From a young age, Brijeanae “Bri” Foster witnessed her mother work hard to stay away from previous drug addictions. As a baby, she even lived with her mom in a residential treatment program. Brijeanae’s father was addicted to crack cocaine and on a path, that, unfortunately, led to prison.
Bri’s mother was able to stay clean, but other family members fell victim to their own addictions. College isn’t just a bridge to Bri’s future; it’s a way to escape a world of homelessness, addiction, and incarceration.
The Students Rising Above (SRA) community is dedicated to impacting the future through the cultivation of extraordinary youth, like Bri. SRA helps each student to realize their potential by guiding and supporting the student through college graduation, and into the workforce. Our SRA Rising Stars are breaking the cycle of poverty within their own families, serving their communities, providing a new generation of employees, and leaders from diverse backgrounds, and accelerating positive change.
With the support of SRA and the generosity of donors like you, college became a reality for Bri, a monumental jump from the tough neighborhood where she grew up.
Starting in their senior year of high school, each Rising Stars student is matched with a professional Advisor and a volunteer Social Mentor. Advisors and Mentors work together to provide logistical and emotional support. SRA works with educators and students to navigate the college and financial aid application process, select the best-fit colleges; receive tutoring; negotiate optimal financial aid; and enroll.
Now, with the support of Bri’s team from SRA, including her advisor Jan and her mentor Anitra, Bri is a vibrant senior at the University of California, Merced, who recently returned from a life-changing study abroad experience in Prague. She will be the first in her family to graduate from college. You can contribute to students like Bri on our Annual Giving Page: https://bit.ly/33omyzs
Bri & Jan
Bri always knew she wanted to “rise above” her challenging environment, but it wasn’t until her junior year of high school that this became a reality. Bri was accepted into the Rising Stars program at Students Rising Above (SRA), where she was connected with her SRA advisor, Jan. For the next five years, Jan provided Bri with college advising and emotional support and connected her with the tools, resources, and supportive community Bri needed to get to and through college and launch into her career.
“Without Students Rising Above, I would have been stuck in the toxic, low-income environment around me,” Bri says. “SRA helped me apply to 12 different colleges, finding the right fit for me. My advisor, Jan, took me dorm shopping, where I purchased my own comforter and even my very own laptop for school; all things my mom would have not been able to afford.”
Bri & Anitra
In addition, to having an SRA Advisor, like Jan, Students Rising Above provides the opportunity to connect students with mentors who may share similar career and life interests. Bri and her mentor Anitra have a special bond and are able to share special adventures when Bri returns to the Bay Area during breaks from school at UC Merced.
“I greatly appreciate my mentor Anitra for continuously demonstrating black excellence in all that she does. Regardless of what comes her way she makes the best out of everything and while doing that checking on me from time to time!” Bri says. “Even when I was in Prague for the year she made an effort to reach out to me to let me know I crossed her mind.”
Bri has many awesome memories with Anitra. One that stands out to her is when they went on “a gorgeous yet tiring bike ride in San Francisco, across the Golden Gate all the way from the Pier.” Bri recounts, “that was a wonderful day well spent during some time of from my RA job during that time.I feel as though I’ve learned from Anitra, the skillset to handle challenges as they arise as I continue to pursue higher opportunities. The best way to tackle the challenge or situation is to keep an open mind. Also getting in some occasional traveling!!” Our mentors provide valuable insight to our students and provide a deeper connection to the greater San Francisco community.