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"Don’t believe the statistics, believe in yourself and take advantage of any opportunities that can help you to succeed."

Arielle Skinner shares #HerStory for #SpeakUp:

"Growing up in the foster care system was very challenging. Going from foster home to foster home, experiencing countless appointments and not feeling normal like your peers in school, were a couple of taxing experiences. Also, there were feelings of loneliness and helplessness and the overall feeling of being a victim in your life. I felt out of control. When I got a chance to attend college, I jumped at the opportunity to finally be in control of my life and make a new life for myself. I receive maximum financial aid due to my foster care status and went on to attend Norfolk State University. My experience with the system was not a good one, but it taught me the power of resilience and independence.

The foster care system has taught me the importance of being resilient. It has helped me to be independent and taught me my own strength. I have also learned the fluidity of family.

I needed support the most when I was emancipating from the foster care system. It was difficult experiencing college without support. I reached a point in college where I became clinically depressed and consequently failed a semester. Luckily determination and support from my now husband helped me to work through it and graduate college. I now am happily married, have my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, have relocated to California, and will be pursuing my Master’s degree soon.

One piece of advice I would like to give to someone in the system is to know that what happened to you was not in your control, but every decision that you make every day is in your control. Most importantly, you are going to have to work hard. You’re going to have to work hard to create the life that YOU want to have, and work through any depression, anxiety, stigmas, issues from the past, etc. At some point, you will have to take ownership of your mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual self. At some point, you will not be the victim anymore, but the victor. Build a support system, know that family is fluid and that therapy can be an awesome tool for healing."

Foster Nation