According to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Memphis has the largest number of children in foster care than any other city in the state. Statistics also show that foster children after the age of 18 have a 60 percent higher chance of being incarcerated, homeless, and pregnant than their peers. These figures are alarming and disheartening to me, as a young woman who spent 7 years in the foster care system in Memphis, Tennessee from the ages of 6 to 13. I lived in 9 different foster homes and was separated from my five biological siblings. I remember that some of my foster homes were very nice and left pleasant memories. I also lived in homes as a foster child where I encountered physical and verbal abuse as well. Those were the challenging times, because I felt like no one was fighting on my behalf and that people were not protecting me from harm, even while I was in the system. I remember consistently being labeled and judged by those negative statistics and feeling like it was my job to disprove them.
Even after all of my experiences in foster care, I still remember people in my community giving me a chance, in hope of not making those negative statistics a reality in my life. Since being adopted at the age of 13, I have worked with foster children and advocated for them to give them the same hope that was offered to me. As Miss Shelby County, I have been trying to personally work with children in foster care programs throughout the area, while also connecting them with positive outlets in our communities. My ultimate goal for this advocacy program is to show children that they have the power to change the future regardless of their past or current circumstances. Additionally, I will be attending the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphrey College of Law in the Fall, not order to achieve my dream of becoming a children's advocate attorney to promote and protect the well-being of our children in state custody. My ultimate goal is help children in foster care go from victim to victorious in their lives.