Each year, more than 23,000 people leave the country’s reception system, of which less than 3% will obtain a university degree in their lifetime. This is one of four profiles celebrating students in the Promoting Achievement Through Hope (PATH) program, each of whom is turning that narrative on its head with the support of staff and their peers. All profiles are accessible in our introductory article.
As she left home for the first time, it was not how Angel Bliss once imagined the centuries-old milestone of independence.
The move, at age 15, may also have saved his life.
When Angel was in high school, his parents were embroiled in a tumultuous divorce, filling the house with lingering arguments, a barrage of insults, and physical abuse. The toxicity escalated to the point where she became desperate to escape.
“It was a very serious domestic violence situation – I had to move for my own safety,” she said. “I stayed with friends for a while, then finally decided to move in with my older sister because I wanted to try and finish high school.”
Angel’s sister, who had her own family, was his lifeline, providing the teenager with a safe haven and continuity. She continued to attend high school, got into cheerleading, got a job at a restaurant within walking distance of her sister’s house, and threw herself fully into her studies. By the time Angel graduated from high school, she had racked up 11 scholarships along the way.
The next natural step was college. After marking her status as an unaccompanied homeless student on her application to Chico State, once she was accepted, PATH Scholars immediately offered her support. Angel chose to major in political science with an option in legal studies and tried to navigate the system as best she could.
With PATH Scholars, she found a community that welcomed her with care, kindness, and compassion for her well-being. The staff and her peers helped her stay on track. Whether it’s using his free printing services, grabbing a snack between classes, or having a place to do homework and build community, Angel has used PATH Scholars to connect with resources to to keep her motivated and encouraged. Working 40 hours a week at a local grocery store, she managed to maintain excellent grades and connect with friends.
“I always felt like it was a waste of my potential if I didn’t continue to go to higher education,” she said. “Mostly because of how much people like PATH Scholars have invested in me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. »
Angel’s life got busier in December 2020 when his son was born during Finals week. While in labor, she called the teacher whose final was scheduled that day to see if she could reschedule as her baby arrived 11 days early.
“I won the final the next day and did really well,” she said. “I achieved a 4.0 grade point average this semester.”
Now with a newborn, Angel leaned on PATH Scholars again, as the program connected her with Chico State Basic Needs to secure emergency housing that could accommodate both of them.
Being a student-parent has added to her challenges, Angel admits. Every outing with her curious and energetic 17-month-old son, whether it’s to the grocery store or the on-campus child development lab for daycare during his classes, means a litany of tasks just to get from point A to point B—and Angel does it all by herself.
“As any parent knows, doing a little chore means putting the stroller in the car, making sure there are snacks, putting it in the car seat, getting the stroller out of the car,” she said. declared. “It’s a lot.”
There were times when the difficulty became so great that dropping out of school seemed like the best option.
“I’ve definitely thought about it, but it always comes down to ‘What’s a few years of my life versus struggling for the rest of my life?'” she said. “I think it’s worth it for me to persevere now and get my degree so I can get a good job.”
She thinks almost daily about how she defies expectations.
“I am a first generation student. My mother is an immigrant. I am a single mother. I feel like I’m breaking a lot of stereotypes,” Angel said.
After graduation, she hopes to become a paralegal—she is currently interning at the University’s Community Legal Information Clinic—working in environmental law or environmental policy. And as she improves the lives of others by fighting for environmental justice, Angel will also improve the lives of the one who matters most: her son.
“I don’t want to do something that will only make money,” she said. “I want to fulfill my potential to support my son and live the kind of life I want to live.”
The odds are against them. Show PATH Scholars that you believe in their educational dreams and ensure they have the resources to achieve them by donating today at www.csuchico.edu/fosteryouth.