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My Journey and How UFC Changed My Life
Monday, December 19th, 2016

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“Sometimes life has a way of teaching you things you never intended to learn. My life
experiences have always been learning experiences, whether good or bad, I took something away from it. The road to your dreams can be bumpy and scary, but with the right people in your life, you’ll get there. Growing up in the foster care system was definitely a learning experience. I was placed in the system at ten years old and moved placements between family and six different foster homes. It was a hard life being a child in the system. I didn’t have the right people to talk to, and change is scary for a ten year old.

Finally, I was placed with my family under Kin-Gap and thought I could finally have the stability I needed in life. I was able to go to school everyday, have help with schoolwork,
and feel safe in a home, not just a house. I could focus on my dream of graduating high school and attending college. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew education was my way out, to beat the stigma against foster youth, to ensure my survival in life …

That all changed when I turned 15 and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma first-wigDisease. I was put back in the system due to stress with family not able to handle my disease. I was taken out of school and had to adjust to the differences going on in my life by myself. I was isolated from people due to my immune system and lost all of my hair. I would cry and think “why me?”

Living in the foster care system really forces you to grow up. You learn the hardships of life that adults always talk about, though you never understand as a child. You become adaptable to change and stressful situations. You learn resiliency, because no matter the situation, even in my case, you can bounce back.

I first heard of UFC’s College Sponsorship program through one of my caseworkers. I was finishing up my radiation treatment in preparation to go back to my senior year of high school, and had recently moved to a new medically fragile foster home. My caseworker urged me to apply to UFC’s program because they would help me pursue my dream of getting a college education.

I cried when I learned I was accepted into the program, because it finally felt like something good was happening in my life. I met people who genuinely cared about my dreams of pursuing my education. I was able to attend the graduation for UFC students at Disney Hall and was amazed at the dedication of this program.

Entering my first year of college was hard. Everyone had family helping them move in, some got letters for their birthdays and care packages during midterms. Seeing that love and support the other kids had in their life can make you feel bad that you didn’t “grow up” in a family situation. But UFC always lifted my spirits. I received birthday and holiday cards every year, and help with items for my dorm room. The care packages I got during my freshmen year let me know someone out there cared about me. Getting calls with words of encouragement and praise from my counselors helped me focus on my goal of graduating. UFC even helped me with paid internships during my summers away from school and supported my dream of studying abroad in London.

Even now, after I have graduated, I can still call my counselors for words of  college-graduationencouragement, to listen to struggles and frustrations, and help with career guidance. I can come to them whenever I need help because they have been like a second family.

There is not enough thanks I can give United Friends of the Children for the way they have impacted my life. They have gone above and beyond to support me, and thousands of foster youth, through our journey into adulthood. With their support, we can do anything.

To the generous donors of UFC, thank you for supporting this important program that helps young people like me reach their educational and life goals – without you UFC would not be possible! Without UFC, you won’t see as many foster youth graduating college and pursuing their dreams. Thank you, a million times over, thank you.”

 

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