When Justine is riding her horse, Chance of a Lifetime, she feels free, she says – like she can do anything she sets her mind to.
To achieve this dream, Justine is making the most of Beyond Emancipation’s (B:E) educational support while completing a degree in business at Ohlone College. She plans to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s in animal science with a minor in psychology in preparation for developing her own nonprofit.
“I had healed so much from horseback riding,” Justine says. “It was the only thing in high school that kept me going and believing that I could do things because when you’re working with a beast that weighs 1200 pounds and has a mind of its own, and you’re able to control it, you can’t think of anything else. Everything else just kind of goes away and you feel so free.”
That, she says, is the feeling she wants to share with children who have suffered abuse. “I want to create a program to give the experience I had to kids who are struggling. One of my favorite quotes is: ‘Horses give us the wings we lack,’ and that’s really so true.”
Entering foster care during her junior year of high school, Justine felt really shy, she says, and was nervous about asking for services. But she soon realized how truly supportive the program was.
Before Justine was a B:E participant, she volunteered in one of our workshops as part of a project for school. She now meets regularly with Angie, B:E’s transition specialist, and says, “She’s a very warm, welcoming person, and I feel I could ask her anything and she would be there for me.”
Justine holds down two jobs while going to school, and takes Chance out for a ride as often as she can. She also competes in Gymkhana equestrian events, and hopes to join a college rodeo team after she transfers to a four-year school.
“B:E has been an amazing help,” Justine says. “Foster youth are used to being on our own and having to provide for ourselves so it’s a struggle to ask for help but youth need to know these people are here to help you and they want to see you succeed.”