A Road to Far Away Places

Photo: Lisa Zamora

Lisa was only in the 8th grade when she was placed in foster care. The journey would not be easy for her. Tough adjustments had to be made. Trust did not come easy.

“It’s stressful being placed to live with strangers, trying to get them to trust me, and learning to trust them. You don’t know how the household is run, so what you’re accustomed to really doesn’t matter,” said Lisa. “You have to learn to adapt and live in someone else ́s environment which can be difficult – especially when you’re so young and you see other children coming in and out of the household.”

The instability of the transition into foster care caused Lisa to rebel, but her wayward days were short-lived.

“Nothing lasts forever, and hope will get you a long way. You have to find some willpower to accept your circumstances and keep trucking forward,” says Lisa.

With a laser-sharp focus on her education, and a network of inspirational teachers and BCFS programs in place to support her, Lisa began “trucking forward” – toward college. She always knew school would be important to her, and even at a young age she excelled in her classes.

“I believe my teachers saw potential in me and I looked up to them,” says Lisa. “Many of them cared enough, beyond just my school work, and encouraged me to grow up to be a better person, and to aspire to do better for myself in all aspects of life.”

Confidently, Lisa made a profound decision for one so young. “I never wanted to go back to the life I was forced to live when I was young. I always wanted better for myself.”

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Education Training Voucher program helps youth in foster care pay for college tuition and related expenses so they can make a smoother transition to self-sufficiency and adulthood after aging out of the system. Lisa credits the BCFS ETV program for setting her on the right path to earning a degree and stand on her own two feet.

“The program helped me be able to sustain an independent lifestyle. I have always worked, but it helped immensely knowing that I had a program that would provide me with financial assistance to help me reach my goal of obtaining a degree.”

Juggling the demands of work plus college classes could have overwhelmed Lisa – and unfortunately high college dropout rates among youth in foster care show that’s a disappointing trend – but Lisa says BCFS was her stabilizing force. “When my school course load became stressful and my work hours were cut, BCFS put my worries at ease because I knew I’d be able to stay in school and finish my degree no matter what.”

Lisa acknowledges that her experiences and educational pursuits have forced her to mature in many ways – and even her dreams for the future have changed.

“At this point, I would rather travel the world with a suitcase instead of settle down too quickly and acquire a mountain of debt,” says Lisa. “When I started my first semester as an undergrad, I wanted the ‘white picket fence’ ideal, but now I just want to enjoy my freedom and live an adventurous life, if possible.”

Where does Lisa dream the great adventure of her life will take her? “Somewhere far, far away – traveling.”