Doreen's Story

From Foster Care to Law School

Doreen was placed in foster care at the age of 9 years old. She spent her childhood with extended family and other foster placements, which set her apart from other children she knew.

“Growing up in the foster care system, I always felt different because I had to do more than students who weren’t in care had to do,” Doreen said, “especially when it came to going to events or someone’s house.”

In spite of these challenges, Doreen developed an incredible work ethic and desire to achieve in school. She graduated at the age of 16 from Raytown South Sr. High and enrolled in Missouri Western State University. It was then that Doreen’s social worker emailed her an application for our Youth Educational Success (YES) program.

The goal of the YES program is to come alongside youth who have or may soon be aging out of the foster care system and help them achieve their dreams through education. Many of them, like Doreen herself, don’t know the rights that they have as an older youth in foster care and the resources that are available to them.

“The YES program does a lot for me. Educationally, they are there to help find tutors, to make sure that I have my books and that my grades are good. And emotionally, they really are a support system. The other youth in the program help motivate you to keep going.”

Doreen will graduate with a degree in criminal justice and legal studies in the spring and plans to work as a paralegal in the Kansas City area with the goal of going to law school.

“I’ve always, since I was a little girl, loved the law,” Doreen said. “I mimicked Condoleezza Rice when she was on TV. I did debate and was really interested in policies, legislation and arguing for people that didn’t have a voice.”

When asked what she was most excited about for graduation, Doreen said that she is looking forward to the moment she receives her actual degree in the mail.

“I’m the first one to get a degree in my immediate family, so that is going to be crazy,” she said. “I’m excited to breathe after graduation and soak in the moment of finishing.”

In addition to helping her toward graduation, the YES program has inspired Doreen to continue to help students like herself by founding a nonprofit: the Wallace Community Association. The organization’s vision is to help disadvantaged students and their communities financially and emotionally through assembling care packages and hosting seminars on how to look for scholarships.

Students just like Doreen need additional assistance and encouragement to reach their career and educational goals, and our YES program exists to bridge that gap. Learn more about the program and how you can help out.

Learn About the YES Program