Recognizing World Refugee Day
Each year, in the month of June, the United Nations invites supporters from around the world to celebrate World Refugee Day. June 20th was established by the United Nations Refugee Agency as World Refugee Day to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
In response to World Refugee Day, Crittenton Services for Children and Families (CSCF) is providing our support base with another side to the story regarding the current humanitarian crisis involving the plight of Unaccompanied Children and Refugee Minors arriving to the United States.
Crittenton has a licensed and nationally accredited youth shelter for Refugee and Unaccompanied Minors. Throughout the years we have noticed that despite the trauma, exploitation, neglect or grinding poverty that many of our children have faced, somehow, those fortunate to qualify for humanitarian relief, have managed to succeed and proudly contribute to their new adoptive country – America.
Ingrid Giron, is one such case, that demonstrates the kind of resiliency today’s global youth need to surpass all the obstacles life has thrown their way. Ingrid, is an 18-year-old, Crittenton Foster Youth and Refugee Minor with a passion for education and learning new things.
Recently, Ms. Giron has through hard work and dedication reached a number of milestones. Among the highlights include: celebrating her high school graduation in May 2014, being awarded scholarships for her exemplary academic achievement, and being offered an acceptance letter into a four year college.
“This is the reason why we [Crittenton] do what we do. It’s so nice to get to see one of the children in our care be recognized for their extraordinary accomplishments,” said Ana Eykel, Vice President of Foster Care, CSCF, “She is a shining example of the kind of possibilities that take place when thecommunity gets together to help the younger generation find their way to success.
Refugee Children Achieving Academic Success
Earlier this year, Ingrid was a selected honoree and invited guest to the Children’s Network of San Bernardino County 2014 Shine-a-Light on Child Abuse Prevention Awards Breakfast where the first of her accomplishments came to realization. She was awarded her first college scholarship.
Each year the Children’s Network of San Bernardino County spotlights San Bernardino County advocates who help improve the quality of life for children in the community. In addition, the Children’s Fund of San Bernardino County selects and awards academic scholarships to San Bernardino County foster youth on the basis of exemplary merit. Ingrid was one of 10 foster youth honored at this year’s event.
Erin Phillips, President and CEO of the Children’s Fund, the nonprofit organization serving as a safety net for San Bernardino County’s at-risk children and the agency responsible for awarding scholarship funding to foster youth at this annual event stated to the San Bernardino Sun, “It is such an honor to be able to present scholarships to these foster youth. A day like today reminds us why Children’s Fund exists. To see the obstacles these youth have overcome, and to be able to help them achieve their dreams, reinforces our commitment to support these strong, resilient children.”
Ingrid has come a long way from the young and scared 14-year-old teenage girl Crittenton first encountered awhile back. She fled a life of poverty and a place with few educational opportunities for girls of limited means.
“I love to learn and to know things. I’m the first in my entire family to graduate from high school and this is the reason I came here [America] because of the education,” said Ingrid, “I think it is really important to be educated and in America there is a real chance to be educated.”
She knew that when she left her home there was no turning back. When she arrived to American territory alone, trekking the dangerous migration paths of Central America and Mexico, she was detained by border patrol and due to her life circumstance she qualified to be sent to a refugee shelter program in California.
The transition to the status of a Refugee Minor was not an easy road for Ingrid. She did not know the culture to the new country she so loved, and did whatever it took to fit in her new social paradigm.
When she arrived at Crittenton Services as a Refugee Minor she was placed in our foster care program and was placed with a foster family and was enrolled in school. Eager to be academically successful Ingrid was committed to learning English as quickly as possible. Her resiliency once again kicked in and she learned to speak English within six months of her school enrollment period.
Today, just three years later after arriving to the United States, Ingrid is in Crittenton’s Transitional Program for Foster Youth and is fluent in speaking and writing English. She has also been commended for her school attendance record, and maintained a 4.0 grade point average while taking advanced placement coursework that included: AP Biology, AP Spanish, Honors Chemistry and Honors Trigonometry, to name a few.
In April 2014 Ingrid received two other academic scholarships and was notified by the University of California, Santa Barbara that she has been accepted to the university as a college freshman in the Fall of 2014.
All this was accomplished while keeping a hectic academic schedule which included taking on a “zero period” AP Spanish 4 class in her senior year of high school that started at 6:15 in the morning, and participating in volunteer projects in the community from time to time.
Grateful of an Opportunity and Determined to Give Back
Her love of architecture, public service, and her acceptance into the University of California allows Ingrid to fulfill her lifelong dream of higher learning. Most importantly she hopes to hone her talent and skill sets to somehow help other people that encounter similar situations she had to endure.
Ingrid has a giving heart and her ultimate goal is to start a foundation that concentrates on granting opportunities for education and housing to those that need the assistance. The very things that she was fortunate to experience in the United States.
“I don’t care much about money. In life it’s not about that. The United States gave me a real chance and opportunity which I will not forget. I want to give back because I have received a lot from my new home,” said Ingrid, “I want the foundation to start in the U.S. and then to expand and help others out with education around the world.”
Among her future plans is also returning to visit her native Honduras to help kids with education and housing options. Ingrid states that there are some intelligent youth in Honduras and all they need is the chance, the tools, a safe environment and good will to thrive as leaders.
For those that know Ingrid this achievement and resiliency is not at all surprising. Her high school teacher, mentor and advocate, Yanira Salazar, has no doubt that Ingrid will accomplish great things and become a productive member of the community. Something that Ingrid, at such a young age, has already clearly demonstrated.
“I find her [Ingrid’s] energy to be very inspirational and wish more kids would follow her lead. It’s the way she carries herself and her life that I have come to respect, and it is the very nature of the things she has overcome that has given me that opportunity to learn from her, and has made me reflect on my own life choices,” said Salazar.
Ingrid is now officially a high school graduate and becomes the first person in her family to ever attend a university. Needless to say Ingrid is excited to enter the next phase of her life at the University of California, Santa Barbara and attend the new student orientation in late June.
Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF) is a non-profit social services agency whose mission is to heal the wounds of abuse and neglect; strengthen families; and help troubled adolescents reach their full potential. Established and incorporated in 1966 Crittenton has a highly trained workforce operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week providing comprehensive counseling, medical, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a full array of residential, in-home, community based, wraparound, mental health, foster care, and adoption services with a service planning area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties.