I am a Former Foster Youth and I Have No Limits
My name is Latrice and I am a former foster youth. I was in foster care system from birth due to my biological parent’s substance abuse until I aged out of foster care at 18. Life did not come without challenges, but I have continued to persevere. Some of us in foster care may have been moved from home to home and not know from day to day if you were going to return to the same home. While others like me, stayed in only a couple foster homes. At the early age of 9 years old I lost my first foster mom, Mama Alice to sickle cell anemia. When I was moved to my second foster home, I remember asking my new foster mom, whom I called Mama Bear, if she was going to be my foster mom for a while like Mama Alice was. She reassured me that she would always be there and love and care for me. She reassured me of this many times over the years, especially on my rough days, when I would get down on myself or let something someone said get to me. I can recall many days letting other kids or people hurt my feelings and my mom would say the old saying of sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never hurt me. Mama Bear had a spin on that I carry with me to this day “You are in control of your life and feelings and only you can let someone hurt you if you allow them to, you know what and who you are.”
This is something that I wish every child that entered foster care could experience. I know what I had with my mom is rare or unknown to many foster kids. I treasure that I was so blessed to be touched by someone such as my mom who showered with unconditional love, encouragement and sometimes tough love, when I needed to get my act together. This belief has made me want to share a part of my life with others. The encouragement that I received not only from my mom, family, friends and coworkers has led me to continue to push forward with not only my education, but life in general.
I have had trials and tribulations along the way in my life and education direction, from not getting into the local community college nursing program, prior to finding my new passion and joy for psychology, to having cancer, to being burned over 10% of my body as a young child to loosing key people in my life. I could go on and on about my struggles, but what I am here to share with you today is how I overcame those struggles and obstacles and how that has made me stronger and to continue to persevere. The challenges that I have faced and will more than likely continue to face is what I use to dig down within myself to continuing preserving and letting the sky be my limit.
I have been very fortunate to be a part of a wonderful organization called the Ticket to Dream Foundation, an organization that helps foster kids just be kids. To intern for such an organization such as TTD has sparked a greater fire within me to give back to a population of which I once was a part of. I hope to one day be able to use my personal struggles throughout life, how I turned them into something that helped drive me and accomplish more to inspire others. Others which may include foster parents, mentors or organizations such as TTD to know that you can have a positive impact on a child’s life that may not have heard or received positive encouragement. I know if I had not gotten the encouragement that I received, I don’t believe that I would be where I am at in my life.
This internship would not have been possible if I had not met Gina and Juan at Guardians Scholars Program Event. GSP is a program at Sacramento State for foster youth. The program helps foster youth with a variety of support services that helps us successfully obtain an education. I was so shy and nervous not knowing how to ask for help or even mingle with others, but my fellow guardian scholars and the wonderful GSP staff has changed that about me. GSP not only has helped me with my education, but provided a safe and caring place to go when Mama Bear passed away this past January. During this time, I felt like giving up and not finishing my degree. They provided so much care and support that I will be graduating in a few weeks with my bachelors in Psychology working as an intern at TTD has been such an enriching opportunity. I would have never thought that I would see myself being an intern, let alone going to college or even graduating from high school.
My hopes and goals are to help and inspire foster youth and others that no matter how life begins doesn’t mean it must end the way statistics show. You are the one that is in control of your outcomes, continue to push forward and obtain your full potential. I value that I have had several key people in my life especially my Mama Bear, family and friends, to support programs and scholarships and lastly my TTD internship. Which I would like to especially thank my Ticket to Dream Foundation family whose welcomed me with open arms and for giving this opportunity to share an aspect of my life with you all with the hopes of encouraging and inspiring others.