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Teen transitions from foster care to adulthood intent on helping others

Navigating adulthood is hard. Doing it without a support system is even harder.

This is the reality for the hundreds of foster youth in North Carolina making the transition to independent adulthood with little to no family support.

Trent Taylor understands how living in the foster care system can impact your transition to adulthood.

He’s a student at Wake Technical College and is enrolled in the school’s Fostering Bright Futures (FBF) program. The program assists foster youth in making the transition to independent young adulthood.

By providing academic, social, and financial support, the program eliminates barriers that would typically derail foster youth from meeting educational and life goals.

As Trent prepares to graduate from the program this month, he took a moment to reflect on his experience. Here he shares his journey overcoming past trauma and his plans for life after FBF.

What was your life like before entering the Fostering Bright Futures program?

I spent five years in the foster care system due to domestic violence, extreme neglect and sexual abuse. After that, I was adopted, alongside my younger brother. It was then that my healing journey began. During that time, academics were becoming a priority because I was in a place where I was loved, felt safe and could focus on that. The thought of going to college became more in the front of my mind and more of a possibility. But I was also worried about how I would finance that opportunity. And then Fostering Bright Futures came along and basically alleviated all that stress.

You’re almost finished with the program. How would you describe your life now?

Life is definitely different. The program has given me so much support and so many resources and connections that’ll last a lifetime. Now that I’m almost on the other side, I’m just more prepared moving forward than I ever was before.

What’s next for you?

I’m transferring to Arizona State University (ASU) in the fall and enrolling in their online program. After I complete my Bachelor’s in family and human development, I plan to get my Master’s in either clinical social work or clinical counseling. I want to become a therapist and continue my work and advocacy helping children overcome their trauma. I also want to continue public speaking, mentoring and just changing the world for those who are in foster care and helping them.

What drove you to choose ASU and your career path?

Since the age of 10, I knew I wanted to be a therapist. I wanted to be able to help children find the healing that I have found. I wanted to help them get from the depths of their past trauma into the light. ASU is one of the few schools that I looked at that offers a family human development degree for my Bachelor’s. I feel like, with my career path, having the family and the whole human aspect really goes well with what I want to do in my future.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time with FBF?

My favorite memory is the first Christmas party I went to through the program. It was great to be able to let the stresses of life, school and emerging adulthood aside and just be a kid again. You know, for the first eight years of my life, I didn’t have that chance. That time was taken from me. So, just being able to feel like that little kid again and being able to sit on Santa’s lap, it just kind of helped make up for those missed moments in a way.

How has the program helped you transition to adulthood?

Throughout my time in the program, I’ve had constant support. FBF has helped me with my confidence, my ability to advocate more and public speaking. Professionally, I’ve learned skills that will help me move forward in school and with my future career. The program taught me a lot about finances like how to budget and certain financial topics. And things like understanding the ins-and-outs of college, tuition and covering books. They even helped me get my first car.

At any moment, if I needed anything, I could pick up the phone and someone would be there. That’s such an amazing feeling – especially navigating college for the first time.

What message do you want to share with students who are struggling to overcome trauma?

I would say have hope. Take it headfirst and find that one person to be there for you. If you want to be successful in life, academically or career-wise, you have to move past your trauma. It’s one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do, but it’s also the most rewarding. I know this from personal experience. I mean I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had the chance to move past my trauma.

[MUSIC]

My name is Trent Taylor and I am not a statistic.

I was born into a family filled with extreme dysfunction. At the age of four, I was removed from my family and put into the foster care system due to domestic violence, extreme neglect, and sexual abuse. Over the next five years, I spent the rest of my time in foster care. I've traveled through five different homes and five different schools, spent almost every night crying myself to sleep longing and hoping for a family to call my own. At the age of nine, my younger brother and I were adopted by two amazing people who are now my mom and dad in every sense of the word – and during that time, that's when my healing journey began.

I learned to trust again. I learned to love and laugh for the first time in my life And knowing that I was in a place where I was going to be safe loved and I wasn't going anywhere, I couldn't have asked for more. It was the biggest relief I could have ever had.

When I first got to my adaptive placement, I was tested academically to see where I was because I had been through five different schools and the person who evaluated me told my adoptive mom I would never be successful academically.

After hearing that, I was so driven and so motivated to prove that person wrong – and that's exactly what I did. Going through middle school and high school, I was able to catch up and I was actually able to excel. And from a very early age, around 12, I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to help children. I knew I wanted to be a therapist.

Towards 11th grade, we had a young man come stay with us and we heard about Fostering Bright Futures, and I was already set on Wake Tech before then, but after hearing about this program and what they do, it was a done deal for me. I knew exactly Wake Tech was the place I wanted to go.

I knew that at any moment I could pick up the phone and there would be someone on the other end to answer and support me in anything and it, it allowed me to be around other former foster youth my age and just know that I wasn't alone. It's indescribable how they make you feel, it feels like a big family and a sense of community where everybody understands everybody.

I was told I would never succeed academically. I told I wasn't enough. But I want to tell you one thing, you're not alone in this. And no matter what life is thrown at you, if you really push hard and just push through, you can achieve whatever it is you want, you know, find those supports. Find someone to support you and just know that you're not alone. And that no matter what you've been through, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. You just gotta stay driven and keep your eye on your goals and your dreams and never stop fighting.

I went from trauma to triumph with the love and support of my adoptive parents, I was able to overcome. I went from a scared little boy who thought he couldn't do anything to someone who now believes in himself and is now excelling in academics and in life, and without my adoptive parents, I wouldn't be where I am today. From trauma to triumph, from victim to victor.

[CLOSING TEXT] Trent Taylor received support through Fostering Bright Futures program at Wake Tech. In 2021, he became Wake Tech's first Hites Scholar, Phi Theta Kappa's highest award. He was also named a PTK New Century Transfer Scholar, the only one in North Carolina. He plans to transfer to Arizona State University to pursue a bachelor's degree in human and family development. His goal is to become a licensed clinical counselor.

Supporting our state’s most vulnerable youth

Trent’s future brims with potential and unlimited possibilities. His journey is a reminder that “talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), we know this to be true.  We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to learn and live their fullest life. We’ve committed to doubling the number of students FBF supports. With a $346,000, three-year investment, FBF will expand its core program services. It will further help Wake County’s most vulnerable youth learn the skills they need to live as healthy, independent adults.

Blue Cross NC was recently recognized for its transformational support for FBF program at Wake Tech’s annual IGNITE event. The investment has been recognized as the largest and most impactful gift the program has received.

We are proud to support FBF and see more youth, like Trent, realize their greatness and full potential.

authors photo
Fran Gary
Fran Gary

Senior Vice President, Government Markets

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