“Smith Renaissance Society Collegiate Fellows and Former Foster Youth”


Sunday, April 30, 2017


UC Santa Cruz

How many people exhibited objects?


How many people came but did not bring objects?



Shawn Cervantes, President of Smith Society in collaboration with California Youth Connection and the Foster Youth Museum

What was it about?

At this year’s Chancellor’s Reception, an annual event hosted by the Smith Renaissance Society, a successful year was celebrated for this community. Honors were given to students, faculty, and volunteers of Smith that have either accomplished academic feats or have made Smith a more inclusive and worthy cross-generational community. Unique to this celebration, a Pop-Up exhibition was featured, consisting of a small scale foster youth exhibit and was hosted in partnership with California Youth Connection and the Foster Youth Museum.

How did it go?

The Pop-Up included personal artifacts brought in by several Smith Renaissance Society Collegiate Fellows, all former foster youth; these artifacts presented from their foster years represented hope or empowerment. Through these artifacts, the mini-exhibition provided a backdrop for donors to understand the importance of a foster child’s experience and how these
memories live on through objects, artwork and other artifacts.

The Pop-Up museum, in conjunction with the Chancellor’s Reception, provided an opportunity for these former foster youths to share an intimate part of their foster experience with a larger population in a non-threatening way and draws awareness to the foster youth experience. Shawn Cervantes, President of the Smith Renaissance Society, says, “The exhibition provides a tangible way to help understand them. You can see, feel, and experience these stories from the youth themselves.”

Not only do non-foster youth individuals get a chance to step into the shoes of former foster youth, but this exhibition also breaks down stereotypical perceptions of what former foster youth and their experiences look like. “There is no cookie cutter way in which foster youth experience the system,” says Shawn. These artifacts physically show how each former foster youth  developed into the individuals they are today and how these artifacts—pictures, artwork, toys and even sticky notes—helped them through the foster care system.


Smith Renaissance Society
California Youth Connection
Foster Youth Museum