Andrea Person is used to being a trailblazer. She was the first female wrestler at St. Georges Technical High School, and this year, she's the only woman graduating from its auto technology program. Now, the 19-year-old from Wilmington can add another first – Andrea is one of the first recipients of the Foster Care Transition Scholarship at the Delaware Community Foundation.
The Foster Care Transition Scholarship was established for children who are aging out of the foster care system and entering a postsecondary school program focusing on a trade occupation. The endowed scholarship was created using $100,000 from an existing DCF donor-advised fund honoring the late Vaughn and Frances Lordigan. The advisors of the Lordigan fund, who are remaining anonymous, said they admire individuals who are self-reliant and make their own success in spite of challenging circumstances.
"Our dear friends Vaughn and Frances Lordigan had no children and no surviving family. It would be their delight that this scholarship may add to the life foundations and stable futures of the recipients," the advisors said in a statement.
The DCF scholarship is helping Andrea, who has been in foster care since she was 15, to pursue her dreams without going into debt. She will receive a $2,500 scholarship to help her attend Universal Technical Institute in Exton, Pa., where she will study automotive and diesel industrial engineering.
"As a child, I was fascinated with cars, and I would wonder what makes them move," said Andrea, whose goal is to become a master certified technician qualified to work on diesel trucks and automobiles. "When I finally got the chance to work with them and figure it out, I realized this is what I want to do. I love getting my hands dirty."
She will be in the program for 72 weeks, and then get a job in the industry she loves.
"What I really want to do is own my own shop and be able to employ other kids who are in foster care," she said. "I want to make that happen."
Two $2,500 scholarships will be awarded annually. This year, in addition to Andrea, Brittany King from Sussex Technical High School also will receive a $2,500 scholarship to attend Delaware Technical Community College's veterinary technician program.
To identify candidates like Andrea and Brittany, the DCF works with the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families. Applicants must be aging out of the Delaware foster care system, which typically occurs at 18, and entering a program leading to a trade.
The DCF awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year, thanks to generous donors who care about education. For more information, go to www.delcf.org/scholarships.