Two ASU students in foster care overcame obstacles and graduate from college

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Two students in foster care overcame obstacles to graduate from ASU early.

The young women can now say they're college graduates before the age of 21, which is a huge accomplishment for anyone, but especially for the girls, who were part of the Young Adult Program offered by DCS.

"I mean, that was my dream, to go to college and make something of myself," said Lina Gookooluk.

Gookooluck and Sierra Vagedes have a lot in common. Both were in foster care, both are now ASU graduates, and both beat the odds.

"I know it's tiring being involved with the system and foster care with DCS, but if they can hang on, we can help navigate them to a successful adulthood," said Gregory McKay, Director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

The Young Adult Program offered by DCS helps kids in foster care after they age out of the system at 18. It encourages those in the system to pursue higher education or vocational training. This is something the girls took seriously, and now, Gookooluck has a bachelor's degree in business, while Vagedes got her bachelor's in Psychology. Vagedes is planning to go to medical school and become a psychiatrist, and both she and Gookooluck have big plans for the future. Most of all they hope to inspire other kids in foster care.

"I just want to help kids who were in my situation and get them through the hard times and show them that there is a better future for everyone," said Vagedes.

"The fact that a majority of foster youth are typically first-generation students and their families aren't really accustomed to higher education, so they have no personal role models nor do they have a sense of what's going to go on after they graduate from the foster program," said Gookooluk.

There's currently about 14,000 kids in foster care in Arizona. 800 of those kids are over the age of 18.