Beyond Emancipation

Annemarie: Pursuing Her Passion

For the first time since she could remember, Annemarie McGovern was excelling in school. As a first-year student at Berkeley City College, where she got connected to Beyond Emancipation’s b2b educational support program, Annemarie earned one A after another.

“I had some stability for the first time in a long time,” Annemarie says, “and could focus on school wholeheartedly. I thought, ‘Wow, I really like this— I might as well go for the long route!’”

So Annemarie set her sights on medical school, and is now studying human biology at Mesa Community College in San Diego. She will apply to UC San Diego as a transfer student, having chosen it for its stellar medical program.

She traces her interest in medicine back to early childhood, when her father was seriously injured in an accident. Annemarie remembers seeing his addictions take hold soon after, and she began researching how to become a doctor. She set those thoughts aside during some turbulent years.

“In high school I could not tune out everything that was happening in my home life in order to fully give myself to my education,” says Annemarie, who entered foster care at 16, and completed her high school diploma at a continuation school. “Now I’m obsessed with learning, and passing it down to the next generation. I think learning is the root of everything—I’ve fallen in love with it.”

While getting settled in college, Annemarie often met on campus with B:E’s b2b Coordinator Semhar Tewolde, who brought resources and support to every interaction.

“Semhar was a person I could confide in if something was going on, and she’d give constructive feedback,” Annemarie says. “That’s so important for former foster youth trying to juggle school and just normal living and social situations. She’d help us keep our minds in the right place. We had great conversations, and I know those words have stuck with me and have instilled a work ethic to keep going, to keep doing what I’m doing.”

When Annemarie became concerned about her housing stability, Semhar referred her to Transition Specialist Isreah Campbell. Annemarie appreciated being able to check in frequently with Isreah, who was, she says, “a great listener—a very calming presence.”

“It was so nice to see their familiar faces,” says Annemarie of the B:E staff, “and to know that someone did care about my progress.”

When she’s not in class or studying in the library, Annemarie loves to go to the beach and plans to return to playing volleyball, a sport she loves. While walking across the Mesa College campus in sunny San Diego “feels amazing,” Annemarie says remembering that she belongs there is “kind of a struggle to this day.”

“Sometimes you feel out of place, like people can’t completely resonate with your story or understand the hardships you’re going through—and those hardships don’t just go away indefinitely,” she says. “You can only learn from them.”

Passing on the lessons she’s learned to other young people who have experienced foster care is important to Annemarie. “You can’t change the past,” she says. “I take it as motivation. Even with everything I’ve been through, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s given me the strength to take on whatever I put my mind to. It’s important to embrace the story that we came from and use it as a blessing rather than taking it as tearing you down.”

Annemarie believes, as Beyond Emancipation does, that her “opportunities are limitless.”

“I never thought I’d be taking all these intense math and science courses but all you have to do is apply yourself, give yourself the chance to work toward something, and you might find your true passion and light a fire within yourself,” she says. “And knowing there are people to support me in my education helps beyond what words can express.”

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