Throughout the last several years of my education, If Given A Chance has been my “surrogate parent”. I’m not talking about science, I’m talking about education. Surrogate in this text will mean stand-in and parent, for me, is understanding, support, discipline. Well, in an odd way that’s exactly what If Given a Chance is, my “parent”.


When I was 16, I was removed from my mother’s custody and placed in the court system. I hadn’t attended school consistently past eighth grade. So when I got to my group home I was required to take GED classes. I finished about the time I was eighteen. Around the same time the funding from the county stopped and I had to pack my bags and move out. Without a lot of options, or guidance, I did what every other eighteen year old woman would do. I hopped on a freight train and continued to hitchhike throughout the U.S and Canada. (This was not before I had been nominated for the If Given A Chance Award).


Shortly after 9-11, I decided to return to California and go back to school. Unfortunately, my actions as a teenager and young adult left me without the ability to receive assistance from state and federal educational programs. On a whim I re-wrote to If Given A Chance and pleaded my case. I desperately wanted to go back to school and could not find the extra money to get started. Writing: “Please, give me a chance..”


A few weeks later I received a letter stating: “Ok. We will give you a “chance”, but here is the deal…” Now four crazy school years later I am ready to transfer to some of the top schools in our state. I have a 3.7 GPA, volunteer, work 40+ hours a week and manage to still have somewhat of an adventurous side. If not for the guidance and acceptance of If Given A Chance, I would not be where I am today in my education or my life.


If Given A Chance has made me accountable for my actions in school, which in turn has helped me tremendously to recognize accountability in other areas of my life. I have to have a plan, follow through, or explain why it’s changed. And the best part of all, when I fall down, all I have to do is ask and I’m back on my feet again. When I get an A, change my educational plan, or apply to Universities, it is If Given A Chance that I call. They are the “parent” of my education. With their continuous support and understanding, I KNOW I will continue to make them proud.


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