Written by Arthur Gallant, @ArthurGallant27, CAF ambassador and former young person in care.
I’ll never for get the words one foster mother told me when I was 11-years-old. She told me that because I was a Crown Ward and foster child, I would likely be dead or in jail by the time I turned 18. Leading up to my 18th birthday, I was convinced she was right and this would be my reality. However, I knew in order to do better for myself and have a better quality of life, and to ensure my former foster parent’s predictions didn’t come true, that I had to stay in school.
I dropped out of high school in grade nine, went to college from 2009-2011, and dropped out. In 2014, with the support of the Children’s Aid Foundation, I went back to college and this time I graduated.
I’ve had so many titles in my first 25 years as foster child and Crown Ward. They are titles that have stuck to me and become apart of my identity. Those titles meant that I relied upon the genorsity of strangers while at the same time living a life of uncertainty. Now as a graduate, and on my way to financial stability, I shed these identities and take on new ones. Assuming I pass my paralegal licensing exam I will soon be able to call myself a legal professional.
Will it still matter that I used to live in foster care? Will that title still have the same meaning or same sting it once did?
I have no shame in being a former foster child but graduating from college now affords me the ability to no longer answer questions about holes in my resume or education. There will no longer be awkward pauses or hesitations in my voice when I’m asked to explain these gaps in my education.
I’m not afraid to admit that I have always wondered what it felt like to live a life without baggage, and in my opinion being a college graduate affords me a fresh start; it allows me to write my own story and not have somebody write it for me any longer. As a graduate there will no longer be questions as to where my next meal is coming from and there will no longer be rationing out every penny of my paycheque to ensure I have enough to get by.
For the first time in my life, I will now be able to give back and ensure other young people have the same opportunities I did, all because I graduated from school.