Brittany has applied to Graduate School at the University of Michigan's School of Social Work. In this blog, she bravely shares her news, and all of the ups and downs that have gone along with this process.
After months of waiting, I recently learned that I was accepted to the University of Michigan School of Social Work. It was a Tuesday morning at my internship in the courthouse, where I sat alone in a small office waiting expectedly for clients to come in. It was a particularly quiet, average morning; there was absolutely no indication that my life would soon be changed. I was doing mindless computer work when I noticed a notification that I had “1 New Message” in my open e-mail account. Not once did I think, “OH THIS MIGHT BE IT!” like I had for weeks before. But then I saw it: “Congratulations from the University of Michigan…” My fingers began to shake and I felt my mind swell. One would think that I would start jumping for joy or would let out screams of excitement, but my very first thought was “oh, well that’s good.” It felt more like a relief than a privilege. I quickly called my scholarship director Tina and sent my boyfriend a text message to “CALL ME ASAP.” He probably thought I was going to break up with him but, alas, I just wanted to share the news. After I heard the excitement of others and the congratulatory smiles through the phone, the tears began to well behind my eyes. I was accepted to the university of my dreams and to the very best Social Work program in the country.
In that moment, everything became worth it. Every single all-nighter, every single time I went to class when I didn’t want to go, every single dollar spent on ridiculously over-priced books, and every single week where I worked 40 hours in addition to completing 12 credits. I think that sometimes, coming from foster care, young people feel the need to prove themselves. Sometimes that looks like proving their worth to their parents and families, to the worker that didn’t advocate for them enough, to the judge that knew them only by a case number, or to foster parents that didn’t keep them for whatever reason. Most often, however, I think that students from foster care mostly need to prove their worth to themselves. Going through the system is a kind of trauma that no youth deserves, but it causes many to question “do I deserve this?” The truth is that students from foster care deserve good things, just like everyone else. But unfortunately that fact often gets lost in the chaos of the system, and leaves youth with millions of emotional questions when the system finally releases them. Reading that acceptance letter answered a lot of those questions for me, and allowed me to realize my worth in ways I hadn’t yet before.
I’ll be starting graduate school in the fall with a practice method of Social Policy and Evaluation and a practice area of Child Welfare. I hope to someday study, evaluate, and influence policies as they relate to current and former foster youth. I want to practice political advocacy and have even considered running for office. Grad school is just the next step to what will hopefully be a bright, successful future. I don’t know how in the world I’ll afford it (like the $300 it will cost me to merely tell them I’ll be attending), or afford to live while I attend. However, I’m not letting my fears impact my joy and excitement. I will apply for scholarships, save every penny I can over the summer, and will start pursuing work-study opportunities. I know that some way, some how, I’ll make it work -- I always have so far.
P.S. The elephant is a gift from my sweetest friend the day I got my acceptance letter. Elephants are one of my most favorite things!
Fostering Success Michigan is a program of Educate Tomorrow that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline."Make a Donation