“I’d like to provide the help I didn’t get when I was younger,” says Leslie. “When I first entered foster care at 16, I felt alone and I got really depressed. I felt like I had to fend for myself because my social worker at the time wasn’t super helpful. I want to make sure people know about resources, and I want them to know there’s help for them.”
When she heard about Beyond Emancipation in her junior year, Leslie was reluctant to check it out. “I didn’t want to go,” Leslie says, “because I knew that would make it clear that I was in foster care.”
When she finally did come to B:E in her last year of high school, Leslie was amazed by all the resources. “I said, ‘Wow, I’ve been missing out! Mariana, the counselor I met with, was so cool and welcoming. It gave me hope to see all the services B:E offered— almost everything you could name, and if they didn’t have it they could refer you.”
Since then, Leslie graduated from Laney College with two associate degrees and plans to transfer to Cal State East Bay to complete her bachelor’s degree in human development. B:E’s b2b program at Laney helped her with “everything from book money and tutoring in math and English to applying for financial aid.”
Leslie worked with a couple of different tutors through b2b. “They’ve been really helpful and patient,” she says. “I can even text them when I have a question, and they always help me.”
“One of the things I appreciate the most,” says Leslie with a laugh, “is the bowl of snacks! It’s a really great thing for me and the other b2b students. We don’t always have money for snacks, so if we get hungry when we’re on campus we can just come by the office. It sounds like a small thing but it’s really, really helpful.”
Leslie earns money by doing what she loves — helping people — as a bilingual peer advisor for former foster youth at Laney. Thinking back to the difference B:E made in her life, Leslie says, “Other programs just turn people away. B:E’s not like that. They’re just helpful. They gave me hope. They got me out there.”
Now looking forward to her own career, Leslie plans to provide others the same kind of life changing hope and help she found at B:E.
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