In 2004, Robertson Auguste was happily living with his mother and four of his siblings. In February, a fire swept through the Auguste family home, tragically changing Robertson’s life forever. His three sisters and one brother perished in the horrific accident. His mother passed away in a hospital a month later. Thirteen-year-old Robertson was the only survivor.
Robertson was assigned to Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer Andi. Without parents to care for him, Andi immediately went to work to prevent Robertson from entering the foster care system. Andi temporarily placed him with his grandmother while she began to orchestrate his permanent adoption by a brother in the military. Robertson’s older brother, Conrad, was stationed in Italy at the time of the accident, so Andi had him transferred to Southern Command in Doral, Florida to begin adoption proceedings.
Back in South Florida, Conrad rented an apartment so he and his brother could live together. In 2005, the adoption was completed and fourteen-year-old Robertson moved in with his older brother. Voices For Children Foundation furnished the apartment for the two boys so they could live comfortably and focus on building a positive future.
Under Andi’s guidance, Robertson began to piece his life back together after the fire. Although Robertson’s temporary placement required a school change, Andi advocated that it was in Robertson’s best interest to remain at his current middle school. It was important for Robertson’s school and friends to remain constant in his life during a period of tragic change. He began counseling at the Children’s Bereavement Center, and in individual therapy, to help him process the immense loss he experienced at such a young age.
Andi took notice of Robertson’s love of basketball and introduced him to Voices For Children Board Member, Steve Stowe, who serves as the Executive Director of the Miami Heat Charitable Fund. Lamar Odom, Heat power forward at the time, took a special interest in both Robertson and his older brother Conrad. The boys would attend their first ever Heat game because of Odom. In fact, they attended playoff games and were granted a shopping spree at the Heat merchandise store. “Lamar Odom was huge. He took me under his wing. He was my friend,” says Robertson. The Heat welcomed the Auguste boys with open arms, a heartwarming gesture to two young men that lost their mother, siblings, and any source of comfort.
The year Robertson was to enter high school, Lamar Odom won the NBA Community Assist Award. The Heat received funds for the award and in honor of their community-minded teammate Odom, the team donated them to Voices For Children Foundation. Voices used the funds to pay Robertson’s high school tuition in the form of a Miami Heat Student Athlete Scholarship. Together Robertson and Andi selected Archbishop Curley as the best high school for him. With the help of the Miami Heat and Voices For Children, Robertson was able to attend.
While in high school, Robertson was able to grow socially and emotionally. At Archbishop Curley, he was a three-sport athlete participating in football, basketball, and track and field. Sports taught Robertson discipline and hard work. He remembers his high school coaches as great mentors for him at such a critical time. Voices For Children helped Robertson again by paying for Miami Heat Camp through its Children’s Needs Program. Robertson still remembers how excited he was to meet local Heat player Udonis Haslem. Robertson was able to maintain existing relationships and formed many new ones. He developed good study habits and learned the importance of focus and educational goals. Emotionally, Andi is proud of Robertson’s warmth and ability to demonstrate affection.
Robertson excelled in high school and earned admission to University of Central Florida. He received a scholarship, the Miami Heat Alec Kessler Student Athlete Scholarship. The award is given to a high school senior that excels both as a student and athlete to help cover the costs of freshman year tuition. Robertson was the first person in his family to attend and graduate from college. Robertson had overcome much tragedy in his young life, yet his ability to set and achieve goals remained intact.
While at UCF, Robertson had the opportunity to play Division 1 football for the UCF Knights. In fact, he was part of UCF’s ascendancy to the top of the college football ranks. Robertson is thankful for head coach George O’Leary and his staff for helping Robertson develop athletically and academically and for exposing him to the field of Physical Therapy. Robertson was drawn to the profession because of its patient interaction component; he loved that physical therapists could help people. After researching the field, Robertson decided to begin working at physical therapy clinics and earned over 200 volunteer hours.
Today, Robertson is completing his third year of Nova Southeastern University’s Hybrid Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. The DPT program is a rigorous year-round four-year program that mixes online education with face-to-face instruction.
Although Robertson received community funding in the past, he has grown to be a self-sufficient young adult. To help fund his graduate education, Robertson started his own personal training company, Rob Auguste Fitness. He still runs his business, working as a trainer, while pursuing is DPT degree. He also finds time to volunteer as a football strength and conditioning coach for his alma mater, Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School. Robertson has had a successful first two years of graduate school, but Andi is most proud of his amazing values and outstanding personality.
You can help unlock the potential in a student like Robertson. Be A Voice by Donating to Voices For Children or by becoming a Guardian ad Litem volunteer.