It was my freshman year in high school and I started off happy, excited, nervous – all of the above. Then I realized I had started becoming a follower. I started skipping class, hanging out in the hallway, disrespecting teachers and just skipping school all around. Then I got kicked out of Stamford High, got into some trouble, got on probation, and ended up at Stamford Academy.

Well, when I started Stamford Academy, I was already so mad that I had to go there that I didn’t even give these people a chance. I cursed them out every day, some days even for no reason, and disrupted the classroom, flipped desks, ripped paper. Soon, my probation officer started to get notified about all the bad behavior, so I was arrested and sent away for the first time, and when I came back home. I hadn’t changed; I was worse, and I was sent away again. But this time my mom told the court that she didn’t want me back. Instead, I was placed in foster care in Hamden.

In the beginning I was totally against living with strangers for a year, but as time went on, to my surprise, I grew to love them. Yvette and her family gave me the love that my family never had. I had three sisters, Amena, Mya, Tamia, and two brothers, Aaron and Izaiah.

Together, they were all amazing, and I learned a lot: how to control my anger and listen better instead of talking out.

Still, all that did, when I returned home, was make me more bitter than ever toward my mother. This time, when we had another one of our fights, she drove me up to Springfield, MA to stay with my grandmother and my godmother and her two kids.

At first it started off well. Then they started treating me exactly the same way that I was treating my mother and everyone around me. That insight proved to be the turning point. And I finally knew it was time for me to change. I re-enrolled at Stamford Academy. And from that point out, I began to become a successful student with college in my long-range plan.

There are a couple people there that helped me out a lot: Kristina Howell, there for me through all the court dates. You always made sure I had all my work and that I was okay, and you dealt with my BS the whole time. Jessica Jarahian. You always made sure I was straight and sat me down and got me to tell you what’s really wrong. I would also like to say thank you to Andrea Weller and Ari Meadows. If it weren’t for you guys pushing me to come to school on time every day and finish all my work, I don’t think I would be writing this essay right now. You guys helped me lead my peers to do the same. I would also like to say “Thank you” to Mr. Paul And Mr. S. You are the only guys I respect as men, just because you want me to motivate myself and be successful. Miss Harris, too: you are just so sweet…

Because, for the first time, I had positive models from which to work, I began to put into perspective the amazing foster care I’d received. For the first time, I began to ask myself: what is the true nature of a family? It doesn’t have to do with blood. It has to do with the people – friends, foster parents, teachers, and student who treat you with caring, loyalty, and respect.

Despite everything, I love my mom. She’s not perfect. People make mistakes but she’s always going to have my love, because she deserves it. I’m not perfect either. Still, I also realize that all that time I spent thrashing around, though it might have looked extreme, I was simply seeking to find my own limits and my center. I know I’ll always have obstacles, even setbacks, but I’ve also learned that I can self-correct and keep on moving forward…

I’m graduating this year as a member of the Class of 2015. I’m not sure what I want to take up in college yet. Currently, I’m looking at three possibilities: Go to school for early childhood development; go to school for Culinary; or go to the Air Force.

Whichever I choose, I will always know that your truest family is what you make of it; it’s possible to build your own from the people your meet and will continue meeting who insist on always being there for me and bringing out my very best.

Special Shout-Out to Adam

In 2012, I met this amazing guy named Adam K. We met through a mutual friend. The crazy thing is, when I was freshman at Stamford Academy, he was going here and I had seen him around and thought he was so cute because he’s tall, dark skinned, has a beautiful smile and is so smart. But he had a girlfriend at the time, so he was off limits. I finally met him at a mutual friend’s house. We were all hanging out. I was looking at him and he was looking at me when one of my girls came up to me and said, “Adam wants to talk to you.” I was so nervous! My stomach was all fluttery. I didn’t know what to do or say. I was so happy though because he was single and I knew I finally had had my chance to be with him. I really didn’t say much to him that night, but one day when I got on Facebook, he had sent a friend request. That’s how we finally started talking. The first time we hung out, I had a great time, and I knew I was starting to feel something for him. Then, one day he formally asked me out and we have been dating since. Adam is a great guy. We been through our ups and downs, but no matter what, we can get through them, and I’m going to always love him. This year will make two years that we been together and I’m so happy. He’s helped me become the woman I am today. So thank you, baby, for always being here for me through everything; I really appreciate you!


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