From foster care to Valedictorian: How mentors are helping kids get to college

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s hard enough to be a teenager going through high school but for kids in foster care it’s even more difficult.

Not only are they trying to make friends while being shipped to different foster families in different school districts, they’re trying to succeed in school, not to mention the emotional trauma of no longer having their parents.

Mentors with Franklin County Children Services are trying to ease that burden and help foster children reach whatever goal they have – whether it be attending college, tech school, or just graduating from high school.

A mentor helps them to do every day adult tasks that they are forced to deal with at a younger age than most. NBC4 talked with two students who say it took a lot of hard work for them to graduate and move on to college and it was their mentor that helped them through and keeps them going.

“I was always the kid who got A’s and B’s and the kid who got honor roll every quarter,” said Joshua Boards-Roberts. “Socially it wasn’t so bright. A big part of my life I got made fun of and picked on especially because I moved schools a total of nine times.”

Joshua’s dad was an alcoholic and finally, when it became unhealthy for Joshua to stay in his care he was put in foster care. For Joshua, school got a lot easier. “I didn’t have to worry if I had to keep track of my father. I didn’t have to worry about if the rent was paid or anything like that. It was very surreal and I was like.. I had the chance to be a normal teenager.”

While he felt like a normal teenager, without a parent, there were a lot of adult issues on his plate and he needed help. Through Franklin County Children’s Services he found a mentor.”It’s given me a friendship I never thought that I would have.”

With support, advice, and another view of life Joshua is doing well. He graduated from East High School first in his class and is headed to Columbus State to study Auto mechanics. He hopes this story will drive others to become mentors. “It could change someone’s life.”

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