Growing up, I never imagined that as a teen, I would find myself a ward of the state, living with strangers, never understanding what was happening to my family or me, and then aging out of the foster care system when I wasn’t ready.

10 years after I aged out, I received a call asking me to be a part of a study on foster care ‘alumni’ outcomes. After the study, I asked how foster alums were faring. Sadly, the answer broke my heart. It was in that moment I realized: I was becoming a statistic.

I knew what I needed to do. I went back to school. I got my Associate of Arts and then my BA — joining the one percent of alumni to earn a degree (eight years later, it’s three percent)! So began my journey of becoming a passionate advocate, mentor, and role model for youth in foster care and foster care alumni.

Today, I sit on several advisory councils, I’m a member of a local commission on children in foster care, I train my community, and so much more. I won’t stop fighting for change, until all children know they are special, loved, and most importantly, that they are not alone in this world.

I am a foster care alumni; advocate, mentor, and role model for youth in foster care; and a member of the Amara Foster Care Alumni Advisory Committee.

In celebration of Foster Care Awareness Month in May, we are highlighting the extensive network of support that surrounds the child in foster care. From foster families to extended family members, to teachers and foster care youth advocates. We appreciate the unique strengths and skills that each role brings to ensure that children in foster care have the love and support they need to thrive. We salute you!