Rewriting What’s Possible—Your Story is Not Yet Written

Rewriting What’s Possible—Your Story is Not Yet Written

Growing up in foster care can mean that the system or your family circumstances have written your story before you’ve had a chance to dream.

For example, only 10% of students in care go to college and 1% of those students actually graduate. The statistics write our story. There are students at FPU who have similar lived experiences in government care, such as myself and Kizzy Lopez, Ed.D., assistant professor of social work, and it is through our stories that God placed on our hearts the mission of serving students with care experience. These stories are important to hear any time, but maybe especially during May, which is National Foster Care Month (

As a former foster youth, I had people tell me my limits, where I belong, how I should act and who I should be. Fortunately, the church also played a significant role in my personal development, vocation and calling. From giving me my first job, to teaching me how to drive and providing a safe space for me to just “be,” the church and her people cared and nurtured me in such a way that I grew to love her as family. These significant relationships and mentoring completely changed my life story. Unfortunately, there are not many stories like mine: a person who rose from living in the Marjaree Mason Center, on Motel Drive and at one-point abandoned to today pursuing a Ph.D. I believe my story would have been very different without the love of the church and her people.

Here at Fresno Pacific, we believe in a God who rewrites people’s stories. A God who dismantles systems and who makes dreams possible. FPU is a place where a student’s narrative is shaped, transformed and informed. Narratives like mine.

This fall FPU is launching an initiative to serve students who do not have the parental support afforded to most. Located in the Intercultural Learning Center in Steinert Campus Center and directed by Patty Salinas, interim chief diversity officer and project director of ALAS, this program will provide a holistic approach to help students, as many as 98 to start, who have history with foster care, homelessness and other related adversities. Through student and academic support, financial aid, mentoring, mental health services and other FPU resources, we can collaboratively support this population and influence their life stories in one of the first programs of its kind at a Council for Christian Colleges & Universities institution.

As faculty, we have a frontline, direct influence on students with a history of foster care. Minds are changed in the classroom. Faculty helped me change my mind about what is possible for me. As staff, we have the opportunity to systematically change the campus and educational experiences of these students to make things possible that never seemed possible before.

There is a whole system and society that has placed barriers, making it almost impossible to overcome a pre-written life story. However, God is moving within Fresno Pacific to provide other possibilities.

Soon, you will start to hear more about this initiative. We hope you can be with us in prayer and support. Changing people’s pre-written life stories when they have been heavily influenced by systemic disparities is no easy feat. It will take our community to help students overcome their adversities in order that they may live fully into the calling they have received. The FPU mission and vision is unique because its central crux is the foundational narrative of the biblical witness to the world.  This witness changes people’s lives—this witness changes people’s stories.


Mariah Cushing

Administrative Assistant to the Vice President and Dean, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary/Adjunct Faculty, Biblical & Religious Studies