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Higher education is off limits to most former foster children. According to a 2012 study by First Star, a nonprofit advocating to improve lives of neglected children, less than 3 percent of former foster children have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Aileen Coronel, a San Diego native, beat the odds, receiving an MBA from Ashford University.
Through Ashford University’s partnership with Promises2Kids, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization that supports foster youth, Coronel was awarded a Guardian Scholarship, a grant that supports foster children who have dreams of attaining higher education. She gladly accepted. More than 200 youth have been provided the scholarships and, like Coronel, more than 90 percent of guardian scholars are first-generation graduates.
In 1984, Coronel was placed in a foster home. She moved through five foster homes in nine and a half years, before “aging out” of the system at 18.
“Coming out of foster care at the age of 18, I needed to work to support myself instead of going to college. I struggled for the next decade, and it became clear that the only way to advance in the workforce was to earn a degree,” said Coronel.
At the age of 30, while working 60 hours a week at minimum wage to support herself, Coronel enrolled at a local community college, and was invited by Promises2Kids to speak to youth about the importance of education, regardless of age. Inspired by her story, Ashford offered Coronel the Guardian Scholarship, providing the opportunity to attend classes online.
She completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting, graduating magna cum laude from Ashford University, and was promoted before being recruited by another company for a more well-compensating position.
She was also recognized as a member of Ashford’s Golden Key International Honour Society, the world’s premier collegiate honor society, recognizing outstanding academic achievement and connecting high-achieving individuals locally, regionally, and globally with lifetime opportunity, reward and success.
“I pursued a bachelor’s degree from Ashford to advance my career. I saw individuals around me rising up the corporate ladder and I wanted the same opportunities,” said Coronel. “With my MBA, it was a different feeling. I wanted to prove to myself that despite my background, I was smart enough. It was my dream.”
She will receive her diploma at graduation on Oct. 13, where she looks forward to visiting the Ashford University campus in Clinton, Iowa, and meeting fellow cyberspace classmates and Golden Key members in person for the first time.
“If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Coronel. “With my degrees, the future holds so much promise and hope, and has given me the power to compete in the workforce.”
About Ashford University
Achievement belongs to all of us at Ashford University. By offering a traditional college campus as well as online degree programs, Ashford meets the diverse needs of individuals pursuing integrity in their lives and in their communities. Students may earn an associates, bachelor’s, or master’s degree online, while campus students in Clinton, Iowa may earn a bachelor’s degree. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit ashford.edu or call Shari Winet Rodriguez, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.