Youth Villages stories

LifeSet participants in Middle Tennessee sit on panel to discuss foster care lived experience

LifeSet participants share their most proud accomplishments

May 24, 2024 | Blog, LifeSet

“I’m in the driver’s seat toward my goals, and my LifeSet specialist is guiding me there”

Five young adults who aged out of foster care at 18 recently sat on a panel and shared their experience transitioning to adulthood without a family support system. Instead of the hardship experienced, they each opened the discussion with what they are most proud of, and how their LifeSet specialist’s personalized approach helped them achieve their goals.

Here’s what each had to say about their experience so far.

Jahlin, 19: “I’m proud to be the first person in my family to finish high school and go to college. When I graduated, I had nothing for my dorm room, not even a comforter. LifeSet stepped in and helped me outfit my dorm, taught me budgeting skills, walked me through college applications and financial aid, and was just someone to talk to and help me get to that next step in life. They always gave me the time I needed and helped instill confidence in myself and made me feel valued, which is not something you get growing up in the system. When it comes to my goals, I’m in the driver’s seat, and my LifeSet specialist is guiding me there.”

Tristan, 23: “I became the first person in my family to earn a college degree, so I’m very proud of that. It was a goal I had before I began working with LifeSet, so when I started, they were able to talk through how to make it happen. Of course, LifeSet couldn’t study for me, and they couldn’t take quizzes for me. But some of the questions I had about financial aid, registration and transportation, they were able to help with. They made sure the administrative barriers weren’t going to get in the way of me focusing on my studies and accomplishing that goal.”

Lane, 19: “The thing I’m most proud of is my wife and my 9-month-old baby girl. My specialist helped us prepare for the birth of my child and settle into our own apartment. Now, any time we need more formula or diapers, he makes sure we have what we need. And if I have a goal I’m working toward, he’s able to help me. It helps knowing I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll get to a point that I don’t need him, but, until then, it’s feels good to have that support.”

Sahar, 26: “Something I’m most proud of is graduating from the LifeSet program. I aged out of the system with a baby on my hip, which is not easy. I didn’t know how to set a doctor’s appointment for myself, much less my baby. I wanted to go to college, and my LifeSet specialist helped me get stable, pay for child care, and support me as I worked through school. Now, I’m able to support my family financially and help youth with similar backgrounds as mine as a full time LifeSet specialist!”

Diamond, 19: “I’m in LifeSet studying chemistry at Tennessee State University, and I’m going to be a gynecologist. My LifeSet specialist and my mentor helped encourage me, uplift me and helped me understand that my past doesn’t define me and that I can accomplish anything. I’m proud to really believe that and be applying that towards my goals.”

To learn more about the barriers young people face when aging out of foster care, the impact of the LifeSet program on their lives, and how you can help, visit the LifeSet website.

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