LSU Journalism coverage of the State Legislature
Breayana Bradley, a Tulane student who went through the state’s foster care system, arrived at the Capitol Friday to speak up for state funding for foster care programs when she had a chance meeting with Rep. Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches.
She left the capitol with an unexpected gift—a pledge from Cox to give her a legislative scholarship to fully fund her $52,960-a-year tuition at Tulane.
The lawmaker also vowed to give the scholarship in the future to other students who had been foster children.
“A smile spread across my face and wrapped around my body,” Bradley said in describing her reaction to the offer.
Bradley visited the Capitol Friday morning with Joy Bruce, the executive director of CASA New Orleans, an organization of court-appointed special advocates for neglected and abused children going through the foster system.
Bradley wanted to visit Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, whom she worked with as a legislative intern last summer through the Foster Youth Intern Program run by the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families.
Henry had taken a special interest in the students during the program, taking them to lunch and discussing policy centered around the foster system with them.
However, Bradley was unable to find Henry amidst the chaos of the final day of the regular session.
Instead, the pair, who were accompanied by Chip Coulter of the Department of Children and Family Services, ran into Cox. Bruce and Coulter introduced Bradley to the legislator, and they immediately began discussing her life, her experiences within the foster system and her time at Tulane.
Bradley said that telling Cox she was a former foster child attending the university “brought joy to his face.”
Almost immediately, Cox offered Bradley the scholarship. Each year, every legislator is given the opportunity to give a scholarship that funds tuition for one student at Tulane.
Cox said that when he was listening to Bradley, he recalled a young woman he had spoken to years ago who had also been through the foster system. She was graduating from high school and asked him what to do because she had nowhere to go and no family to support her.
While he did not know how to help her at the time, he never forgot her. He said that when she was speaking, he knew he needed to give her the scholarship.
“Doing this is the least I can do,” Cox said. “Those kids go through some of the most difficult times and transitions. They don’t ask to be through in these situations. But if they can get through that, they deserve any help we can give them, and we should help them get a hand up in life.”
Bruce said she and Bradley had been talking about career goals on their ride from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Bradley is from the New Orleans area and is in a pre-law track.
Bruce said the scholarship reinforces that Bradley is on the right track.
“We really appreciate it,” Bruce said. “I hope to see more of it.”
Originally published May 18.