Genesis Osuna ’20 (communication and media studies) often felt hopeless as a child and young person growing up in foster homes. School was her refuge, and she would remind herself that better times were ahead.
“There were days that were dark, but I would take a deep breath and remind myself that tomorrow is much brighter,” she says.
Osuna found belonging, identity and opportunity at Cal State Fullerton, thanks to a scholarship through the Guardian Scholars program, which supports the education of current and former foster youth.
Today, Osuna is a proud Titan alumna and president of the Orange County chapter of California Youth Connection, a statewide organization that seeks to transform the California foster care system.
“Although college was hard in the beginning, I was welcomed. Guardian Scholars gave me a family I could relate to; I saw myself in a lot of my peers,” says Osuna. “The program was not just about getting a scholarship; there was history among my peers and the foster care system that no one else knew about.”
The Guardian Scholars Get a Boost During the Pandemic From the Donahues
Established in 1998, the Guardian Scholars program has the support of prominent Cal State Fullerton business alumni, including Pat Donahue ’78 (marketing), chairman and CEO of Costa Mesa-based Donahue Schriber Realty Group, and his wife, Paula.
“These kids didn’t bargain for a lot of what has happened to them so far. To see their persistence and drive is really inspiring,” says Donahue. “If we can help normalize their experience just a bit, we believe we can improve their graduation rate. I’m so proud of all of these Guardian Scholars.”
Recognizing the financial risks that COVID-19 posed to the program, the Donahues donated $10,000 to support the Guardian Scholars, boosting funding for emergency needs, such as food, transportation and shelter.
Donahue sees giving back to his alma mater and his community as both a duty and an accomplishment.
“I once heard that only successful companies can give back to their communities. I took that as a challenge and a responsibility, that if you have been fortunate in business, it was a duty to give back. I am very proud of our company’s outreach to the communities where we live and work,” he says.
Read more about the Guardian Scholars program in this CSUF News article.