Kiara Galvan: New Orleans Title IV-E RoundTable Conference
They say everything happens for a reason. I am a firm believer of that statement. When I was 19, I was homeless and living in a motel. I was going to school full time and trying to figure out what I was going to do. I felt like I had hit rock bottom.
I told myself that school is impossible and pointless if you don't know if you'll even have enough money for another night in a motel. I had earned a summer scholarship to pay off my tuition but in order to receive the scholarship I needed to be enrolled into classes full time. My plan was to talk to the person running the course and let them know my situation and that I would need to withdraw from my classes. When he heard my situation, he encouraged me to talk to the student care center.
After several conversations, I learned about an emergency fund and met with Miguel, the new coordinator of the EPIC program. Miguel shared his vision and invited me to be a peer mentor.
As a result of my work as a peer mentor, I was introduced to Cobbled Streets! Less than six months later, I got my first full time job with Cobbled Streets and my work there ultimately led to my participation in a national conference in New Orleans. In 2019, the Department of Social Work embarked on a research project to capture the experiences and challenges of students like me. Led by Erin Boyce, it was a huge opportunity to be heard and also to hear others. We were told we would someday present our findings at conferences with professionals from around the country. Then it happened!
Because of Cobbled Streets and EPIC, I was able to visit a new city, meet so many social workers, and learn so much. It was amazing! When it was our turn to present, all of us were filled with so many emotions. I was so overjoyed to be in a whole new city in a room with people from all over the country. It was truly a beautiful moment to really finally have made it to the conference and to finally have our voices heard.
I am so thankful to Cobbled Streets for giving me this opportunity to accomplish something that I had been looking forward to for 4 years. This trip has allowed me to change perspectives. If I am ever in a situation where I feel I am at rock bottom again, I will know that truly everything happens for a reason, I just need to be patient in understanding what the reason is.