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"Being in foster care brought me closer to myself and gave me an unshakable purpose in life."

Ixchel Martinez shares #HerStory:

"I spent 9 years of my life in foster care. By far the most challenging thing I ever had to do was emancipate out of the system when I turned 18. Not only was I underprepared to embark upon this task at that age but I had no one to fall back on if I failed. It was truly a make or break moment in my life when failure wasn't even an option. I needed social capital. I needed the role models, mentors, and advocates. I needed the warm supportive hug and words of someone that believed in me. Luckily through the support of the Guardian Scholars Program and other community resources that I discovered when I went to University, I was able to graduate successfully. I now am on the verge of finishing my Masters in Social Work and I've made a life for myself giving back to the community that I come from and care so much about.

Being in foster care taught me to appreciate the bad times and the good times even more. To focus on what I do have as opposed to what I don't and to never take anything for granted. It taught me to live without regrets and to appreciate the misery and struggle along with the triumph and success.

Never give up. Your mind, your body, your spirit is capable of more than you could ever possibly imagine. If I had fed into all the negativity I encountered in my life, and believe me there was and still continues to be plenty of it, I would have never made it this far. So believe in yourself no matter what. When you feel overwhelmed allow your self to take a break but never give up."

Foster Nation