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Paying it Forward, One Dream at a Time

After several years of reading hundreds of scholarship essays from our communities’ college-bound foster youth, I’ve noticed one unifying theme that runs through many of their most deeply held aspirations – they want to join the helping professions. With a sincere heart for service, they yearn for opportunities to “give back.” With bravery and books in tow, they embark on a personal quest to fulfill their conviction, clutching to an honest, deeply held desire to make a difference in their communities.

One of the most common reasons given for pursuing this path is that they intend to “pay it forward,” often by emulating the role models they had as children. While their biological parents may not have been equipped to provide the right kind of positive encouragement and support in their formative years, they often had a good teacher, social worker, therapist, police officer or counselor who was truly “there” for them when it mattered most. Kids coming from abusive backgrounds often seek solace and safety at school. For many vulnerable youth, school becomes the one place they can escape the chaos and uncertainty they face at home. It’s where they can focus and pour their energy into dreams of a brighter future. To show their appreciation for the help they’ve received, these inspiring young people have made the conscious choice to better their lives, while focusing on bettering the lives of others.

Rancho Damacitas is honored to invest in these future “givers” while helping them pursue their hopes and dreams. This academic year, through its New Heights Scholarship program, the non-profit organization provided college scholarships to a future nurse, a future high school math teacher, a future ultrasound technician, a future author and a future FBI agent specializing in cyber security.

Alex just graduated this year from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.S. degree in Information Systems. He has plans to begin his pursuit of serving our country in the one of the most critical arenas of our national defense – cyber security. Alex grew up here, locally, in Southwest Riverside County and has participated in Rancho Damacitas’ programs since his youth. He has already started giving back in several ways, including volunteering his technical expertise to assist Rancho Damacitas with its IT needs. We are proud of Alex for accomplishing this significant milestone in his life and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Mia grew up in Riverside County, and is now completing her second year at UC Irvine, majoring in Mathematics with a concentration in secondary education. She intends to teach math at the middle and high school level. In her scholarship essay, she clearly defines her top three goals for the future: “graduate, teach and give back.” Mia began her service to our community many years ago, spending an incredible 13 years as a Girl Scout. We are proud of Mia’s accomplishments and excited to watch her thrive in young adulthood as she pursues her dreams of teaching mathematics to the next generation.

There are many other well-deserving students in need of our support. Please help Rancho Damacitas as we grow our New Heights Scholarship program to provide more opportunities to inspiring college students transitioning from foster care. Your support can have a long-term, rippling effect throughout the community through the good work these students are doing and will continue to do as they enter their professional fields.

Help support our inspiring students! For more information and to make a donation, contact Kristi Piatkowski, Development Director at Rancho Damacitas, 951-302-2317 ext. 238, Visit our website,, to learn about our other programs designed to empower tomorrow’s leaders!