“My past does not define me. It never has, and it never will.”
Vibrant and cut-to-the-chase, Emily sticks to her goals and has accomplished more at 22 than a lot of people her age.
“In just three short years – with a lot of hard work and dedication – I was able to graduate from university twice,” Emily said with a smile. “One diploma is in 3-D character art and design, and the other is in 3-D animation. Art is something that I’ve always been interested in and something I wanted to pursue for a long time.”
In addition to her self-motivation and undeterred drive, Emily credits the support of her foster parents, her cousin’s grandmother, Adele, and the Youth Education Assistance Fund for providing the support she needed to be able to go to university and achieve her goals.
“It still boggles my mind how people that didn’t even know me, or that weren’t related to me – people who didn’t have to care – cared so much about me and wanted to help me,” Emily said. “When you’re a child, you are impressionable. Before the age of 13, I grew up without love, without support, without the proper role models in my life. You almost have to retrain yourself to let people in again.”
While Emily focuses on her life one day at a time, she admits she has a lot to work through to become the healthy, happy adult she knows she can be.
“I still struggle with PTSD, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-esteem issues – all because of the abuse and neglect I endured as a child,” said Emily. “I was starved, sexually abused and told I am worthless. After a while you start to believe it. I didn’t grasp the severity of it at the time. If it’s all you’ve known as a child, you think it’s normal.”
Until Emily was placed in a loving and caring home at 13 with her foster parents and two foster siblings, she had no idea that what she had endured as a child was so horrific, and so wrong.
“My past has honestly made my skin thicker and my goals bigger. Some days are harder than others, but if I ever get down, I just look at my two diplomas and that always makes me smile.”
“My foster mom is my shining star. She is one of the only people that I still have in my life from my childhood and teen years. No matter what, she stuck by me – through the ups and the downs – and she was always there to offer words of wisdom, comfort and hope. She brought out my confidence, which I never knew I had,” Emily said.
Emily is committed to making life easier for other children and youth in and from care. As a valued member of the Youth Advisory Council, Emily works with other youth from care to provide recommendations to the Provincial Director of Child Welfare about services and supports that would benefit youth in and from care across the province.
This week (June 6 to 12) is Child and Youth in Care Week across British Columbia, an opportunity to celebrate the resiliency and contributions of current and former children and youth in government care.
To view Emily’s artwork, please visit: http://ow.ly/6Phg300Y0dj.
To find out how you can become a foster parent and change a child’s or youth’s life, please visit http://ow.ly/x1VX300RFQZ.
For more information about the Youth Education Assistance Fund, please visit: http://ow.ly/zlOB300RFKX.
If you are a young person 17-28 years old and would like to learn more about the Youth Advisory Council or become involved, please visit: http://ow.ly/JmXF300TvoW