Boys Town Helps Youth Realize College Dream and Discover Gift of Family Friday, May 15, 2015 Page Image Page Content Many kids with Shona’s life experiences struggle to find hope and success in life. They become discouraged and give up on themselves and their dreams. Shona was heading down that path until Boys Town entered her life. Shona’s mother had drifted out of Shona’s life after she was born. Shona lived with her father, but when he was arrested, the 13-year-old was placed in a foster home. It was the first of several foster home placements that would not work out over the next two years. When Shona came to Boys Town Washington DC’s Foster Family Services ® , she was in desperate need of a place she could call home. Louis and Rosalina, her Boys Town Foster Parents, took her in and cared for her as if she was their own daughter. After a rocky adjustment period, Shona began to thrive in the stable, loving home Louis and Rosalina created. Six months later, there was an unexpected disruption. Shona’s birth mother, Jackie – with whom Shona had no previous contact – wanted to come back into her life. After careful consideration, a decision was made for Shona to live with her mother. Unfortunately, it became clear after only a few months that Jackie didn’t have the financial resources to properly care for Shona. Jackie knew Shona would be better off returning to her Boys Town Foster Family. When Shona went back to live with Louis and Rosalina, she was angry, frustrated and confused. However, she trusted the couple, so she had a sense of safety and belonging. Also, Louis and Rosalina, along with Shona’s social worker, agreed to make it a priority to help Shona stay closely connected with Jackie. All of this helped Shona work through her feelings and cope with the difficult situation. With the encouragement and support of her Foster Parents and mother, Shona set a goal to be the first person in her family to attend college. In her junior year of high school, Shona began receiving attention for a possible college athletic scholarship in track. Her natural running talent was undeniable, but she was way behind in school and did not meet the academic requirements for a scholarship. Shona knew what she had to do. With an opportunity to fulfill her dream of going to college, Shona became more determined to reach her goal. She took summer school classes to catch up. During her senior year, she carried a heavy academic class schedule and worked with a tutor several nights a week, all while continuing to run track. It was a demanding schedule but Shona kept her eye on the prize. By the end of her senior year, all of Shona’s hard work paid off. She graduated with the required number of hours and grades, and was able to accept a track scholarship to a local college. At Shona’s high school graduation ceremony, Jackie sat alongside Louis and Rosalina as they proudly watched Shona walk across the stage to accept her diploma. Later that summer, all three helped Shona move into her dorm at college. Shona went off to college knowing Louis and Rosalina would always be there for her. And she remained hopeful that she could continue to build a new relationship with her mother. Shona’s dream of going to college had been realized. But she also learned that the most important part of her journey was accepting the gift of family – both from Boys Town and her mother. The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.