Bush Scholarship Recipient: Aubree

by | Jun 20, 2023 | CASA Blog

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Aubree,20, is a student at Flathead Valley Community College and is the most recent recipient of the Bush Scholarship. Aubree is working on an associate degree in business, with a certificate in social media marketing. Once she graduates, she is looking to attend the University of Montana, or somewhere else where she can pursue more marketing education. But five years previous, Aubree had entered the foster care system. With close to 30 different placements in 3 years, Aubree was able to figure out what mattered to her and how to get it.

You are the recipient of the Bush Scholarship. What does that mean to you?

“It really means a lot to me for someone to give their hard-earned money to a random kid, and I was surprised it was from a couple, not a company. I think they did a good way of going about it, by choosing kids who are trying to go to college and trying to do something for themselves, and to kids who might not have parents who could provide them financial aid. It means a lot to me because I can really focus on school and not have to worry about extra money for books or all this other stuff. Honestly, I was doing really bad in high school, and I tried to explain to everyone, ‘I have been moving every two months. So how am I supposed to respect school and go to classes, if I am never going to earn these credits?’ That was my thinking anyway. It’s nice to know that people are still willing to help you out and do recognize your effort and what you are trying to do for yourself regardless of anything else.”

Going from “I can’t do school” to now receiving the Bush Scholarship, what was the turning point for you?

“When I turned 18, I was living with a boyfriend, and I finally had a chance to sit in one spot and think about the rest of my life. Turing 18 is a huge thing for everyone I think, you’re never going to be a kid again. And for someone to come out of foster care, it’s a lot more scary because in my case, it really meant I didn’t have the protection like I did before. Once I didn’t have the pressure of somebody telling me ‘hey as soon as you know what you are doing you can get out of there, or we can help you as soon as you want to do this’ or whatever they might have said. As soon as I needed to just do it for just me and nobody else it meant something else, and it was a different feeling. School and education became a lot more important to me.”

What advice would you give to these kids who are currently in foster care?

“Trust your caseworkers more, even if it feels like they are against you. They are doing their best and incredibly busy. You might be one kid and they can’t spend that much time on you, but they could have 30, 40, 50, cases sometimes and having 60 different kids calling them everyday.   It can be really hard. Case workers especially deserve a lot more credit for being the “mom” essentially to a lot of different kids. I had an amazing case worker, and she was with me the whole time I was in foster care.  Just know that you are not in CPS because you did something wrong, and these people are trying to help you.”

Who is someone who inspires you?

“My godparents. They grew up in a time and household where they didn’t have a lot of money and had a lot of siblings. They worked really hard when they were about my age. By the time I met them they were in their 50’s and very successful.  It was so amazing to me that they were able to put their money into all having different things, starting different business, and have all these things going for them when they started with so little. None of their accomplishments were handed to them by their parents, it was all made from nothing by them, and that was always really inspiring to me. They taught me if you don’t get up and do it for yourself, nobody else is going to do it for you.”

What are you excited about in this next chapter?

“I’m excited to see where I fit into the professional world. For every kid coming out of college it’s something we have never done so it feels a little crazy to try and be this professional person when I haven’t been. It’s all new and exciting. Deciding who I am going to be, what I contribute, is very exciting.”

Anything else you would like to share?

“I would want to encourage people to be more persistent with kids. Even if kids’ dreams sound crazy, just listen to them. Try to figure out where they are coming from. Anytime I had somebody who truly was on my side, they didn’t want something out of me, it felt really good. It gave me the chance to calm down, sit down, and work on myself. Even when a kid seems like they can’t be helped, or that you’ve done enough, don’t give up on them. There were a lot of people who believed I was a crap kid and that I wasn’t going to do anything. But I did want something, I just didn’t want to do it for anyone else but myself.”

CASA of Yellowstone County is pleased to partner with former volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate, Dick Bush and his wife, Rosalie, to administer the Bush Scholarship for youth transitioning out of foster care. Youth who have spent time in the child welfare system—especially older youth— often lack resources, including a network of adults to guide and support them during years which are typically spent learning a trade or earning a degree. The Bush Scholarship is intended to help reduce or remove the financial barrier to college degrees or vocational training. To date, two youth, both from and attending school in Montana, have received scholarship awards. The Bush Scholarship is renewable if the student is successfully moving forward to a degree or certificate, and while funding lasts. Thank You to Dick and Rosalie for supporting youth in foster care and their future success!

Please contact Drew MacLeod at drew@yellowstonecasa.org if you would like to donate to the scholarship fund

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Court Appointed Special Advocates are community volunteers who speak up for the best interests of children in foster care. Volunteer CASAs work for the best interests of kids by advocating for their safety and permanency.

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