Homeless Student Studies For A Better Future | Portland , Oregon | Oregon Public Broadcasting
As the economy struggles to recover, some people are looking to post-secondary education to improve their skills, and land a job. That strategy can be especially difficult for students who are homeless.
It’s hard to say how many students are homeless in Oregon. But Kayla Anchell caught up with one homeless student, and has his story.
Twenty-three year-old Kyle Pillsbury is sitting in his tent hidden in the woods near Washington Park in Portland.
“The middle I keep open because it’s where I lay my sleeping bags,” Pillsbury says.
He’s been living there for about three years of the five he’s been homeless. But what’s most remarkable about Pillsbury is something that’s common for many people his age: he’s going to college.
“I keep my packs down towards the bottom. One contains all of my clothing the other contains my school stuff. Makes its easier if you don’t grab the wrong backpack.”
Pillsbury received a scholarship to attend school through the Future Connect Program at Portland Community College. He’s receiving $500 this year and $500 next year for school.
The program helps students eliminate barriers to attending college. It also provides them with support once enrolled. So far Pillsbury says he hasn’t had to pay anything for his education, thanks to financial aid and scholarships.
Josh Laurie is the manager of The Future Connect Program. Laurie meets regularly with Pillsbury and says he’s known him through different programs for about four years.
“Living on the streets is not easy for anybody. And I think you have to have a certain resiliency and he has that. And that same resiliency is what is making him an excellent student now,” Laurie says. Pillsbury says he had a turbulent childhood bouncing from foster family to foster family. He was homeless at the age of eighteen, when he says his foster parents kicked him out because he couldn’t find a job.
Pillsbury says he decided to enroll in community college because he’s had trouble finding jobs.