Devonte Kilgore: Not Another Statistic at SBVC
San Bernardino Valley College student Devonte Kilgore admits he had doubts along the way about what it takes to get through college life, but one thing he didn’t want to be was another statistic – unless he was actually studying statistics.
If not for Guardian Scholars Foster Youth Services and several dedicated counselors who guided him through the process, he doesn’t think he would have made it this far. “When I came to college, I gained an insight to life, and started to do better,” he said.
They made sure he had his textbooks, financing, and all the services he needed. One of his professors, Craig Luke, had a special impact in reassuring him that college is the right place, and just being on campus is an indicator of success.
The message to keep mentally tough, and push ahead kept Kilgore looking to all the good things in life in store after graduation.
“He said people don’t think you’re supposed to make it. You’re supposed to be the 50 percent that drops out of college,” Kilgore said. “He said don’t allow that to mess up your mind. There are people out there looking for people like you to fail.”
Through the Guardian Scholars Program for foster youth, he accessed many forms of assistance, including on and off campus resources to help meet his educational goals.
Foster students receive priority registration, financial aid, college books, supplies, housing resources, and field trips. Both current and former foster youth from 17 through 24 years old are welcome to apply for services leading to post-secondary education, a certificate, or transfer program.
“Without it, I don’t think any of the foster youth would have made it through college,” said Kilgore, whose major is sociology and minor in criminal justice.
Kilgore, who graduated from South High School in Bakersfield reflects on what it was like bouncing through several states and foster homes from a young child.
Coming from an abusive household, Kilgore and his nine siblings were split up when he was six years old, including the hardest part, years of separation from his twin brother. By age 17, he was located in a stable family in Rancho Cucamonga, and three years ago, enrolled at Valley College.
He said the academic experience changed his perspective about the possibilities. Like a few of his siblings, he is leaning toward a career in law enforcement.
Today, he also works as an after-school teacher, where he tries to reach young students not only on an academic level, but to give back the kind of advice and hope through tutoring that helped move him toward higher education.
Lately, he has naturally bonded with another like-minded student that confided in him about how bad it feels to be a foster child, and looked at and sometimes treated as a social outcast. The ability to give direction to kids that are also dealing with the same emotions and confusing times that he remembers has been an important part of his own personal growth.
“Life throws curve balls,” he said. “I told him that I’m a foster youth, it’s not bad. I told him that he’s not the only foster child. That opened his eyes, but I was that kid.”
For the students he works with, and all those that come his way, he wants to pass on the kind of advice that has motivated him to try harder.
He said San Bernardino Valley College counselors have been the best support system.
“Words can’t describe. Without them, I honestly don’t think I would have made it this far in college. Tremendous, not just for me, but also for other foster youth.”