CATHLEEN FAGUNDES / YOU ARE A PERSON WITH A STORY

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"No matter what's thrown at you, KEEP MOVING FORWARD."

Cathleen Fagundes shares #HerStory:

"When I was young my father passed away and my mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and declared unfit by the courts to care for me and my sister. This sent my sister and I into the homes of distant relatives and soon split apart into foster homes. Although the system taught me to be independent and rely on myself, I suffered emotional and mental abuse that eventually led me to suicidal thoughts. I began pouring myself into my schoolwork, making school an escape from home. I am now completing my first-year in a teacher education program at UCLA and will be teaching at an elementary school in the fall. I hope to be the kind of supportive and empowering teacher that I experienced in school.

Fortunately, my experience emancipating from the foster care system was a good one. I had a lot of support around me and had saved some money through the extended foster care AB12 program. Of course, this isn't the case for all emancipating youth, in that case, I would say the things most needed when emancipating include support, mentors and connections, and the finances to keep you on your feet.

To all the foster youth in the system now- You CAN do it! You are not just a statistic, you are a person with a story and you have the power to prevail."

Foster Nation