A good start in life is so important, so it’s always great to see extra support for children who are fostered.
The following article has been republished courtesy of Kindness and Hope.
Out of the 480,000 foster youth in the US, only 2-3% will graduate a four-year school. Amiah Sheppard, however, managed to defy to odds and fell into the small percentage of foster care youth who is excelling in life after recently graduating from Barnard College of Columbia University with a major in sociology.
But the road to a brighter future has been fair from easy.
The 21-year-old was placed in foster care at the age of 3 after her parents became unable to look after her. Her grandmother was appointed her guardian.
“Having my grandmother as my guardian was the best option for not only me, but also my family, ” Amiah explains. “My parents, young and unstable at the time, simply could not provide for me; and, thankfully, my extended family stepped up and took care of me. Until my sophomore year of high school, my father was in prison where he died. My mother has always been actively involved in my life, I just didn’t live with her.”
She continues: “I have 1 brother, Travone (31), who also was raised by my grandmother. We have a relationship and we make it a point to keep in contact.”
Growing up in foster care became such a normal existence for Amiah, she didn’t realize that most kids actually have homes with their biological parents that they go to every night.
“A memorable moment I had while in foster care was when I went to a summer sleep away camp in high school with an LA non-profit for foster children,” she explains. “Due to my unique situation, I had never really realized that I was in foster care. But when I went to that camp where I knew no one, I realized that I was different and the severity of what that really meant.
“I had overheard a girl talking about her life in a group home and how it didn’t have a lot of resources. While we both were in foster care – she was having a very different and more difficult experience than I was. My experience, however, became really hard when I “aged out” of the system at 21. This was during my last undergraduate year at an Ivy League University, and all of a sudden, all my financial support was cut off.
“Thankfully, Ready to Succeed and other counselors and mentors helped to save me.”
To read more about Amiah and her journey from foster care to a college graduate, please click HERE.