by Christine Salinas, Manager of Grants and Communications, and Tom Fandre, Senior Business Development Manager

We’re so proud of our graduating college seniors! While the pandemic changed many things in the lives of our Pivotal scholars, not even Covid-19 could stop Naeim, Farhad, Latif, and Diana from achieving their goals. Below we offer some Q&A with these four stellar scholars.

How does it feel to earn your bachelor’s degree? 

Latif: As a first-generation college student, earning a bachelor’s degree feels like a tremendous accomplishment for myself and my family. I also feel extremely proud of my life, for getting far in my education journey.

Diana: It feels so surreal to finally have my bachelor's degree. What I thought was going to take forever was done in a blink of an eye. I invested five years of college education for a lifetime of opportunities and success for myself and my family. It's bittersweet that my journey as an undergraduate student has come to an end because I love being a student, but I'm extremely excited to start my next journey in the professional world.

Naeim: It feels amazingly good. I had been waiting for this and finally, I could do it with Cum Laude.

Farhad: I feel very accomplished. These past four years of my life were full of ups and downs and as much as I enjoyed those years, I am also feeling very glad that now I have more time to do things that otherwise I had less time to do while in college. I feel that I have grown a lot since I started my undergraduate life. All in all, very happy to earn my Bachelor's degree.


What was one challenge that you faced that almost prevented you from graduating?

Latif: Worrying about my family. My biological mother, who lives in Africa, had surgery for kidney stones while I was in school. I was worried about her health condition due to her older age. During this period, I had many sleepless nights because I was struggling to get caught up on my academics.

Diana: Self-doubt. Having years of people telling me I wouldn't amount to anything has taken a toll on my mental well-being. That feeling of self-doubt resurfaced in the form of Impostor Syndrome when I was at San Jose State University. However, I battled that feeling inside of me and conquered!  

Naeim: Financial aid and a language barrier. Thanks to Pivotal and Foster Care to Success scholarships, I was able to cover most of the tuition at Cal State East Bay. I also dealt with a language barrier but with hard work and persistent effort, nothing is an obstacle.

What would you tell other foster youth who are starting college next year? 

Latif: Stay focused and be mindful of your time management. Moreover, take advantage of all the on-campus and off-campus resources that are available to you.

Diana: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be a little vulnerable. There are so many people who want to help, but may not know how to, unless you let them know what is going on in your life. 

Naeim: It is a new and fun journey. You’re transitioning to adulthood and will have a lot of responsibilities and opportunities for the future. Meet new people and make new friends while figuring out what courses to take and what careers to pursue with the help of your academic advisor. 

Farhad: Start your college journey with a mindset that you are going to meet many amazing people, learn many cool things, make great memories, and have fun. Have a plan and a goal that you would like to pursue right from the start, but be open to adapting to changes. Don't be emotionally attached to your plans. When you see a change is needed, do it.