One of the biggest contradictions that we all face is learning to be our own best advocate while relying on others for support. This truth is intensified for many foster youth whose circumstances often make balancing self-reliance with accepting help from others a survival skill. No one knows this better than Monique.
Monique was born and raised in Oakland by a mother who struggled to raise seven children. Already-difficult circumstances were complicated even further by her mom’s dubious choice of partners – abusive men whose presence left little room for Monique and her siblings. When Monique’s grandmother finally took her in, she learned what it was like to experience stability for the first time.
Aging out of the system, however, threatened the balance. Thanks to the referral of a family friend to Beyond Emancipation, Monique was able to find the help she needed to get settled on her own two feet. She credits the organization – particularly Employment Specialist Betty Jo Reuben – with helping her sign up for classes, get financial aid, craft her resume, and find and keep a job. “B.E. provided things I didn’t even know existed,” says Monique, “and addressed a lot of issues I didn’t know existed at all.”
She felt particularly challenged to think critically about who she wants to be and how she wants to relate to others, especially her mother. Monique shares, “I’m a lot more open and understanding than I used to be. You can’t change people. All you can do is change yourself and how you look at the situation. Learning that is something I’m really proud of.”
This determined young woman continues to draw on her inner strength to help her rise above it all. Inspired by her grandmother, Monique is pursuing a career in nursing. “My number one goal is to help and make a difference,” she says.