Youth Villages stories

Youth Villages stories

Tristan receiving a car granted through the support of an anonymous donor.

Tristan receiving a new car through the support of an anonymous donor. 

Tristan’s Story – LifeSet Spotlight

Oct 13, 2020 | Blog

Tristan, 20, entered DCS custody when he was 14 years old.

“I got caught up in a lot of stuff I was not supposed to,” Tristan said. “I think that’s common for kids who grew up like I did. You have to do whatever it takes to get by.”

Tristan entered state custody and was placed in residential services. He started making great progress and was able to step down to a foster home. Before turning 18 and aging out of foster care, Tristan found Youth Villages.

“A teacher I was cool with at alternative school was familiar with the LifeSet program, and she got me enrolled before my 18th birthday,” Tristan said.

Tristan successfully discharged from the LifeSet program after he completed his first semester at Nashville State, but he re-enrolled in the program just before graduation.

“I knew I was in a big transition period in my life and felt I needed more help to keep everything straight, especially since I planned to continue on with my education,” Tristan said.

After getting his associate’s degree from Nashville State, Tristan decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University. He applied to Vanderbilt with the help of his LifeSet specialist, Brianna Martin.  He was not sure if he could get into a school like Vanderbilt, but when he was accepted and found out he would be receiving a full scholarship, he could not believe it! 

“Getting into Vanderbilt was the biggest accomplishment of my life,” Tristan said. “I have always done well at school, but I never thought I could get into a school like Vanderbilt. School is what has always kept me focused and on the right track and it has paid off.”

Tristan was working part time as a peer support for the Re-engagement Hub at Monroe Harding, but after classes started at Vanderbilt, he realized he needed to take a step back and focus on school. He also is a consultant and council member with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, helping other youth like him navigate being in state custody.

“I have been through a lot and got caught up in a lot that I wasn’t supposed to, but got passed that all,” Tristan said. “I am now determined to help other youth going through the same things as I did by showing them there is a way out and a better way to live.”

Tristan is pursuing a degree in social work and plans to have a career in child welfare reform or in juvenile justice after getting his master’s degree. He is thankful for the LifeSet program and the support it provides him while he is in school.

“Every week, there was an issue with my enrollment, but Brianna helped me make sure I had everything I needed for school,” Tristan said. “She understands what I am going through since I am basically on track to enter the same career field as her. She does a great job helping me management by workload.”

LifeSet helps more than 300 young people daily in Middle Tennessee, helping them reach their goals of housing, employment, education, budgeting and transportation. The program helps young people reach their full potential and successfully achieve independence. 

”I think a lot of youth in my situation get caught up in what they have to do just to get by,” Tristan said. “Because of that, they either lose sight of their future plans or never get to form them. LifeSet makes it a little easier to manage what I’ve got going on today so they can help me look forward and build for the future.”

Recently, Tristan was having serious car issues and was having trouble getting to and from work and school. Through the generosity of a family foundation, Youth Villages provided Tristan with a vehicle to ensure he stays on track to complete his education.

“The car was a huge blessing, and I am very thankful for the program and the help it has provided me,” he said.