“Foster care disrupted my life when I was just three months old. I entered the system because my parents abused alcohol and drugs. They immigrated to the United States before I was born and I’m sure it wasn’t easy transporting their children across the border, dodging patrol officers. I truly value their courage and the sacrifices they made for my birth family. However, their inability to take care of us resulted in me and my siblings entering the very broken, and very heartbreaking, foster care system. Then, when I was just five years old, I was informed of my parent’s deaths due to cirrhosis. That painful loss at such a young age coupled with my dreadful experiences in the foster care system, impacted my life in both negative and positive ways. I also realized that how I handle adversities and unforeseen challenges will determine my success or failure.
In care I was bounced from placement to placement including twenty-two foster homes, one short-term psychiatric hospital, and one group home. I attended six elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools.
As a child I experienced neglect, harassment, discrimination, and physical abuse. Because of this I had trust issues, I struggled with depression, I misbehaved, and anger was my best friend. I had difficulty sustaining stable relationships and I often felt completely lost. My adolescent years were rough, lonely, and filled with terrible decisions that put my life in danger. Without the appropriate guidance, mixed with my pent up anger, I quickly fell in with the wrong crowds.
Now…this might sound cheesy, but it’s completely true. Throughout my adolescent years, I remember looking to the night sky for hope. As if the answers were written in the stars. I remember tears rolling down my face and wishing to be normal, to understand why I was an orphan, and why I had to endure such horrible people in foster care. It was during these nightly stargazing meditations that I would search the stars for my identity and my place in the world.
But in 2008 things started to look up, I moved into the home of my biological brother, Enrique. He served as my foster parent, he provided stability for me, and his tough love helped me snap out of my negative habits. In 2011 I graduated from high school and attended the Celebration Graduation ceremony at Disney Hall, and I was accepted into United Friends of the Children’s College Sponsorship Program.
With United Friends of the Children in my corner I felt more confident when I enrolled at the University of Cal Poly Pomona. However, I quickly realized that I was ill prepared for college. I started to second guess myself and think that maybe college wasn’t for me.
That’s when my UFC College Counselor stepped in, she changed my life! She helped me overcome my dreadful freshman depression. I would constantly reach out to her for academic support, social advice, or just to give her a casual update. A great amount of my success is due to my college counselor and UFC’s College Sponsorship Program. February 22, 2012, during the middle of freshman year, was such a memorable day for me. It was the day I received my first birthday card from UFC, and it was the moment when I was reminded – I am cared for. Since then, and to this day, United Friends of the Children has been by my side and in my heart. They are not just an organization…they are my family.
I do not take for granted the tremendous support United Friends of the Children has provided me. They have given me unconditional love, endless career and academic support, financial resources, and provided me with my first internship at Warner Bros. This summer internship ignited my passion for the entertainment industry and opened doors to other internships at HBO, FOX, and Lionsgate. I am committed to having a successful adult life, and I’m determined to make that happen…even if that means leaving my home in Pomona at four in the morning to get to the studio internship on time, and finishing my college work at 1am at night, just to start all over again the next day. This work experience and this determination to succeed has paid off.
I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing Management and a minor in International Business and Public Relations. I was hired by HBO as the Assistant to the Senior Vice President of Digital Media & Marketing and am now living in New York. United Friends of the Children was by my side, the family that didn’t forget me, didn’t forget my birthday, embraced me for who I am, and let’s face it – helped shape my identity.
United Friends of the Children has changed my life and they have changed the lives of THOUSANDS of current and former foster youth. Ambition has been the vehicle driving me toward success, but the roadmap was structured and supported by United Friends of the Children!”