It is human nature to want to make a difference, to want to succeed. We hope to positively impact our world, our society. Some people are “stars” and have a bigger platform. But it is important to remember that “ordinary” people can impact others too. You don’t need a big platform, having an impact on one person is also important.
Tanisha Saunders is a person whose story reveals how she is using her past to impact foster youth and promote change in the foster care system. As a junior in high school, she revealed to a school counselor of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse that resulted in her eventual placement in foster care. She stated how that made her feel punished because she wanted to stay in her home. In foster care, she felt no one understood her feelings which resulted in her barely graduating from High School. She was accepted to a college but became academically disqualified in the first year.
The turning point in her life was when she became a nanny for a family with young children. She realized her passion for children and that in her future, she wanted to have an impact on children. She decided to get an Associate’s degree and attended Pierce College in a child development program. While there, Tanisha was very impacted by a course she took, titled Town Hall. Initially, she resisted taking the class as she didn’t have much interest in politics or social platforms. However, the course made her realize that she has a voice and wanted to use it to make a difference for youth, that like her were in foster care.
Tanisha became very active on her college campus, participating in the Associated Students Organization, as well as the National Foster Youth Institute which advocates for resources and changes in the child welfare system. Presently, less than 10% of foster children graduate from college, and she knows resources need to be available that will help increase that number. She recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and continues to use her voice to share her story as a foster care activist. She states, “my struggles are really the foundation of who I am today. So I kind of can’t denounce them and be like ‘man, I wish this never happened’ because in some shape, way or form, it happened for a reason and it’s made me who I am today.”