The Value of Mobility in One Student’s Life
Written by Qiana Patterson
Through our work with educators and public organizations, we are sometimes fortunate enough to meet incredible human beings with inspiring stories of perseverance and achievement against the odds. Randee’s is one such story worth sharing.
Randee is in many ways a regular, ambitious teenager: she’s a high school senior who loves coffee, playing volleyball and seeing movies in her spare time. She works hard in school, maintaining a 3.78 GPA while taking AP courses, participating in community service clubs and serving as Junior Secretary on the ASB council. She even took part in USC’s Upward Bound pre-college intensive program and served an internship at the LA City Attorney’s office.
Unlike most other high school students, however, Randee spent the majority of her teenage years in the Los Angeles foster care system.
In less than four years, she attended five different high schools.
“It was hard to make friends, to put down roots. I felt like any day, I could pack up and leave and go somewhere else,” remarked Randee, “But I didn’t let that discourage me from handling responsibilities in school.”
Youth in foster care suffer academically when unstable living conditions cause them to switch schools repeatedly—on average, students lose 4-6 months of academic progress per school change. More than 400,000 children in the United States transfer schools at least once or twice per year while in foster care—by the time they age out, over one third of these students will have experienced five or more school moves.
Randee strives for success in her academics and always takes advantage of the resources around her. She even requested her own CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) to support her extracurricular pursuits. Her determination and intelligence in the face of adversity inspired her teachers and caught the eye of her guidance counselor at her fifth high school who chose to nominate her for the prestigious Posse Scholarship.
The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains high school individuals with extraordinary leadership potential. Following a rigorous application and interview process, Posse Scholars receive full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner colleges and universities.
Randee and her CASA volunteer put their heads together and dove into the interview process. For five months, Randee used HopSkipDrive, in partnership with CASA, to travel to and from interviews, multiple group activities, smaller group interviews and meetings in hopes of securing a clear path towards her future. Following an intense triple-tiered elimination process, her efforts paid off: Randee was selected as one of fewer than 1,000 students nationwide from 3,000 nominations in Los Angeles County to become a Posse Scholar.
“I cried! I was so happy! I felt like everything that I was doing had paid off, the late nights, homework, projects and effort, especially with the complexity of my home life. The fact that I got chosen to go to such a prestigious school, especially on an academic scholarship, is amazing,” said Randee.
Following her selection, Randee is required to attend weekly activities and meetings with her new Posse family. She currently lives nearly an hour’s drive from Posse’s Los Angeles headquarters. “Since the scholarship required me going to L.A. for Posse pre-collegiate training, CASA providing transportation and financial help with HopSkipDrive relieved what would’ve been a huge burden on my family to get to those destinations,” explained Randee.
Outside of preparing her for college, these meetings give Randee confidence as she exits a foster care system that reports 40-50% of its ranks as homeless within six months of aging out. While staying with her former CASA representative, Randee will use HopSkipDrive to attend these Posse sessions once a week until September, when she leaves for college. Randee wants to study International Studies and Criminology and hopes to work for the FBI someday.
We are honored to have played a modest part in Randee’s inspiring story, and can’t wait to see the great things she’s destined to accomplish in the future.
Qiana Patterson is the Senior Director of Public & Private Partnerships at HopSkipDrive.