Miani G. / Never give your life circumstances the power dictate who you are or will be in life

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I have been in foster care since 1998, basically, all my life considering I was born in 94. Growing up I suffered severe identity issues as a result of being immersed in an African American family while being of Puerto Rican descent. As a child, I had to work through much confusion regarding my racial background, cultural practices, and family dynamics. I always had to explain why I didn't look like my parents, why I couldn't speak Spanish, and why I sounded "black". I could never answer the questions being asked of me honestly because throughout my adolescence embarrassment forced me to keep the reality of being a foster kid to myself.

Learn to embrace your experience in foster care and inspire others by sharing them and never ever give your life circumstances the power dictate who you are or will be in life. By sharing my experiences, what they taught me, and how I will use those lessons to benefit others. I earned a significant amount in scholarships towards a BA from Syracuse University and even managed to convince the admission committee at DGSOM that I have what it take to succeed in their medical school.

The foster care system has taught me a lot. Poverty, mental illness, and drug abuse are no strangers to me; these were facets of everyday life in my foster home located in South Central Los Angeles. It broke my heart not knowing how to help the members of my community, I felt it was my personal responsibility to improve their living conditions. Whether it be God, destiny, fate, or some other higher power, I was allowed to enter foster care and grow up in the hood because I believe it was meant for me to experience those living conditions so that I could see firsthand where I could make an impact throughout my life.

My experience has resulted in my aspirations to become an exemplary role model and source of inspiration in my community. Through my life's work, I plan to alter the stigma associated with foster youth living in inner cities and promote a reputation that involves higher education and respectable professions.

I remained in the system until I was 21 under the AB12 bill. I aged out while in my junior year at Syracuse University, with the expectation of being able to fully support myself simply on the basis of age. What I needed most at that time was to be recognized as a young adult actively working towards goals so that she could, too, have a fulfilling life. I needed someone to recognize that the cut off age of 21 was 1 year too early and that having the stress of losing all financial support with one year left in school creates an unnecessary hardship.

Foster Nation