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Youth Leadership Council: Spotlight

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Member of the Quarter. Showcasing the achievements & work of current and past YLC members. This section will include a series of interview questions. Youth can be nominated by staff, past or current YLC members, and administrators.

Initials: A. A.

What Made You Stand Out to be Chosen for the Outstanding Youth of the Month?

I believe that I was chosen for the outstanding youth of the month, because of my unstoppable, outgoing characteristics, achievements and motivation. I have always been a young lady that loves going to school, and working to provide a better life worth living in the future. Coming from an African home is tough, we are always expected to be on top of things, and aim high. Even though it sometimes causes a drainage in my emotional, physical and spiritual mind and body. It taught me that life is not easy and every step you take and every mistake you make helps you grow stronger and wiser. I was not always raised with a silver spoon, I was taught to aim high and put in the work so that you can become who you want in life. After my experience in care, it helped me more in achieving greater things with the help of my social workers, case workers, mentors, and educational support systems. I started believing in myself and my purpose for life. I believe that every child needs those types of support and love to achieve high, and truly find themselves. I am a supportive individual to families, friends, peers, and acquaintances. If there is any way to render help to someone in need, I am quick to give my last to help support them. Many people that I have come across in life are surprised as to how successful and educated I am in life, especially for my age and how well I conduct myself. I usually tell them that it should not be a surprise because that is how every child needs to be and watch how great the world will change and generations to come. One of my favorite quotes by Gandhi is: "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards them." What I always carry from this is that one cannot complain about the way others either treat, see, or believe in them. But, once you have a great mindset, attitude, motivation and goal others will seek the good in you and carry you that way. You get what you dish out.

What Did They Achieve in the Past Months?

Over the past couple of months, I have achieved living alone once I got my apartment through ACS for 1 year and 2 months now. I was always scared of being alone once I age out of care or get my permanent living and end up back in care but things have been going great for me. I still have such a great support system which is a bonus that I am forever grateful of. I am currently in my 2nd semester of the combined degree doing my Bachelors degree and Masters degree in one, being a full time student while juggling a full time job to take care of my needs and wants. I graduate spring 2023, Majoring in Criminal Justice Law/Forensic Science and Minor in Homeland Security, with advanced certificates to help me in quickly becoming a crime scene investigator/ Federal Agent. I am forever grateful to God, my maker and everyone that continues to support me daily in achieving great multitudes. Also being the first out of all my family to receive their bachelors and masters at the age of 21 & 22 years old.

What Is Your Age?

I am 21 years old.

What School Are You Currently Attending?

I attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

What Is Your Future Career Path? How Are You Taking Steps in Obtaining These Goals?

My future career path is becoming a Crime Scene Investigator or Federal Agent and working my way to being a director of the department. I am taking these steps little by little, as I am still young and navigating life, I am doing internships that have to do with law or criminal justice. I applied last year summer of 2021 to FBI college internship within different jurisdictions in NY state. This will help me in my goal of entering and working my way up meaning doing everything that I am asked of, and making sure that I stand out so that they can possibly keep me as a employee and work within different departments such as sex trafficking, narcotics, fraud and departments that fights against illegal acts. This way I can have a taste of what my long life career would look like.

How Have You Made an Impact in the Juvenile Justice and/or Foster Care System?

I have made an impact in the foster care system by providing support and help to my peers, when I first got into care at the age of 16. I worked on myself so that I can use that to help others work on themselves too. I have provided emotional, educational, financial, and spiritual support to my mates. Even though sometimes people are not always eager to be open to support, I helped them gain my trust in order to help themselves navigate life. I've had a couple of friends that gave up on school, I helped them realize that they need to work on their life. Helped them find what they want to do in life whether school was involved in it or not. People believe that education doesn't always determine success which is true, but for one to become successful they have to have a game plan and that is what I do, I help them find the path in which they seek.

What Words of Advice Do You Have for Youth Around the World?

If I can do it, so can you! Everyone faces an obstacle in life, nobody is perfect but as long as you believe in yourself and trust yourself then you will always achieve great things in life. Success does not happen overnight but when you have a game plan then you will be able to achieve that success in the near future. Never give up on yourself just because others gave up on you. I grew up in a very religious Christian home, and my mother always told me that you can be the only one to determine your path for life.

If You Can Change Something About the Juvenile Justice/Foster Care System What Will It Be?

If I can change something about the juvenile justice/foster care system it will be that every youth/ children should always have a strong support system and educational needs. Whether the individual knows or does not know their path, these support systems should be able to talk to them about things they need, discuss with them where they see themselves in a couple of years and be the help they need in order to get them there. The reason why many youths are not as far as they should be in life is, because they do not have that support system that should always be in every child's life, and that is not good. It makes them give up on themselves and turn to drugs and other bad behaviors that they should not be interacting in. Everyone deserves a chance to be provided with everything they need.