From foster care to college: How mentors are making all the difference

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 never thought I was going to do that,” Lavoya Martin is talking about graduating from High School. “For the longest I didn’t think I was going to make it to 18.”

Two years earlier, Lavoya’s father passed away, leaving her with nowhere to go but foster care. “Once you hit a certain age it’s hard. Most people ask for small children.”

With the everyday stress of being a teenager on top of the adult situation she was just thrown into, school did not come easy. “For most of my high school career I was bullied. It didn’t really help being bounced around from foster home to foster home.”

While she had a place to stay, she did not have a place to thrive. “It’s hard and you are thrown into situations that you don’t know how to handle.”

Most teenagers don’t know how to apply for college on their own or plan for the future, and it’s hard enough trying to get past simple growing pains. Having a mentor really helped her get to a milestone this year.

Lavoya graduated from Hamilton Township High School was accepted and now enrolled in Wright University. “It was definitely a ‘try not to cry’ moment. I was definitely proud of myself.”

She is grateful for her mentor, who is now more like family who helped her in each step across the stage. “They help me know my way. Especially when preparing for college.”

Together they look to the future hoping other people will step up and mentor kids like her. “You definitely have to be prepared for everything that is thrown at you and you definitely need that support group.”

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