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First Star Academy, ACS helps foster kids prepare for college

As communities continue to celebrate the class of 2020, News 12 learned about a program helping foster children in New York City get ready for college.

News 12 Staff

Jun 30, 2020, 12:17 PM

Updated 1,480 days ago

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As communities continue to celebrate the class of 2020, News 12 learned about a program helping foster children in New York City get ready for college.
One participant, Assanatu Afriju, who just graduated high school, says she is ready for her future because of First Star Academy.
Afriju came to the Bronx from Sierra Leone when she was 7 years old. She lived with her dad and step-mom until entering the foster care system at 14.
“Like reborn, it was a new birth, that's how I felt when I became a foster kid,” says Afriju.
Not ashamed of her situation, she came out of her shell even more, falling in love with sports, performing and before going into high school she joined First Star Academy.
First Star Academy is a four-year college readiness program in partnership with the Administration for Children Services that support kids in the foster system.
“I was in an atmosphere of not only love but excitement. We were celebrating our program.
We got so many opportunities with workshops and trips,” says Afriju.
From meeting one Saturday each month for tutoring in STEM subjects and life skills, to getting a deeper sense of what college is like by staying at the College of Staten Island each July and touring colleges across the country.
“Your excitement became the norm, it was no longer a terrifying fear inside of me, it was like I’m ready for this,” says Afriju.
Afriju says she was accepted to 15 colleges and has chosen College of Staten Island, which she says already feels like home thanks to First Star Academy.
As a lover of sports, she'll study communications hoping to become a sports broadcaster one day, and she plans to study her other passion performing arts, too.
Afriju says she looks forward to the next chapter and has a message to other foster kids.
“Embrace yourself and whoever you are. Don't hide, don't be nervous. Be a voice that will save another soul,” says Afriju.
The First Star Academy program is just one of many ways ACS supports foster kids in New York City. In the past three years, ACS increased specialized education and employment programming for older kids through partnerships with other agencies, foundations, universities and more.


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