By Rose Vasquez-Galimov
ACE Scholar and CSU San Marcos Student
Foster and adopted youth often feel particular urgency in the question: Who am I? It took several difficult years for me to come to an answer. I grew up on the San Pasqual Reservation. After I turned eighteen, I returned to connect with lost family and community after more than a decade away from the Santa Ysabel Reservation of my birth father.
I have learned my identity. I am a Kumeyaay woman of the Santa Ysabel Tribe. I am also a student at Cal State San Marcos. I am a person who dances to preserve a rare tradition of history, family, life and prophecy while studying to advance my tribe’s future.
The reservation and campus create two focal points for my life. The reservation is a place of spiritual fulfillment, comfort and familiarity. The campus is a place of opportunity, challenge and diversity. Both of these places are crucial to shape the person I am and hope to become.
I consider myself very lucky. Through the American Indian Recruitment Program, I had the support and encouragement of college students during high school. Christy, a Cal State master’s student, stuck with me and helped me complete college applications. She still occasionally helps with a little moral support.
My fortune continues at Cal State. I find myself at a campus where I am accepted as a former foster youth and Native American woman. I am part of the ACE Scholars program and the American Indian Student Alliance, with a safe refuge in the new campus cultural center. I also mentor high school students as Christy once mentored me.
At Cal State, I am laying a foundation for bringing my two realities together. I persevere in my education out of a desire to serve native people. My goal is to finish my bachelor’s and go on to a Master’s in Social Work at San Diego State. I believe that my experience will allow me to relate to Native American students and foster youth currently in the system.
Ultimately, my goal is to help others create bridges between their current reality and the world of opportunity that comes with an education.
Note: Below is a video documenting Rose’s journey.