It was really hard for me to go back to school, I was scared and didn’t have a lot of self-confidence. I was worried about money and didn’t think I would fit in. I would tell myself, “I’m a high school drop-out, teen mom and former foster youth…that’s not the type of person that goes to college!”
After finishing high school, I got a minimum wage job and was making enough money to get by. But then my life changed when I had my daughter. Even though I was working full-time, what I was making was suddenly not enough. The only way I knew I could improve my financial situation was to go back to school and get a career. The only problem was I wasn’t sure which career.
I started job shadowing and volunteering as a way to explore different kinds of jobs. I thought social work was the career for me because I love helping people. I had some great ones while I was in foster care and have a lot of respect for this profession. Imagine my surprise when within days of job shadowing a social worker, I realized that this was NOT the career for me!
I knew I wanted to be in a helping profession so I started volunteering in a hospital. I loved it and decided that I wanted to be a nurse. It hasn’t been easy but I’m on my way. I’ll have my CNA license soon and I am currently working as a caregiver with the elderly. I was recently admitted to the nursing program at Los Angeles Trade and Technical College. At 24, it’s taken me years to figure out my path but one thing I know is that all of my school and life experiences are helping me develop the knowledge and skills that I’ll need to be successful in my career.
What I didn’t realize is that there is so much help out there for college students who were in the foster care system. My advice is to not let fear or intimidation get to you and go for it. Take advantage of all the support. Many schools, like mine, also have campus-based programs where you can connect with foster care alumni and get the help that you need. As a Pritzker Scholar, I also receive ongoing financial assistance, coaching and encouragement from a team of people invested in my success.
Going to college has changed me in so many ways. I see the world differently. I no longer have the mentality that I can’t succeed. Instead, I go into a job interview thinking, “I’ve got this – I’m going to get the job.” I’m excited for FosterU because I want to share my experiences with others so they know success is within their reach. With the common bond of our foster care experience, we can create an incredible network of support that will allow us to connect with, learn from, and rely on each other.