By Maria Walters, Sr. Manager of Grants and Communications

Pivotal scholar Jaskirat always imagined going to a 4-year university and becoming a pediatrician. She wanted to help people and give back to her community. When she was accepted to U.C. Davis and received the Pivotal Scholarship it was literally a dream come true. Jaskirat had a vision of what college would be – living in the dorms, meeting new people, and immersing herself in the college experience.

But when she arrived at U.C. Davis and started taking classes, the reality of college wasn’t what she expected. It was a struggle adjusting to an unfamiliar place, sharing her space with new people, and juggling work and classes. She pushed herself too hard and instead of building her perfect college life, she found herself burned out and falling behind academically.

“It felt like a roller coaster every day,” Jaskirat said. She was struggling financially and not eating well or taking care of herself. Working closely with her Pivotal coach, she was encouraged to take a step back and think about what she really needed for herself. After much soul-searching, Jaskirat made the difficult decision to leave U.C. Davis and transfer to Evergreen Community College.

“My Pivotal coach helped me understand that stepping back and taking a break was not a failure on my part. Rather than comparing myself to other people and where they were in their lives, I had to find my own self-worth and define my own path.”

The step back helped. With the support of her Pivotal coach, Jaskirat researched and learned about other university options. She moved back home and started taking better care of herself – exercising and eating well, cooking healthy meals instead of eating out, and journaling regularly to help focus. After taking Pivotal’s Financial Management workshops, she started to save money and manage her budget. And with her Pivotal coach by her side, she navigated her way through community college and the pandemic. It wasn’t easy, but she persevered. 

This fall, after three semesters in community college, Jaskirat transferred from Evergreen to San Francisco State University. She’s majoring in Biology with an emphasis on Physiology and still plans to pursue medical school. It isn’t easy, but she’s learning how to juggle school, work, and family while still taking care of herself. Jaskirat hopes that by sharing her story other foster youth can learn from the lessons she learned. “Pivotal has taught me that you don’t always get placed exactly where you want. You have to look at where you are and work to get to the place that is right for you.”

Read more about our expert coaches here.