Student Meets Governor at DCF Youth Summit
When he was placed in foster care at the age of five, Juan Quintana '14 never thought he would one day be shaking hands with the Bay State governor - who, he confirms, has a "strong, firm grip." Even when he volunteered to assist at the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) Youth Summit in Westborough, MA, he didn't know that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick would be there. Yet there Juan was, in the Metro Daily West, with the picture to prove it.
The happy-go-lucky Juan is quick to look back at his younger self and confess with a laugh, "I was young, I didn't know any better," referencing his reluctance to listen to foster parents, social workers, or other authority figures. Now that he's an adult, he gives back as much and as often as he can.
When Juan turned 18, he decided to stay in the care of DCF, which provides him with financial aid and living stipends for college. In turn, Juan volunteers with DCF-sponsored events like this year's youth summit where he helped to set up the events, facilitate group discussion, and encourage interaction. The event provides guidance for youth in DCF on topics like cyber safety, personal finance, and relationship issues. "It's nice because you meet other people your age who are going through the same thing," Juan said.
The social work major is thankful for the support of DCF as well as his Deanery Scholarship, which pays for half of his tuition. He hopes to give back to the system that helped him when he becomes a social worker someday.
"I can relate to what kids are going through," Juan said. "There's always going to be foster children in care and I want them to know 'I've been through it and I made it. You can make it too.'"