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World of Difference: UAlbany Junior a Role Model for Foster Children

Raven Profit Serves as a Youth Ambassador to Teach Life Skills, Promote Education

UAlbany Junior Raven Profit helps foster children learn life skills and assists them in navigating the U.S. welfare system.

ALBANY, N.Y (December 12, 2011) -- University at Albany student Raven Profit understands the difficulties facing foster children. At age 15, Profit was thrust into the foster care system when her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While an aunt eventually gained custody of Profit and her brother, the Queens, N.Y., native's eyes were opened to the struggles facing more than 400,000 U.S. foster children. Profit's experience compelled her to find a way to help others in the foster system.

Now a junior majoring in human biology and women's studies, Profit serves as youth ambassador for New Yorkers for Children and UAlbany's Professional Development Program (PDP) at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. Through her role, Profit helps foster children learn life skills and assists them in navigating the U.S. welfare system.

The statistics are staggering: 30,000 kids 'age out' of the foster system each year and are suddenly faced with the challenges of finding a means of supporting themselves, often at just 18 years of age. Only about a third of foster children graduate high school compared to other children in the U.S., and approximately one in five will go on to college. Only 2% earn a bachelor's degree. Behind military veterans, children leaving foster care comprise the largest pipeline to homelessness among young adults in the U.S.

UAlbany Junior Raven Profit assists foster children
Profit, who entered foster care when she was 15, hopes her own experience can serve as an inspiration to other foster kids.

"Most foster children don't have role models or a parent to look up to – someone to get advice from or who can help them simply learn how to put together a resume -- but it doesn't have to be this way," says Profit. She points out that children can delay 'aging out' of the system until they are 21, allowing time to start college and build a foundation for the future.

Profit attends seminars throughout the year, speaking with foster children to explain to them what benefits they have access to and coaching them on career skills. She hopes her own experience can serve as an inspiration to other foster kids.

"The world is not limited to what is around you," says Profit, who came to UAlbany because she felt the University would provide a challenging learning environment and help her grow as a person. Now on track to pursue a medical degree, Profit hopes one day to follow in UAlbany alum Dr. Robert Paeglow's footsteps by providing affordable health care to the disadvantaged.

"Raven is an excellent role model.  She is passionate, driven, and has motivated many of her peers to achieve their dreams," said PDP Executive Director Eugene J. Monaco. "She has been able to utilize her experiences to strengthen her ability to overcome challenges and by her example makes college a reality for many at-risk youth.  Raven positive energy inspires all those she interacts with to make a difference."

Profit will also continue to work with foster children to teach them professional skills, and help them avoid falling back into another system or to life on the streets. "I was blessed to have a great support system and access to a lot of programs," says Profit. "So I know how vital that is to children in foster care."

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