Quiana spent a happy childhood in New Orleans, where her biggest dream was “what every little girl wants…to be a princess.” That was before Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home and family and left her reeling with trauma that kept her bouncing between Texas relatives, treatment centers, and the foster care system for years. Finally, homeless and alone in Austin, she found LifeWorks’ Transitional Living Program.
We see every youth who comes to LifeWorks through the lens of their accomplishments and potential, but we do not underestimate the challenges they face to succeed in school. Between 40% and 63% of foster youth do not complete high school, and – according to a University of Chicago study – only 6% of foster youth earn a 2 or 4 year college degree by the age of 24.
Our youth can succeed if we invest in their potential. Quiana graduated from Eastside Memorial High School with three scholarships. She now attends Austin Community College and lives at The Works – LifeWorks’ affordable housing community – where she edits the resident newsletter, is a strong voice on the Tenants Council, and has held an internship with the Partnership for Children. “I never lost hope. I get a lot of that from my Grandmother. Education was everything to her. With her, it was never if you are going to school. It was always when you are going to school. Most of my family didn’t make it to college.”
Quiana is defying the statistics. “It is hard! I love school, love being a part of a small community. It wasn’t like that at first, though. I didn’t know anyone and felt like a loser. Then I got involved with Student Life. Every day I’m helping someone.”
LifeWorks is a fearless advocate for youth – like Quiana – who are finding their paths to self-sufficiency. With your financial support, we can invest in a future of self-reliance and hope.
Quiana plans to enter a four-year college to become a counselor. “On the other side of it, I understand what kids like me have been through. They don’t want someone to look at them with sympathy; they want someone to understand them, and I want to be that person. Now that I’m older and wiser, I want to be more than a princess!”