former foster youth find home at Cal
“The day that I got accepted at Berkeley was life-altering.”
“The day that I got accepted at Berkeley was life-altering,” says Jamie Martínez ’15.
Telling his story, Martínez smiles through the difficulty of recalling the struggles he faced growing up in foster homes since age four and overcoming extraordinary challenges, which made his admission to UC Berkeley that much sweeter.
Opportunities to fall through the cracks abounded, but Martínez persevered and, thanks to hard work, mentors, and programs such as the Cal Independent Scholars Network (CISN), he found a home at Berkeley. The first-year transfer student from San Diego credits CISN for being the key factor in deciding to come to Cal.
The unique services provided through CISN help students who are currently in foster care, have been emancipated from foster care, or are orphaned, and who are certified independent by the Financial Aid Office. It is one of several comprehensive programs within the Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence that enable students to succeed and thrive on campus and beyond. Created in 2005, CISN gained the enthusiastic backing of donors to support scholarships and a variety of programmatic needs to better serve the students. It also attracted volunteer mentors.
“Berkeley makes me feel at home and normal and that I belong,” Martínez says, thanking donors who made it possible for students like him to “be able to gain the resources to attend the world’s No. 1 public university.”