12 Treehouse Students Awarded Governors’ Scholarship

By Angela Griffin, Treehouse Associate Director of Education Program Services

Treehouse Graduates Awarded Governors' Scholarship

For many students that have experienced foster care, finding the resources to attend college as well as support themselves as they age out of foster care can be an overwhelming challenge. Each year, the Washington State Governors’ Scholarship for Foster Youth provides critical financial support to youth in foster care to attend college and pursue their dreams. Every year, up to 50 scholarships are awarded, and we are thrilled to announce that this year 12 of the students awarded this scholarship participate in Treehouse academic support programs. On Monday, these deserving youth will be recognized for their efforts at an award ceremony featuring Governor Jay Inslee and former Governor Christine Gregoire. We are incredibly proud of all of our seniors and their plans to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact on our community!


When Liz enrolled in a beginning cooking class during her junior year, she had no idea she was about to discover a passion for the culinary arts. Now, just two years later, she is a recent Tahoma High School graduate and ready to explore her interests in cooking as a career. With the support of her Education Specialist, Skylar Cole, Liz has managed to juggle completing all of her graduation requirements, and two additional online classes. Together, they created seemingly endless to-do lists and homework plans to make sure her workload was manageable. To reward her for her hard work and to celebrate her accomplishments, Little Wishes helped pay for her senior sweatshirt and yoga pants. Liz successfully graduated from high school on June 11. She is still working with Skylar to research culinary arts programs at local community colleges, where Liz will put the Governors’ Scholarship to good use covering her tuition. When asked what graduation means to her Liz shared, “It’s the first step to the beginning of my adult life.” What’s is in store for Liz after culinary school? She hopes to run and own her own restaurant!


For Ari, dropping out of high school was never an option. “Graduation is just what you do at this age. You need to in order to take your next steps.” So when his senior year came around and he was still missing credit for history, a graduation requirement, he teamed with Education Specialist, Jonelle Foster to develop a plan to get back on track. Ari enrolled in Running Start at the local community college and Jonelle helped him select a course schedule that would enable him to graduate on time. When Ari faced financial barriers for materials for class and got discouraged with his tough college workload, she was right by his side to help him connect with resources and provide moral support. Ari’s diligence has paid off, and he successfully graduated from high school on June 8th. Thanks to the support of the Governor’s Scholarship and a few other awards, he plans to complete his two year degree at Highline College, transfer to the University of Washington, and ultimately pursue a career as a pharmacist.


Eighteen-year-old Knowledge started her senior year determined to set her college and career goals. She enrolled in a careers class that helped her identify her strengths as well as the various career paths that would be well suited for her.  When she learned that a career in business management fit her personality and skills, she partnered with Education Specialist Lexa Galanti to start exploring what it would take to pursue this career path. To start out, Knowledge decided to get her foot in the door by building some work experience. She successfully got a job all on her own. Balancing work and school was a constant challenge however so Lexa helped her work on her organizational skills to learn how to effectively prioritize and manage her time. They also researched colleges and financial aid resources planning for Knowledge’s next big steps. Once Knowledge was accepted at Central Washington University, they worked together with her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Manager to make sure that Knowledge transfers to college with the documentation needed to receive all of the special accommodations that help her succeed in the classroom. This month, Knowledge will finally enjoy the rewards of years of hard work, not once but four times! In addition to receiving her well-earned high school diploma, she will be accepting a Rotary scholarship, Governor’s Scholarship, and heading to Washington DC for the first time on a week-long school-sponsored trip. She shared that she is thrilled to be starting the next chapter of her life.


While most high school seniors are busy enjoying their last year of childhood, 18-year-old Lexi was trying to find a home, get a job, and learn how to live as an independent adult, all while balancing being a student. At first, she was unable to find housing resulting in months of couch surfing and the added stress of finding a place to stay and eat each night. As a result, she got behind in class her first semester, missing several key credits required for graduation.  Despite all of these challenges, Lexi remained determined to graduate from high school and her Education Specialist Katy Schain was committed to helping her make that happen. The pair met weekly to strategize, problem solve, and take small steps towards Lexis’s very big goals for the future. Katy connected Lexi to resources so she could successfully make up her missing credits. She also helped Lexi make progress on her senior project and career goal of becoming a social worker. Katy identified a social worker who would provide Lexi a job shadow experience during Lexi’s few available hours between school and work. Lexi learned the ins and outs of the job as well as practical information on salaries and the prospective job market. This experience reaffirmed her career goal of becoming a youth advocate. Lexi’s next step: heading to Seattle Central College to pursue her dream career with the support of the Governor’s Scholarship. Katy shared, “Lexi’s biggest strength is her ability to self-advocate and persevere. I have no doubt that she can achieve any goal she sets for herself.”


Farris enrolled in an American school for the first time as a freshman four years ago.  While graduation was his dream goal, his first priority was learning English so that he could succeed in the classroom as well as pass the state exam for language proficiency. He worked hard and learned quickly achieving all of the incremental educational goals he set for himself with the support of his Education Specialist Devin Howell. He also enjoyed playing hard with a local soccer team, thanks to Little Wishes’ support, where he not only got to hone his skills, but also got to know his peers better. This year, Farris passed his language proficiency exam and on June 13th attained his dream goal—high school graduation from Auburn Mountainview High School! Farris sees education as the key to a better future for himself and his family living abroad, so with the support of the Governors’ Scholarship, he will continue his path to his bright future by attending Highline College in the fall to pursue a career in business.


Alex has his ambitious goals for the future firmly in sight-to pursue a career in aerospace defensive security at Boeing. On June 11th he took one giant step closer to this goal when he successfully graduated from high school! Alex’s list of achievements this year is extensive including a college acceptance letter from his top pick school, the University of Washington, and multiple scholarships including the Governors’ Scholarship. Alex’s success is no surprise to his Treehouse Education Specialist Jamie Burns. “Alex is a stellar student,” she shared. With a goal to go to UW, Alex knew that he would need to be stellar to ensure to maintain his high GPA. While he has a natural aptitude for math and science, English was a bit more of a struggle since English is his second language. He conquered this challenge through his sheer determination and his strong network of support. While Alex was focused on his English grade, Jamie helped him stay on track with his college and scholarship applications giving him reminders during their weekly check in’s and helping him set a manageable schedule to ensure that he could meet all of his various deadlines. Alex successfully accomplished all of his goals for the year and Jamie has no doubt that he will continue this trend at UW next year. “I cannot wait to see him soar,” Jamie shared.

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About the Author

As Associate Director of Education Program Services Angela Griffin provides strategic leadership for Treehouse’s Graduation Success, Educational Advocacy, and Little Wishes programs. Under her leadership, the Education Services team helps foster youth unlock their potential, graduate from high school, and pave a path towards achieving their future goals.

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