07.14.2014

Valentin’s Dreams Become Reality

By Sarah Kurtzman, Treehouse Marketing & Communications

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At twelve years old, Valentin’s dreams of an education and life beyond the confines of his small Latin American town came to an end when he graduated from sixth grade. With no publicly funded secondary school, his only option was to join his peers and head to the fields to help support his family. Valentin shared, “I truly believed I would live and die in those fields.”

Now twenty years old, Valentin’s dreams have been given new life. With the help of local nonprofit, Lutheran Community Services, he moved to Western Washington in 2012, and after just three years of secondary education, Valentin successfully graduated from Roosevelt High School this past June.

Valentin Treehouse Student

To Valentin, those were three long years filled with hard work, determination, and perseverance. Similar to many kids in foster care, Valentin entered high school at an older age than his classmates. While he was thrilled to be given a second chance at an education, he was highly motivated to complete high school as fast as possible. To do this, he knew that he would have to learn English while maintaining a full course load, and that school would need to be prioritized above everything else in his life.

Fortunately, adapting to life in the U.S. and building a community of support came easy to Valentin. He loves to go to new places and meet new people, so even when he moved placements and schools, his soft-spoken, friendly, and genuine nature made it easy for him to connect with people. Lexa Galanti, his Treehouse Education Specialist, is one of those people.

Over the past year, Lexa and Valentin met weekly to review progress towards his academic goals and to address any challenges that arose. While Valentin is completely self-motivated towards his goals, Lexa helped build his confidence in himself and his ability to advocate for things like an expanded schedule including Running Start to ensure that he could fulfill his graduation requirements. She also helped him with the little things like connecting to resources needed in the classroom like a backpack and a calculator. When Valentin started struggling in his two math classes, Lexa connected him with a Treehouse Graduation Success tutor who provided him with the extra support he needed to learn the material at his own pace and pass the classes.

Once graduation was in sight this spring, the duo worked on preparing Valentin for the future by researching college programs and applying for scholarships. They also took a moment to celebrate all of his successes at a festive graduation party attended by his community of supporters. Teachers, caregivers, and friends were all there to applaud his momentous achievement.

Thanks to the North Seattle Persistence Scholarship, Valentin will be able to attend North Seattle College this fall. His dreams have finally become reality, and he is looking forward to a bright future as a computer programmer.

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About the Author

Sarah Kurtzman is the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for Treehouse. She has the honor of working with youth like Valentin who have experienced foster care to share their stories of resilience, strength, and hope.


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