Alaysia Barker-Vaughn

Loyola Marymount University

As a first-year student majoring in Political Science at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Alaysia is continuing her laudable work in creating college pathways for foster care youth. Stemming from her own temporary foster care experience as a teen, she recognized a gap in access to higher education. During her senior year of high school, Alaysia founded her non-profit, Spark Your Future, which provides mentorship and educational resources for youth in the Los Angeles County foster care system. Partnering with Pasadena Unified School District, she conducts workshops and mentors foster care youth on college admission processes. At LMU, Alaysia is also a mentor for our Guardian Scholars Program, which provides programs, resources, services and support to meet the unique needs of our former/current foster youth, emancipated minors, homeless and independent students. She is also conducting independent research, under the guidance of her faculty mentor, on how to increase foster youth access to postsecondary education. In her short time at LMU, Alaysia has made an impact as a social justice leader and compassionate advocate for marginalized individuals.

Dr. Timothy Law Snyder
Loyola Marymount University

Personal Statement

According to the National Foster Youth Institute, 10% of former foster care youth will
attend college and 3% will graduate. When I was sixteen, one of the most traumatic experiences
occurred in my life and impacted my educational, professional, and personal goals of
being a foster youth advocate. After moving in with my father, I gained the courage to report his abusive and neglectful behavior which resulted in being taken to a foster facility for three nights. While in foster care, I met kids who needed support, however, there were few people there to help my peers and I succeed. After months of research, meetings, and phone calls I founded Spark Your Future, a non-profit organization whose overall goal is to provide youth in the foster care system the opportunity to achieve higher education through mentorship and access to educational resources. I have partnered with the Pasadena Unified School District to conduct workshops and mentor youth in the foster care system on getting into college. LMU has allowed me to broaden my future ideas for my non-profit to not only a local scale, but one day be effective politically and help change policy reform for foster youth nationally.

Alaysia Barker-Vaughn
Political Science: Class of 2023
written 2020

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