UTSA CAPRI Center, BCFS Health and Human Services

foster career

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(July 8, 2011)--It was an Independence day to remember for hundreds of at-risk and foster-care teens. On July 7 at the UTSA Downtown Campus, 300 at-risk teens and teens who have either recently aged-out or are preparing to age out of the state foster-care system were treated to a full day of empowerment and knowledge at the Independence Day Career and Education Conference.

The show-and-tell conference featured workshops and presentations to help participants discover and assess their passions and talents. It also featured information on health care fields in the military as well as careers in banking, real estate, teaching, STEM careers, careers as a civil servant and careers in the arts.

The conference, themed "Discover: The Quest to Realize Your Destiny," was hosted by the UTSA Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) and BCFS Health and Human Services in conjunction with the U.S. Army.

"This was a fantastic collaborative effort between UTSA, other colleges and universities, as well as professional partners to showcase post-secondary educational opportunities for area foster youth, while also fulfilling UTSA's commitment to community outreach and educational awareness," said Sophia Ortiz, assistant director of the UTSA CAPRI/Mexico Center.

Activities took place in the Durango and Buena Vista buildings and included a college fair complete with information tables from area technical and four-year universities like UTSA and UT Austin.

But the spotlight of the day took place in the Bill Miller Plaza where the Army Stryker ambulance, Army field surgical unit and various Army medical tables, including Army veterinary science, were displayed courtesy of Camp Bullis and the Army Medical Department Center and School. Not to be outdone, the San Antonio Fire Department captivated participants with their emergency response vehicles, including of course, a fire engine.

Teens even had a taste of real-time firefighting quickness as the gear they were trying on had to hurriedly be given back to the firefighters who were called out on an actual emergency.

The day ended with a motivational discussion from basketball Hall of Famer Nevil Shed and Corey Winfield of Bandera Road City Church on the importance of discovering one's purpose and passion.

The conference is part of planned activities presented by UTSA's Access Center, developed from a grant provided by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development/Hispanic Serving Institutions Assisting Communities.

Harriett Romo, UTSA professor of sociology and director of the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Center (CAPRI) received the three-year, $600,000 grant in 2010. The funding is being used to create programs for foster-care youth that will encourage and assist them in planning for college.