Sara Gamez, the associate director of Student Support and Equity Programs at Cal Poly Pomona, will receive a 2017 John Burton Advocates for Youth College Hero Award for her work on behalf of students who were foster youth.
Gamez (’04, liberal arts and sciences) will be recognized at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, at Los Angeles City College. The event also will celebrate the graduation of 40 current and former foster youth from the Los Angeles area.
Gamez knows firsthand the enormous challenges that former foster youth face in college. She was a part of the Renaissance Scholars program, which was launched in 2002 and offers financial, academic and social support for former foster youth at Cal Poly Pomona.
She is one of three individuals in California selected to receive a John Burton Advocates for Youth College Hero Award, which are presented to individuals who have gone above and beyond to make the dream of attending college a reality for foster youth.
Statistics show that less than 10 percent of foster youth attend college and less than 3 percent graduate from a four-year university. Without parent or family support, foster youth often struggle to navigate university life.
Gamez was nominated for the award by Mich Hamlin (kinesiology, ’16), who also was a Renaissance Scholar. Gamez was part of Hamlin’s support network on campus.
John Burton, a former member of Congress, the California State Assembly and President Pro Tem of the California State Senate and namesake of the award, will speak at the ceremony.
John Burton Advocates for Youth is a statewide nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that works to improve the quality of life for California’s foster and homeless youth.