imageAya was placed through Project Wait No Longer right before her 15th birthday. She is the first teen placed through our program that has gone off to college! We would like to share her inspirational story from foster care to adoption and now to college! Congratulations!!!

How was the college application process for you?

Filling out applications was really exciting! My parents helped me a lot. They helped with my expectations and guided me on what college would be the best fit. They also helped me with my academics in high school because in order to get accepted to I needed to have good grades and I was struggling to maintain them. Picking the right college was definitely a challenge and I struggled with writing my college application essays. My mom and dad did a great job of helping to guide my decisions and they really focused on what I wanted rather than what they wanted for me. This was really important for me because then we were both invested in the plan.

What have you chosen to study? What lead you to that decision?

I am majoring in psychology with a minor in criminal justice. I felt drawn to this major because of the three years I spent in the foster care system. In my life, I have known many people that were labeled as being “troubled’ or “crazy”. As I got to know many of them and their stories I realized that often they were just “people” who had been hurt and needed someone to listen to them. I want to help people who may be going through a rough situation and with psychology and criminal justice I hope that I can make a difference.

How was your initial adjustment going to college?

My parents really helped me with the adjustment. The first day was the hardest. It was a new environment; I was away from my family. Very soon after that first day I started to meet new people. I pushed myself to get out of my comfort zone. After that, everything just kind of fell into place and now I’m having a great time!

Do you feel your experience has been different from your peers? If so, how?

I would say it’s a little bit different. My peers are 18, 19 and 20 years old and have lived pretty “typical” lives. Due to my life experiences, I find myself to be more focused on the future and I want to make sure I’m getting everything I can out of college. I feel fortunate that I don’t have to work my way through college. My parents have given me the opportunity to fully embrace my college experience and I don’t want to waste it! I am so happy that I can focus on school and of course – socializing! Many of my peers cannot begin to understand why this is such a huge opportunity for me, because for them college was always a part of the picture. While I am having fun, I am always aware of what a gift this is to be able to get an education without having to worry about survival.

Has college changed you in any way so far?

A lot about me has changed since being in college. It made me more aware and more confident. Being away from home has made me more independent and it’s preparing me for the rest of my life and living on my own. Before I got to college, if there was a problem I had to rely on my mom and dad to help me come up with a solution. My parents are now 5 hours away so I figure a lot more things out on my own – even though I know they will be here for me if I need them!

Do you have any advice for other teens that may be struggling with their adoption transition?

My biggest advice for teens that have been adopted from foster care is that it will get better! Being adopted means we have someone that cares to rely on – no matter where life may take us. In my experience as time passes and you get older, things get a lot easier and you become a lot happier. The struggles and difficulties you are going through will pass. In some ways, being a foster child can be special because once you’ve seen the worst – you can choose to take that experience and make something positive out of it. My adoption process wasn’t easy. I now understand that there are no limitations to what you can have in life. When I finally learned to let go of some of my anxieties – everything fell into place.